EBITDA

EBITDA amounted to €173.5m, -1.4% with respect to the previous year's €176m, and stood at 13.1% of sales (13.9% in 2007). Net of €1.6m in one-off costs for the reorganisation plan launched in July, the decrease would have been 0.5% in absolute terms, or 60 basis points as a percentage of sales. The rise in personnel expense (due to the new collective contract) and in start-up expenses for new operations that are not yet completely integrated (Grandi Navi Veloci and Alpha's retail activities) was mitigated by an improvement in the cost of sales and by the effective reduction of overheads. Regarding the cost of sales, the increase in selling volumes and a sharper focus on all phases of preparation balanced out the steep hikes in the cost of ingredients. Changes in the sales mix between food & beverage and retail products did not have a significant impact. The cost-cutting efforts initiated in 2007, especially in energy consumption, managed to reduce these expenses despite an increase in rates. For the fourth quarter of 2008, EBITDA was €32.1m, compared with €34.7m the previous year. It came to 10.1% of sales (11.2% in the final quarter of 2007).