ATRIA GROUP PLC STOCK EXCHANGE RELEASE 25 September 2003
ATRIA'S LITHUANIAN PLANT REACHES TOPPING-OUT HEIGHT
In July Atria acquired the Lithuanian meat-processing company UAB Saltuva. The
company's name has now been changed to UAB Vilniaus Mesa in line with its brand.
The transaction was completed at the end of August. At present the company is
building a modern production plant in Vilnius. Scheduled for completion by April
2004, the plant will have approximately 7,500 square metres of floor space. The
company has received a considerable investment subsidy for carrying out the
plant project. The objective of these EU grants is to get the best food industry
companies in the accession countries approved according to EU standards from the
start of their membership of the EU.
Some of the companies in the meat-processing industry will nevertheless not
manage to keep up with the pace of change and will not comply with the
requirements of EU regulations. It is believed that the structure of the
industry will change substantially in the years ahead. As the only western-owned
company in this field, Atria is seeking to gain a strong foothold in these
markets stage by stage. In all likelihood, this will call for further
At present, Atria Group plc is carrying out a study of the Russian market.
Atria's objective is to establish a foothold in the fast-growing markets of
western Russia. The company has long years of experience in the export of meat
and meat products, but in the company's view, local manufacture will be required
in order to become firmly established. At present the Russian market is
developing energetically. In order to reduce risks, Atria plans to team up with
a partner for this venture.
Atria expecting a slight improvement in earnings
Atria strengthened its position in the Swedish market substantially via the
purchase of Samfood's business operations last year. Atria Group plc's
subsidiary Lithells AB is Sweden's second largest company in the sector, and its
turnover is expected to reach 350 million euros this year. At the same time, the
company's earnings are expected to improve significantly on the results posted
in previous years.
Atria Group plc's earnings have been hit hard by worldwide overproduction and
the prevailing low price level. Nonetheless, it is believed that the positive
trend in expenses coupled with processed meat production and operations in
Sweden will enable the entire company to report an earnings improvement on last
year. The business cycle in the slaughterhouse industry is expected to improve
sometime soon. Signs of an upswing can already be seen in central Europe, and
this is expected to be reflected in the form of a positive price trend in the
market no later than in the first half of next year. This will be of major
importance to large meat processors like Atria.
Further information: Seppo Paatelainen, President, tel. +358 400 661 742
Atria Group plc is a forward-looking food processing company that is going
international at a fast rate. Our brands are Atria, Chick and Duke's as well as
Sibylla, Lithells and Forssan. In 2003, Atria Group's turnover is expected to
rise to EUR 800 million, of which Sweden will account for about EUR 350 million.
We employ 3700 people on average. The largest companies of the Atria Group are
Atria Oy, Lithells AB, UAB Vilniaus Mesa and Liha ja Säilyke Oy. Atria Group is
the biggest company in the meat business in Finland and the largest manufacturer
of meat products in the Nordic countries and the Baltic area.
ATRIA GROUP PLC