Deoleo slashes net debt by 20%, hits its EBITDA target
Despite a complex environment for conducting business, in which the prices of raw materials continued to rise and household consumption normalised following the health crisis, the company recorded EBITDA of €48 million, in line with forecasts for the year.
The group succeeded in increasing sales by 6%, offsetting some of the loss sustained from raw-material hikes by raising its retail prices and thus reducing the impact on margins.
Judicious working-capital management and positive cash generation of €33 million enabled the group to reduce net debt to €120 million.
Deoleo, the world’s leading olive oil producer, ended 2021 achieving the targets set at the beginning of the year, even in an extremely challenging market environment that included a significant drop in household consumption of olive oil as the Covid-19 crisis began to recede and restaurants reopened. The pandemic had also been a key factor in swelling the price of raw materials – by an average of 48% – as well as logistics and other material costs.
Despite this daunting scenario, the group achieved an EBITDA of €48m and a net profit of €61m, closing a second consecutive year in positive territory. Cash generation, linked to solid business performance, enabled Deoleo to reduce net debt by 20%, to €120m at year-end, after voluntarily repaying €25m of a syndicated loan in the fourth quarter of 2021. Thanks to its year-end cash position of €86m, the company repaid a further €18m in January this year, leaving outstanding syndicated debt at €160m.
Credit the strength of Deoleo brands
As a result of the gradual normalisation of the health situation after a difficult 2020, and the impact on consumption that rising prices at source incurred, Deoleo closed 2021 with a 6% reduction in sales volumes, also in line with forecasts.
Again, despite this, thanks to both the strength of its brands and their management, the company succeeded in passing on part of the impact of increases in prices at source. To do so, it partially offset that impact by carried out appropriate commercial actions, specifically hiking retail prices, to sustain the fall in sales volumes that were inevitable in this situation. As a result, sales actually rose 6% compared to the previous year, and the financial harm to group margins was modified.
“Despite a very complicated year due to the normalisation of consumption and, especially, the significant increase in raw-materials prices, the results we are presenting today are very positive,” says Ignacio Silva, chairman and CEO of Deoleo.
“The company has met the targets set at the beginning of 2021, despite the fact that increased costs of almost 50% were not contemplated at that time, and this underlines the strength, flexibility and strong performance of the business. This, together with working-capital management and cash generation, has enabled us to significantly amortise our debt, thus reinforcing the company’s financial soundness. Looking ahead to this year, we will concentrate our efforts on fulfilling the roadmap set out in our new strategic plan up to 2026 and on continuing to drive sustainability, as key pillar within the strategic plan.”
Reinforcing financial soundness
Deoleo benefited last year from a financial position greatly strengthened after restructuring was completed in June 2020. Thanks to extraordinary business management and working-capital management, the group generated €33m in cash and repaid a significant part of its syndicated debt which, as of June 30, 2020, when the refinancing process was completed, amounted to €242m. As of 2021, it could be announced that that figure had fallen to €160m.
Focus on a new strategic plan and sustainability
Deoleo fundamentally redefined its strategy in 2021. Following the positive results obtained in 2020, the group decided to carry out a strategic reordering that resulted in the launch of a bold and fresh business plan extending into 2026, which was presented last November.
The new plan aims to position Deoleo as the undisputed leader in the global olive oil industry. It reaffirms the company’s abiding focus on its brands and their high quality, while placing the consumer’s needs and expectations at the centre of all of its strategic decisions. This plan was conceived with sophisticated markets in mind, such as the United States – and, just as importantly, with the absolutely crucial ambition to achieve long-term sustainability for the olive oil industry as a whole.
To this latter end, the company unveiled its 2030 sustainability strategy with the aim of consolidating Deoleo’s position as a leader in guiding the sector forward, far into the future, in terms of sustainable means of production and distribution.