They say that no two years are alike and that description is accurate when we compare Raisio Group’s first quarter of 2021 with the same period one year earlier. One year ago, the pandemic caused a completely exceptional barrage of demand that strongly drove up sales in all of Raisio’s consumer markets. The other distinctive factor is the later-than-usual start of Raisioaqua’s 2021 season due to a winter season that extended longer than during the previous year. For the aforementioned reasons, net sales and profitability declined when viewed against the highly exceptional comparison period.
The Group’s net sales totalled EUR 50.0 (54.7) million and the comparable EBIT was EUR 4.7 (6.6) million. EBIT amounted to EUR 7.5 (6.6) million. Currency conversions brought a negative change of one million euro to our net sales.
The UK was held in the grips of an unsettled political situation ever since June 2016. For Raisio, the trade agreement signed between the EU and the UK was much needed news and marked an end to the years of uncertainty. Benecol products are popular within the UK market and the trade agreement has facilitated for us a completely uninterrupted transition to the new situation.
Our investments clearly reflect Raisio’s long-term strategy, in which plant-based added-value products have been the focus for the past two years. The investments for the first quarter totalled EUR 6.5 (5.7) million, thereby representing 13.1 (10.4) per cent of net sales. The largest share of the investments was allotted to the new development and production facility being built in Raisio’s industrial area. Despite exceptional conditions, we have been able to proceed in accordance with the planned timetable and cost estimates for the building and deployment phases. The facility, which is currently preparing for its production phase, will play a significant role in building competitiveness and growth for the future. We will provide more information about this in June when we share our primary areas of focus for the strategy period of 2022–2025. Once the facility is up and running, Raisio will be able to participate in strongly expanding product categories, but the marketing investments for the initial phase, opening depreciations and the initiation of other activities will put pressure amounting to several million euro on profitability.
During this review period, we prepared for a corporate acquisition that was especially well-suited to our strategy. The acquisition was announced immediately at the start of the new quarter. Raisio acquired Verso Food Oy, which, in a short period of time, has achieved the market leader position within the competitive market for plant protein products in our home market in Finland. This gave us a flying start in this immensely growing future market. According to our estimates, the acquired company will contribute to growing our to line but it will have a negative impact of approximately three million euro on Raisio Group’s EBIT for the current year. Measures intended to create value have been initiated immediately, with a focus on further increasing our sales volumes within the domestic and international markets.
The ongoing exceptional situation has naturally also tried the coping abilities of our personnel. Despite this, we have managed to work without disruption and to deliver our products on time. I would like to thank the entire personnel of Raisio for its fine work and patience during this challenging time. I would also like to warmly welcome into the service of our company all those new Raisio employees who have joined us by virtue of the corporate acquisition.