Pasquier growth slows after plant fire

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Two fires at production plants in the space of a year have dented
sales growth at industrial bakery group Brioche Pasquier, but the
company remains confident that normal service - and faster growth -
will be resumed very soon.

The destruction of a production plant in Vannes - the second such incident to hit the company in a year - inevitably took its toll on results at French industrial bakery group Brioche Pasquier.

But the company continued to grow its business in the first half, albeit at a slower rate than in the previous year. Consolidated sales in the first six months of the year were ahead 12.5 per cent at €235.2 million, helped by the consolidation since January of its Italian units. On a like-for-like basis, sales growth was 7.9 per cent.

A fire at Pasquier's Chatelet-en-Brie facility had already forced the company to transfer production to its other sites, and the damage to the site at Vannes simply made that situation worse. A number of promotions had to be cancelled because of the severe capacity restrictions, and this in turn took its toll on the pace of growth.

However, with production at Chatelet due to begin again later this month, at least on a small scale, the company is confident of a rapid return to normal production conditions.

Outside France, the company said it had benefited from a sharp rise in Spanish sales as a result of the opening of a new subsidiary there. Spanish sales grew from €0.38 million in the first half of 2001 to €1.12 million in 2002. In Italy, growth was slower as a result of a weaker distribution network, and sales for the half reached €0.65 million.

Pasquier said that the two fires would result in a €4 million drop in patisserie sales over the year as a whole, while the cost of repairing the damage would amount to a further €9 million. It estimated that full-year sales would reach around €490 million, up 12 per cent, while net profits would be around €38 million.

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