Consolidated results 2023

In line with expectations:
Sales up 6.5%.
Underlying EBITDA and EAT rise again.
Refinancing debt for the next 5 years through a consortium of banks gives room for strategy execution, further investments and developments.

  • Consolidated sales increase by 6.5%.

  • Cost control and inflation pass-through trigger recovery in operating income.

  • Solid cash flow & refinancing for 5 years through consortium of banks.

  • Roll-out new strategy "on track”.

  • Restructuring operations Aalsmeer (NL) with transfer of volumes to other production sites in the Netherlands on schedule.

Key headlines & events

Despite difficult market conditions with high inflation and the sometimes problematic availability of raw materials, the group managed to increase consolidated sales by 6.5% from EUR 781 to 832 million. The transparent pass-through of cost increases, in addition to the continuous control of cost increases throughout the year, was a crucial factor in improving the results. The year also featured the announcement of the new group strategy in March 2023 with the rebranding of Ter Beke into "What's Cooking?" as a powerful signal.

What's Cooking_-25

In 2023, overall inflation remained particularly high, but we managed to further improve our result by acting in a cost-conscious and sustainable manner. On the one hand, we were largely able to pass on the increased costs into the chain, but on the other hand, as part of our new strategy together with our suppliers, we also succeeded in taking costs out of the chain. We are taking clear steps in building win-win partnerships with all our stakeholders. Striving for leadership in sustainability, coupled with innovation in products and packaging, creates new opportunities with both existing and new customers and consumers.

Piet Sanders - CEO

Underlying EBITDA increases from EUR 38 million in 2022 to EUR 50 million in 2023. This despite pressure on volumes, as expected. The group did see volumes pick up in the second half of the year which is also clearly visible in the increased underlying EBITDA in the second half compared to the first half of the year.

Non-underlying EBITDA costs (EUR 4 million in total in 2023) in the current fiscal year consist mainly of costs related to the transfer of production in Aalsmeer to other Dutch sites (EUR 3 million). The other costs relate to the costs related to the rebranding at the beginning of 2023 and costs for the development of new vegetable products to be marketed in 2024.

Net financial debt reduced from EUR 68 million to EUR 61 million.

What's Cooking has signed a new 5-year financing agreement for a EUR 175 million Revolving Credit Facility (RCF) with a consortium of existing and new banks. This agreement refinances the existing RCF and ensures the necessary financial stability in an uncertain changing macroeconomic and geopolitical context. The RCF allows What's Cooking? to further realize its Sustainable Profitable Growth Plan 2030. The financing is unsecured and allows the group to take on a debt ratio of up to 3.5 times EBITDA. The financing agreement provides the option to link future margin to the group's sustainability goals, an aspect that will be further detailed in the coming weeks.

We are pleased that both existing and new banks are supporting us as we continue to build our strategy & innovation, and continue to finance our ongoing development as a group. This refinancing provides us with stability for the next 5 years and, thanks to the future coupling of the margin with sustainability targets, it will also ensure that we remain committed to sustainability in everything we do.

Yves Regniers - CFO

Strategic Business Unit Savoury

Business unit sales increased 5% from EUR 443 million to EUR 464 million, mainly due to the transparent pass-through of increased labor and raw material costs. Volume in the business unit declined as expected in a declining market. Furthermore, the business unit launched a number of new vegetable products and there are concrete plans to develop this further in the coming months. 

The evolving product portfolio also includes hybrid, vegetarian and plant-based products, whose importance in the segment will gradually increase. What’s Cooking? also reintroduced a number of innovative packaging concepts for our customers in 2023. Under the leadership of Teun Haegens (previously Controller within the Savoury business unit) - from now on SBU Director Savoury – What’s Cooking? will continue to focus on the realization of our strategic ambitions and the further sustainability of our products and packaging.

The segment's underlying EBITDA remained stable compared to 2022: EUR 21 million in 2023, compared to EUR 21 million in 2022.

The announced restructuring in Aalsmeer in The Netherlands is on track and will allow the group to produce in and respond to customer demands in an even more sustainable way. Thanks to the investments made in Ridderkerk and Wijchen, What’s Cooking? can deliver our products even fresher, tastier and with improved service, packaged in very attractive packaging. During the restructuring, the group put maximum efforts into guiding the employees involved from job to job.

Strategic Business Unit Ready Meals

Turnover of the prepared meals business unit increased 9% from EUR 339 million to EUR 369 million, mainly due to the pass-thru of cost increases. What’s Cooking? also succeeded in introducing a large number of innovative products both in the United Kingdom and on the continent. The successful introduction of a number of plant-based and vegetarian products also makes us optimistic for the further growth of our product portfolio.

This portfolio offers a range of internationally known and regionally adapted products that are nutritional, delicious and affordable. The emphasis on quality and unburdening customers has led to the fact that What’s Cooking? won back a number of contracts, resulting in a nice growth in volumes in the second half of the year.

Modified sales contracts that better address purchase price volatility, as well as a number of investments in its plants that support production efficiency, drove a 41% improvement in the segment's underlying EBITDA, from EUR 22 million in 2022 to EUR 31 million in 2023.

Dividend Proposal

The Board of Directors will propose to the General Meeting to approve - after several years with an unchanged dividend - a 7% increase in the dividend compared to the previous year. This brings the gross dividend that will be submitted for approval to EUR 4.28 per share. Given the improved results and the refinancing, the Board of Directors will not propose a scrip dividend.

Events after balance sheet date

No events except for the refinancing described above.

Outlook 2024

The Board of Directors looks to 2024 with confidence, bolstered by the volume growth in SBU Ready Meals and the group's solid financial position and cash flow. The refinancing will also enable us to continue the implementation of the new strategy and make the planned investments. These investments, especially in SBU Ready Meals, are expected to be higher and more structural in the coming years than in previous years.

The restructuring in Aalsmeer is on schedule and What’s Cooking? is confident that this will allow to continue working - together with its customers - on sustainable, profitable growth with the objective of confirming or improving on the improved results of 2023.

The group anticipates a further update on its outlook and progress when it publishes its annual report in April 2024.

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 Poznaj raport roczny 2023

Cóż, „a lot is cooking”, a wszystko to zostało podsumowane w naszym NOWYM Rocznym Raporcie Zintegrowanym „What's Cooking?” za rok 2023, w którym po raz pierwszy uwzględniamy nasze Ambicje Zrównoważonego Rozwoju oraz wyniki w CSRD.

TBE-place-holder 4-3 B More efficiency through business relocation in the Netherlands

Further focus on renewed strategy with additional focus on internal efficiency due to business relocation in the Netherlands

Lievegem, 13 October 2023 - 7.15 AM - What's Cooking? is committed to efficiency improvements, more specifically within its strategic business unit 'Savoury' or 'savoury cold cuts'. This will enable it to strengthen the base of its traditional products and services and respond even better to current and future customer needs in terms of service, efficiency and innovations for the future.

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