Natra, a benchmark among European producers of chocolate confectionery and cocoa products, celebrates its 75th anniversary as one of the leading companies in the sector in Europe, with a turnover of €372.5 million, almost 1,000 employees and factories in 4 countries. Natra, publicly listed since 1991, is now a multinational with commercial networks and sales in 91 countries on the five continents.
As the company celebrates its 75th anniversary, the Transformation Plan on which it embarked in 2017 is in full swing, with the aim of adapting the business to the changing market and consumer trends to boost its sustainable growth. Natra’s new strategic plan focuses on customers as the core of its business and value creation, stepping up investment in R&D and innovation to launch differentiated, higher quality, cost-effective products on the market, aimed at specific customers in key segments of the business.
This plan was set underway in 2017 and has given rise to a new organisation model accompanied by a new management team, renovated gradually since March 2017 with the appointment of a new CEO, Dominique Luna, and new managers in the other areas. The new growth strategy also includes an efficiency plan, which is already being implemented and will lead to enhanced productivity at our factories, making us more competitive. The initial investment of €3.3 million in this transformation plan is already paying off, with improvements in all the company’s financial metrics in 2017 and a return to profit in the first quarter of 2018, when it posted net earnings of €2 million.
In 2018, Natra expects to continue improving its financial metrics, in sales, costs and EBITDA margins, while reducing its net debt.
From a small chemical company to a food multinational
The company was founded in Valencia in 1943 by three young Valencian chemists who invented a process for extracting theobromine, an alkaloid very similar to caffeine that is only found in cocoa. In 1950, it branched out into the production and sale of cocoa products: powder, mass and butter. A new growth stage kicked off in 2000 with the start-up of a new production line at the Valencia factory to manufacture chocolate couverture.
In 2002, the theobromine extraction and functional ingredients assets were spun out into a new company, Natraceutical. Natra was the majority shareholder of that company until it sold its stake in 2014. Commencing 2004, Natra embarked on a new expansion phase, purchasing a factory in Oñate (Guipuzcoa) and another in France specialising in tablets, countlines and chocolates, achieving a strong turnover in Europe. Natra thus focused on products for consumers.
A year later, the company acquired Chocolaterie Jacali, which specialised in Belgian chocolates and bonbons; and in 2007, Natra clinched a deal to buy All Crump (Belgium), adding the category of spreads. With these acquisitions, Natra’s growth spanned four product categories: countlines, chocolates, tablets and spreads.
Subsequently, between 2012 and 2014, Natra focused its efforts on growth of the consumer products division beyond Europe, especially in America and Asia, where it is achieving double-digit growth. As part of this strategy, Natra opened a new commercial office in China and started building a factory in Canada, its first production plant outside Europe.