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ICA

Ica plans expansion after profit rise

Swedish supermarket chain Ica has announced first-quarter profits of 490 million kronor. This was a significant increase on the same period in 2005, when the grocery firm recorded profits of 237 million kronor. Turnover also increased from 16.5 to 17.1 billion kronor.

CEO Kenneth Bengtsson said the company had good opportunities to strengthen its position during the rest of the year. Writing in the company’s interim report, he announced that the company would remain on the offensive when it comes to opening new stores.

Hakon Invest, which owns 40 percent of Ica, announced profits for January to March of 263 million kronor, up from 210 last year.

“During 2006, Ica AB will invest in the future by retaining a high pace of store openings, and by further strengthening the purchasing an logistics functions, at the same time as placing emphasis on keeping prices low,” Hakon’s CEO Claes-Göran Sylvén wrote in his company’s interim report.

As it launched its report, Hakon announced that its Forma Publishing subsidiary will buy the B Wahlström book publishers, with 34 employees and a turnover of around 100 million kronor.

POLAND

Swedish beef fillet turns out to be horsemeat

Sweden's food safety regulator said on Monday it had asked prosecutors to investigate a company believed to have labelled Polish horsemeat as Swedish beef tenderloin.

Swedish beef fillet turns out to be horsemeat

“We can’t say with certainty where this meat comes from because the documentation is so inadequate,” Karin Cerenius of the control unit of the National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) told AFP.

The food security watchdog had been contacted by a consumer in Sundsvall in northern Sweden who was concerned over the size and colour of a beef steak she had bought from a local Ica Maxi grocery store.

The product was withdrawn from sale last week after tests showed it was 100 percent horsemeat.

The agency said inspections at Tallhöjden , based in Öxabäck in western Sweden, showed the firm had insufficient procedures in place for tracking “which products entered the company, which ones leave it, and how they are labelled.”

The company handled both beef and horsemeat, Cerenius said.

Tallhöjden’s head of sales, Johan Sahlin, said the meat had been ordered from another Swedish company that bought it from Poland, and insisted it had been labelled as beef.

“I bought beef fillet,” he said.

The agency’s report to prosecutors covers around 460 kilogrammes of meat, 300 of which remain at the Ica Maxi in Sundsvall, Cerenius told the TT news agency.

According to Tallhöjden, the mislabelled meat was also sold to a pizzeria.

The scandal of horsemeat being passed on as beef has engulfed a string of European countries with millions of ready meals pulled from supermarket shelves.

The row has ensnared major international corporations including Swiss group Nestle and Swedish furniture giant Ikea.

Around two weeks ago, food wholesaler Martin & Servera recalled around one tonne of roast beef that was labelled as pork from Poland, but which actually turned out to be horsemeat.

AFP/The Local/dl

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