2019 was an eventful year for the CO-RO Group. We established 3 new companies in China, Iraq & Bangladesh, launched the exciting new brand MashUp and implemented a new ERP system – all while moving into our new Innovation Centre and Headquarter, the CO-RO Oval, in Frederikssund.
We proudly have grown both Revenue, EBIT and Cash Flow in 2019 compared to last year. But we also experienced headwinds with the introduction of a huge 50% Excise Tax on all sweetened beverages (including CO-RO’s products) in Saudi Arabia and the UAE late in the year.
Driving our Innovation and Brand building agenda
During the year, we saw strong performance in Europe, Asia and Africa – mainly driven by our innovation agenda, as we launched more than 40 new products, including several new low-calorie offerings such as Sun Cola Zero and our new exciting MashUp brand. However, the challenging market situation in the Middle East region continued in 2019 which led to lower sales in our biggest market, Saudi Arabia.
Brand wise, we have in 2019 seen a good progress in Sunquick, which benefited from a new visual ID roll-out, great innovations and success in especially Malaysia, Iraq and Germany. Suntop on the other hand had a difficult year due to a decline in Saudi – but brand health measures improved, and we gained market share in most markets. Sun Lolly had another great year across our European markets and was introduced in Korea and China.
Focus on People and Partnerships
In 2019, we increased focus on our people agenda. During the year we again welcomed numerous new great colleagues and we increased investments in staff training and engagement, including a new global talent program and a new health program in Denmark.
A significant part of CO-RO’s revenue is generated through collaboration with our partners in our key markets. In August 2019 we held our first-ever Global Partner event, and more than 80 great partners came from all over the world and helped us celebrate the opening of the CO-RO Oval. Furthermore, during the year, we made strategic investments in expanding our partnerships in Iraq and China and entered a new exciting partnership in Bangladesh.
We believe our continued focus and investments in Innovation, Brands, People and Partnerships will help balance our global footprint and increase our organizational capabilities.
Søren Holm Jensen, CEO comments:
Our transformational journey to become a global innovative refreshment company is well underway with our new HQ, modern ERP system, innovation agenda and 3 new companies. This will help us fight the challenges we face in 2020 with Covid19 and the high excise tax in Saudi.
Challenging 2020 outlook
The introduction of the 50% Excise tax in Saudi Arabia and the UAE is expected to lead to a steep decline in category volume in these markets. Furthermore, the Covid19 outbreak is expected to have significant negative effect on our sales in the foodservice and other “out-of-home” channels.
Management therefore expects 2020 to be a very challenging year, especially for our big businesses in the Middle East and Asia. On the positive side, our new partnerships, innovations and market expansions will help off-set part of the decline.