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22 May 2019

2018: A year with growth in all regions

In 2018, we continued our Shape for Growth strategy. Investments in new product launches, organisational capabilities, geographical footprint and production capacity were at an all-time high.

As a result, we grew revenue in our three core regions and on our four strategic brands and delivered a satisfactory financial result in a challenging environment. The CO-RO group revenue ended at 1,914 billion DKK in 2018, an organic revenue growth of 6.2%, and organic EBITDA ended up 11% compared to 2017 – both are satisfactory, and in line with our expectations.

Reported profit before tax of 155 mDKK was 17% lower than the year before due to costs associated with the acquisition and restructuring of JKD in China, unfavourable currency development and high investments in capacity expansion.

Søren Holm Jensen comments:

Our strategic initiatives are working – and all our regions are growing.

Growth in all regions

Towards the end of the year, we completed our first international acquisition as the Chinese distributor JKD became part of CO-RO – making us a clear no. 1 juice-drink provider in the Chinese on-premise segment. The acquisition marked the end of a successful year in Asia, where we amongst others grew Sunquick’s market share in Malaysia and started construction of a new factory in Sri Lanka.

In our biggest region – the Middle East & Africa (MEA) – the juice and concentrate markets had a challenging year due to the difficult economic environment. Through new product innovations on Suntop, we gained market share in our biggest market, Saudi Arabia and we expanded our product portfolio across all markets in the Middle East. From our new factory in Nairobi, we established Suntop as a favourite brand amongst young adults in Kenya albeit still in the early days.

In Europe, we benefited from a hot summer in the North, which led to growth in our sales of Ambient Ice lollies of more than 25% with particularly strong growth in Germany. However, our business in Portugal was negatively affected by a new sugar tax.

During the year we welcomed many highly skilled colleagues across the Group, growing the number of employees to more than 1,200. This was partly through the acquisition of JKD and partly through strengthening the organization in existing markets. We tracked people engagement quarterly as a new initiative, launched a global Leadership program and increased our focus and investment in our People agenda, which we will continue in 2019 with a new Talent program as well as health initiatives.

2019 outlook

The outlook for our key markets is challenging due to expected legislative changes and geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East – particularly in Saudi Arabia where a new 50% tax on sweetened beverages has been announced. However, we entered 2019 with good momentum in all our regions, and we have many exciting new product launches and new market entries planned for the year, so we expect 2019 to be another exciting year for the Group. In mid-2019, we will move into our new head office & innovation centre, the “CO-RO Oval”, which will provide great basis for us to continue to Refresh and Delight people around the world!

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