Q: In his review that acts as the introduction to the annual report, CEO Mäki reports that the “transformation towards focusing on our core competence” has progressed according to plan. However, the profitability of the company’s business operations is weak. What does Apetit plan to do to turn things around and move towards growth?
A: In our business review for Q1/2020, we reported that profitability had already improved slightly in our continuing operations, driven by Food Solutions, in accordance with our goals. At the group level, the improvement was more significant, demonstrating that is was the right decision to take the earlier restructuring measures. In our business review, we also repeated our guidance for this year: the full-year operational EBIT is expected to improve year-on-year (EUR -3.0 million in 2019) and to show a profit. We also published our new strategy for 2020–2022, which includes our financial targets and the measures to reach them, on 12 May 2020.
Q: The coronavirus has had a very profound impact on the global economy. How will the coronavirus affect Apetit’s businesses, results and solvency in 2020?
A: The effects of the coronavirus have been very different for different businesses, and they also differ within businesses, such as by sales channel. In Food Solutions, demand has increased especially in retail as people have started eating more at home. Correspondingly, demand has declined in HoReCa as restaurants, schools and other public services have been closed or have operated with less capacity. In Oilseed Products, the exceptional circumstances have not had a significant effect on the overall demand for vegetable oil. In Grain Trade, the exceptional circumstances have increased the volatility of trade, but otherwise the pandemic has had no noticeable effects.
Q: In recent years, the company has decreased significantly in size. Is it sensible and appropriate to still maintain a Supervisory Board as an extra party in decision making in a company of this size? Couldn’t the decision-making powers be transferred to the Annual General Meeting and the Board of Directors where applicable?
A: The company cannot take a stance on the governance structure. This must be done by the shareholders.
Q: Various remote participation methods for Annual General Meetings have been adopted exceptionally widely this spring. Enabling the broad participation of shareholders without the need for extra travel is also responsible governance. Does Apetit plan to use remote participation methods in its Annual General Meetings also in the future?
A: We will assess the potential use of remote participation in the future after the Annual General Meeting in May, provided that we have experience of the new method.
Q: The long-term large owner (Takanen’s companies) has been dissolving its holdings for a long time and gave up the rest in May. The buyer and the new large owner is the industrial operator Berner Oy. How do you see this affecting the company’s strategy and value creation potential?
A: Apetit has announced its new strategy for the period 2020-2022 in May, where integration into domestic primary production is seen as a unifying factor and competitive advantage both directly and through various partnerships. Avena (Oilseed Products and Grain Trade), part of the Apetit Group, already has an existing partnership with Berner through the Farmer’s Avena Berner. The co-operation does not involve a ownership arrangement, but is a joint field organization for the sale of inputs and the procurement of grain and oilseeds. The aim of cooperation is, of course, to create value for both parties.