Saputo looks to new products to boost bakery sales

by Eric Schroeder
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MONTREAL — Saputo Inc. said it is reviewing all operations within its Bakery Division to mitigate increasing costs and stepped-up competition. During a June 9 conference call to discuss fiscal 2009 financials, Lino Saputo Jr., chief executive officer, president and director, told analysts that the review includes the development of a new line of products that is expected to increase the company’s presence at the store level.

Following the conference call, Mr. Saputo told The Canadian Press that the new line of products includes healthier offerings and full desserts.

"What we need to do in order to increase the sales in this division is to come up with new products in different channels or different categories," Mr. Saputo said. He added that the product launch would be "a line extension, not a complete revamping of the business itself because our staple products will continue to be our staple products."

During fiscal 2009, Saputo launched several products in its Bakery Division, including eight Vachon cakes that were reformulated to contain only 100 calories, three new varieties of HOP&GO! Signature squares, and De Luxe cakes in chocolate and maple flavors.

Operating income in the Grocery Products Sector, of which the Bakery Division is a part of, totaled C$9,020,000 ($8,132,000) in the fiscal year ended March 31, down 4% from C$9,357,000 in fiscal 2008. Sales were C$165,109,000 ($148,866,000), up from C$164,624,000.

Overall, unsettled market dynamics, including declining cheese and dairy ingredients prices throughout the year, weighed on fiscal 2009 earnings at Saputo Inc. Net income in the year ended March 31 totaled C$278,948,000 ($250,721,000), equal to C$1.35 per share on the common stock, down 3% from C$288,200,000, or C$1.40 per share, in fiscal 2008.

Sales during the year were C$5,793,263,000 ($5,208,862,000), up 15% from C$5,058,900,000 in fiscal 2008.

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