Bell Group: stable performance in 2012

15.02.2013, Ad hoc release pursuant to Art. 53 LR

Bell, Switzerland's largest meat processing company, is holding up well in a demanding market environment. Sales proceeds grew by 0.4 % to CHF 2.53 billion. Annual profit rose by 5.9 % to CHF 75.8 million. The Board of Directors is to propose an unchanged dividend of CHF 60 per share.

Business conditions were challenging in the 2012 financial year. Raw materials prices continued to rise in most markets. In this difficult market environment, sales increased by 0.4 % to CHF 2.53 billion. Adjusted for exchange rate differences and structural changes, sales growth amounted to 0.6 %. Sales volumes declined by 1.2 % to 221.7 million kg.

At CHF 185.1 million, the operating result (EBITDA) was down 9.4 % or CHF 19.2 million on the prior-year period. This fall is due to special costs from the closure of the Bochum plant, amounting to around CHF 9 million, and a one-time insurance credit in the previous year of around CHF 6 million. After adjustment for these special effects, the remaining decrease is around CHF 5 million or 2 %. The net profit, at CHF 75.8 million, is around 4.2 million or 5.9 % higher than last year. In view of the difficult market environment, the Board of Directors considers the 2012 results to be good, and will propose to the Shareholders' Meeting that the dividend should remain the same as last year at CHF 60 per share.

Bell Switzerland once again reached the high level of the previous year and reports stable business performance. The sales volume increased by 1.4 % to 122.5 million kg. This represents a market share gain for Bell, as market volume has fallen by around 2 % in Switzerland according to the company's estimates. The rise in sales was less robust, at 0.6 % to CHF 1.76 billion. This is a result of lower sales prices, down by an average of 0.8 %. At around 125,500 tonnes, meat production from slaughter animals and poultry is around last year's level. Swiss meat and seafood once more proved to be the drivers of growth, while charcuterie showed weaker performance. The share of sales for seafood increased by 15.2 % or 634 tonnes to 5,680 tonnes. Bell has thus gained additional market shares and is now the largest provider of fresh seafood products in Switzerland. Bell Switzerland's profit performance is on a par with the previous year, and the seasonal campaigns at Easter and the holiday season as well as the barbecue season went well. Bell nevertheless felt the effects of the downturn in the retail market in the form of much greater pressure on prices and margins.

Sales for Bell Germany increased by 1.5 % to CHF 484 million. This growth was mainly triggered by the higher-priced product ranges. At 66.0 million kg, sales volume was down by 2.5 % on the previous year because of some product range restructuring. Raw material prices rose still further from an already high level. Price adjustments could be enforced in the market after a long time lag, but the situation remains very difficult. The new management structure for Bell Germany has been in place since 1 September 2012. The centralisation of the administration of the German division in Seevetal will be finalised by March 2013. Group-wide synergy potential in the production, procurement, marketing/sales, logistics and IT departments is being tapped according to plan. Media release Bell Ltd 2/3

Sales performance varied in 2012 for Bell Eastern Europe and Benelux. Overall, the division posted sales of CHF 188.7 million (-6.1 %; in local currency -4.1 %). Sales volumes dropped by 13.4 % to 20.6 million kg. Operations in Poland and the retail chain business in the Czech Republic and Slovakia show a positive trend. The branch network was expanded further by 6 units in 2012 to a total of 100 units. The product ranges for Hungary and the Benelux countries were restructured and cutbacks were made in products with low added value.

Sales volumes for the dried sausage and ham ranges in France trended very positively and improved by 6.2 % to 12.6 million kg. Sales for Bell France increased by 4.7 % to CHF 97.4 million (+6.9 % in local currency). Both the self-service and over-the-counter product ranges did very well. Raw materials prices also continued to rise in France. Here, too, price increases could only be implemented after a long time lag.

Outlook for 2013

Competition in the retail trade will remain high. A continuing difficult price environment and intense competition is to be expected in all segments in the coming financial year. Nevertheless, the Bell Group is confident about 2013. Bell expects the actions initiated in 2012 to unfold their impact in the course of the year and to significantly improve the Group's performance capabilities.

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Davide Elia

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Jan Kirchhofer

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