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Lenzburg, 21 March 2014

Hero looks back on a successful 2013

Lenzburg, March 21, 2014 – Hero has published its year-end results for 2013 and reports significantly improved results. Net income increased from CHF 37.7m to CHF 78.1m and - as a result of continued strong cash-flows - the company further reduced net debt. This is a clear confirmation of the new strategic direction and will allow Hero to invest further in growth areas.

Despite a challenging business environment, Hero showed a moderate organic growth of +0.4% to CHF 1,434m. A positive highlight is the development in Central and Northern European markets where an above-average increase of 3.4% was achieved. In particular, the business segments Fruit (+3.2%) and Cereal Bars (+7.6%) improved significantly, while the Infant Food segment showed a slight decline mainly due to the macroeconomic environment in the Southern European markets.

As a result of the positive business development as well as the share flotation of an investment in China, cash-flows were again strong which enabled the Group to reduce its debt further. Furthermore, the Group reduced its outstanding hybrid bond by CHF 50m in 2013.

The revised strategic approach of the Group, which had already started in the previous year, was consistently moved forward during 2013. As well as a focus on the core categories of infant nutrition, fruit and cereal bars, cost structures were optimised via increased synergies and integration. In the process, core brands were strengthened and side brands were either divested or moved to a more unified position. During the coming year, the focus will remain on improving the operational performance capability and optimising resource management.

Rob Versloot, Hero’s CEO, comments: “For 2014, we want to increase our organic growth in all categories, boost profitability and further develop our chosen strategy. This, combined with strict cost management as well as our focus on synergies within the Group, will help to further strengthen our financial basis for growth.”

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Lenzburg, 10 March 2014


Lenzburg, 10 March 2014 - Food Group Hero has signed an agreement to purchase Yıldız Holding`s 50% stake in the joint venture company Hero Gıda in Turkey. Hero Gıda itself will not change, except for the separation of the Ülker Bebe biscuit brand, which will remain with Yıldız Holding.

Hero Gıda was jointly established by Hero AG and Yıldiz Holding and has been trading successfully for more than 10 years. The acquisition is a strategic move to enhance Hero`s position in global infant nutrition and underlines the company`s commitment to the region. The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, also strengthens Hero`s on-going participation in the infant nutrition market in Turkey.

Hero Group produces and sells baby and toddler foods under various Hero brands, in more than 20 countries around the globe. In Turkey, Hero Gıda has sold infant food under the Ülker Hero Baby brand for more than ten years and operates its own factory in Ankara. As a result of the acquisition, these products, with the exception of Ülker Bebe biscuits, will be offered exclusively under the Hero Baby brand.

Rob Versloot, CEO of Hero Group comments: “This strategic acquisition is an exciting opportunity for Hero’s core infant food business and will contribute to the Group’s continued strong performance in the region. Hero Gıda has completed a very successful 2013 and is well positioned to take the business to the next level.”

He continued: “There will be no impact to our customers as the infant food products that are currently sold under the Ülker Hero Baby brand will change in name only. Customers can expect exactly the same quality products that they currently enjoy on the same supermarket shelves.”

Further information available from:

Rob Versloot, Chief Executive Officer
Tel: +41 62 885 53 80
Fax: +41 62 885 54 30

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Lenzburg, 14 november 2013


Lenzburg, 14 November 2013 – Food group Hero is set to rename its existing brand in the Benelux Friso Infant Milk to Hero Baby as of 1 April 2014. The product itself will not change: the quality and the recipe remain the same. The name change is part of Hero’s ambition to give its entire product range a uniform name and image. Hero has decided to sell the brand name Friso to dairy company FrieslandCampina, that owns the Friso brand for infant nutrition outside the Benelux.

Hero Group sells baby and toddler foods, under the Hero Baby brand, in more than 20 countries across the globe. In the Netherlands, Hero has sold infant milk under the Friso brand for more than six years.

Uniform brand Rob Versloot, CEO of Hero Group: “We aim to have one single, strong and uniform brand for all our products. A brand that is seen as recognisable and reliable, and which our customers see as a responsible choice for their children. We will sell the exact same trustworthy baby milk under the name Hero Baby from 1 April 2014. Hero Baby is already a well-known baby food brand in many other countries.”

Unchanged product The infant milk products that are currently sold under the Friso brand will change in name only. The composition and quality of Hero Baby will be exactly the same, says Rob Versloot. “The only thing our customers need to get used to is the new name. Consumers will be able to buy the exact same products from the exact same spot on the supermarket shelves from 1 April 2014.”

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Lenzburg, 01 april 2013

Hero provides original product information to Chinese consumers

Despite information in the media, neither Hero nor the Chinese authorities have found any evidence that Hero's products on the market are unsafe for consumption or not in line with the defined standards.

Hero sincerely regrets the understandable worries of Chinese parents caused by the alleged misbehaviour of a sub-distributor in China. Hero is a Swiss company of impeccable reputation that is proud to be providing Chinese families with safe and nutritious milk. We do not tolerate any behaviour compromising the quality and safety of our products. As part of our investigation in this matter, we are exploring how to improve our monitoring of the full distribution chain.

All original “Hero Nutradefense” products are exported from the Netherlands and are of the highest quality and safety. In order to ensure consumers have received a genuine high quality “Hero Nutradefense” product, a list of all production batch numbers has been published on www.heronutradefense.cn.

Hero will continue to provide factual information in line with consumer needs.

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Lenzburg, 29 march 2013

Q + A - for Hero Nutradefense issue in China

1. Did Hero know what happened in November last year and why did the company wait until now to announce it?

We take the concerns of all consumers very seriously and their well-being is Hero’s number one priority. We learned in December that Suzhou authorities had begun an investigation into alleged illegal repackaging by a sub-distributor. We immediately cooperated with the authorities to investigate the matter. Going forward, we are committed to continue working with the relevant authorities and will take whatever steps necessary to guarantee the safety of consumers. Given the allegations outlined in the CCTV report, we felt it was right to issue a statement to address consumers’ concerns. We take the concerns of consumers very seriously and will continue to investigate this matter.

2. How do you ensure the Hero Nutradefense on the shelves is safe?

All Hero Nutradefense is produced exclusively in the Netherlands to the highest standards of quality and safety in accordance with Chinese regulations. All Hero Nutradefense imported into China has passed relevant and strict CIQ quality tests. As a part of our investigation into this matter, we are exploring how to better monitor our sub- distributors to continue to ensure the integrity of all Hero products sold in China.

3. Can you give us an update on the official investigation?

We have and will continue to fully cooperate with relevant authorities to ensure the safety of consumers in China. As of now, we have received no information which would require further action on our part.

4. The milk powder in question is 美素丽儿 (Meisulier). Is that your brand?

What is the difference between 美素丽儿 and 美素佳儿? Hero Nutradefense, a Hero Group Product, is now known in Chinese as Tian Fu Mei Su. Prior to April 2012, it was known in Chinese as Meisulier. We cannot comment on any other brands owned by other companies.

5. How is Nutradefense sold in China? What’s the relationship between Hero, Jampoo and your distributors?

Hero Nutradefense is produced exclusively for Hero in the Netherlands by Friesland Campina on the basis of Hero’s own recipe. All health certificates and official documents confirm this origin. Jampoo is the sole responsible party for the distribution of Hero Nutradefense in China and engages sub-distributors to reach customers and consumers. No company is licensed to produce or repackage our products inside China.

6. Is there a difference between the Hero Nutradefense you are selling in China and that sold abroad?

All Hero Nutradefense is produced exclusively in the Netherlands using 100% Dutch milk to the highest standards of quality and safety. In accordance with Chinese regulations, the product made for the China market has higher average protein content than the Nutradefense milks sold in Europe. Our strict quality standards are globally applicable.

7. Have you launched an investigation? What does this entail? How will you ensure your sub-distributors will not do this again?

The incident in Suzhou was according to our information centred around the wrongdoing of one individual. The person involved was immediately replaced and stricter screening has been applied by our distributor. Hero does not tolerate any deviations from its strict quality standards and regrets any concern this issue may have caused among consumers.

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Lenzburg, 28 march 2013

Hero Infant Milks in China are Safe

Hero regrets that a recently broadcasted news item on Chinese Television about our Infant milk brand Hero Nutradefense has created concern around the quality of our product sold in China.

As a Swiss company that has produced high-quality, nutritious food products for over a century, Hero Group has always maintained the highest standards of quality and safety.

Hero launched its infant formula Nutradefense in China in 2012. All Hero Nutradefense sold in China is produced exclusively in the Netherlands.

A recent investigation by the Suzhou Institute of Supervision & Inspection on Product Quality alleged that one of Hero's subdistributors in China has been involved in the illegal repackaging of Nutradefense. This has been investigated by the Suzhou authorities and dealt with appropriately.

Hero Group has not detected any problems concerning the quality and safety of its products on the Chinese market. The company will continue to closely monitor its sub-distributors to ensure the integrity of Hero products sold in China.

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Lenzburg, 22 March 2013

Hero posts significantly improved performance in 2012

Hero today announced the Group’s 2012 annual results and communicated substantial improvements versus prior years in its key financial performance indicators. The Group’s profit grew strongly with EBIT accelerating from 32.6m CHF in 2011 to 89.8m CHF in 2012. Operating cash flow increased with 145.3m CHF versus prior year.

Hero managed to grow its net sales organically by 1.7% in 2012 to 1,429m CHF despite harsh trading conditions in many of its core markets in Europe and the USA. Increased focus on innovations and profitable growth were instrumental. Exceptional development in China and robust growth in other markets helped the Group to enlarge its footprint in the emerging world. Net Sales grew organically in all core categories: Infant Nutrition (+1.0%), Fruit (+1.4%) as well as in Specialties (+3.1%). In line with a substantial profit improvement in 2012, the Group achieved a free cash flow of 100m CHF.

After completing its leadership- and organizational changes in 2012, at both the Board and Executive Management levels, Hero redefined the Group’s mission, vision and strategy.The company will focus on increasing the operational performance of its current asset base in the coming years, after having driven aggressive expansion of its geographical- and manufacturing footprint in recent years.

Rob Versloot, Hero’s Chief Executive Officer commented: “For 2013, we aim to accelerate our organic growth whilst at the same time improve our return on sales. We will focus on innovation, profitable growth and our emerging market footprint, in particular China. We expect to increase our cash generation ability due to strict working capital management and reduced capital expenditures”.

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Lenzburg, 10 Dezember 2012

Dr. Arend Oetker hands over chairmanship for Hero Board

Dr. Arend Oetker (73), the majority shareholder of the Hero Group, hands over the office of Chairman of the Board of Directors of the international Swiss food company to Dr. Hasso Kaempfe (62) on 1 January 2013. The new Board will consist of Dr. Hasso Kaempfe (Chairman), Herbert J. Scheidt (61, Vice-Chairman), Dr. Hagen Duenbostel (42) and Michael Pieper (66). Arend Oetker will continue to attend the Board meetings as Honorary Chairman.

Hasso Kaempfe is a German citizen and since 2012 a member of Hero's Board. The lawyer has been working for several mostly family-owned businesses as chairman or member of the Supervisory Board. He has many years of experience in leading internationally operating family companies, amongst others as Executive Board member of Tchibo and Chief Executive Officer of Mast-Jägermeister.

Arend Oetker, under whose leadership the Hero Group has developed in the recent years into a very successful internationally operating food company primarily in baby food and jams, will be Honorary Chairman of the Board. In this role, he will oversee the development of the Group in which he controls the majority.

Arend Oetker commented on the transfer of his responsibility as follows: "With Hasso Kaempfe we managed to gain an experienced individual for the office of Chairman who successfully lead medium-sized family companies. He understands our business and –together with our executive management– will continue the success story of Hero in our sense. I wish him every success and as the majority shareholder I look forward to working closely with him and the Board. With this step we have completed the planned reorganization of the Group and set the course for a successful development."

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Lenzburg, 04 September 2012

Rob Versloot becomes new CEO at Hero

The Hero board of directors has appointed Rob Versloot (45) as the new Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect.

Rob Versloot, Dutch citizen, has been employed with Hero since 2008 in various European leadership positions und since 2011 as member of the Group’s executive board. Previously, he worked for the French food group Danone and the Dutch infant nutrition specialist company Royal Numico in senior management roles in Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and Netherlands.

His long standing international experience and his profound expertise in the commercialization of baby food provide an excellent base in order to drive and implement Hero’s short-, mid- and long-term strategy. Today, Hero generates already more than 42% of its revenues in infant nutrition and has a leading international position in jams.

Peter Amon has decided to leave Hero due to different views regarding the Group’s orientation. The Hero board thanks for his endeavours and wishes him all the best for the future.

Hero’s executive board remains unchanged with René Bänziger (Deputy CEO), Stephan Schopp (CFO), Markus Lenke (Executive Vice President Northern Europe), Jim Schneider (Executive Vice President North America) and Hans Huistra (Executive Vice President CEEMEA).

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Lenzburg / Hong Kong, 30 Aug 2012

Hero strengthens its position in China

Hero today announced that it has swapped its share in Hero-Huishan, a joint venture to produce and market infant milk formula into a shareholding of the Huishan group.

Huishan is a fully-integrated dairy company, producing and marketing various dairy products. With its distinctive set-up, Huishan controls all levels of the supply chain for dairy products, including infant milk formula in China through a unique “grass-to-glass” concept. The former joint venture remains an integral part of Huishan’s operations.

Hero will provide its experience as an international branded infant nutrition player and secure access to the sourcing of high quality infant formula products in China.

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Lenzburg, 13 March 2012

New Executive Board Appointments

The Swiss food group Hero has today announced that, effective April 1st 2012, Hans Huistra will be promoted to Executive Vice-President and will become a member of the Group’s Executive Board. At the same, Stephan Schopp will become the Group’s Chief Financial Officer replacing Andrew Lawson who has elected to leave the Group.

Hans Huistra has been with the Group since 2011 and has overall responsibility for the Group’s operations in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA). Previously he has been working with FrieslandCampina and Unilever in senior management roles in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. His deep international knowledge and experience in the food industry equip him well to lead and develop Hero’s high-potential CEEMEA region.

Andrew Lawson joined the Group in 2000 to set up and lead the Group’s business development and M&A function and was promoted to CFO in 2006. During this time, the Group has undergone a fundamental change in strategy as a result of organic growth and a high volume of M&A transactions to become one of the leading global infant players with substantial positions in Europe, North America, CEEMEA and, most recently, China. Today, Hero generates more than 45% of its revenues in Infant Nutrition and has a leading international position in jams.

Stephan Schopp joined AOH Nahrungsmittel GmbH & Co. KG, Hero’s parent company, in 2002 as Financial Controller. Since then he helped to focus AOH’s activities on branded business, divesting AOH’s industrial portfolio. Since 2004, he also took over management responsibility for other non-food investments of Dr. Arend Oetker. In 2006, Stephan Schopp was, in addition, appointed CFO of Hero’s largest subsidiary Schwartauer Werke.

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Hero Press Contact

Tel.: +41 62 885 52 04
Fax: +41 62 885 54 30