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Walmark builds sports nutrition presence

By Shane Starling , 19-Sep-2008
Last updated on 24-Sep-2008 at 11:23 GMT

Central and Eastern Europe’s biggest food supplements manufacturer, Walmark, has taken 100 per cent control of fellow Czech sports nutrition specialist, Aminostar, in an undisclosed deal.

Walmark acquired 75 per cent of Aminostar in 2006 as it pursued a strategy to diversify its offerings in the Central and Eastern European countries that form its business heartland.

Boom in sports nutrition

The sports nutrition market is booming in many European countries as consumer incomes increase along with sports participation rates.

Aminostar is the second biggest company operating in the area of sports nutrition and made a profit of €6.37m in the 2007/2008 financial year. Walmark, established in 1990, had a turnover of about €120m.

Full control of Aminostar will enable Walmark to boost production and further consolidate sports nutrition offerings into its existing portfolio that is dominated by food supplements.

It aimed to triple production within three years.

Walmark press agent, Katerina Onfrejkova, told NutraIngredients.com the firm has been developing a vertically integrated presence as it owns an 80-store sports nutrition retail chain in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, through which much Aminostar product reaches the public.

“Before we entered Aminostar we knew that the area of sports nutrition provides many synergies with our assortment of food supplements and medicines with regards to development, production, sale and marketing,” said executive manager, Petr Turoň.

“This holds true after two years of our activities in Aminostar. It is a segment with a large growth perspective not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad.”

Pharmaceuticals are also an increasingly important part of its business, accounting for about 7-8 per cent of its turnover with Walmark stating it wanted to build this business to 10 per cent of turnover in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary as well as Romania.

Plant benefits

Walmark invested €20m in Aminostar’s plant to improve its technologies, quality control, innovation and extension of the product portfolio.

Aminostar director Gejza Valent said the plant upgrades, which now met ISO 9000 and HACCP standards, demonstrated the benefits a merger could bring.

“We have our own quality control laboratory which checks the quality of our products,” Valent said. “Before, Aminostar used the laboratories of Walmark and external accredited laboratories. Now we carry out routine measurements of the effective substances in products and we also test their sensory qualities. A part of the newly reconstructed manufacturing premises is a new modern warehouse and an expedition with 2000 pallet spaces and a professional racking system.”

Bristol-Myers Squib

Walmark in May inked a deal with Bristol-Myers Squib (BMS) that has it distributing some products in Eastern Europe for the American pharma giant.

Walmark distributes three over-the-counter offerings: an effervescent calcium product; an effervescent magnesium supplement and Septofort - a cold treatment.

Two drugs: Amilorid (for hypertension) and Propafenon (for cardiovascular disease) were also part of the undisclosed deal, which will see Walmark controlling the products in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

Walmark, whose turnover has been growing at about 15 per cent per year, trades internationally in 20 markets and has subsidiaries in eight Central and Eastern European countries.

Earlier this year it established its first western European subsidiary in France. Another Western European deal was expected in the first half of 2008.

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