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Family business roundup: Profits up at Jeronimo Martins, down at ERG and Matalan

By Giulia Cambieri

Portuguese family business Jeronimo Martins posted strong results this week, while Italian energy group ERG and British retailer Matalan reported large falls in profits.

Jeronimo Martins, the food retailer controlled by the Dos Santos family, said revenues jumped 13.2% in 2011 to €9.84 billion, from €8.69 billion in 2010.

In a statement released on 7 March, the Lisbon-based group added that net profit for 2011 was €340 million, compared to €281 million in 2010 – a 21.1% increase.

However, chief executive and family member Pedro Soares dos Santos warned the eurozone debt crisis may negatively affect the family business’s operations in Portugal, where the company has about 400 stores.

“We expect Portugal to face extremely difficult conditions in 2012, which will affect consumption,” he said in a statement.

“Whilst we will do everything possible to protect the profitability of the Portuguese business, we cannot exclude a reduction in its margin.”

In Italy, energy group ERG said on 7 March that revenues dropped by 13% in 2011 to €6.78 billion, from €7.81 billion in 2010.

EBITDA at the company, which is 55.9% controlled by the founding Garrone family, fell by 19% during the same period to €192 million, from €238 million in 2010.

However, chief executive Alessandro Garrone, the grandson of company founder Edoardo Garrone, said he expects results to improve “markedly” in 2012, boosted by the thermoelectric and renewable sectors.

In the UK, Matalan, the clothing and homewares retailer controlled by the Hargreaves family, said EBITDA fell by 40% to £91.1 million (€109.1 million) for the year to 25 February, from £153.6 million the previous year.

However, in a trading update released on 6 March, the family business, which has 190 stores in the country, reported a small increase in its revenues during the same period – sales were up 1.9% to £1.118 billion, from £1.097 billion one year earlier.