“Against a backdrop of difficult economic and tough retail conditions across Europe, our Better Meals Together strategy is starting to deliver some positive results. We have started to build momentum in a number of markets, growing net sales in 8 out of 12 markets where we operate, driven by our new innovation platforms, such as Inspirations and Steamfresh. Italy, where we launched our strategy first, has now delivered five successive quarters of net sales growth.
“Despite a disappointing decline in overall sales, we have been able to boost NPD, expand our gross margin by 180 basis points and invest in our strategy, launching new innovation platforms and increasing our A&P spend to support our Food of Life media campaign. We have repositioned the company for growth whilst maintaining our EBITDA* margin in line with our strategic target.
“Market conditions will continue to be tough in 2015 but the innovations which we are bringing to market, as well as our focus on growing gross margin, position us well to overcome these challenges. In the UK our new Inspirations platform has been judged by Kantar to be the biggest FMCG product launch of 2014, reflecting the success of our big initiatives. We are focussed on building a nimbler and more competitive business and the momentum that we have established will continue to help mitigate the effects of the overall economic environment.”
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