Russian juice and dairy products giant Wimm-Bill-Dann has reported lower net income for 2003 but said it had laid solid foundations for future growth.

The company posted net income of US$21.2m for the year to 31 December 2003, compared to $35.7m in the previous year.

The company said 2003 sales were $938.5m, a rise of 13.8% from the previous year. Sales in the dairy segment increased 17.6% from $563.0m in 2002 to $662.3m in 2003. Sales growth in the dairy segment was made up of sales volume growth of 6.3% and an increase in selling prices.

“For Wimm-Bill-Dann, the year 2003 became a year of major modernisation initiatives and significant strategic choices,” said David Iakobachvili, chairman of the board at Wimm-Bill-Dann.

“The company retained its leading market position, despite a number of internal and external factors, which affected its performance in 2003. We remain committed to maintaining our leadership in both the dairy and juice segments while steadily increasing our share in the water and cheese markets,” he added.

CEO Sergei Plastinin added, “In 2003, we spent time and effort digesting our rapid growth. In addition to modernisation of our production facilities and warehouses we focused on innovative product development and improvement of our distribution network, laying a solid foundation for the future growth.”

In November 2003 Wimm-Bill-Dann said it had amicably terminated its merger discussions with French dairy giant Danone. The two companies had been in negotiations since June, when WBD announced that key shareholders were in talks to sell all or a majority of shares to Danone.