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Swiss pork processor Bell reports good 2008

The Swiss meat processor Bell Group posted strong growth in 2008. The net profit improved by 4.4% to CHF 59.1 million (€39.8 million).

Bell is operating in the pork, meat products, poultry and fish industries and has an active internationalisation strategy.

In 2008, operating income rose by CHF 303 million (€202 million), an increase of 18.5%. Of the sales growth, approximately CHF 130 million (€88 million) can be attributed to an increase in domestic volume, around CHF 90 million (€61 million) was generated by three acquisitions in 2008, and the remainder was contributed by price and product range factors.

All business segments contributed to this spurt of growth. Robust consumer confidence throughout the year, a strong barbecue season and good Christmas sales supported the positive trend.

Meat production in Switzerland also reached a new all-time high in 2008. Slaughter volume rose by 5% to 91,484 tonnes. For poultry, the volume of slaughters increased by 4.5% to a total of 21,958 tonnes. Imports of meat from slaughter animals increased substantially due to domestic shortages. Charcuterie production was up 9.2% to 31,924 tonnes.

Bell's takeovers of Groupe Polette in France and Zimbo and Abraham in Germany represented important steps towards the realisation of the company's internationalisation strategy.

Difficult 2009
Bell is celebrating its 140th anniversary in 2009. For its anniversary year, Bell is expecting consumer sentiment in Switzerland to be restrained and believes that the price competition in the retail and wholesale trade will intensify even more.

Raw materials prices seem to be stabilising, but no significant relief as regards energy and other costs is expected. Following its strong growth in Switzerland and the foreign acquisitions in 2008, Bell will focus on strengthening its activity base in 2009.

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