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Wrigley pursues European growth after strong results

By Catherine Boal , 07-Feb-2007

Leading gum maker the Wm Wrigley Jr Company, has announced a positive fourth quarter performance with recent moves to increase its global footprint contributing to growing sales.

Net sales for the fourth quarter rose to $1.22bn (€0.93bn) - an increase of $118m (€90.8m) or 11 per cent from last year - while consolidated operating profit for 2006 climbed 6 per cent to $821m (€632.2m).

Wrigley executive chairman Bill Wrigley Jr said: "We delivered solid results overall in 2006 and demonstrated the strength of our business. We did so with double-digit sales and volume growth while completing the integration of a major acquisition, realigning our supply chain, and addressing increased competition in some key geographies."

At the end of January Wrigley increased its presence in the European chocolate sector with the acquisition of 80 per cent of Russian premium chocolate maker A. Korkunov. The $300m (€232.5m) deal gave the gum maker control of Russia's seventh largest chocolate manufacturer.

Wrigley is already well-established in the European gum market with strong performances in Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine. Yesterday's fourth quarter results show brands Orbit and Extra are buoyant in the region while Juicy Fruit jellies are proving especially popular in Russia.

In the coming year Wrigley, who own the Juicyfruit and Doublemint gum brands, aims to build on its European portfolio and push its presence in those lucrative markets by investing in innovation and bringing new products to the sector.

Wrigley president and CEO Bill Perez said: "The entire organisation is focused on and energized by the opportunities ahead and the company is well-positioned in key marketplaces and categories for growth in 2007 and beyond."

The company plans to launch a liquid-filled pellet gum under the Extra brand in the UK and Freedent in France.

Also in the UK, Wrigley is set to introduce Orbit complete gum which claims dental benefits and will be packaged in an envelope-style packet.

New Fusion gum products are also planned for the Russian, Polish, French and Spanish markets.

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