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Bene announces record sales but sees signs of world economic downturn

Sunday 17 May 2009

• Consolidated sales increased by 5.1% to EUR 265.3 million • Solid balance sheet structure: Equity ratio reaches 46.8% • Clearly positive operating cash flow
After the substantial growth in 2007/08, the Vienna Prime Market listed Bene AG (ISIN AT00000BENE6) again increased its sales in the past business year (February 1, 2008 to January 31, 2009) by 5.1% to EUR 265.3 million thus further strengthening its position in almost all markets.
With a considerable sales increase, the international specialist for office and working environments again exceeded the record sales of the business year 2007/08. As clear market leader in Austria Bene improved sales in its home market by EUR 1.5 million or 2.0% to EUR 76.7 million. In an overall difficult economic environment, sales in Germany reached EUR 70.5 million in the past business year (+7.5%). Also the Bene Group could not escape the impacts of the financial market crisis in the UK. It had to record a decline in sales by 38.0% to EUR 21.5 million. The Russia segment showed a clearly better performance and closed the business year 2008/09 with record sales of EUR 39.8 million (plus 32.0%). In the past business year, the \"other markets\" segment likewise considerably increased sales to EUR 56.8 million (plus 21.0%).
Against the background of the difficult economic conditions, which as from the fourth quarter also showed their effects on Bene, the Bene Group had to record a drop in the earnings figures. In the business year 2008/09, earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) decreased by EUR 3.8 million to EUR 11.4 million. The EBIT-margin reached 4.3% (2007/08: 6.0%).
Bene still has a solid balance sheet structure. Despite major investments, as of January 31, 2009, the balance sheet total of EUR 145.6 million only marginally exceeded the previous year´s reference value. The equity ratio reached 46.8% (January 31, 2008: 48.7%). As of January 31, 2009, the Group´s equity including minority interests amounted to EUR 68.1 million (January 31, 2008: EUR 69.2 million).
On the balance sheet date, the Bene Group occupied 1,518 employees worldwide. This corresponds to an increase of 88 employees or 6.2% in comparison with the prior year.
Due to the worldwide lasting negative economic prospects, the Management Board will propose to the shareholders´ meeting on June 3, 2009 not to pay any dividend for the reporting period in order to further consolidate the Bene AG´s capital strength.

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