Ornua - until recently the Irish Dairy Board - has reported profit before tax for last year of £28.1m, up 23% on the year before. Turnover at Ireland's biggest exporter of dairy products, and owner of Kerrygold was 10% higher at €2.34 billion. Over the year Ornua spent €36m on brand development and market support. Ornua says it recognises that market conditions are challenging, adding that all of its investments are being made with a view to making sure that high quality Irish dairy products are in the right international markets. Ornua has 3,000 staff and exports to 110 countries.
Kevin Lane, Ornua's chief executive, says the company's rebrand was necessary because the business has changed considerably over the past number of years as it prepared for a post-milk quota environment. Mr Lane said the Irish Dairy Board had invested heavily in its brands and innovation and in bringing new technologies and products to many new markets around the world, but it was becoming very clear that its name no longer reflected who it was or where it was going. He said the removal of the milk quotas provided an opportunity for a new identity change for the business. Mr Lane said the actual cost of the brand change was low and the company has a talented team internally to work on such issues.
With the abolition of the milk quotas, Mr Lane says that it is an ideal opportunity for Ornua to expand and to look beyond the old, core product range that the company is well known for. He said that while Kerrygold will always be its flagship product, it is looking at new exciting technologies, including white cheese technology for the Middle East market and the launch of Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur into the US market, while it has also brought Kerrygold milk to China. Back home, Ornua continues to work on its global home for Kerrygold in Mitchelstown in Co Cork, which is due to open in the middle of next year.
Mr Lane says that company continues to look at new markets for its products, and is currently investing very heavily in the Middle East and also in Africa. But the company is also confident it can keep the growth story going in its core markets of the US and Germany.
MORNING BRIEFS - Greece has ordered its public sector bodies to hand over any reserve cash to help it meet a payment due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The country is running out of cash and must repay the IMF nearly €1 billion in May. It comes after the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, said that Greece needed to do much more if it wanted access to bailout funds. Negotiators are trying to strike a deal ahead of a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Friday.
*** Tullow Oil is making "about a third" of the more than 140 staff at its Dublin offices redundant. The company is trying to cut its cost base to deal with lower oil prices. Many of those leaving are highly paid members of its exploration team, including geologists and others in skilled science-based roles.
*** The company behind the Birds Eye and Findus brands, Iglo Group, is being sold for €2.6 billion to US investment vehicle Nomad Holdings. Iglo Group, Europe's biggest frozen food business, has been owned by the private equity firm Permira for the past eight years after it bought the business from Unilever. Nomad was set up last year to build a portfolio of branded food businesses and this is its first purchase. Iglo's largest markets are the UK, Italy, Germany and Austria.
*** Cirque du Soleil has been bought by TPG Capital and Fosun - a Chinese conglomerate - in a deal that values the troupe at about $1.5 billion. Fosun recently bought 5% of Thomas Cook and it also bought Club Med. Cirque is the world's biggest theatrical production company, of which the French Canadian founder Guy Laliberté owned 90%. He will retain a small share of the business.
*** Technology heavyweight IBM last night reported lower profits in the first quarter following another drop in revenues, this time partly due to the strong dollar. Earnings for the first quarter slipped 2.4% to $2.3 billion, while revenues dropped 11.9% to $19.59 billion.