Danone CEO says sales volume could strengthen in H2
PARIS, July 25
PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) - The volume of sales of Danone's (DANO.PA) dairy products could increase in the second half of the year, CEO Franck Riboud said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on Saturday.
A revival in dairy sales helped Danone post an 8.1 percent increase in operating profit in the first half but raised questions as to how long the firm can sustain the price cuts that helped its key division bounce back.
"The trend seems to be long-lasting in certain zones and certain categories," he said.
"Our growth in volume could strenghten in the second half."
He said the company had no need for a restructuring plan to improve efficiency.
Danone, whose top brands include Activia yoghurt and Actimel probiotic drinking yoghurt, makes 57 percent of sales in dairy.
It has seen demand at its bottled waters division, which includes Evian, decline, while baby food and medical nutrition have achieved significant growth.
Riboud said the fall in demand for bottled water in France had slowed significantly but not yet returned to growth.
"In Britain, the market that was suffering the most for bottled water, the news is better," he said.
But he said he did not expect the financial crisis to be over next year.
"I think that the crisis will not stop in 2010. That's the wisest theory. I hope I'm wrong, that would be good for Danone," he said. (Reporting by Anna Willard; editing by James Jukwey)
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