SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|o||Registration Statement Pursuant to Section 12(b) or (g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934|
Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2020
|☐||Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934|
|o||Shell Company Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934|
Commission file number 001-37669
Nomad Foods Limited
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
British Virgin Islands
(Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)
No. 1 New Square
Bedfont Lakes Business Park
Feltham, Middlesex TW14 8HA, United Kingdom
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
No. 1 New Square
Bedfont Lakes Business Park
Feltham, Middlesex TW14 8HA
Telephone:+(44) 208 918 3200
Facsimile:+(44) 208 918 3491
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile Number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of Each Class||Trading Symbol (s)||Name of Each Exchange on which Registered|
|Ordinary Shares, no par value|| NOMD||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: Preferred Shares, no par value
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report. 172,180,897 Ordinary Shares and 1,500,000 Preferred Shares.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. x Yes o No
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. o Yes x No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. x Yes o No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). x Yes o No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer, accelerated filer, and emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.:
Large accelerated filer x Accelerated filer o Non-accelerated filer o Emerging growth company ☐
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o
†The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. x
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
| || |
International Financial Reporting Standards as Issued
by the International Accounting Standards Boardx
| || |
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. o Item 17 o Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). ☐ Yes x No
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TERMS USED IN THIS REPORT
Unless the context otherwise requires, in this annual report, the term(s) “we,” “us,” “our,” “Company,” “Nomad” and “our business” refer to Nomad Foods Limited (formerly known as Nomad Holdings Limited) and its consolidated subsidiaries.
PRESENTATION OF FINANCIAL AND OTHER INFORMATION
In this annual report, references to “Euro” and “€” are to the single currency adopted by participating member states of the European Union ("EU") relating to Economic and Monetary Union, references to “$”, “US$” and “U.S. Dollars” are to the lawful currency of the United States of America, and references to “Pound Sterling”, “Sterling” and “£” are to the lawful currency of the United Kingdom ("UK").
The historical financial information for the Company has been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (“IFRS IASB”) and International Financial Reporting Standards as endorsed by the European Union (together “IFRS”) which can differ in certain significant respects from U.S. GAAP.
Unless otherwise noted, all financial information for the Company provided in this annual report is denominated in Euros.
Historical Financial Information
This annual report includes our consolidated financial statements at and as of the years ended December 31, 2020 (the “Fiscal 2020 Period”), December 31, 2019 (the “Fiscal 2019 Period”) and December 31, 2018 (the “Fiscal 2018 Period”).
Non-IFRS Financial Measures
In this annual report, we present certain supplemental financial measures that are not recognized by IFRS. These financial measures are unaudited and have not been prepared in accordance with IFRS, SEC requirements or the accounting standards of any other jurisdiction. The non-IFRS financial measures used in this annual report are Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA margin. For additional information on why we present non-IFRS financial measures, the limitations associated with using non-IFRS financial measures and reconciliations of our non-IFRS financial measures to the most comparable applicable IFRS measure, see Item 5: Operating and Financial Review and Prospects.
INDUSTRY AND MARKET DATA
We obtained the industry, market and competitive position data throughout this annual report from our own internal estimates and research as well as from industry and general publications and research, surveys and studies conducted by Euromonitor. Industry surveys and publications generally state that the information contained therein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in industry publications is not guaranteed. While we believe that each of these studies and publications is reliable, we have not independently verified market and industry data from third-party sources. While we believe our internal company research is reliable and the definitions of our market and industry are appropriate, neither this research nor these definitions have been verified by any independent source. Further, while we believe the market opportunity information included in this annual report is generally reliable, such information is inherently imprecise. In addition, projections, assumptions and estimates of the future performance of the industry in which we operate and our future performance are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in Item 3D: Key Information - Risk Factors. These and other factors could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the estimates made by the independent parties and by us. See Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.
Market share data presented throughout this annual report is measured by retail sales value. The frozen food market data we refer to throughout this annual report includes the following categories: Frozen Processed Meat, Frozen Processed Seafood, Frozen Meat Substitutes, Frozen Pizza, Frozen Ready Meals, Frozen Noodles, Frozen Soup, Frozen Baked Goods and Processed Frozen Vegetables.
We operate under a number of trademarks, including, among others, “Iglo,” “Birds Eye”, “Goodfella's”, “Aunt Bessie's” and “Findus”, all of which are registered under applicable intellectual property laws. This annual report contains references to our trademarks and service marks and to those belonging to other entities. Solely for convenience, trademarks and trade names referred to in this annual report may appear without the ® or TM symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent possible under applicable law, our rights or the rights of the applicable licensor to these trademarks and trade names. We do not intend our use or display of other companies’ trade names, trademarks or service marks to imply a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, any other companies.
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Some of the statements in this annual report constitute forward-looking statements that do not directly or exclusively relate to historical facts. You should not place undue reliance on such statements because they are subject to numerous uncertainties and factors relating to our operations and business environment, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control. Forward-looking statements include information concerning our possible or assumed future results of operations, including descriptions of our business strategy. These statements often include words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “plan,” “estimate” or similar expressions. Forward-looking statements included in this annual report include statements regarding:
•our beliefs and intentions regarding our strategic initiatives and their impact on the growth and
profitability of our business;
•our intent to profitably grow our business through our strategic initiatives;
•our intent to seek additional acquisition opportunities in food products and our expectation regarding competition for acquisitions;
•our beliefs regarding the anticipated impact of the exit by the UK from the EU ("Brexit") on our business;
•our expectations concerning our ability to fund our liquidity requirements and to raise cash through equity and debt offerings;
•our expectations concerning our capital expenditures in 2021;
•our beliefs regarding our sales, marketing and advertising strategies, competitive strengths and ability to successfully compete in the markets in which we participate;
•our expectations concerning consumer demand for our products, our future growth opportunities, market share and sales channels, including online channels;
•our beliefs and intentions regarding the impact of key industry trends on our business, our actions in response to such trends and the resulting impact on our profitability and competitive position;
•our future operating and financial performance;
•our intent to settle any Founder Preferred Shares Annual Dividend Amount (as defined herein) with equity;
•our belief that we have sufficient spare capacity to accommodate future growth in our main product categories and to accommodate the seasonal nature of some of our products;
•our beliefs and intentions regarding our sustainability program;
•our intent to rely on some of the available foreign private issuer exemptions to the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) corporate governance rules; and
•the accuracy of our estimates and key judgments regarding certain tax matters and accounting valuations.
The forward-looking statements contained in this annual report are based on assumptions that we have made in light of our management’s experience in the industry as well as our perceptions of historical trends, current conditions, expected future developments and other factors that we believe are appropriate under the circumstances. As you read and consider this annual report, you should understand that these statements are not guarantees of performance or results. They involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Although we believe that these forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, you should be aware that many factors could affect our actual financial results or results of operations and could cause actual results to differ materially from those in these forward-looking statements.
These factors include but are not limited to:
•the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors, transportation or logistics providers, customers, consumers and employees;
•disruptions or inefficiencies in our operations or supply chain, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our ability to maintain the health and safety of our workforce;
•the duration, spread and intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government restrictions and other government responses;
•our ability to successfully implement our strategies and strategic initiatives and recognize the anticipated benefits of such strategic initiatives;
•the anticipated benefits from our recent acquisitions including the Aunt Bessie's and Goodfella's brands and Findus Switzerland business may take longer to realize and may cost more to achieve than expected;
•uncertainty about the potential adverse impact of Brexit on currency exchange rates, global economic conditions and cross-border agreements that affect our business;
•the loss of any of our executive officers or members of our senior management team or other key employees;
•the loss of any of our major customers or a decrease in demand for our products;
•changes in consumer preferences and our failure to anticipate and respond to such changes or to successfully develop and renovate products;
•our ability to successfully interpret and respond to key industry trends and to realize the expected benefits of our responsive actions;
•our ability to protect our brand names and trademarks;
•the commercial success of our Green Cuisine brand of products, including as a result of its expansion into continental Europe, and other innovations introduced to the markets, and other innovations introduced to the markets and our ability to accurately forecast the brand’s performance in light of COVID-19;
•our ability to effectively compete in our markets, including the ability of our Green Cuisine brand to effectively penetrate the markets in continental Europe;
•economic conditions that may affect our future performance including exchange rate fluctuations;
•fluctuations in the availability of food ingredients and packaging materials that we use in our products;
•our ability to effectively mitigate factors that negatively impact our supply of raw materials;
•disruptions in our information technology systems, whether as a result of cyber attack or otherwise, supply network, manufacturing and distribution facilities or our workforce or the workforce of our suppliers;
•our ability to continue to comply with covenants and the terms of our credit instruments and our ability to obtain additional financing, as needed, to fund our liquidity requirements and capital expenditures;
•availability of debt and equity financing under favorable terms;
•increases in operating costs, including labor costs, and our ability to manage our cost structure;
•the occurrence of liabilities not covered by our insurance;
•our ability to successfully implement, and engage other stakeholders in implementing, our sustainability program;
•the loss of our financial arrangements with respect to receivables factoring;
•the loss of our foreign private issuer status;
•the effects of reputational damage from unsafe or poor-quality food products, particularly if such issues involve products we manufactured or distributed;
•our failure to comply with, and liabilities related to, environmental, health and safety laws and regulations; and
•changes in applicable laws or regulations.
These and other factors are more fully discussed in Item 3D: Key Information - Risk Factors and elsewhere in this annual report. These risks could cause actual results to differ materially from those implied by forward-looking statements in this annual report.
All information contained in this annual report is materially accurate and complete as of the date of this annual report. You should keep in mind, however, that any forward-looking statement made by us in this annual report, or elsewhere, speaks only as of the date on which we make it. New risks and uncertainties come up from time to time, and it is impossible for us to predict these events or how they may affect us. We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements after the date of this annual report, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. In light of these risks and uncertainties, you should keep in mind that any event described in a forward-looking statement made in this annual report or elsewhere might not occur.
Item 1: Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
A. Directors and Senior Management
Item 2: Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
A. Offer Statistics
B. Method and Expected Timetable
Item 3: Key Information
A. Selected Financial Data
The following table sets forth selected historical consolidated financial and other data for the Company for the periods presented. The selected historical consolidated financial data below should be read in conjunction with our Audited Consolidated Financial Statements and related notes (Item 18), as well as Item 4: Information on the Company and Item 5: Operating and Financial Review and Prospects of this annual report.
The statement of income data for the Fiscal 2020 Period, Fiscal 2019 Period and Fiscal 2018 Period and the balance sheet data as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.
Dec 31 2020
Dec 31 2019
Dec 31 2018
Dec 31 2017
Dec 31 2016
Statement of Income data:
|Revenue||2,515.9 ||2,324.3 ||2,172.8 ||1,956.6 ||1,927.7 |
|Cost of sales||(1,753.4)||(1,626.4)||(1,519.3)||(1,357.2)||(1,356.7)|
|Gross profit||762.5 ||697.9 ||653.5 ||599.4 ||571.0 |
Other operating expenses
|Operating profit||359.2 ||283.5 ||283.1 ||242.9 ||138.1 |
|Net finance costs||(63.7)||(73.2)||(56.0)||(74.4)||(62.1)|
|Profit before tax||295.5 ||210.3 ||227.1 ||168.5 ||76.0 |
|Profit for the period||225.1 ||153.6 ||170.5 ||136.5 ||36.4 |
Basic weighted number of shares
|194,019,070 ||192,004,803 ||175,622,538 ||176,080,272 ||183,518,743 |
Diluted weighted number of shares
|197,894,106 ||198,425,877 ||175,793,631 ||184,786,162 ||183,528,621 |
|Basic earnings per share||1.16 ||0.80 ||0.97 ||0.78 ||0.20 |
|Diluted earnings per share||1.14 ||0.78 ||0.97 ||0.74 ||0.20 |
Balance Sheet data:
|Total assets||5,573.4 ||5,904.5 ||5,340.8 ||4,601.7 ||4,709.5 |
|Total equity||2,126.1 ||2,556.7 ||2,059.1 ||1,852.6 ||1,902.5 |
|Share capital||— ||— ||— ||— ||— |
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
An investment in our ordinary shares carries a significant degree of risk. You should carefully consider the following risks and other information in this annual report, including our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report, before you decide to purchase our ordinary shares. Additional risks and uncertainties of which we are not presently aware or that we currently deem immaterial could also affect our business operations and financial condition. If any of these risks actually occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects could be materially affected. As a result, the trading price of our ordinary shares could decline, and you could lose part or all of your investment.
i.Risk Factor Summary
The risks described below include, but are not limited to, the following:
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
•We operate in a highly competitive market and our failure to compete effectively could adversely affect our results of operations.
•Sales of our products are subject to changing consumer preferences and trends; if we do not correctly anticipate such changes, our sales and profitability may decline.
•Our future results and competitive position are dependent on the successful development of new products and improvement of existing products.
•The COVID-19 pandemic could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
•The exit of the UK from the EU could adversely impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
•Our inability to source raw materials or other inputs of an acceptable type or quality, could adversely affect our results of operations
•Our inability to pass on price increases for materials or other inputs to our customers could adversely affect our results of operations.
•We rely on sales to a limited number of large food retailers and should they perform poorly, the buying power of these large retailers could increase, our business could be adversely affected.
•Increased distribution costs or disruption of transportation services could adversely affect our business and financial results.
•We do not have long-term contractual agreements with our key customers, which exposes us to increased risks with respect to such customers.
•Our customers may not be creditworthy.
•Health concerns or adverse developments with respect to the safety or quality of our products may damage our reputation, increase our costs of operations and decrease demand for our products.
•Potential liabilities and costs from litigation could adversely affect our business.
•Our business is dependent on third-party suppliers and changes or difficulties in our relationships with our suppliers may harm our business and financial results.
•The price of energy we consume in the manufacture, storage and distribution of our products is subject to volatile market conditions.
•Our supply network and manufacturing and distribution facilities could be disrupted by factors beyond our control.
•Seasonality impacts our business, and our revenue and working capital levels may vary quarter to quarter.
•We may be unable to realize the expected benefits of actions taken to align our resources, operate more efficiently and control costs.
•Significant disruption in our workforce or the workforce of our suppliers could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
•We are dependent upon key executives and highly qualified managers and we cannot assure their retention.
Risks Related to Our Acquisition Strategy
•We may not be able to consummate future acquisitions or successfully integrate acquisitions into our business which could result in unanticipated expenses and losses.
•We may be subject to antitrust regulations with respect to future acquisition opportunities.
•Any due diligence by us in connection with potential future acquisitions may not reveal all relevant considerations or liabilities of the target business, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
Risks Related to Regulations
•Costs or liabilities relating to compliance with applicable directives, regulations and laws could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
•We could incur material costs to address violations of, or liabilities under, health, safety and environmental regulations.
•We are subject to a variety of regulatory schemes; failure to comply with applicable rules and regulations could adversely affect our business, results of operations and reputation.
•Changes in the European regulatory environment regarding privacy and data protection regulations could expose us to risks of noncompliance and costs associated with compliance.
•A failure in our cold chain could lead to unsafe food conditions and increased costs.
Risks Related to Financial Management
•We have risks related to our indebtedness, including our ability to withstand adverse business conditions and to meet our debt service obligations.
•Our variable rate indebtedness subjects us to interest rate risk, which could cause our debt service obligations to increase significantly.
•Our indebtedness is subject to changes in interest reference rates.
•We are exposed to exchange rate risks and such rates may adversely affect our results of operations.
•Changes to our payment terms with both customers and suppliers may materially adversely affect our operating cash flows.
•An impairment of the carrying value of goodwill or other intangible assets could negatively affect our consolidated operating results and net worth.
•We face risks associated with certain pension obligations.
•We are a holding company whose principal source of operating cash is the income received from our subsidiaries.
•The Founders and/or the Founder Entities may in the future enter into related party transactions with us, which may give rise to conflicts of interest between us and some or all of the Founders and/or the Directors.
General Risk Factors
•Any disruptions, failures or security breaches of our information technology systems could harm our business and reduce our profitability.
•Changes in accounting standards and subjective assumptions, estimates and judgments by management related to accounting matters could significantly affect our financial results.
•If we fail to or are unable to implement and maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting, the accuracy and timeliness of our financial reporting may be adversely affected.
Risks Related to our Ordinary Shares
•We have various equity instruments outstanding that would require us to issue additional ordinary shares which could lead to significant dilution of your ownership interests or the anticipation of such issuances, could have an adverse effect on our share price.
•If securities or industry analysts do not publish or cease publishing research reports about us, if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our ordinary shares or if our operating results do not meet their expectations, the price of our ordinary shares could decline.
•As a foreign private issuer, we are subject to different U.S. securities laws and NYSE governance standards than domestic U.S. issuers which may afford less protection to holders of our ordinary shares.
•We may lose our foreign private issuer status in the future, which could result in significant additional costs and expenses.
•As the rights of shareholders under British Virgin Islands law differ from those under United States law, you may have fewer protections as a shareholder.
•The laws of the British Virgin Islands provide limited protection for minority shareholders, so minority shareholders will have limited or no recourse if they are dissatisfied with the conduct of our affairs.
•British Virgin Islands companies may not be able to initiate shareholder derivative actions, thereby depriving shareholders of one avenue to protect their interests.
•Dividend payments on our ordinary shares are not expected.
•Shareholders may experience a dilution of their percentage ownership if we make non-pre-emptive offers of ordinary shares in the future.
Risks Related to Taxation
•Failure to maintain our tax status may negatively affect our financial and operating results and shareholders.
•Disputes with tax authorities may give rise to unforeseen adjustments.
•If any dividend is declared in the future and paid in a foreign currency, U.S. holders may be taxed on a larger amount in U.S. Dollars than the U.S. Dollar amount actually received.
ii. Details of our Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
We operate in a highly competitive market and our failure to compete effectively could adversely affect our results of operations.
The market for frozen food is highly competitive, and further consolidation in the industry would likely increase competition. Our competitors include retailers who promote private label products and well-established branded producers that operate on both a national and an international basis across single or multiple frozen food categories. We also face competition more generally from chilled food, distributors and retailers of fresh products, baked goods and ready-made meals. Our competitors generally compete with us on the basis of price, actual or perceived quality of products, brand recognition, consumer loyalty, product variety, new product development, customer service and improvements to existing products. We may not successfully compete with our existing competitors and new competitors may enter the market. Discounters are supermarket retailers which offer a narrow range of food and grocery products at discounted prices and which typically focus on non-branded rather than branded products. The increase in discounter sales may adversely affect the sales of our branded products. Further, we are increasing our investment in online sales (sales made through retailers’ online platforms). However, there is no guarantee we will achieve our expected return on investment from this strategy. The growth of online retailers, and the corresponding growth in our online sales, may also adversely affect our competitive position. However, as market dynamics are evolving, growth rates might change by channel and over time. For example, we have seen this year that COVID-19 dynamics and governmental restrictions in Europe impacted our sales trend by channel. In particular, we have seen a shift in consumer behavior to online shopping as shoppers look to avoid physical stores. In store, consumers have chosen to limit potential exposure to COVID-19 by shopping less often but increasing their basket size per visit which has led to a higher proportion of sales coming from our top 10 customers. We have also experienced lower demand for our food service products, which support commercial food establishments, due to governmental restrictions on the ability to eat out of home.
In addition, we cannot predict the pricing or promotional actions of our competitors or their effect on consumer perceptions or the success of our own advertising and promotional efforts. Our competitors develop and launch products targeted to compete directly with our products. Our retail customers, most of which promote their own private label products, control the shelf space allocations within their stores. As a result, they may allocate more shelf space to private label products or to our branded competitors’ products in accordance with their respective promotional or pricing strategies. Decreases in shelf space allocated to our products, increases in competitor promotional activity, aggressive marketing strategies by competitors, changes to the strategies deployed by retailers or other factors may require us to reduce our prices or invest greater amounts in advertising and promotion of our products to ensure our products remain competitive.
Furthermore, some of our competitors may have substantially greater financial, marketing and other resources than we have. This creates competitive pressures that could cause us to lose market share or require us to lower prices, increase advertising expenditures or increase the use of discounting or promotional campaigns. These competitive factors may also restrict our ability to increase prices, including in response to commodity and other cost increases. If we are unable to continue to respond effectively to these and other competitive pressures, our customers may reduce orders of our products, may insist on prices that erode our margins or may allocate less shelf space and fewer displays for our products. These or other developments could materially and adversely affect our sales volumes and margins and result in a decrease in our operating results, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Sales of our products are subject to changing consumer preferences and trends; if we do not correctly anticipate such changes, our sales and profitability may decline.
There are a number of trends in consumer preferences which have an impact on us and the frozen food industry as a whole. These include, among others, preferences for speed, convenience and ease of food preparation; natural, nutritious and well-proportioned meals; products that are sustainably sourced and produced and are otherwise environmentally friendly; as well as a recent trend towards meat substitutes. Concerns as to the health impacts and nutritional value of certain foods may increasingly result in food producers being encouraged or required to produce products with reduced levels of salt, sugar and fat and to eliminate trans-fatty acids and certain other ingredients. Consumer preferences are also shaped by concern over waste reduction and the environmental impact of products. The success of our business depends on both the continued appeal of our products and, given the varied backgrounds and tastes of our customer base, our ability to offer a sufficient range of products to satisfy a broad spectrum of preferences. Any shift in consumer preferences in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland or any other material market in which we operate could have a material adverse effect on our business. Consumer tastes are also susceptible to change. In addition, the growing presence of alternative retail channels could negatively impact our sales if we fail to adapt. For example, consumers with increasingly busy lifestyles, or who are impacted by COVID-19 lockdown measures in certain countries, are choosing the online grocery channel as a more convenient, safer and faster way of purchasing their food products, and are also increasingly using the internet for meal ideas. Our competitiveness therefore depends on our ability to predict and quickly adapt to consumer preferences and trends, exploiting profitable opportunities for product development without alienating our existing consumer base or focusing excessive resources or attention on unprofitable or short-lived trends. All of these efforts require significant research and development and marketing investments. If we are unable to respond on a timely and appropriate basis to changes in demand or consumer preferences and trends, our sales volumes and margins could be adversely affected.
Our future results and competitive position are dependent on the successful development of new products and improvement of existing products, which is subject to a number of difficulties and uncertainties.
Our future results and ability to maintain or improve our competitive position depend on our capacity to anticipate changes in our key markets and to successfully identify, develop, manufacture, market and sell new or improved products in these changing markets. We aim to introduce new products and re-launch and extend existing product lines on a timely basis in order to counteract obsolescence and decreases in sales of existing products as well as to increase overall sales of our products. The launch and success of new or modified products are inherently uncertain, especially as to the products’ appeal to consumers, and there can be no assurance as to our continuing ability to develop and launch successful new products or variations of existing products. The failure to launch a product successfully can give rise to inventory write-offs and other costs and can affect consumer perception of our other products. Market factors and the need to develop and provide modified or alternative products may also increase costs. In addition, launching new or modified products can result in cannibalization of sales of our existing products if consumers purchase the new product in place of our existing products. If we are unsuccessful in developing new products in response to changing consumer demands or preferences in an efficient and economical manner, or if our competitors respond more effectively than we do, demand for our products may decrease, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The global outbreak has created significant volatility, uncertainty and economic disruption which has resulted in the implementation of significant governmental measures, including lockdowns, closures, quarantines and travel bans, intended to control the spread of the virus . In response to the pandemic, many European countries in which we operate enacted lockdown policies, including Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France and these measures are continuously evolving and changing as governments continue to react to the ongoing outbreak. Other countries and local governments have enacted, and are continuing to enact similar policies. Companies and governments are also taking precautions, such as requiring employees to work remotely and imposing travel restrictions. These restrictions, and future prevention and mitigation measures, have had and are continuing to have, and adverse impact on global economic conditions. This is particularly the case during the winter months when a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks has caused these restrictions to tighten and continues to have an adverse impact on global economic conditions, which could materially adversely affect our business and operating results. Uncertainties regarding the economic impact of COVID-19 are likely to result in sustained market turmoil, which could also negatively impact our business, financial condition and cash flows.
The spread of the pandemic may also disrupt our third-party suppliers and other business partners’ ability to meet their obligations to us, which may negatively affect our operations. Additionally, the impact of COVID-19 on our suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors or transportation and logistics providers may negatively affect the price and availability of our ingredients and/or packaging materials and may adversely impact our supply chain. Moreover, there may be delays or shortages in procuring alternative suppliers, co-manufacturing capacity, distribution capability or logistics capability. During the pandemic, we have experienced increased demand for our branded products as a result of a general increase in frozen food consumption. Such increased consumer demand could place a strain on our supply chain, which could be further exacerbated by the pandemic. If our suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors or transportation and logistics providers are unable to keep pace with this increased demand, and we are unable to access alternatives on commercially reasonable terms, we would not be able to fulfill the increased demand for our products which could negatively impact our ability to increase revenue, cause harm to our reputation and have a material adverse impact on our operating results. During the pandemic we have also experienced lower demand for our food service products, which support commercial food establishments, due to governmental restrictions on the ability to eat out of home, for example, at restaurants, cafés, bars and canteens. Depending on the extent and length of such restrictions, this could see demand for such products to continually decline which could negatively impact our ability to increase revenue, and have an adverse impact on our operating results and goodwill.
We operate production space in facilities across Europe. While we have not experienced any significant disruptions to our facilities, we could, in the future, be forced to close our facilities or reduce operations due to government responses to the pandemic or employee illness or health concerns. If a significant percentage of our workforce is unable to work, including because of illness or travel or government restrictions in connection with COVID-19, or if we are required to shut down one or more of our facilities, this could have a material adverse effect on our revenue, operations and results of operations. For example, while we have not experienced any significant disruptions of this nature, if certain of our senior executives were to be incapacitated due to COVID-19 at critical points in the reporting calendar this could have an impact the ability of the Company to exercise is normal controls and governance procedures. Extended shutdowns or reduced operations could also result in an increase in operating costs in connection with our continuing to pay employees at non-operating facilities and higher costs associated with ensuring the continued health and safety of workers, which may include checking workers’ temperatures, providing personal protective equipment, deep cleaning facilities, and encouraging sick workers to stay home by providing enhanced employee benefits. In addition, if any third parties in our supply chain experience similar issues, this could result in their failure to meet their obligations to us or significant disruptions in their ability to do so, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Part of our growth strategy includes the launch and increasing distribution of new products and improvements to existing products. Our ability to gain distribution and advertising space for such products and to sustain sales may be negatively impacted by COVID-19, which could impede our anticipated growth in this area. As a result, we may not be able to phase these planned innovations and execute our strategy as planned, and may be forced to mitigate the risk by focusing on our core business. We expect our mix of innovation to core to continue to be biased towards core in the medium term.
In addition, our results of operations are materially affected by conditions in the credit and financial markets and the economy generally. Global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme volatility and disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic including diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic growth, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability. We cannot assure you that deterioration in credit and financial markets and confidence in economic conditions will not occur or be sustained as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our general business strategy may be adversely affected by any such economic downturn, volatile business environment or continued unpredictable and unstable market conditions. If the current equity and credit markets deteriorate, or do not improve, it may make any necessary debt or equity financing more difficult, more costly, and more dilutive. Failure by us or our customers to secure any necessary financing in a timely manner and on favorable terms could have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy, our financial condition and our results of operations.
Although we have experienced increased demand for our products and increased sales during the pandemic, we are unable to predict how long this sustained demand will last, how significant it will be, or if other trends less favorable to us will emerge as a result of COVID-19. The extent of COVID-19’s effect on our operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including the duration, spread and intensity of the outbreak and government responses to the pandemic, all of which are uncertain and difficult to predict considering the rapidly evolving landscape. As a result, it is not currently possible to ascertain the overall impact of COVID-19 on our business. However, if the pandemic continues to evolve in such a way that its effects are likely to continue for a longer period than currently envisaged, the disease could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows and adversely impact the trading price of our ordinary shares.
There are also additional regulations in place governing tariffs for products of non EU origin when they are exported across the border from the UK to the European Union which also can place a greater cost and administrative burden on the Company.
The exit of the UK from the EU could adversely impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.
On June 23, 2016 the UK electorate voted in favor of leaving the European Union (commonly referred to as “Brexit”), and on March 29, 2017 the UK government formally initiated the withdrawal process. The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill was passed by the UK Parliament and the UK left the European Union on January 31, 2020. Following its departure, the UK commenced negotiations with the European Union to reach a trade agreement, which was concluded on December 24, 2020. The trade agreement provides clarity on which products are to attract tariffs and duties for products imported and exported between the UK and the European Union going forward. In addition, from January 1, 2021, the transition period ended and the UK is now trading as an independent country outside of the European Union. This means that new regulations are in place governing the import and export goods between the UK and the European Union from this date which places a greater cost and administrative burden on the Company, for example by requiring veterinary certificates for exporting products of animal origin.
For the year ended December 31, 2020, 95% of our revenue was derived from the EU and the UK (29% was derived from the UK). In addition, we have manufacturing facilities and employees in both the UK and other European countries. As a result of Brexit, we may experience adverse impacts on consumer demand and profitability in the UK and other markets. The new Brexit administration requirements could mean that the UK suffers as a result of losing commercially favorable access to the single EU market, or specific countries in the EU, resulting in a negative impact on the general and economic conditions in the UK and the EU. Changes may occur in regulations that we are required to comply with as well as amendments to treaties governing tax, duties, tariffs, etc. which could adversely impact our operations and require us to modify our financial and supply arrangements. To avoid such impacts, we may have to restructure or relocate some or all of our operations which would be costly and negatively impact our profitability and cash flow.
The effects of Brexit and the new trade agreement may also disrupt our third-party suppliers and other business partners' ability to meet their obligations to us, which may negatively affect our operations. Additionally, the impact of Brexit and the new trade agreement on our suppliers, co-manufacturers, distributors or transportation and logistics providers may negatively affect the price and availability of our ingredients and/or packaging materials and may adversely impact our supply chain. Moreover, there may be delays or shortages in procuring alternative suppliers, co-manufacturing capacity, distribution capability or logistics capability. In addition, disruption to our third-party suppliers and other business partners due to delays at borders or delays as a result of an inability or delay in applying the new rules in force during 2021 could lead to delays in the manufacture or supply of our products to our customers.
Additionally, political instability in the European Union as a result of Brexit may result in a material negative effect on credit markets, currency exchange rates and foreign direct investments and any subsequent trade agreement in the EU and UK. This deterioration in economic conditions could result in increased unemployment rates, increased short and long-term interest rates, adverse movements in exchange rates, consumer and commercial bankruptcy filings, a decline in the strength of national and local economies, and other results that negatively impact household incomes.
Until the total effects of the operational and trading market changes as a result of Brexit are known, any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are exposed to economic and other trends that could adversely impact our operations in our key geographies.
We conduct operations in our key markets of the UK, Italy, Germany, Sweden, France, and Norway, from which approximately 80% of our revenue was generated during the year ended December 31, 2020. We are particularly influenced by economic developments and changes in consumer habits in those countries.
The geographic markets in which we compete have been affected by negative macroeconomic trends which have affected consumer confidence. For example, Brexit has created political and economic uncertainty both in the UK and the other EU member states. A deterioration in economic conditions could result in increased unemployment rates, increased short and long-term interest rates, consumer and commercial bankruptcy filings, a decline in the strength of national and local economies, and other results that negatively impact household incomes. This can result in consumers purchasing cheaper private label products instead of equivalent branded products. Such macroeconomic trends could, among other things, negatively impact global demand for branded and premium food products, which could result in a reduction of sales or pressure on margins of our branded products or cause an increasing transfer to lower priced product categories.
Our inability to source raw materials or other inputs of an acceptable type or quality, could adversely affect our results of operations.
We use significant quantities of food ingredients and packaging materials and are therefore vulnerable to fluctuations in the availability and price of food ingredients, packaging materials, other supplies and energy costs. In particular, raw materials such as fish, livestock and crops have historically represented a significant portion of our cost of sales, and accordingly, adverse changes in raw material prices can impact our results of operations.
Specifically, the availability and the price of fish, vegetables and other agricultural commodities, including poultry and meat, can be volatile. We are also affected by the availability of quality raw materials, most notably fish, which can be impacted by the fishing and agricultural policies of the UK, European Union and other countries including national or international quotas that can limit volume of raw materials. General economic conditions, unanticipated demand, problems in manufacturing or distribution, natural disasters, weather conditions during the growing and harvesting seasons, plant, fish and livestock diseases, the impact of Brexit, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, or national or international quarantines can all also adversely affect availability and prices of commodities in the long and short term.
While we attempt to negotiate fixed prices for certain materials with our suppliers for periods ranging from one month to a full year, we cannot guarantee that our strategy will be successful in managing input costs if prices increase for extended periods of time. Additionally, by entering fixed price agreements we may potentially be limiting our ability to benefit from possible price decreases. Moreover, there is no market for hedging against price volatility for certain raw materials and accordingly such materials are bought at the spot rate in the market.
Our ability to avoid the adverse effects of a pronounced, sustained price increase in raw materials is limited. Any increases in prices or scarcity of ingredients or packaging materials required for our products could increase our costs and disrupt our operations. If the availability of any of our inputs is constrained for any reason, we may not be able to obtain sufficient supplies or supplies of a suitable quality on favorable terms or at all. Such shortages could materially adversely affect our market share, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our inability to pass on price increases for materials or other inputs to our customers could adversely affect our results of operations.
Our ability to pass through increases in the prices of raw materials to our customers depends, among others, on prevailing competitive conditions and pricing methods in the markets in which we operate, and we may not be able to pass through such price increases to our customers. Even if we are able to pass through increases in prices, there is typically a time lag between cost increases impacting our business and implementation of product price increases during which time our profit margin may be negatively impacted. Recovery of cost inflation, driven by both commodity cost increases or changes in the foreign exchange rate of the currency the commodity is denominated in, can also lead to disparities in retailers’ shelf-prices between different brands which can result in a competitive disadvantage and volume decline. During our negotiations to increase our prices to recover cost increases, customers may take actions which exacerbate the impact of such cost increases, for example by ceasing to offer our products or deferring orders until negotiations have ended. Our inability to pass through price increases in raw materials and preserve our profit margins in the future could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely on sales to a limited number of large food retailers and should they perform poorly or give higher priority to private label or other brands or products or if the concentration and buying power of these large retailers increase, our business could be adversely affected.
Our customers include supermarkets and large chain food retailers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. Throughout our markets, the food retail segments are highly concentrated. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our top 10 customers account for 41% of sales. In recent years, the major multiple retailers in those countries have increased their share of the grocery market and price competition between retailers has intensified. This price competition has led the major multiple retailers to seek lower prices from their suppliers, including us. The strength of the major multiple retailers’ bargaining position gives them significant leverage over their suppliers in negotiating pricing, product specification and the level of supplier participation in promotional campaigns and offers, which can reduce our margins. International alliances among retailers continue to become stronger, and the trend for consolidation in Europe at a local level and across borders is ongoing. Further consolidation among the major multiple retailers or disproportionate growth in relation to their competitors could increase their relative negotiating power and allow them to force a negative shift in our trade terms. Our results of operations could also be adversely affected if these retailers suffer a significant deterioration in sales performance, if we are required to reduce our prices or increase our promotional spending activity as a consequence, if we are unable to collect accounts receivable from our customers, if we lose business from a major customer or if our relationship with a major customer deteriorates.
Our retail customers also offer private label products that compete directly with our products for retail shelf space and consumer purchases. Private label products typically have higher margins for retailers than other branded products. Accordingly, there is a risk that our customers may give higher priority to private label products or the branded products of our competitors as a result of a change in pricing strategy following the COVID-19 pandemic, which would adversely affect sales of our products. Our major multiple retail customers are also expanding into non-food product lines in their stores, thereby exerting pressure on available shelf space for other categories such as food products. We may be unable to adequately respond to these trends and, as a result, the volume of our sales may decrease, or we may need to lower the prices of our products, either of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Increased distribution costs or disruption of transportation services could adversely affect our business and financial results.
Distribution costs have historically fluctuated significantly over time, particularly in connection with oil prices, and increases in such costs could result in reduced profits. In addition, certain factors affecting distribution costs are controlled by our third-party carriers. To the extent that the market price for fuel or freight or the number or availability of carriers fluctuates, our distribution costs could be affected. Furthermore, temporary or long-term disruption of transportation services due to weather-related problems, strikes or other events could impair our ability to supply products affordably and in a timely manner or at all. Failure to receive our raw materials or to deliver our food products promptly could also result in inventory spoilage. These factors could impact our commercial reputation and result in our customers reducing their orders or ceasing to order our products. Any increases in the cost of transportation, and any disruption in transportation, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. We require the use of refrigerated vehicles to ship our products and such distribution costs represent an important element of our cost structure. We are dependent on third parties for almost all of our transportation requirements. For example, in Italy, our distribution network is shared with Unilever’s ice cream business. Our arrangement with Unilever is governed by a distribution agreement which expires in 2022. If we change the transportation services we use, we could face logistical difficulties that could delay deliveries, and we could incur costs and expend resources in connection with such change.
We do not have long-term contractual agreements with our key customers, which exposes us to increased risks with respect to such customers.
As is typical in the food industry, sales to our key customers in our major markets are made on a daily demand basis. We generally do not have long-term contractual commitments to supply such customers and must renegotiate supply and pricing terms of our products on a regular basis. Customarily, trade terms are renegotiated annually; however, ad hoc changes are often made on an informal basis, such as by email, to reflect discounts and promotional arrangements. Amounts paid are subject to end of period reconciliations to reflect these informal arrangements. In some cases, our customers seek to claim reimbursement for informal discount arrangements going back multiple periods. In addition, we do not have written contractual arrangements with a number of our other customers. Most of our customer relationships or arrangements could be terminated or renegotiated at any time and, in some cases, without reasonable notice.
Our customers may not be creditworthy.
Our business is subject to the risks of nonpayment and nonperformance by our customers. We manage our exposure to credit risk through credit analysis and monitoring procedures, and sometimes use letters of credit, prepayments and guarantees. However, these procedures and policies cannot fully eliminate customer credit risk, and to the extent our policies and procedures prove to be inadequate, it could negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, some of our customers may be highly leveraged and subject to their own operating and regulatory risks and, even if our credit review and analysis mechanisms work properly, we may experience financial losses in our dealings with such parties. Any future financial market disruptions or tightening of the credit markets could result in some of our customers experiencing a significant decline in profits and/or reduced liquidity. A significant adverse change in the financial position of a customer could require us to assume greater credit risk relating to that customer and could limit our ability to collect receivables. We do not maintain credit insurance to insure against customer credit risk. If our customers fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, it may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.
Failure to protect our brand names and trademarks could materially affect our business.
Our principal brand names and trademarks (such as Birds Eye, Iglo, Findus, Aunt Bessie's and Goodfella's) are key assets of our business and our success depends upon our ability to protect our intellectual property rights. We rely upon trademark laws to establish and protect our intellectual property rights, but cannot be certain that the actions we have taken or will take in the future will be adequate to prevent violation of our proprietary rights. Litigation may be necessary to enforce our trademark or proprietary rights or to defend us against claimed infringement of the rights of third parties. In addition, the Birds Eye brand, which we use in the UK, is used by other producers in the United States and Australia. Even though the brands have different logos, adverse publicity from such other markets may negatively impact the perception of our brands in our respective markets. Adverse publicity, legal action or other factors could lead to substantial erosion in the value of our brands, which could lead to decreased consumer demand and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
There is also a risk that other parties may have intellectual property rights covering some of our brands, products or technology. If any third parties bring a claim of intellectual property infringement against us, we may be subject to costly and time-consuming litigation, diverting the attention of management and our employees. If we are unsuccessful in defending against such claims, we may be subject to, among other things, significant damages, injunctions against development and sale of certain products, or we may be required to enter into costly licensing agreements, any of which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Health concerns or adverse developments with respect to the safety or quality of products of the food industry in general, or our own products specifically, may damage our reputation, increase our costs of operations and decrease demand for our products.
Food safety and the public’s perception that our products are safe and healthy are essential to our image and business. We sell food products for human consumption, which subjects us to safety risks such as product contamination, spoilage, misbranding or product tampering. Product contamination, including the presence of a foreign object, undeclared allergens, substance, chemical or other agent or residue or the introduction of a genetically modified organism, could require product withdrawals or recalls or the destruction of inventory, and could result in negative publicity, temporary plant closures and substantial costs of compliance or remediation. In addition, food producers, including us, have been targeted by extortion attempts that threatened to contaminate products displayed in supermarkets. Such attempts can result in the temporary removal of products from shelf displays as a precautionary
measure and result in lost revenue. We may also be impacted by publicity concerning any assertion that our products caused illness or injury. In addition, we could be subject to claims or lawsuits relating to an actual or alleged illness stemming from product contamination or any other incidents that compromise the safety and quality of our products. Any significant lawsuit or widespread product recall or other events leading to the loss of consumer confidence in the safety and quality of our products could damage our brand, reputation and image and negatively impact our sales, profitability and prospects for growth. We could also be adversely affected if consumers lose confidence in the safety and quality of certain food products or ingredients, or the food safety system generally. If another company recalls or experiences negative publicity related to a product in a category in which we compete, consumers might reduce their overall consumption of products in this category. Adverse publicity about these types of concerns, whether valid or not, may discourage consumers from buying our products or cause production and delivery disruptions. In addition, product recalls are difficult to foresee and prepare for and, in the event we are required to recall one or more of our products, such recall may result in loss of sales due to unavailability of our products and may take up a significant amount of our management’s time and attention. We maintain systems designed to monitor food safety risks and require our suppliers to do so as well. However, we cannot guarantee that our efforts will be successful or that such risks will not materialize, particularly since such systems are harder to implement and monitor during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, although we attempt, through contractual relationships and regular inspections, to control the risk of contamination caused by third parties in relation to the several manufacturing and distribution processes we outsource, we cannot guarantee that our efforts will be successful or that contamination of our products by third parties will not materialize.
We are also subject to further risks affecting the food industry generally, including risks posed by widespread contamination and evolving nutritional and health-related concerns. Regulatory authorities may limit the supply of certain types of food products in response to public health concerns and consumers may perceive certain products to be unsafe or unhealthy. In addition, governmental regulations may require us to discontinue certain offerings or limit the range of products we offer. We may be unable to find substitutes that are as appealing to our customer base, or such substitutes may not be widely available or may be available only at increased costs. Such substitutions or limitations could also reduce demand for our products.
We could also be subject to claims or lawsuits relating to an actual or alleged illness or injury or death stemming from the consumption of a misbranded, altered, contaminated or spoiled product, which could negatively affect our business. Awards of damages, settlement amounts and fees and expenses resulting from such claims and the public relations implications of any such claims could have an adverse effect on our business. The availability and price of insurance to cover claims for damages are subject to market forces that we do not control, and such insurance may not cover all the costs of such claims and would not cover damage to our reputation. Even if product liability claims against us are not successful or fully pursued, these claims could be costly and time consuming, increase our insurance premiums and divert our management’s time and resources towards defending them rather than operating our business. In addition, any adverse publicity concerning such claims, even if unfounded, could cause customers to lose confidence in the safety and quality of our products and damage our reputation and brand image.
Potential liabilities and costs from litigation could adversely affect our business.
There is no guarantee that we will be successful in defending ourselves in civil, criminal or regulatory actions, including under general, commercial, employment, environmental, food quality and safety, anti-trust and trade, advertising and claims, and environmental laws and regulations, or in asserting our rights under various laws. For example, our marketing or claims could face allegations of false, misleading or deceptive advertising or other criticisms which could end up in litigation and result in potential liabilities or costs. In addition, we could incur substantial costs and fees in defending ourselves or in asserting our rights in these actions or meeting new legal requirements. Even when not merited, the defense of these lawsuits may divert our management’s attention, and we may incur significant costs in defending these lawsuits. The costs and other effects of potential and pending litigation and administrative actions against us, and new legal requirements, cannot be determined with certainty and may differ from expectations.
We are exposed to local business and tax risks in many different countries.
We operate in various countries in Europe, predominantly in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Norway. As a result, our business is subject to risks resulting from differing legal, political, social and regulatory requirements, economic conditions and unforeseeable developments in these markets, all or any of which could result in disruption of our activities. These risks include, among others, political instability (including the impact of Brexit), differing economic cycles, tariffs, duties and adverse economic conditions, unexpected changes in regulatory environments (including regulations stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic), currency exchange rate fluctuations, inability to collect payments or seek recourse under or comply with ambiguous or vague commercial or other laws, changes in distribution and supply channels, foreign exchange controls and restrictions on repatriation of funds, and difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified management and employees. Our overall success in the markets in which
we operate depends, to a considerable extent, on our ability to effectively manage differing legal, political, social and regulatory requirements, economic conditions and unforeseeable developments. We cannot guarantee that we will succeed in developing and implementing policies and strategies which will be effective in each location where we do business.
We must comply with complex and evolving tax regulations in the various jurisdictions in which we operate, which subjects us to international tax compliance risks. Some tax jurisdictions in which we operate have complex and subjective rules regarding income tax, value-added tax, sales or excise tax, tariffs, duties and transfer tax. From time to time, our foreign subsidiaries are subject to tax audits and may be required to pay additional taxes, interest or penalties should the taxing authority assert different interpretations, or different allocations or valuations of our services which could be material and could reduce our income and cash flow from our international subsidiaries. We currently have several pending tax assessments and audits in various jurisdictions including Germany, Sweden and Italy. The agreements by which we acquired certain businesses provide for certain indemnifications of tax liabilities which may arise in certain jurisdictions which we believe are sufficient to address these specific tax matters as far as they relate to those businesses. We have also established, where appropriate, reserves and provisions for tax assessments which we believe to be adequate to address potential tax liabilities. However, it is possible that the tax audits referred to above could result in the volatility of timings of cash tax payment and recoveries. In addition, it is possible that countries will increase tax rates in the future, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our business is dependent on third-party suppliers and changes or difficulties in our relationships with our suppliers may harm our business and financial results.
We outsource some of our business functions to third-party suppliers, such as the processing of certain vegetables and other products, the manufacturing of products and packaging materials and distribution of our products. Our suppliers are subject to their own unique operational and financial risks, which are out of our control. Our suppliers may fail to meet timelines or contractual obligations or fail to provide us with sufficient products or services, which may adversely affect our business. Certain of our contracts with key suppliers, such as for the raw materials we use in our products, are short term, can be terminated by the supplier upon giving notice within a certain period and restrict us from using other suppliers. Also, a number of our supply contracts, including for fish and vegetables, may be terminated by the supplier upon a change in our ownership. Failure to appropriately structure or adequately manage our agreements with third parties may adversely affect our supply of raw materials or our supply of products to our customers. We are also subject to credit risk with respect to our third-party suppliers. If any such suppliers become insolvent, an appointed trustee could potentially ignore the service contracts we have in place with such party, resulting in increased charges or the termination of the service contracts. We may not be able to replace a service provider within a reasonable period of time, on as favorable terms or without disruption to our operations. Any adverse changes to our relationships with third-party suppliers could have a material adverse effect on our image, brand and reputation, as well as on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, to the extent that our creditworthiness is impaired, or general economic conditions decline, certain of our key suppliers may demand onerous payment terms that could materially adversely affect our working capital position, or such suppliers may refuse to continue to supply to us. A number of our key suppliers have taken out trade credit insurance on our ability to pay them. To the extent that such trade credit insurance becomes unobtainable or more expensive due to market conditions, we may face adverse changes to payment terms by our key suppliers or they may refuse to continue to supply us.
The price of energy we consume in the manufacture, storage and distribution of our products is subject to volatile market conditions.
The price of electricity and other energy resources required in the manufacture, storage and distribution of our products is subject to volatile market conditions. These market conditions are often affected by political and economic factors beyond our control, including, for instance, the energy policies of the countries in which we operate. For example, the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear power generation by 2022 could cause electricity prices and price volatility in Germany to increase. Any sustained increases in energy costs could have an adverse effect on the attractiveness of frozen food products for our customers and consumers and could affect our competitive position if our competitors’ energy costs do not increase at the same rate as ours. In addition, disruptions in the supply of energy resources could temporarily impair our ability to manufacture products for our customers. Such disruptions may also occur as a result of the loss of energy supply contracts or the inability to enter into new energy supply contracts on commercially attractive terms. Furthermore, natural catastrophes or similar events could affect the electricity grid. Any such disruptions or increases in energy costs as a result of the aforementioned factors or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our supply network and manufacturing and distribution facilities could be disrupted by factors beyond our control such as extreme weather, fire, terrorist activity, health epidemics and other outbreaks and natural disasters.
Severe weather conditions and natural disasters, such as storms, floods, droughts, frosts, earthquakes or pestilence, may affect the supply of the raw materials that we use for the manufacturing of our products. For example, changing climate may cause flooding and drought in crop growing areas or changes in sea temperatures may affect marine biomass, fishing catch rates and overall fishing conditions. In addition, drought or floods may affect the feed supply for red meat and poultry, which in turn may affect the quality and availability of protein sources for our products. Adverse weather conditions and natural disasters can reduce crop size and crop quality, which in turn can reduce our supplies of raw materials, lower recoveries of usable raw materials, increase the prices of our raw materials, increase our cost of transporting and storing raw materials, or disrupt our production schedules. Competing food producers can be affected differently by weather conditions and natural disasters depending on the location of their supply sources. If our supplies of raw materials are reduced, we may not be able to find adequate supplemental supply sources, if at all, on favorable terms, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.
Our supply network could also be adversely affected by the outbreak of various diseases, such as the current COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic. As a result of the global pandemic, there may be delays in procurement or we may be unable to access such alternative supply on commercially reasonable terms, which may have an adverse impact on our operating results. In addition, a significant outbreak of a contagious disease in the human population could result in a widespread health crisis that could adversely affect the economies and financial markets of many countries, resulting in an economic downturn that could affect demand for our products and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
In addition, our manufacturing and distribution facilities may be subject to damage, disruption or closure resulting from fire, terrorist activity, natural disasters, health epidemics or other causes. For example, our Lowestoft and Bremerhaven manufacturing facilities are situated in regions which have historically been prone to flooding. Extensive damage to any of our fourteen major manufacturing facilities as a result of any of the foregoing reasons, could, to the extent that lost production could not be compensated for by unaffected facilities, severely affect our ability to conduct our business operations and, as a result, adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Furthermore, as we lease parts of our Boulogne, Bremerhaven, Lowestoft, and Tonsberg manufacturing sites, the use of these properties is subject to certain terms and conditions, the breach of which could affect our ability to continue use of these properties which in turn may disrupt our operations and may materially adversely affect our results of operations.
Seasonality impacts our business, and our revenue and working capital levels may vary quarter to quarter.
Our sales and working capital levels have historically been affected to a limited extent by seasonality. In general, sales volumes for frozen food are slightly higher in cold or winter months, partly because there are fewer fresh alternatives available for vegetables and because our customers typically allocate more freezer space to the ice cream segment in summer or hotter months. In addition, variable production costs, including costs for seasonal staff, and working capital requirements associated with the keeping of inventories, vary depending on the harvesting and buying periods of seasonal raw materials, in particular vegetable crops. For example, stock (and therefore net working capital) levels typically peak in August to September just after the pea harvest. If seasonal fluctuations are greater than anticipated, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
We may be unable to realize the expected benefits of actions taken to align our resources, operate more efficiently and control costs.
When required we take actions, such as workforce reductions, plant closures and consolidations, and other cost reduction initiatives, such as our factory optimization program, to align our resources with our growth strategies, operate more efficiently and control costs. As these plans and actions are complex, unforeseen factors could result in expected savings and benefits to be delayed or not realized to the full extent planned, could negatively impact labor relations, including causing work stoppages, and could lead to disruptions in our business and operations and higher short-term costs related to severance and related capital expenditures.
Significant disruption in our workforce or the workforce of our suppliers could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As of December 31, 2020, we employed approximately 4,890 employees, of which approximately 1,374 were located in Germany, 1,333 were located in the UK, 343 were located in France, 479 were located in Italy, 397 were located in Sweden/Norway and 964 employees in other locations. As of December 31, 2020, approximately 70% of our employees worked in our manufacturing operations. We have in the past, and may in the future, experience labor disputes and work stoppages at one or more of our manufacturing sites due to localized strikes or strikes in the larger retail food industry sector. We have also been involved in negotiations on collective bargaining agreements. A labor stoppage or other interruption at one of our fourteen manufacturing sites would impact our ability to supply our customers and could have a pronounced effect on our operations. Further, a number of our employees in the UK are not UK citizens and, under the EU settlement scheme, will need to apply for settled status to retain the right to work in the UK following the formal withdrawal from the EU. Future labor disturbance or work stoppage at any of our or our suppliers’ facilities in Germany, the UK, Italy or elsewhere may have an adverse effect on such facility’s operations and, potentially, on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Higher labor costs could adversely affect our business and financial results.
We compete with other producers for good and dependable employees. The supply of such employees is limited and competition to hire and retain them may result in higher labor costs. Furthermore, a number of our employees are subject to national minimum wage requirements. If legislation is enacted in these countries that has the effect of raising the national minimum wage requirements, requires additional mandatory employee benefits or affects our ability to hire or dismiss employees, we could face substantially higher labor costs. In the UK, the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increased in April 2020. High labor costs could adversely affect our profitability if we are not able to pass them on to our customers.
We are dependent upon key executives and highly qualified managers and we cannot assure their retention.
Our success depends, in part, upon the continued services of key members of our management. Our executives’ and managers’ knowledge of the market, our business and our Company represents a key strength of our business, which cannot be easily replicated. The success of our business strategy and our future growth also depend on our ability to attract, train, retain and motivate skilled managerial, sales, administration, development and operating personnel.
There can be no assurance that our existing personnel will be adequate or qualified to carry out our strategy, or that we will be able to hire or retain experienced, qualified employees to carry out our strategy. The loss of one or more of our key management or operating personnel, or the failure to attract and retain additional key personnel, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Our Acquisition Strategy
We may not be able to consummate future acquisitions or successfully integrate acquisitions into our business which could result in unanticipated expenses and losses.
Our strategy is largely based on our ability to grow through acquisitions of additional businesses to build an integrated group. Consummating acquisitions of businesses, or our failure to integrate such businesses successfully into our existing businesses, could result in unanticipated expenses and losses. Furthermore, we may not be able to realize any of the anticipated benefits from completed acquisitions, including the Findus Switzerland, Goodfella's Pizza and Aunt Bessie's acquisitions.
We anticipate that any future acquisitions we may pursue as part of our business strategy may be partially financed through additional debt or equity. For example, the Goodfella's acquisition was partially financed through drawdowns of incremental term loans in January and February 2018. Any future financial market disruptions or tightening of the credit markets may make it more difficult for us to obtain financing for acquisitions or increase the cost of obtaining financing. If new debt is added to current debt levels, or if we incur other liabilities, including contingent liabilities, in connection with an acquisition, the debt or liabilities could impose additional constraints and requirements on our business and operations, which could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operation. In addition, to the extent our ordinary shares are used for all or a portion of the consideration to be paid for future acquisitions, dilution may be experienced by existing shareholders.
In connection with our completed and future acquisitions, the process of integrating acquired operations into our existing group operations may result in unforeseen operating difficulties and may require significant financial resources that would otherwise be available for the ongoing development or expansion of existing operations. Some of the risks associated with acquisitions include:
•unexpected losses of key employees or customers of the acquired company;
•conforming the acquired company's standards, processes, procedures and controls with our operations;
•coordinating new product and process development;
•hiring additional management and other critical personnel;
•negotiating with labor unions; and
•increasing the scope, geographic diversity and complexity of our current operations.
We may encounter unforeseen obstacles or costs in the integration of businesses that we may acquire. In addition, general economic and market conditions or other factors outside of our control could make our operating strategies difficult or impossible to implement. Any failure to implement these operational improvements successfully and/or the failure of these operational improvements to deliver the anticipated benefits could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
We may be subject to antitrust regulations with respect to future acquisition opportunities.
Many jurisdictions in which we operate have antitrust regulations which involve governmental filings for certain acquisitions, impose waiting periods and require approvals by government regulators. Governmental authorities may seek to challenge potential acquisitions or impose conditions, terms, obligations or restrictions that may delay completion of the acquisition or materially reduce the anticipated benefits (financial or otherwise). Our inability to consummate potential future acquisitions or to receive the full benefits of such acquisitions because of antitrust regulations could limit our ability to execute on our acquisition strategy which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
We may face significant competition for acquisition opportunities.
There may be significant competition in some or all of the acquisition opportunities that we may explore. Such competition may for example come from strategic buyers, sovereign wealth funds, special purpose acquisition companies and public and private investment funds, many of which are well established and have extensive experience in identifying and completing acquisitions. A number of these competitors may possess greater technical, financial, human and other resources than us. We cannot assure investors that we will be successful against such competition. Such competition may cause us to be unsuccessful in executing any acquisition or may result in a successful acquisition being made at a significantly higher price than would otherwise have been the case.
Any due diligence by us in connection with potential future acquisitions may not reveal all relevant considerations or liabilities of the target business, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
We intend to conduct such due diligence as we deem reasonably practicable and appropriate based on the facts and circumstances applicable to any potential acquisition. The objective of the due diligence process will be to identify material issues which may affect the decision to proceed with any one particular acquisition target or the consideration payable for an acquisition. We also intend to use information revealed during the due diligence process to formulate our business and operational planning for, and our valuation of, any target company or business. While conducting due diligence and assessing a potential acquisition, we may rely on publicly available information, if any, information provided by the relevant target company to the extent such company is willing or able to provide such information and, in some circumstances, third party investigations, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, where certain of our diligence efforts may be delayed or prohibited due to government or practical restrictions.
There can be no assurance that the due diligence undertaken with respect to an acquisition will reveal all relevant facts that may be necessary to evaluate such acquisition including the determination of the price we may pay for an acquisition target or to formulate a business strategy. Furthermore, the information provided during due diligence may be incomplete, inadequate or inaccurate. As part of the due diligence process, we will also make subjective judgments regarding the results of operations, financial condition and prospects of a potential target. If the due diligence investigation fails to correctly identify material issues and liabilities that may be present in a target company or business,
or if we consider such material risks to be commercially acceptable relative to the opportunity, and we proceed with an acquisition, we may subsequently incur substantial impairment charges or other losses.
In addition, following any acquisition, we may be subject to significant, previously undisclosed liabilities of the acquired business that were not identified during due diligence and which could contribute to poor operational performance, undermine any attempt to restructure the acquired company or business in line with our business plan and have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Regulations
Costs or liabilities relating to compliance with applicable directives, regulations and laws could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As a producer of food products for human consumption, we are subject to extensive regulation in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway and other countries in which we operate, as well as the European Union, that governs production, composition, manufacturing, storage, transport, advertising, packaging, health, quality, labeling, safety and distribution standards. In addition, national regulations that have implemented European directives applicable to frozen products establish highly technical requirements regarding labeling, manufacturing, transportation, sale and storage of frozen food products. For example, new regulations of the European Parliament and Council which took effect in December 2014 changed rules relating to the presentation of nutritional information on packaging and other rules on labeling. It is unclear how such rules will be impacted as a result of Brexit but there may be changes and further regulations that the Company has to adhere to. Local governmental authorities also set out health and safety related conditions and restrictions. Any failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could subject us to civil remedies, including fines, injunctions, product recalls or asset seizures, as well as potential criminal sanctions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, our facilities and our suppliers’ facilities are subject to licensing, reporting requirements and official quality controls by numerous governmental authorities. These governmental authorities include European, national and local health, environmental, labor relations, sanitation, building, zoning, and fire and safety departments. Difficulties in obtaining or failure to obtain the necessary licenses or approval could delay or prevent the development, expansion or operation of a given production or warehouse facility. Any changes in those regulations may require us or our suppliers to implement new quality controls and possibly invest in new equipment, which could delay the development of new products and increase our operating costs.
All of our products must comply with strict national and international hygiene regulations. Our facilities and our suppliers’ facilities are subject to regular inspection by authorities for compliance with hygiene regulations applicable to the sale, storage and manufacturing of foodstuffs and the traceability of genetically modified organisms, meats and other raw materials. Additionally, in certain jurisdictions, food business operators, including those in the food storage, processing and distribution sectors, are required to trace all food, animal feed, and food-producing animals under their control using registration systems that track the source of the products through the supply chain. Despite the precautions we undertake, should any non-compliance with such regulations be discovered during an inspection or otherwise, authorities may temporarily shut down any of our facilities, demand a product recall and/or levy a fine for such non-compliance, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We could incur material costs to address violations of, or liabilities under, health, safety and environmental regulations.
Our facilities and operations are subject to numerous health, safety and environmental regulations, including local and national laws, and European directives and regulations governing, among other things, water supply and use, water discharges, air emissions, chemical safety, solid and hazardous waste management and disposal, clean-up of contamination, energy use, noise pollution, and workplace health and safety. Health, safety and environmental legislation in Europe and elsewhere have generally become more comprehensive and restrictive and more rigid over time and enforcement has become more stringent. Failure to comply with applicable requirements, or the terms of required permits, can result in penalties or fines, clean-up costs, third party property damage and personal injury claims, which could have a material adverse effect on our brand, business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if health, safety and environmental laws and regulations in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway and the other countries in which we operate or from which we source raw materials and ingredients become more stringent in the future, the extent and timing of investments required to maintain compliance may exceed our budgets or estimates and may limit the availability of funding for other investments.
Furthermore, under some environmental laws, we could be liable for costs incurred in investigating or remediating contamination at properties we own or occupy, even if the contamination was caused by a party unrelated to us or was not caused by us, and even if the activity which caused the contamination was legal at the time it occurred. The discovery of previously unknown contamination, or the imposition of new or more burdensome obligations to investigate or remediate contamination at our properties or at third-party sites, could result in substantial unanticipated costs which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In certain jurisdictions, we are also subject to legislation designed to significantly reduce industrial energy use, water use, carbon dioxide emissions and the emission of ozone depleting compounds more generally. If we fail to meet applicable standards for energy use reduction or are unable to decrease, and in some cases eliminate, certain emissions within the applicable period required by relevant laws and regulations, we could be subject to significant penalties or fines and temporary or long-term disruptions to production at our facilities, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to a variety of regulatory schemes; failure to comply with applicable rules and regulations could adversely affect our business, results of operations and reputation.
Our operations are subject to a variety of regulatory schemes which require us to implement processes, procedures and controls to provide reasonable assurance that we are operating in compliance with applicable regulations, including the UK Bribery Act, the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, the Trade Sanctions and Export Controls and GDPR. Failure to comply (or any alleged failure to comply) with the regulations referenced above or any other regulations could result in civil and criminal, monetary and non-monetary penalties, and any such failure or alleged failure (or becoming subject to a regulatory enforcement investigation) could also damage our reputation, disrupt our business, result in loss of customers and cause us to incur significant legal and investigatory fees. In addition, our business, including our ability to operate and continue to expand internationally, could be adversely affected if local and foreign laws or regulations are adopted, interpreted, or implemented in a manner that is inconsistent with our current business practices and that require rapid changes to these practices or our products, services, policies and procedures. If we are not able to adapt our business practices or strategies to changes in laws or regulations, it could subject us to liability, increased costs and reduced product demand. Additionally, the costs of compliance with laws and regulations may increase in the future as a result of changes in interpretation. Any failure by us to comply with applicable laws and regulations may subject us to significant liabilities and could adversely affect our business, results of operations and reputation.
Changes in the European regulatory environment regarding privacy and data protection regulations, such as the GDPR, could expose us to risks of noncompliance and costs associated with compliance.
On May 25, 2018, the EU’s GDPR became enforceable. The GDPR relates to the collection, use, retention, security, processing and transfer of personally identifiable information of residents of EU countries, and because of our operations in the EU and in the UK, we are subject to these heightened standards. The GDPR created a range of new compliance obligations and imposes significant fines and sanctions for violations. Among other things, the GDPR requires companies to meet stringent requirements regarding the handling of personal data of individuals located in the European Economic Area, or EEA. These more stringent requirements include expanded disclosures to inform customers about how we may use their personal data through external privacy notices, increased controls on profiling customers and increased rights for data subjects (including customers and employees) to access, control and delete their personal data. In addition, there are mandatory data breach notification requirements. The GDPR imposes substantial fines for breaches and violations (up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of our annual global revenue). The GDPR also confers a private right of action on data subjects and consumer associations to lodge complaints with supervisory authorities, seek judicial remedies and obtain compensation for damages resulting from violations of the GDPR. Furthermore, there is significant uncertainty with respect to compliance with privacy and data protection laws and regulations, including the GDPR, because they are continuously evolving and developing and may be interpreted and applied differently from country to country and may create inconsistent or conflicting requirements. Our efforts to comply with privacy and data protection laws, including the GDPR, may impose significant costs and challenges that are likely to increase over time. Since January 1, 2021 the GDPR has ceased to have direct effect in the UK but with the implementation of the Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 in the UK, this has the effect of ensuring that the GDPR makes sense and is directly applicable in the UK on a standalone basis.
A failure in our cold chain could lead to unsafe food conditions and increased costs.
“Cold chain” requirements setting out the temperatures at which our ingredients and products are stored are established both by statute and by us to help guarantee the safety of our food products. Our cold chain is maintained from the moment the ingredients arrive at, or are frozen by, our suppliers, through our manufacturing and transportation of products and ultimately to the time of sale in retail stores. These standards ensure the quality, freshness and safety of our products. A failure in the cold chain could lead to wastage, increased costs, food contamination, risks to the health of consumers, fines and damage to our brands and reputation, each of which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Financial Management
We have risks related to our indebtedness, including our ability to withstand adverse business conditions and to meet our debt service obligations.
Our ability to make payments on and to refinance our indebtedness, and to fund our operations, working capital and capital expenditures, depends on our ability to generate cash. To a certain extent, our cash flow is subject to general economic, industry, financial, competitive, operating, legislative, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond our control.
We cannot assure you that our business will generate sufficient cash flow from operations or that future sources of cash will be available to us in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay amounts due on our indebtedness or to fund our other liquidity needs.
Additionally, if we incur additional indebtedness in connection with any future acquisitions or development projects or for any other purpose, our debt service obligations could increase. We may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness before maturity. Our ability to refinance our indebtedness or obtain additional financing will depend on, among other things:
• our financial condition and market conditions at the time;
• restrictions in the agreements governing our indebtedness;
• general economic and capital market conditions;
• the availability of credit from banks or other lenders;
• investor confidence in us; and
• our results of operations.
In addition, a significant part of our indebtedness includes provisions with respect to maintaining and complying with certain financial and operational covenants. Our ability to comply with these covenants may be affected by events beyond our control. A breach of one or more of these covenants could result in an event of default and may give rise to an acceleration of the debt. In the longer term, such breach of covenants could have a material adverse effect on our operations and cash flows.
Our variable rate indebtedness subjects us to interest rate risk, which could cause our debt service obligations to increase significantly.
An increase in market interest rates may increase our interest expense arising on our existing and future floating rate indebtedness. Pursuant to the terms of our Senior Facilities Agreement, the interest rate that we pay on indebtedness incurred under our term loan facilities or revolving credit facility varies based on a fixed margin over a base reference rate of LIBOR or EURIBOR. As a result, we are exposed to interest rate risk. If interest rates increase, our debt service obligations on the variable rate indebtedness will increase even though the amount borrowed remained the same, and our net income and cash flows, including cash available for operational or strategic purposes, will correspondingly decrease. Pursuant to the Company interest rate hedging policy, we may enter into interest rate derivatives that may involve the exchange of floating for fixed rate interest payments in order to reduce interest rate volatility. However, we may not maintain interest rate swaps with respect to all of our variable rate indebtedness, and any swaps we enter into may not fully mitigate our interest rate risk.
Our indebtedness is subject to changes in interest reference rates
Pursuant to the terms of the current Senior Facilities Agreement, the interest rate paid on indebtedness incurred under our term loan facilities and/or revolving credit facility varies based on a fixed margin over a base reference rate of LIBOR or EURIBOR. As a result of decisions taken by national regulators, LIBOR (including potentially EURIBOR at a later date) will become phased out and replaced by a replacement reference index. LIBOR rates are expected to be phased out at the end of 2021. As a result of replacement of LIBOR rates, during 2021 we will need to renegotiate the terms of our Senior Facilities Agreement with our lenders and amend the terms of linked interest rate hedging arrangements. As a result of these changes to underlying interest reference rates, the Company may be exposed to volatility with regard to interest costs on indebtedness and linked interest rate hedging arrangements.
We are exposed to exchange rate risks and such rates may adversely affect our results of operations.
We are exposed to exchange rate risk. Our reporting currency is the Euro. We are exposed to foreign exchange translation risk as we convert the Pound Sterling results of our UK business, the Norwegian Krone of our Norwegian business, Swedish Krona results of our Swedish business and Swiss Franc results of our Swiss business into our reporting currency of Euro. Pursuant to Company foreign exchange hedging policy, we have converted a portion of our USD term loan to EUR and from EUR to GBP using cross currency interest rate swaps that act as a net investment hedge for our UK business. We are exposed to transactional exchange rate risk as many of our raw material purchases may be denominated in non-functional currencies of the purchasing entity, predominantly U.S. Dollars and Euro. Company policy is to reduce this risk by using foreign exchange forward contracts that are designated as cash flow hedges. Hedging arrangements may not fully protect us against currency fluctuations and may or not achieve hedge effectiveness. Fluctuations and sustained strengthening of non-functional currencies against the functional currency of the operating entities may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changes to our payment terms with both customers and suppliers may materially adversely affect our operating cash flows.
We may experience significant pressure from our key suppliers to reduce trade payable terms. At the same time, we may experience pressure from our customers to extend trade receivable terms. European and country legislation can also set conditions and restrictions related to payment terms between suppliers and purchasers at different levels of the supply chain. Any failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could subject us to civil remedies, including fines, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any such changes in commercial arrangements regarding trade payable and trade receivable payment terms, as a result of changes in legislation or otherwise, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
An impairment of the carrying value of goodwill or other intangible assets could negatively affect our consolidated operating results and net worth.
Goodwill represents amounts arising from acquisitions and is the difference between the cost of the acquisition and the fair value of the net identifiable assets acquired. Intangible assets can include computer software, brands, customer relationships and other acquired intangibles as of the acquisition date. Goodwill and other intangibles expected to contribute indefinitely to our cash flows are not amortized but must be evaluated by management at least annually for impairment. If carrying value exceeds its recoverable amount, the intangible is considered impaired and is reduced to fair value via a charge to earnings. Factors outside of our control which could result in an impairment include, but are not limited to: (i) reduced demand for our products; (ii) higher commodity prices; (iii) lower prices for our products or increased marketing as a result of increased competition; and (iv) significant disruptions to our operations as a result of both internal and external events. Should the value of one or more of the acquired intangibles become impaired, our consolidated profit or loss and net assets may be materially adversely affected. As of December 31, 2020, the carrying value of intangible assets totaled €4,052.1 million, of which €1,938.0 million was goodwill and €2,114.1 million represented brands, computer software, customer relationships and other acquired intangibles compared to total assets of €5,573.4 million.
We face risks associated with certain pension obligations.
The Company has a mixture of partially funded and unfunded post-employment defined benefit plans in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria as well as defined benefit indemnity arrangements in Italy and France. Deterioration in the value or lower than expected returns on investments may lead to an increase in our obligation to make contributions to these plans.
The obligations that arise from these plans are calculated using actuarial valuations which are based on assumptions linked to the performance of financial markets, interest rates and legislation which changes over time. Adverse changes to these assumptions will impact the obligations recognized and would lead to higher cash payments in the long term.
Our obligation to make contributions to the pension plans could reduce the cash available for operational and other corporate uses and may have a materially adverse impact on our operations, financial condition and liquidity.
We are exposed to risks related to our financial arrangements with respect to receivables factoring.
We may enter into factoring arrangements from time to time with financial institutions to sell certain of our accounts receivables from customers without recourse. If we were to stop entering into these factoring arrangements, our operating results, financial condition and cash flows could be adversely impacted by delays or failures in collecting accounts receivables. However, by entering into these arrangements we are exposed to additional risks. If any of these financial institutions experiences financial difficulties or is otherwise unable to honor the terms of our factoring arrangements, we may experience material financial losses due to the failure of such arrangements which could have an adverse impact upon our operating results, financial condition and cash flows.
We are a holding company whose principal source of operating cash is the income received from our subsidiaries.
We are a holding company and rely on the earnings and cash flows of our subsidiaries, which are paid to us by our subsidiaries in the form of dividends and other payments or distributions, to meet our debt service and other obligations, and to pay dividends on our ordinary shares (which we do not intend to do in any case in the foreseeable future, as addressed elsewhere in these risk factors). The ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other payments or distributions to us will depend on their respective operating results and may be restricted by, among other things, the laws of their jurisdiction of organization (which may limit the amount of funds available for the payment of dividends and other distributions to us), their constitutional documents, documents governing any existing indebtedness and the covenants of any future outstanding indebtedness that our subsidiaries incur, and other factors which may be outside our control.
The Founders and/or the Founder Entities may in the future enter into related party transactions with us, which may give rise to conflicts of interest between us and some or all of the Founders and/or the Directors.
Our founders, Sir Martin Franklin and Noam Gottesman (the “Founders”) and/or one or more of their affiliates, including Mariposa Acquisition II, LLC and TOMS Acquisition I LLC (the “Founder Entities”) may in the future enter into agreements with us that are not currently under contemplation. While we have implemented procedures to ensure we will not enter into any related party transaction without the approval of our Audit Committee, it is possible that the entering into of such an agreement might raise conflicts of interest between us and some or all of the Founders and/or the directors.
General Risk Factors
Any disruptions, failures or security breaches of our information technology systems, or those of third parties on which we rely, could harm our business and reduce our profitability.
We are increasingly dependent upon on our information technology systems for communication among our suppliers, manufacturing plants, distribution functions, headquarters and customers. Our performance depends on the availability of accurate and timely data and other information from key software applications to aid day-to-day business and decision-making processes. We may be adversely affected if our controls designed to manage information technology operational risks fail to contain such risks. If we do not allocate and effectively manage the resources necessary to build and sustain the proper technology infrastructure and to maintain the related automated and manual control processes, we could be subject to adverse effects including billing and collection errors, business disruptions, in particular concerning our manufacturing and logistics functions, issues with or errors in system's maintenance and security and migration of applications to the cloud and security breaches. Any disruption caused by failings in our information technology infrastructure equipment or of communication networks, could delay or otherwise impact our day-to-day business and decision-making processes and negatively impact our performance. In addition, we are reliant on third parties to service parts of our IT infrastructure. Failure on their part to provide good and timely service may have an adverse impact on our information technology network. Furthermore, we do not control the facilities or operations of our suppliers or third parties. An interruption of operations at any of their or our facilities or any failure by
them to deliver on their contractual commitments may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Although our information technology systems are protected through physical and software safeguards, it is difficult to protect against the possibility of damage or breach created by cyber-attacks or other security attacks in every potential circumstance that may arise. In addition, governmental authorities have warned that cybercriminals will take advantage of the uncertainty created by COVID-19 and federal and state mandated quarantines to launch cybersecurity attacks. The risks could include more frequent malicious cybersecurity and fraudulent activities, as well as schemes which attempt to take advantage of employees’ use of various technologies to enable remote work activities. We believe the COVID-19 outbreak has incrementally increased our cyber risk profile, but we are unable to predict the extent or impacts of those risks at this time. As cyber-attacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication, particularly following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes even more difficult to protect against a breach of our information technology systems. Cybersecurity incidents that impact the availability, reliability, speed, accuracy, or other proper functioning of these information technology systems could have a significant impact on our operations. If we are unable to prevent physical and electronic break-ins, cyber-attacks and other information security breaches, we may suffer financial and reputational damage, be subject to litigation or incur remediation costs or penalties because of the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information belonging to us or to our customers, suppliers or employees. The mishandling or inappropriate disclosure of non-public sensitive or protected information could lead to the loss of intellectual property, negatively impact planned corporate transactions or damage our reputation and brand image. Misuse, leakage or falsification of legally protected information could also result in a violation of data privacy laws and regulations and have a negative impact on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changes in accounting standards and subjective assumptions, estimates and judgments by management related to complex accounting matters could significantly affect our financial results.
Generally accepted accounting principles and related accounting pronouncements, implementation guidelines and interpretations with regard to a wide range of matters that are relevant to our business, including but not limited to revenue recognition, leases, estimating valuation allowances and accrued liabilities (including allowances for returns, doubtful accounts and obsolete and damaged inventory), accounting for income taxes, valuation of long-lived and intangible assets and goodwill, stock-based compensation and loss contingencies, are highly complex and involve many subjective assumptions, estimates and judgments by our management. Changes in these rules or their interpretation or changes in underlying assumptions, estimates or judgments by our management could significantly change our reported or expected financial performance, and could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Management continues to assess new accounting pronouncements and their impact on the Company prior to their adoption dates.
We may incur liabilities that are not covered by insurance.
While we seek to maintain appropriate levels of insurance, not all claims are insurable, and we may experience major incidents of a nature that are not covered by insurance. Our insurance policies cover, among other things, employee-related accidents and injuries, property damage and liability deriving from our activities. In particular, our Lowestoft and Bremerhaven manufacturing facilities are situated in regions that have historically been affected by flooding. We may not be able to obtain flood insurance on reasonable terms or at all with respect to those facilities. We maintain an amount of insurance protection that we believe is adequate, but there can be no assurance that such insurance will continue to be available on acceptable terms or that our insurance coverage will be sufficient or effective under all circumstances and against all liabilities to which we may be subject. We could, for example, be subject to substantial claims for damages upon the occurrence of several events within one calendar year. In addition, our insurance costs may increase over time in response to any negative development in our claims history or due to material price increases in the insurance market in general.
If we fail to or are unable to implement and maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting, the accuracy and timeliness of our financial reporting may be adversely affected.
We are subject to reporting obligations under U.S. securities laws. The SEC, as required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, has adopted rules requiring every public company to include a report of management on the effectiveness of such company's internal control over financial reporting in its annual report. In addition, an independent registered public accounting firm must issue an attestation report on the effectiveness of the company's internal control over financial reporting.
We recognize that any controls and procedures, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable assurance of achieving their objectives, and our management necessarily applies its judgment in evaluating the cost-benefit relationship of possible controls and procedures. If we fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, we and our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude that we have effective internal control over financial reporting at a reasonable assurance level. This could in turn result in the loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements. Furthermore, we have incurred and anticipate that we will continue to incur considerable costs and use significant management time and other resources in an effort to comply with Section 404 and other requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. If we are not able to continue to meet the requirements of Section 404 in a timely manner or with adequate compliance, we might be subject to sanctions or investigation by the SEC, the NYSE or other regulatory authorities. Any such action could adversely affect the accuracy and timeliness of our financial reporting.
Risks Related to our Ordinary Shares
We have various equity instruments outstanding that would require us to issue additional ordinary shares. Therefore, you may experience significant dilution of your ownership interests and the future issuance of additional ordinary shares, or the anticipation of such issuances, could have an adverse effect on our share price.
We currently have various equity instruments outstanding that would require us to issue additional ordinary shares for no or a fixed amount of additional consideration. Specifically, as of February 19, 2021, we had outstanding the following:
•1,500,000 Founder Preferred Shares held by the Founder Entities, which are controlled by the Founders. The preferred shares held by the Founder Entities (the “Founder Preferred Shares”) will automatically convert into ordinary shares on a one for one basis (subject to adjustment in accordance with our Memorandum and Articles of Association) on December 31, 2022 and some or all of them may be converted following written request from the holder; and
•1,768,293 equity awards issued and outstanding under the LTIP, which may be converted into ordinary shares subject, in most cases, to meeting certain performance conditions.
We currently have 14,367,047 ordinary shares currently available for issuance under our LTIP.
Holders of the Founder Preferred Shares are entitled to receive annual dividend amounts subject to certain performance conditions (the “Founder Preferred Shares Annual Dividend Amount”). The payment of the Founder Preferred Shares Annual Dividend Amount became mandatory after January 1, 2015 if certain share price performance conditions are met for any given year. At our discretion, we may settle the Founder Preferred Shares Annual Dividend Amount by issuing shares or by cash payment, but we intend to equity settle. On December 31, 2020, we approved a 2020 Founder Preferred Share Dividend in an aggregate of 3,875,036 ordinary shares. The dividend price used to calculate the 2020 Founder Preferred Shares Annual Dividend Amount was $25.2127 (calculated based upon the volume weighted average price for the last ten trading days of 2020) and the Ordinary Shares were issued on January 4, 2021. In subsequent years, the Annual Dividend Amount will be calculated based upon the volume weighted average share price for the last ten trading days of the financial year and the resulting appreciated average share price compared to the highest price previously used in calculating the Annual Dividend Amount. The issuance of ordinary shares pursuant to the terms of the Founder Preferred Shares will reduce (by the applicable proportion) the percentage shareholdings of those shareholders holding ordinary shares prior to such issuance which may reduce your net return on your investment in our ordinary shares.
Our ordinary share price may be volatile, and as a result, you could lose a significant portion or all of your investment.
The market price of the ordinary shares on the NYSE may fluctuate as a result of several factors, including the following:
•variations in our quarterly operating results;
•volatility in our industry, the industries of our customers and suppliers and the global securities markets;
•risks relating to our business and industry, including those discussed above;
•strategic actions by us or our competitors;
•reputational damage from unsafe or poor-quality food products;
•actual or expected changes in our growth rates or our competitors’ growth rates;
•investor perception of us, the industry in which we operate, the investment opportunity associated with the ordinary shares and our future performance;
•addition or departure of our executive officers;
•changes in financial estimates or publication of research reports by analysts regarding our ordinary shares, other comparable companies or our industry generally;
•trading volume of our ordinary shares;
•future issuances or purchases of our ordinary shares by us or our shareholders;
•domestic and international economic, legal and regulatory factors unrelated to our performance; or
•the release or expiration of lock-up or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding ordinary shares.
Furthermore, the stock markets often experience significant price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities of many companies. These fluctuations often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations, as well as general economic, political and market conditions such as recessions or interest rate changes may cause the market price of ordinary shares to decline.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish or cease publishing research reports about us, if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our ordinary shares or if our operating results do not meet their expectations, the price of our ordinary shares could decline.
The trading market for our ordinary shares will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts may publish about us, our business, our market or our competitors. Securities and industry analysts currently publish limited research on us. If there is limited or no securities or industry analyst coverage of our company, the market price and trading volume of our ordinary shares would likely be negatively impacted. Moreover, if any of the analysts who may cover us downgrade our ordinary shares, provide more favorable relative recommendations about our competitors or if our operating results or prospects do not meet their expectations, the market price of our ordinary shares could decline. If any of the analysts who may cover us were to cease coverage or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our share price or trading volume to decline.
As a foreign private issuer, we are subject to different U.S. securities laws and NYSE governance standards than domestic U.S. issuers. This may afford less protection to holders of our ordinary shares, and you may not receive corporate and Company information and disclosure that you are accustomed to receiving or in a manner in which you are accustomed to receiving it.
As a foreign private issuer, the rules governing the information that we disclose differ from those governing U.S. corporations pursuant to the Exchange Act. Although we report quarterly financial results and certain material events, we are not required to file quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or provide current reports on Form 8-K disclosing significant events within four days of their occurrence and our quarterly or current reports may contain less information than required for domestic issuers. In addition, we are exempt from the SEC’s proxy rules, and proxy statements that we distribute will not be subject to review by the SEC. Our exemption from Section 16 rules regarding sales of ordinary shares by insiders means that you will have less data in this regard than shareholders of U.S. companies that are subject to the Exchange Act. As a result, you may not have all the data that you are accustomed to having when making investment decisions with respect to U.S. public companies.
As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt from complying with certain corporate governance requirements of the NYSE applicable to a U.S. issuer, including the requirement that a majority of our board of directors consist of independent directors. As the corporate governance standards applicable to us are different than those applicable to domestic U.S. issuers, you may not have the same protections afforded under U.S. law and the NYSE rules as shareholders of companies that do not have such exemptions. See Item 16G: Corporate Governance.
We may lose our foreign private issuer status in the future, which could result in significant additional costs and expenses.
We could cease to be a foreign private issuer if a majority of our outstanding voting securities are directly or indirectly held of record by U.S. residents and we fail to meet additional requirements necessary to avoid loss of foreign private issuer status. The regulatory and compliance costs to us under U.S. securities laws as a U.S. domestic issuer may be significantly higher than costs we incur as a foreign private issuer, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial results.
As the rights of shareholders under British Virgin Islands law differ from those under United States law, you may have fewer protections as a shareholder.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our Memorandum and Articles of Association, the BVI Business Companies Act, 2004 (as amended, the “BVI Act”) and the common law of the British Virgin Islands. The rights of shareholders to take legal action against our directors, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under British Virgin Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the British Virgin Islands and by the BVI Act. The common law of the British Virgin Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the British Virgin Islands as well as from English common law, which has persuasive, but not binding, authority on a court in the British Virgin Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under British Virgin Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedents in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the British Virgin Islands has a less developed body of securities laws as compared to the United States, and some states (such as Delaware) have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law. As a result of the foregoing, holders of our ordinary shares may have more difficulty in protecting their interests through actions against our management, directors or major shareholders than they would as shareholders of a U.S. company. See Item 16G: Corporate Governance.
The laws of the British Virgin Islands provide limited protection for minority shareholders, so minority shareholders will have limited or no recourse if they are dissatisfied with the conduct of our affairs.
Under the laws of the British Virgin Islands, there is limited statutory law for the protection of minority shareholders other than the provisions of the BVI Act dealing with shareholder remedies (as summarized under Item 16G: Corporate Governance). The principal protection under statutory law is that shareholders may bring an action to enforce the constituent documents of the Company and are entitled to have the affairs of the Company conducted in accordance with the BVI Act and the memorandum and articles of association of the Company. As such, if those who control the Company have persistently disregarded the requirements of the BVI Act or the provisions of the Company’s memorandum and articles of association, then the courts will likely grant relief. Generally, the areas in which the courts will intervene are the following: (i) an act complained of which is outside the scope of the authorized business or is illegal or not capable of ratification by the majority; (ii) acts that constitute fraud on the minority where the wrongdoers control the Company; (iii) acts that infringe on the personal rights of the shareholders, such as the right to vote; and (iv) acts where the Company has not complied with provisions requiring approval of a special or extraordinary majority of shareholders, which are more limited than the rights afforded minority shareholders under the laws of many states in the United States.
To the extent allowed by law, the rights and obligations among or between us, any of our current or former directors, officers and employees and any current or former shareholder will be governed exclusively by the laws of the British Virgin Islands and subject to the jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands courts, unless those rights or obligations do not relate to or arise out of their capacities as such. Although there is doubt as to whether United States courts would enforce these provisions in an action brought in the United States under United States securities laws, these provisions could make judgments obtained outside of the British Virgin Islands more difficult to enforce against our assets in the British Virgin Islands or jurisdictions that would apply British Virgin Islands law.
British Virgin Islands companies may not be able to initiate shareholder derivative actions, thereby depriving shareholders of one avenue to protect their interests.
British Virgin Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States. The circumstances in which any such an action may be brought, and the procedures and defenses that may be available in respect of any such action, may result in the rights of shareholders of a British Virgin Islands company being more limited than those of shareholders of a company organized in the United States. Accordingly, shareholders may have fewer alternatives available to them if they believe that corporate wrongdoing has occurred. The British Virgin Islands courts are also unlikely to recognize or enforce judgments of courts in the United States based on certain liability provisions of United States securities law or to impose liabilities, in original actions brought in the British Virgin Islands, based on certain liability provisions of the United States securities laws that are penal in nature. There is no statutory recognition in the British Virgin Islands of judgments obtained in the United States, although the courts of the British Virgin Islands will generally recognize and enforce the non-penal judgment of a foreign court of competent jurisdiction without retrial on the merits. This means that even if shareholders were to sue us successfully, they may not be able to recover anything to make up for the losses suffered.
Dividend payments on our ordinary shares are not expected.
We do not currently intend to pay dividends on our ordinary shares. We intend only to pay such dividends at such times, if any, and in such amounts, if any, as the board determines appropriate and in accordance with applicable law, and then only if we receive dividends from our operating subsidiaries. Therefore, we cannot give any assurance that we will be able to pay or will pay dividends going forward or as to the amount of such dividends, if any.
Shareholders may experience a dilution of their percentage ownership if we make non-pre-emptive offers of ordinary shares in the future.
We have opted-out of statutory pre-emptive rights pursuant to the terms of our Memorandum and Articles of Association. No pre-emption rights therefore exist in respect of future issuance of ordinary shares whether or not for cash. Should we decide to offer additional ordinary shares on a non-pre-emptive basis in the future, this could dilute the interests of shareholders and/or have an adverse effect on the market price of the ordinary shares.
Risks Related to Taxation
Changes in tax law and practice may reduce any net returns for shareholders.
The tax treatment of the Company, our shareholders and any subsidiary of ours (including Iglo and its subsidiaries), any special purpose vehicle that we may establish and any other company which we may acquire are all subject to changes in tax laws or practices in the British Virgin Islands, the UK, the U.S. and any other relevant jurisdiction. Any change may reduce the value of your investment in our ordinary shares.
Failure to maintain our tax status may negatively affect our financial and operating results and shareholders.
If we were to be considered to be resident in or to carry on a trade or business within the United States for U.S. taxation purposes or in any other country in which we are not currently treated as having a taxable presence, we could be subject to U.S. income tax or taxes in such other country on all or a portion of our profits, as the case may be, which may negatively affect our financial and operating results.
Taxation of returns from subsidiaries may reduce any net return to shareholders.
We and our subsidiaries are subject to taxes in a number of jurisdictions. It is possible that any return we receive from any present or future subsidiary may be reduced by irrecoverable withholding or other local taxes, including those arising from future changes in legislation and other local rules and this may reduce the value of your investment in our ordinary shares.
If any dividend is declared in the future and paid in a foreign currency, U.S. holders may be taxed on a larger amount in U.S. Dollars than the U.S. Dollar amount actually received.
U.S. holders will be taxed on the U.S. Dollar value of dividends at the time they are received, even if they are not converted to U.S. Dollars or are converted at a time when the U.S. Dollar value of the dividends has fallen. The U.S. Dollar value of the payments made in the foreign currency will be determined for tax purposes at the spot rate of the foreign currency to the U.S. Dollar on the date the dividend distribution is deemed included in such U.S. holder’s income, regardless of whether or when the payment is in fact converted into U.S. Dollars.
Item 4. Information on the Company
A. History and Development of the Company
We are the leading manufacturer and distributor of branded frozen foods in Western Europe based on net sales value. We were incorporated with limited liability under the laws of the British Virgin Islands under the BVI Companies Act on April 1, 2014 under the name Nomad Holdings Limited.
Our principal executive offices are located at No. 1 New Square, Bedfont Lakes Business Park, Feltham, Middlesex, TW14 8HA. Our telephone number is +(44) 208 918 3200 and our fax number is +(44) 208 918 3491. Our registered office is located at Nemours Chambers, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands and its telephone number is (284) 852-7900. Our registered agent in the United States is Mariposa Capital, LLC, 500 South Pointe Drive, Suite 240 Miami Beach, Florida 33139.
The SEC maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding the Company and other issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The SEC's Internet website address is http://www.sec.gov. Our Internet website can be found at www.nomadfoods.com.
See Item 5B: Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Liquidity and Capital Resources for information regarding our capital expenditures for the past three fiscal years and principal capital expenditures currently in progress.
B. Business Overview
We are the leading branded frozen food player in Western Europe with a portfolio of best-in-class food brands within the frozen category, including fish, vegetables, poultry, meals and pizza (excluding ice cream). Our products are sold primarily through large grocery retailers under the brands “Birds Eye”, “Aunt Bessie's” and “Goodfella's” in the UK and Ireland, “Findus” in Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway, “Iglo” in Germany and other continental markets and “La Cocinera” in Spain. According to Nielsen, our share of the savory frozen food market in the countries we operate, excluding Switzerland, stood at 17.9% in 2020 (2019: 18.1%). For the categories in which we operate, we maintain the number one position in twelve European geographies, namely the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Portugal and Ireland. The countries representing our top six markets, collectively UK, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Norway and France, represented approximately 68% of the total Western European frozen food markets. For a description of the principal markets in which we compete and related revenue, see Note 5 “Segment reporting” to our audited consolidated financial statements which appear elsewhere in this annual report.
Frozen Food Market
The European frozen food market is served by a number of national and international producers, both with branded and private label offerings, and within single or multiple product categories. We have the broadest participation by category and geography in Europe.
According to Nielsen, the market for frozen food in categories which the Company competes in across Western Europe is estimated to have generated €20 billion in retail sales value in 2020 (2019: €18 billion).
Frozen food products are particularly attractive because they address important global food trends. Consumers increasingly prefer products that allow them to prepare meals quickly and with confidence and expect products to be healthy and good value for money. In addition, consumers are increasingly focused on reducing food waste. Frozen food products can have all of these characteristics. They are easy to prepare, they reduce the need for artificial preservatives, they are often better value for money than chilled alternatives and they reduce waste at all points in the supply chain and also in-home (due to the long shelf life, and the ease of portionability).
Over the last five years, notwithstanding the volatile macro-economic environment, the Western European savory frozen food market has grown on average 1.4% per year, driven by the aforementioned ability to address global food consumption trends. Furthermore, the amount of space that frozen food as a category occupies within the grocery retail environment is relatively stable due to the fixed amount of freezer space at the retailer that is not exposed to reductions in shelf space in favor of other categories or formats, as can be the case in shelf-stable parts of the retailer.
Our brands are household names with long histories and local heritage in their respective markets. Our Birds Eye brand was established in 1922 and is primarily marketed in the UK and Ireland, and the Aunt Bessie's brand was established in 1974 in the UK. The Goodfella's brand was established in Ireland in 1993 and is marketed also in the UK. The San Marco brand was established in 2003. The Findus brand, which is marketed in Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway, was formed in Italy in 1941 and has a loyal following in each of its respective geographies. Iglo, founded in 1956, has a long-standing history and is marketed in Germany and other continental European countries. La Cocinera has allowed us to establish ourselves in Spain through a brand that was founded in 1962.
Our Competitive Strengths
We believe the following competitive strengths differentiate us from our competitors and contribute to our ongoing success.
Market leader with solid European platform and strong acquisition opportunities.
As the leading branded frozen food producer in Western Europe, we benefit from economies of scale and have developed a strong platform for our products throughout Europe in 2020. We are market leaders in the categories where we offer products in twelve geographies and have a 17.9% market share in these categories in the countries we operate (excludes Switzerland). We benefit from longstanding relationships with our customers which provide access to our diversified distribution channels, including supermarkets, discount retailers, the food service channel and other food retailers that sell directly to consumers. We benefit from a diverse category and geographic mix and believe our strong existing platforms facilitate our expansion within a large addressable market and provide a broad set of potential acquisition targets in various food categories and geographic markets.
Effective brand equity strategy to leverage and expand well-known brands.
Our brands are well-established household names with long histories and local heritage in their respective markets. We possess several iconic brand assets and focus on our local "hero" platforms that are designed to leverage these iconic assets such as the “Captain”. Each of the Birds Eye, Goodfella's, Aunt Bessie's, Iglo and Findus brands holds a leading position in terms of spontaneous brand awareness in certain European markets. Our leading brand recognition, broad product offering, and local provenance of these brands are key drivers of consumer trust and result in demand for our products.
Experienced management team and Board with a proven track record.
Our management team has extensive experience in the food industry and other fast-moving consumer goods markets and has worked with leading multinational consumer goods companies globally. Our management team is complemented by an experienced Board of Directors, and collectively, they have a proven track record of successfully acquiring, integrating and managing consumer businesses. We believe our management team and Board of Directors’ collective industry knowledge, coupled with our track record of achieving growth and responding to challenging market conditions, will enable us to continue to generate profitable growth.
Optimized sourcing through established platform and diversified supplier base.
We operate an efficient and centralized procurement and supply chain function which is closely aligned with our geographic footprint, allowing us to optimize our supply arrangements and reduce distribution costs. We source our products globally from a diverse supplier base and, as a result, we minimize our dependency on any one supplier. Our relationships with diverse suppliers enable us to safeguard the security of our supply and raw materials as well as enhance the quality and sustainability of such materials, while also delivering competitive pricing and limiting exposure to geographic risk and adverse currency movements.
Strategic and geographically diversified manufacturing facilities.
We own and operate an efficient network of fourteen manufacturing facilities with low capital expenditure requirements, all of which are located near the major markets we serve, providing for a balance between manufacturing and logistics costs and allowing for high levels of customer service. These facilities produce approximately 614 kilo tonnes of frozen product per year and have what we believe to be sufficient spare capacity to accommodate future growth in our main product categories.
Commitment to innovation and research and development.
Innovation is core to our growth model. Our R&D team actively scan new and emerging technologies, alongside consumer trends and unmet needs. The intersection of these insights leads us to identify new opportunities to drive penetration and frequency. In addition, we regularly benchmark our existing ranges to ensure that these continue to deliver experiences that delight our consumers. In response to these insights we establish multifunctional project teams that design new and improved products and packaging delivered through our core Must Win Battles for fish, veg, poultry, pizza and meat replacements. Each time we create a new product or pack we apply the principles of sustainable by design. To ensure the development and introduction of successful products, we follow a robust process through which we move from idea generation, concept screening, concept and product development, to scale up and final validation before launch.
Our strategy is underpinned by three fundamental pillars which are to expand the category, grow the core and accelerate innovation. In addition, we have developed and made significant progress in implementing the following strategic initiatives:
1. Build an integrated group of best-in-class food companies and brands within existing and related food categories and expand our geographic footprint through strategic acquisitions.
Our goal is to transform our Company into an integrated best-in-class, global manufacturer, marketer and distributor of food products, within the frozen food category and the broader food sector. We believe there are significant growth opportunities in the European and North American markets and that our acquisitions provide a strong platform on which to grow our business and expand and enhance our market share in the food industry in key geographic markets.
2. Focus on “Core” products as a foundation for long-term growth.
We continue our strategy which is rooted in relentless focus on our Core products which currently represent approximately 72% of our sales. These strategies include improving product quality, packaging renovation and executing in-store initiatives such as ensuring the right product assortment, display strategies and promotional efficiencies. We believe focusing on these Core product initiatives will accelerate growth, lead to margin expansion and improve our return on investment. To further accelerate growth, we continue to pursue innovation which leverages consumer trends such as health, wellness and convenience, but which are anchored in our core categories.
3. Align our business with consumer preferences and trends.
Our goal is to create and acquire food businesses and brands that strongly align with consumer needs and preferences that have high growth and margin potential and that leverage our existing portfolio of brands. In addition, we seek to align our product innovation strategies with consumer trends such as increased demand for nutrition-packed meals that can be prepared in shorter times, vegetarian options, meat substitutes and sustainably sourced and produced food.
4. Leverage our acquisition expertise, strong management team and access to capital to identify and evaluate attractive growth opportunities.
Our Founders and CEO have significant experience and expertise, and have been highly successful, in identifying, acquiring and integrating value-added businesses. We believe that this expertise, our access to capital and the deep industry knowledge of our management team will position us to acquire related and complementary food businesses that can enhance our market position, create synergies and fully leverage our existing marketing, manufacturing and supply chain capabilities, which we believe will allow us to deliver sustained profitable growth and maximize shareholder value. For example, in 2018 we completed (i) the Goodfella's Acquisition including the Goodfella's and San Marco brands, which enlarged our portfolio of brands to include the number one and number two market share positions within the frozen pizza category in Ireland and the UK, a successful frozen private label pizza business, and two frozen pizza manufacturing facilities and (ii) the Aunt Bessie’s Ltd. Acquisition including the Aunt Bessie's brand, which enlarged our portfolio of brands to include the number one and number two market share positions, respectively, within frozen Yorkshire puddings and frozen potatoes, which combine to represent the majority of its revenues. On December 31, 2020 we completed the acquisition of Findus Switzerland. Findus is the leading frozen food brand in Switzerland with a portfolio of value-added frozen products across categories including fish, vegetables and ready meals. The acquisition expands Nomad Foods' geographic reach into Switzerland, a new and sizeable market, providing a natural extension for our Findus product offering and brand family with an attractive entry for Green Cuisine. The transaction unifies Nomad Foods' ownership of the iconic Findus brand across Europe.
5. Respond to changing consumer shopping habits and drive advertising efficiency and impact.
We are responding to the growing consumer shift to digital and mobile technologies, particularly in the UK, by investing in technology platforms and partnering with retailers that are executing their own e-commerce strategies to meet changing consumer habits. Online sales represented approximately 7% of our total sales as of December 31, 2020 (compared to 4% in 2019). COVID-19 dynamics have played a part in changing consumer shopping behavior. The need of social distancing measures due to COVID-19 have resulted in consumers moving towards online grocery shopping channels instead of physical supermarket shopping. We believe that the online sales channel will continue to provide further opportunities to drive market share gains through improved product content and upselling of our mealtime solution programs. In addition, our strategies are evolving in response to other consumer shopping trends such as increased purchases through the hard discounter channel, which has been growing significantly in the UK and Southern Europe.
6. Generate strong margins and cash flow through disciplined net revenue management, supply chain optimization and disciplined cost management.
We continue to increase our margins and cash flows by strengthening our net revenue management capabilities and focusing on supply chain optimization and disciplined cost management. These efforts, which will be implemented over time, will include developing stronger promotional programs, price pack architecture and trade terms as well as continuing our focus on lean manufacturing, factory footprint optimization, and procurement productivity.
During the past three fiscal years, we have manufactured, marketed and distributed the following frozen food products:
Fish: includes frozen fish products such as fish fingers, coated fish and natural fish. These products were the largest contributor to our revenues in 2020, 2019 and 2018.
Vegetables: includes ready to cook vegetable products such as peas and spinach.
Meals: includes ready to cook noodles, pasta, lasagna, pancakes and other ready-made meals under the Iglo, Findus and La Cocinera brand names.
Poultry: includes frozen poultry and meat products such as nuggets, grills and burgers.
Others: includes a variety of other offerings such as soups, pizza, bakery goods and meat substitutes.
We continue to place a strong emphasis on renovation of our existing Core products, which include fish, vegetables, meals and poultry, in order to overcome penetration barriers and continue to build loyalty. For example, in 2019, we introduced under our new innovation platforms our Artisan (coated fish assortment), Veggie Power (modern vegetable blends) and Green Cuisine (pea protein sub-brand). We manage renovation and innovation centrally on European common product platforms and have more local involvement where products are differentiated and country specific. Our research and development continues to be centralized, allowing us to leverage our research and development investment across our markets and focus on our largest Core products.
Our customers are typically supermarkets and large food retail chains supplying food products directly to consumers. Each key market in which we operate has its own distinct retail landscape. We consider our key retailer clients to be, in the UK, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s; in Italy, Coop, Conad and Esselunga; in Germany, Rewe and Edeka; in Sweden, ICA, Axfood and Coop; and in France, Carrefour, Auchan and E.Leclerc. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our top ten customers (in terms of revenue) accounted for 41% of revenues.
The majority of our sales are to established retailers and we expect this channel to remain our most significant channel for the foreseeable future. We partner with traditional retailers when we identify commercial or marketing opportunities that can be of interest for both businesses. In addition, we are selectively building partnerships and are increasing our presence in the growing discounter channel.
We are increasing our investment in online sales, which represented approximately 7% of our total sales as of December 31, 2020. The online grocery retail channel is growing faster than established grocery retail formats across developed markets, partially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Frozen foods particularly benefit from the online channel as the advantages to the consumer of outsourcing transportation of frozen food to the retailer are greater than in other categories, and also because some of the barriers to purchasing in-store (e.g. colder aisles) are removed for the consumer online.
Approximately 3% of our sales for the year ended December 31, 2020 were through the food service channel. The majority of these sales were in Sweden and consist primarily of sales of institutional and public sector customers such as schools and hospitals as well as privately run work canteens and quick service restaurants. COVID-19 dynamics and governmental restrictions in Europe adversely impacted food service sales in 2020. During the pandemic we have experienced lower demand for our food service products, which supports commercial food establishments, due to governmental restrictions on the consumers’ ability to eat out of home, for example, at restaurants, cafes, bars and work canteens.
Nomad Foods International (formerly Exports) accounted for 1.8% of total Nomad sales in 2020. Nomad Foods International sales grew 6% in 2020 driven by growth in Greece, Hungary and Cyprus. We also grew across other international regions: Africa, Middle east, Asia & Australia through gaining new retail listings derived from new business agreements with key frozen food distributors. In Western Europe, Nomad Foods International supplies to food service distributors which are not covered by our non-Nomad Foods International channels. Sales to food service
distributors were negatively impacted by COVID-19 governmental restrictions leading to lower demand from restaurants and other food service customers.
Sales, Marketing and Pricing
Our commercial strategy is centered around our Core products and our growth model focuses on three core elements: creating distinctive brands through leveraging our iconic brand assets, innovating to break penetration barriers balanced between renovation and innovation, and executing in store through category leadership driving the right assortment, display and promotional efficiency.
Our brand equity strategy aims to further increase brand awareness. We are utilizing our core iconic assets at all consumer touchpoints including traditional media, digital media, point of sale and packaging. Furthermore, we have invested and will continue to seek to invest at sufficient levels of media on all our Core products.
We maintain sales teams in each of our key markets and all other markets in which our products are sold with the exception of the Central and Eastern Europe markets where we operate via a distribution model. Our sales force is resourced to provide good store coverage. We have been chosen to lead category management projects by several leading supermarkets in each of our main product categories and have developed innovative presentations of our frozen food products and in-store marketing concepts with supermarkets in a number of our markets in order to increase shopper traffic and sales. Most recently, we have developed and are executing our “Perfect Store” concept which focuses on improving a consumer’s in-store shopping experience through presentation, layout and signage.
We own and operate fourteen manufacturing facilities which are located in Lowestoft and Hull (UK), Bremerhaven and Reken (Germany), Cisterna (Italy), Loftahammar and Bralanda (Sweden), Tonsberg and Larvik (Norway), Boulogne-sur-Mer (France), Valladolid (Spain), Longford and Naas (Republic of Ireland) and Rorschach (Switzerland). These facilities produce approximately 614 kilo tonnes of frozen product per year, representing approximately 70% of the total volumes of our sales. The manufacturing facilities are located near the major markets we serve, providing for a balance between manufacturing and logistics costs and customer service. Our manufacturing facilities are focused on in house manufacturing of our main product categories and emphasize quality and efficiency through scale. We have also invested in automated lines, such as fish fingers, poultry and spinach lines.
Although capacity differs per product line and facility, we estimate that we have sufficient spare capacity available to accommodate future growth in our main product categories and as necessary to accommodate the seasonal nature of some of our products, particularly vegetables.
Our procurement functions are structured around primes (materials used in manufacturing which form a part of the end product, such as fish, vegetables, meat, other ingredients and packaging), non-production items (items purchased and services used to design, market and distribute the product, such as logistics, operations, including maintenance, sales and marketing) and co-pack (finished products bought from third parties, such as most vegetables other than peas and spinach).
We have an efficient and centralized supply chain which is closely aligned with our geographic footprint, allowing us to optimize our supply arrangements and reduce distribution costs. We operate a centralized procurement function, with all procurement of primes and the majority of non-production items and co-pack procurement activities centralized to maximize scale efficiencies.
We operate a global sourcing platform. Fish is sourced mainly from the United States, Russia and China, vegetables are sourced predominantly from Europe and poultry is sourced largely from South America (but also from Thailand and Eastern Europe). We have contracts in place with pea and spinach growers and third-party pea processors in regions close to the location of pea growers. In addition, we utilize various co-pack suppliers for vegetables other than peas and spinach. The contract terms we enter into with various suppliers differ extensively with respect to length and provisions.
We aim to maintain an appropriately diverse supplier base to safeguard the security of our supply of raw materials as well as enhance the quality and sustainability of such materials, while also delivering competitive pricing.
We segregate vendors into “strategic” and “tactical” categories based on criteria such as bargaining power or opportunistic procurement. On that basis, we have identified a number of strategic suppliers with whom we maintain close relationships, particularly in relation to main product categories for which security of supply is critical. Raw materials are mostly directly shipped to our manufacturing facilities.
The price of fish, vegetables and other agricultural commodities, including poultry and meat, can be volatile. We limit our exposure to price increases of raw materials by contractually securing prices for periods ranging from one month to a full year. Prices of raw materials that are harvested annually are generally fixed for a full year. Prices for certain other products, such as fish, dairy products and potatoes, are fixed for several months in line with industry practice.
Our distribution network is made up of our manufacturing facilities, warehouses, local distribution centers and third-party providers of services (such as transport). We outsource the majority of our distribution processes to third parties seeking to collaborate with shared sites and integrated transport networks. Our distribution network is well consolidated and aligned with our manufacturing footprint in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, France, Norway and Spain. From our manufacturing plants, our products are sent to regional distribution centers to be further distributed to local markets. Our primary distribution centers are used to consolidate both local production and imported products to be sold locally. These sites include Wisbech in the UK, Reken in Germany, Vitulazio, Latina and Parma in Italy, Lognes in France, Tonsberg and Moss in Norway and Marcilla in Spain.
Our sales and working capital levels have historically been affected to a limited extent by seasonality. In general, sales volumes for frozen food are slightly higher in colder or winter months, partly because there are fewer fresh alternatives available for vegetables and because our retailers typically allocate more freezer space to the ice cream segment in hotter or summer months. In addition, variable production costs, including costs for seasonal staff, and working capital requirements associated with the keeping of inventories, vary depending on the harvesting and buying periods of seasonal raw materials, in particular vegetable crops. For example, stock levels typically peak in August to September just after the pea harvest, and as a result, we require more working capital during those months.
Corporate Social Responsibility
We continuously review our position to mitigate supply chain risks, working to meet relevant ethical, environmental and social obligations. We seek to source, manufacture and sell our food to consumers in a responsible way. We operate a sustainability program called Our Sustainable Path that reflects our commitments.
We do this by endeavoring to:
•Meet all relevant food and safety regulations
•Uphold international sustainability standards
•Lead, manage and review our approach, regularly assessing progress
•Report progress annually through the Nomad Foods’ Sustainability report
We also encourage all our suppliers to have or work towards a culture of continuous improvement.
Our sustainability program is based on the concepts of materiality and salience and aligned with the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). It consists of three pillars, securing a “farm to fork” approach:
1. Good Sourcing
•We focus on sustainably, responsibly sourced fish and seafood using independent sustainable standards, such as the Marine Stewardship Council standard (MSC) and Agriculture Stewardship Council (ASC). Our sustainable farming standards are expanding from regional practices to global standards with the introduction of the FSA standard (Farm Sustainability Assessment) from the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI).
•We are committed to ethical trading, sourcing and procurement, upholding fundamental international standards. We are committed to require all suppliers to comply with applicable human rights laws and regulations. We request our direct suppliers to register to Sedex, one of the world’s largest collaborative platforms for sharing responsible sourcing data on supply chains.
•We believe we are in compliance with all relevant environmental laws and regulations and we expect all suppliers to do the same.
2. Good Nutrition
Every day our customers serve our food to their families. We want to inspire them to eat a more balanced diet and live healthier lifestyles.
•We continuously work to improve our product portfolio, applying a nutrition strategy informed by an independent Nutritional Advisory Board and assessing our products using an externally verified Nutrient Profiling Tool. We also apply on pack nutritional labeling claims in markets where this is relevant.
•We assess any new product development to drive higher sustainability across the portfolio.
•We empower consumers to make their own decisions, communicating the nutritional values of our products on pack.
3. Good Operations
•We recognize the importance of reducing the impact our operations have on the environment and are committed to reduce carbon emissions per tonne of produced volume from own production annually.
•We consider the total packaging system when designing packaging, recognizing packaging plays an important role in terms of food safety, securing shelf life, convenience, communication as well as sustainability. We aim to minimize packaging material use. We work towards making all consumer packaging material recyclable and prioritize packaging material from sustainable origins.
•We believe that our people make the difference and make sure they have an active voice through the ‘Our Voice’ employee survey. Sustainability is important for our employees and we involve them in the work and encourage them to live our values every day.
•We actively work to engage with and add value to the broader communities we operate in, while contributing to our wider sustainability agenda. We encourage our local businesses to support social causes in their regions, engaging at a local level. For example, a majority of our businesses contribute our products to local food banks and charities.
Our IT systems are critical to operating and growing our business, in particular to our general operations and logistics functions but also to enable our teams to work from remote locations. A single SAP tool underpins the processes to support all of our operations and management reporting across countries with new tools being introduced to support Sales planning, S&OP and Net Revenue Management activities.
The IT architecture is designed as a consolidation platform enabling integration of future acquisitions. During 2020, Nomad finalized the migration of both the Goodfella's and Aunt Bessie's businesses onto the Nomad platform and the IT team are looking at ways to accelerate future integrations. We believe that the role of data and analytics will continue to increase in importance in decision-making, and we therefore intend to continue to enhance our capability to use such data and analytics in our decision-making process.
The ability to integrate potential new acquisitions quickly with little or no adverse business impact, while maintaining the low cost of ownership, is a fundamental requirement of our IT strategy. Additionally, we utilize an outsourced infrastructure service provider, maintaining best in class IT cost alongside improved capability to scale in line with business developments.
Good brand protection continues to be of significant importance to our business as we rely on our brands to implement our master brand strategy. We have a substantial trademark portfolio with around 1,750 trademarks across all of our markets. Our intellectual property is managed centrally, and we work closely with a third-party agency in respect of filings, renewals, recordings and the prosecution and enforcement of intellectual property matters internationally.
We own an EU trademark for our Birds Eye brand as well as national trademarks for our Birds Eye brand in the UK, Ireland and other EU countries, and in other parts of Europe outside the EU, parts of the Middle East, Asia and parts of Africa. For historical reasons, the Birds Eye trademark is owned by third parties in North America and Australia.
We own a European Union trademark for our Iglo brand as well as national trademarks in many EU countries and in other parts of Europe outside the European Union, Australia, Israel, India, Canada, parts of Asia, South America and parts of Africa.
On December 31, 2020 we purchased the Findus brand in Switzerland and now own the Findus trademark in many countries globally as well as (among others) the brands Belviva (formerly Lutosa) in Belgium and La Cocinera in Spain and Andorra. We have secured registration for Nomad Foods in the European Union, United Kingdom, Norway and China and have pending applications for the name in the US.
Goodfella's and Aunt Bessie's joined our portfolio of brands in 2018 and are registered as European Union trademarks as well as national marks in other key markets of interest to the respective businesses. We have also secured registered protection for the new plant-based food sub-brand Green Cuisine across Europe and are currently in the process of securing registration in overseas territories of interest.
Each material contract to which we have been a party for the preceding two years, other than those entered into in the ordinary course of business, is listed as an exhibit to this annual report and is summarized elsewhere herein.
We operate a number of different pension schemes across our various countries of operation, the majority of which are defined contribution schemes. We operate defined benefit pension plans in Germany, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and Austria which are all closed to new entrants, as well as various defined contribution plans in other countries, the largest of which include Sweden and the UK. Long term service awards and other employee benefits are also in operation in a number of countries.
Our activities are subject to laws and regulations regarding food safety, the environment and occupational health and safety.
Food Safety Regulation
As a manufacturer of foods intended for human consumption, we are subject to extensive legislation and regulation both from the European Union, the EU Member States and European free trade association (EFTA) members and other European countries in which we operate. For the European Union, The European Commission, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety is responsible for EU policy on food safety and health and for monitoring the implementation of related laws. The European Food Safety Authority advises the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Member States on food safety matters. EU Member States must ensure adequate enforcement, control and supervision of principles set forth in numerous EU Directives and Regulations and may be allowed to maintain or establish more stringent measures in their own legislation. Other European countries may follow the EU Directives and Regulations as is the case currently in the UK, but it may be that there are additional regulations to comply with on a country by country basis. These regulations govern the composition, manufacture, storage, handling, packaging, labeling, marketing and safety of our products. These regulations generally impose on food business operators an obligation to ensure that the operations under their control satisfy the relevant food law requirements and impose a mandatory traceability requirement along the food chain. The tracing information must be kept for a period of five years and upon request, must be made available to the relevant authorities.
In addition, we are subject to specific food hygiene legislation that establishes rules and procedures governing the hygiene of food products. This legislation sets forth specific rules governing the proper hygiene for food products of animal origin and sets forth microbiological criteria for food products. In addition, there are a number of other specific EU and local country requirements relating to specific matters such as contaminants, packaging materials and additives. The new Brexit Trade Agreement has resulted in substantial delays at Border Control Points for all food businesses due to the new level of documentation and checking which accompany food shipments across the UK to EU. Nomad products are frozen and maintained at a temperature below 18 degrees therefore there are no issues with food hygiene due to any delays or blockages which we may experience.
We are also subject to a broad range of European directives and regulations and local country requirements regarding the manufacture and sale of frozen foods for human consumption. These directives and regulations define technical standards of production, transport and storage of frozen foods intended for human consumption and require us to assure internal quality control at each stage of the “cold chain” and to implement any standards, as established by public authorities.
Listed below are the various internal due diligence procedures we have established to ensure continuous compliance with all relevant regulatory and food safety standards:
•implementing food hygiene principles across all production sites in accordance with food hygiene regulations;
•annual external auditing of our production sites conducted by independent compliance companies applying the British Retail Consortium Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8, its European equivalent, the International Food Standard or the Global Food Safety Initiative. Currently 93% of our suppliers are also certified to one or more of these food safety management systems and it is our long-term objective to achieve 100% certification;
•ensuring that our Group’s Quality Management Systems comply with ISO 9001 with external audits to ISO or BRC standard;
•conducting internal audits covering all production sites as part of our internal audit program (including cross-audits where one site's audit team audits another's system);
•maintaining a risk-based microbiological and contaminant screening program, including screening for allergens, that covers raw materials and finished products; and
•holding monthly regulatory updates to assess emerging risk areas, update policies and review outstanding issues as part of the quality forum meeting which is attended by functional heads.
Tariffs and Trade
We are subject to specific trade requirements regarding fish and poultry, two main ingredients for our products.
Food Labeling Regulation
Pre-packaged food products must comply with provisions on labeling, which are harmonized throughout the European Union. Pre-packaged food products must also comply with provisions on nutrition labeling, which are also harmonized throughout the European Union. Under the Food Information for Consumers Regulation nutrition labeling is mandatory unless exempted.
In addition to general and nutrition requirements, pre-packaged food products must bear a lot mark declaration via a manufacturing or packaging lot reference, which is also a harmonized system throughout the European Union. The lot reference allows consumers and businesses to trace the product in the event of a product withdrawal or recall.
There are also specific labeling requirements for certain ingredients we use in our products. Local laws may also impose additional requirements with which we must comply.
The European Commission, Directorate-General for the Environment is responsible for EU policy on the environment and for monitoring the implementation of related laws. The European Union has issued numerous directives relating to environmental protection, including those aimed at improving the quality of water, addressing air and noise pollution, assuring the safety of chemicals and setting standards for waste disposal and clean-up of contamination. European directives are given effect by specific regulations in Member States and applicable regulations have been implemented in each of the countries in which we conduct our manufacturing activities. In addition, there may also be further local regulation implemented at a country level in other European countries. Accordingly, our facilities must obtain permits for certain operations and must comply with requirements relating to, among others, water supply and use, water discharges and air emissions, solid and hazardous waste storage, management and disposal of waste, clean-up of contamination and noise pollution.
We are also subject to legislation designed to reduce energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions and also restrictions on the use of ozone depleting substances such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons ("HCFCs"). HCFCs are used in refrigeration systems and their use will be phased out as part of our normal maintenance, repair and replacement activities and we do not expect a need for significant incremental capital expenditures for this purpose.
Compliance with environmental laws and regulations is managed at the facility level. Our manufacturing facilities all have a detailed environmental management system which are externally audited on an annual basis for compliance with ISO 14001 or BRC.
In addition, under some environmental laws and regulations, we could be responsible for contamination we may have caused and investigating or remediating contamination at properties we own or occupy, even if the contamination was caused by a prior owner or other third party or was not due to our fault, and even if the activity which resulted in the contamination was legal at the time it occurred.
Occupational Health and Safety
We have a legal responsibility to protect the health and safety of our employees, customers and any other persons who may be affected by our operations. We strive to provide a safe workplace; controlling and eliminating risks to health and wellbeing; ensuring that our facilities and the equipment within them are safe and that the environmental, health and safety procedures are both established and adhered to. We strive to ensure that dangerous articles and substances are transported, stored and used safely; provide adequate welfare facilities; provide workers with the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to preserve and improve their health and safety; and consult with workers on health and safety matters. The COVID-19 pandemic has not impacted the majority of our occupational health compliance programs but due to the need to follow local government guidelines, the programs for the health monitoring of employees have needed to be suspended until such time as government guidelines will allow the programs to resume safely. This could give rise to an increased risk of health issues of employees not being picked up in a timely fashion as a result of the programs being suspended.
We aim to meet the European Framework Directive on Safety and Health at Work (89/391 EEC) ensuring we comply with all the local and European legislation in all the countries we have a presence, ensuring we share best practices and procedures across our business to continuously improve our safety and environmental performance whilst driving a positive safety culture.
We have established a Health and Safety Management System modeled on the international Occupational Health & Safety management system specification ISO 45001. 50% of our manufacturing facilities have achieved full accreditation to ISO 45001 to date including one of our manufacturing facilities in the UK and our manufacturing facilities in Spain, Italy and Germany.
We have established policies and procedures aimed at compliance with applicable legislation and regulations, including policies for Anti-Bribery and Corruption as well as Trade Sanctions. In addition, our Code of Business Principles is designed to ensure compliance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements to drive a strong compliance culture. A breach of the Code of Business Principles can lead to disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
Our SafeCall Line, which is operated by an external service provider, allows employees to report issues anonymously. Compliance at the local level is based in large part on building strong local companies and developing a proper approach in coping with operational dilemmas within the boundaries of applicable laws and responsible conduct. Local management, assisted by the Internal Audit department, carries out reviews to identify compliance risks and to ensure that adequate systems to manage those risks are in place. We continually analyze and assess changes in applicable laws and regulations, and implement appropriate adaptations are implemented when necessary.
We have a comprehensive Global Insurance Program covering all territories that the organization operates within and undertake regular risk reviews. We continually assess business risks as part of the review to ensure we maintain an effect insurance program covering risk exposures.
The Global Insurance Program encompasses coverages such as directors and officers, property damage and business interruption, public liability, product liability, employer's liability, personal accident and travel, advertising, motor and marine.
C. Organizational Structure
We (Nomad Foods Limited) are a holding company with 45 subsidiaries, all of which are wholly-owned by us. The following table provides a list of all of our significant subsidiaries and country of incorporation.
of December 31,
|Nomad Foods Europe Holdings Limited||Holding||England||100%|
|Nomad Foods Europe Holdco Limited||Holding||England||100%|
|Nomad Foods Europe Finco Limited||Holding||England||100%|
|Nomad Foods Europe Midco Limited||Holding/Finance||England||100%|
|Nomad Foods Bondco Plc||Finance||England||100%|
|Nomad Foods Lux S.à.r.l.||Finance||Luxembourg||100%|
|Nomad Foods Europe Limited||Management||England||100%|
|Birds Eye Limited||Trading||England||100%|
|Nomad Foods Europe Finance Limited||Finance||England||100%|
|Aunt Bessie's Limited||Dormant||England||100%|
|Birds Eye Ireland Limited||Trading||Republic of|
|Birds Eye Ireland Oldco Unlimited Company||Non-Trading||Republic of Ireland||100%|
|Iglo Holding GmbH||Holding||Germany||100%|
|Iglo Nederland B.V.||Trading||Netherlands||100%|
|Iglo Belgium S.A.||Trading||Belgium||100%|
|Iglo Austria Holdings GmbH||Holding||Austria||100%|
|C.S.I. Compagnia Surgelati Italiana S.R.L.||Trading||Italy||100%|
|Findus Sverige Holdings AB||Holding||Sweden||100%|
|Frozen Fish International GmbH||Trading||Germany||100%|
|Liberator Germany Newco GmbH||Property||Germany||100%|
|Iglo Austria GmbH||Trading||Austria||100%|
|Findus Sverige AB||Trading||Sweden||100%|
|Frionor Sverige AB||Holding||Sweden||100%|
|Findus Holdings France SAS||Holding||France||100%|
|Findus France SAS||Trading||France||100%|
|Findus Espana SLU||Trading||Spain||100%|
|Findus Danmark A/S||Trading||Denmark||100%|
|Findus Finland Oy||Trading||Finland||100%|
|Findus Norge AS||Trading||Norway||100%|
|Findus Norge Holding AS||Holding||Norway||100%|
|Findus Switzerland AG||Trading||Switzerland||100%|
D. Property, Plant and Equipment
The following table sets forth information on the main manufacturing sites used by us in our business:
|Facility||Products||Production (ktons)||Utilization %||Freehold/|
|Boulogne, France||Fish Products||23||80%||Leasehold||Buildings: 11,000 m2|
|Bralanda, Sweden||Vegetables||10||35%||Freehold||Site: 80,000m2|
|Bremerhaven, Germany||Fish Products||107||97%||Leasehold||Site: 90,000 m2|
Buildings: 30,000 m2
|Cisterna, Italy||Vegetables, Free Flow Meals, Fish Fingers, Sofficini||82||74%||Freehold||Site: 269,560 m2|
Buildings: 69,198 m2
|Hull, UK||Yorkshire Puddings, Accompaniments & Desserts||26||65%||Freehold||Site: 39,000 m2|
Buildings: 15,000 m2
|Larvik, Norway||Vegetables, Free Flow Meals, Ready Meals||7||35%||Freehold||Site: 57,968 m2|
Buildings: 7,246 m2
|Loftahammar, Sweden||Bakery Products||2||45%||Freehold||Buildings: 5,300 m2 Site: 21,000 m2|
|Longford, ROI||Frozen Pizza Products||18||98%||Freehold||Buildings: 5,430 m2|
|Lowestoft, UK||Vegetables, Fish Products, Poultry, Potato, Beef Burgers||129||93%||Mixed|
Site: 88,549 m2
|Naas, ROI||Frozen Pizza Products||44||94%||Freehold||Buildings: 20,245 m2|
Site: 82,475 m2
|Reken, Germany||Vegetables, Free Flow Meals, Ready Meals, Special Foods||112||90%||Freehold||Buildings: 118,000 m2 |
Site: 43,000 m2
|Rorschach, Switzerland||Pancakes, Ready Meals||5||65%||Freehold||Buildings: 8,500 m2 |
Site: 11,000 m2
|Tonsberg, Norway||French Fries, Vegetables, Free Flow Meals||31||72%||Leasehold||Buildings: 30,000 m2|
Site: 58,000 m2
|Valladolid, Spain||Vegetables, Free Flow Meals, Ready Meals, Pastry Products, Pizza||18||62%||Freehold||Buildings: 50,000 m2|
Site: 80,000 m2
For more information on property, plant and equipment see Note 12 “Property, plant and equipment”. We lease our principal executive offices located at No. 1 New Square, Bedfont Lakes Business Park, Feltham, Middlesex, TW14 8HA, which is 36,549 square feet in size.
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
The following is a discussion of the financial condition and results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019. Discussion regarding our financial condition and results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2019 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2018 is included in Item 5 of our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2019, filed with the SEC on February 27, 2020 (the "2019 Form 20-F").
Some of the information contained in this discussion and analysis or set forth elsewhere in this annual report, including information with respect to our plans and strategy for our business and related financing, includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. As a result of many factors, including those factors set forth in Item 3 Key Information-D. Risk Factors of this annual report, our actual results could differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in the following discussion and analysis. This discussion should be read in conjunction with our audited historical consolidated financial statements and other financial information included elsewhere in this annual report.
The historical financial information has been prepared in accordance with IFRS.
Nomad operates in the European frozen food market, selling its products primarily to large grocery retailers either directly or through distribution arrangements primarily in the UK, Italy, Germany, Sweden, France and Norway.
The countries representing our top six markets collectively represented approximately 71% of the total Western European frozen food markets (in terms of retail sales value) and generated 80% of our revenue in 2020. We also sell our products in Ireland, Austria, Belgium (including the Belviva/Lutosa brand), Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, The Netherlands and Spain (including the La Cocinera brand). The brands under which we sell our products are “Birds Eye”, "Aunt Bessie's" and "Goodfella's" in the UK and Ireland, "San Marco" in the UK, “