Swiss gastronomy and hotel group Mövenpick has reported a sharp drop in operating income from SFr30.4 million to SFr7.9 million in 2001.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the company blamed the "economic downturn" for the poor results.
It said it would shed between 300 and 600 jobs worldwide by the end of the year in an effort to improve profitability.
Group sales in 2001 fell by 2.4 per cent to SFr906.4 million, while Mövenpick's overall cash flow fell from SFr61.9 million to SFr34.9 million.
Bruno Schöpfer, managing director and CEO, said a sluggish fourth quarter eroded Mövenpick's profit margins.
"In the fourth quarter, the market conditions affecting our business became even harsher than initially feared," Schöpfer said.
"None of the divisions achieved the desired growth or the envisaged increase in earnings," he added.
But the CEO said he was confident results would improve in 2002.
"Not for a second are we thinking of a loss in the current year," Schöpfer said.
Ice cream market freezes
The company said its fine foods division was one of the worst performers.
Last year, Mövenpick was forced to implement restructuring measures in a bid to stem losses from the company's failed attempt to enter the ice cream market in the Asia Pacific region.
Closer to home, the company cited a collapse in consumer confidence in the wake of the foot-and-mouth crisis as one of the main reasons for a downturn in domestic sales.
swissinfo with agencies
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