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NEW CEO FOR FINNISH TROUT PROCESSOR AND FARMER

NEW CEO FOR FINNISH TROUT PROCESSOR

New CEO for Finnish trout processor and farmer. Mikko Laavainen will become the new CEO of Heimon Kala Oy, the Finnish subsidiary of AS PRFoods.

Mikko Laavainen will also join the Management Board of Heimona Kala Oy and Heimon Kala OÜ. Before becoming the CEO of Heimona Kala Oy, Mikko Laavainen worked as the CEO of Leipurin Oyj. In addition, he has previously innovated and marketed food as Raisio plc’s Benecol brand business manager and has also worked in Danone, Iittala and Unilever. As the manager of Heimon Kala Oy, Laavainen’s goal is to bring more environmentally friendly farmed and processed domestic fish to the consumers’ table than before. Mikko Laavainen does not own any shares in AS PRFoods.

Mikko Laavainen commented on his plans as follows:

“Fish is a healthy, natural, environmentally friendly farmed and handled and tasty source of protein. However, fish farming and handling must undergo a similar innovation that we have seen in recent years in other major food businesses. Heimon Kala Oy, which aspires to be the most environmentally friendly fish farmer in the Baltic Sea region, has a strong vision and sufficient resources to be a leader in such innovation. It is great to start leading this development and bring local fish to this worthy position. There is also great international potential in the marketing of rainbow trout farmed by Heimon Kala Oy, which is already for example being exported to Japan for use in sushi.”

Heimon Kala, which belongs to the AS PRFoods group, has fish processing plants in Kokkola and Renko and rainbow trout farms in Finland, Sweden, and Estonia. The group also includes John Ross Jr., the UK’s most renowned fish processor and supplier to the royal court. (Aberdeen) Limited and Coln Valley Smokery Limited, a smoked fish factory based in Scotland.

A member of the Management Board of AS PRFoods Indrek Kasela commented on the joining of Mikko Laavainen:

“Our goal is to be the most environmentally friendly fish farmer in the Baltic Sea region and we are working with partners to create a new environmental standard to reduce the environmental burden caused by the food industry. In addition to fish farming, fish processing and marketing also requires not only sustainable but also new innovative ideas. Mikko Laavainen is a great addition to our team and proper person to manage the marketing of fish of Finnish origin in the whole world.”

Heimon Kala Oy, a subsidiary of AS PRFoods, was founded in Hämeenlinna in 1980, and since then the company has grown into one of the largest rainbow trout breeders and fish wholesalers in Finland. Heimon Kala aims to switch to the use of only ASC and MSC certified fish stocks in its salmon and seafood products and to achieve emission neutrality by 2022 at the latest. Heimon Kala processing plants have higher level FSSC and BRC food safety certificates. The company’s turnover in the previous financial year was 47.2 million euros.

The parent company of Heimon Kala AS PRFoods, listed on the NASDAQ Baltic Stock Exchange, has a significant number of Finnish shareholders. The group specializes in fish farming and processing. The group’s consolidated turnover in the previous financial year was 78.3 million euros.

Meanwhile PRFoods has issued a commentary on its most recent financial results. It said: “The most difficult year in PRFoods history is coming to a close. Second wave of corona crisis lasted longer than predicted and in reality we have operated under restrictions the entire financial year ending in June. HoReCa has been closed, export logistics has been hindered and Norwegian salmon farmers dumped salmon at record low prices, that led to decrease of entire market. All this is reflected in our financial performance.

“Unfortunately, we must admit that previous management made mistakes in investments and did not react to changed environment fast enough in Finland, thus amplifying the negative effect of corona. UK operations have been consistently profitable and from the beginning of calendar year we have resumed pre-corona profitability and we see strong growth in sales and profitability for next financial year. Estonian operations are still small, but at the same time we doubled our retail sales on y-o-y. Fresh salmon trading, characterised by high sales volatility, but small margins, has been in very substantial decline due to corona and record low prices.

“On positive side we managed to end Q3 with same result as last year despite -23% in sales, considering that January-March 2020 were normal months, but January-March 2021, Europe was still thick in corona crisis.

“At the same time, it has been one of the most positive years for us, as we got much closer in our strategy to become one of the biggest fish farmers in the region. New farming permits in Sweden and potential new permits in Estonia could contribute to 30-50 million euros additional sales in coming years.

“We are prepared that there will be new corona-related restrictions in fall 2021.

“We also deal actively with deleveraging the company, carrying out new issue of convertible bonds. Around half of our loans are related to acquisition finance of John Ross Jr., and their results have not been materially affected by corona, meaning the leverage is acceptable. Fish farming requires long-term financing, and we are investigating alternatives. We have reduced the need of working capital in processing, decreasing our inventory levels. Most important is to restore profitability in the environment of decreased sales.”

Photo credit: Heimon Kala Oy

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