Dutch food company Wessanen has posted a fourth-quarter net loss, but said its results showed the first signs of the company’s recovery.

The company posted a net loss of €5.3m (US$6.8m) for the fourth quarter of 2003, compared to net income of €75.5m in the year-ago period. Net income before amortisation of goodwill and exceptional items was €8.6m, compared to €2.4m in the same period of the previous year.

Net sales, excluding divested units Telford Foods and Leerdammer, were €605.2m, compared to €653.0m in the year-ago period. At constant exchange rates, net sales rose to €682.1m.

For the full year, net income before amortisation of goodwill and exceptional items was €11.9m, compared to €35.8m in the previous year. Net sales rose from €2.57bn in 2002 to €2.41bn in 2003, or €2.73bn at constant exchange rates.

Wessanen CEO Ad Veenhof said the company’s main priority for 2004 is “to realise the various cost-saving plans”. The company said implementation of Operation Phoenix, Wessanen’s global cost-saving operation launched in August 2003, is progressing slightly ahead of schedule.

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