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CREMONINI: "CORE BUSINESS AND DIVERSIFICATION: THAT'S HOW WE'RE FACING THE MARKET"


CREMONINI: CORE BUSINESS AND DIVERSIFICATION: THAT'S HOW WE'RE FACING THE MARKET Rome (Ign) - "My company accompanied the economic boom in Italy after the second world war, when meat consumption started to grow. And in fact today the quality of life of a country is now also measured according to meat consumption". These were the words of Luigi Cremonini whilst recounting the beginning of the history of his company (www.cremonini.com) which, with over 7600 employees, operates in three business areas: production, distribution and catering.

What have been the fundamental stages contributing to your success?

"The starting point was the passion for zootechnics which I've had since I was young and also developed through the fundamental skills I gained at the Agrarian Institute in Bologna. At the age of twenty I had already opened my own small animal farm. In 1963, with my brother Giuseppe, I opened a small private abattoir. This was a gamble as at the time there was a state monopoly in this area, but it turned out to be a winning move: in just a few years, processing went from 200 pieces a week to more than 1000. Another courageous choice, which turned out well, was to maintain relations with nearby countries, believing in the European Union as a future market, whilst others looked towards the Eastern countries. But the most important step for the development of my business was to organise production with mass retail in mind. When the first supermarkets and hypermarkets opened in the '70s, we were ready. Then the time for foodservice came around, with the acquisition of MARR in 1979, a company which is now the absolute leader in Italy for the distribution of products for extra-domestic catering and that alone has a € 1 billion turnover. Finally, in 1990 the Group entered the catering division for trains, railway stations and airports. The development of the catering division moved on and was completed in 2003 with Cremonini's entrance also into the motorway area. Finally, Cremonini was quoted on the Italian Stock Exchange in 1998. In 2005, we also quoted our subsidiary, MARR. Today, both companies are in the Star segment of the Italian Stock Exchange".

Cremonini was founded in Castelvetro, in the Val Padana, where 75% of Italian zootechnics is concentrated. What type of advantages has this choice of area given to the company's launch?

"Enormous advantages. The Valle Padana is rich in large green areas, and is particularly suitable for breeding cattle, an activity which required large open spaces for cultivating fodder. The choice to start a cattle meat butchery business in the Padana Plain turned out to be correct, also because we are in an area where the large motorway and railway networks meet, which join the European countries with the Northern and Centre-South regions in Italy. Furthermore, the vicinity between the cowsheds and the processing industry has a positive influence on moving the animals, respecting their well-being".

What do you think is the most profitable business?

"The areas where we see the biggest possibilities for growth are catering and retail. Today the average number of Italians who eat out is still lower than European averages, which means that we are facing a phenomenon that, over the next few years, is set to develop further. Consequently the growth margins in the industries that deal with extra-domestic catering are extremely promising. Thanks to the know how of the production division, we have also launched an original steakhouse chain called Roadhouse Grill: an American style concept restaurant, which is much appreciated by the public also due to its excellent quality/price ratio. We now have 7 restaurants open and are due to open another 5 by the end of 2007. We are also making huge investments abroad. In particular, we are building a plant in Moscow for producing hamburgers for all the McDonalds restaurants in Russia".

In 2006 Cremonini bought 50% of Rail Gourmet Espana, a company based in Madrid that manages the catering on board the 70 high-speed trains in Spain. Will you continue with the internationalisation strategy in 2007 too?

"Regarding foreign development in the production sector, as well as the plant in Moscow, we will continue to develop the logistics platforms in Angola and in other African countries which are experiencing rapid economic growth, particularly connected with crude oil. As for on-board train catering, we are ready to seize all the opportunities presented by the international competitions, especially in Northern Europe".



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