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Benchmark’s 20th anniversary in a year of transformation

Monday, November 30, 2020

Benchmark celebrated its 20th birthday. The company was created two decades ago as the product of a common vision, to make animal food production more sustainable. Twenty years later, Benchmark operates three core aquaculture business areas, genetics, health and advanced nutrition, in more than twenty countries and employs over 800 people.

“The development of Benchmark has truly been an exceptional journey. Over the years, many things have changed but what has not changed is our mission, it remains the same – to drive sustainability in aquaculture,” said CEO Trond Williksen. “Aquaculture is an industry for the future that will need to develop sustainably. The next decade is going to be an exciting one for Benchmark as we realize our potential and support our partners to benefit from more holistic solutions to their challenges as farmers.”

“Today we celebrate and say thank you to our colleagues, customers and partners for your shared belief in our vision, and supporting us over the last two decades. We look forward to the next 20!” Williksen said. 

2020, a year of transformation

2020 was a pivotal year for the company. The group undertook a comprehensive and ambitious restructuring program to refocus on its core aquaculture areas and achieve financial solidity. As part of its restructuring program, Benchmark divested non-core assets, exited loss-making activities, streamlined its executive management and conducted a review of the group's vaccine strategy which resulted in the sale of its vaccine manufacturing facility to Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.

Group trading during the year was driven by a strong performance in genetics, with revenue growth and significantly higher margins, offset by a weak result in Advanced Nutrition due to COVID-19 related adverse conditions in the shrimp markets and the ongoing supply imbalance in Artemia.

“Our ability to supply salmon eggs year-round from our two land-based biosecure facilities in Iceland and Salten, Norway, combined with our range of disease-resistant eggs place us in a strong position in the market and underpin our future growth,” the company said. The group plans to start sales of salmon eggs from its third salmon egg production facility in Chile in 2021.

“2020 was a transformational year for Benchmark. With the restructuring complete, we now have a streamlined group focused on the three core aquaculture areas of genetics, advanced nutrition and health, each with substantial growth opportunities and long-term positive drivers which give us optimism for the future. Our focus remains on becoming a profitable cash generative group,” said Peter George, chairman. “Against a very challenging backdrop this year with COVID-19, I am proud of the group’s resilience both operationally and financially and this reflects well on the commitment and contribution of Benchmark employees.”

Williksen said that “2020 was characterized by the successful delivery of an ambitious and necessary restructuring program and by our response and resilience to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results reflect a mixed performance across our business areas with a strong performance in genetics offset by the effects of the restructuring program and the impact of COVID-19, especially on the global shrimp markets. Moving into FY21, our focus is on becoming profitable and cash generative. Following the restructuring, we are well-positioned in exciting aquaculture industry and we have significant potential to be realized in the years to come.”

 

Photo caption: Trond Williksen, Benchmark CEO.

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