Profits melt at Ortiz-Miko

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The Independent Online
ORTIZ-MIKO, the French ice-cream maker being bought by Unilever for pounds 220m, has warned it is likely to make a loss this year, writes Heather Connon.

The French recession, compounded by poor summer weather, had already sent the group into a Fr17.6m (pounds 2m) loss at the halfway stage. Now it says sales are likely to be about Fr5bn, only slightly below the previous Fr5.3bn, but that it will incur a loss - the second year of poor performance.

The Fr12.7m profit reported last year was less than a quarter of the Fr53.5m earned in 1991. Unilever, which owns Walls and is already the world's largest ice-cream manufacturer, announced on Monday it was buying 75 per cent of Safral, the family-owned company that owns 85 per cent of Ortiz. It is also making a public offer for the remaining 15 per cent at Fr1,420 a share.

The deal will give it the leading position in the French ice-cream market and a spokesman said it had expected Ortiz to make a loss this year. 'It reflects the difficult economic situation in France and the bad weather.'