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29.02.2000 – 07:37

CEWE Stiftung & Co. KGaA

ots Ad hoc-Service: CeWe Color Holding AG CeWe Color 1999: record results for the third successive year

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    Oldenburg (ots Ad hoc-Service) - The largest independent European photofinisher, CeWe Color, was able to conclude the business year 1999 with renewed rising sales and with profits growing at an even stronger rate. As the Board of Directors of CeWe Color Holding AG reports, the record profit for the business year 1999 is a continuation of the development of the previous few years, which were equally successful.

    The photo laboratory chain, located in Oldenburg, was once again able to grow at a considerably stronger rate than the market itself, in spite of the pressure of keen competition in the industrial photofinishing branch. CeWe Color raised the consolidated sales revenues by 9.8 %, from EURO 358.9 million to EURO 394.2 million. The newly-acquired Norwegian/Danish photo retail chain Japan Photo is included in this figure to the value of EURO 13.4 million. The increases are once again higher on the foreign market than on the domestic market. The projected sales target was exceeded.

    The CeWe Color Group is pleased to be able to report on growing markets. The fact that leisure time, travel and tourism are the most significant driving forces in the photographic products and services business has once again been confirmed. The positive trend in the tourist sector has also had a positive effect on CeWe Color's business.

    The number of films developed by the CeWe Color Group increased from 80.2 million to 87.0 million, which represents an increase of more than 8.5 % in comparison to the previous year. For the first time, CeWe Color produced more than three billion colour photos. This is 9.3 % more than in the previous year. The enormous acceleration in the growth rate can best be seen when comparing the figures for three particular years: in 1990 CeWe Color first achieved an annual production of one billion color photos, in 1996 this figure was two billion and in 1999 it had already reached three billion.

    CeWe Color operates 25 laboratories in 14 European countries. In order to further expand its representation in Europe and to further increase its efficiency, CeWe Color invested EURO 42.8 million in tangible assets and software in 1999. A further EURO 0.7 million went into share investments, or financial assets.

    What is particularly pleasing is the fact that it was possible to generate an over-proportional increase in profits from the increased sales. The CeWe Color Group increased 1st profits generated by custromary business activities from EURO 30,1 million to EURO 37.2 million, which represents an increase of 23.4 %. Profits before corporate tax increased from EURO 24.2 million to EURO 29.1 million (+ 20.5 %). The annual net profit amounts to EURO 19.4 million, compared to EURO 16.2 million in the previous year, which means an increase of more than 19.5 %. This is the best profit in the history of CeWe Color and is over the company plan. The Board therefore assumes that the Supervisory Board and the Board of Directors will propose an adequate increase in dividends (last year EURO 0.93 after a share split of 1:10).

    With a great deal of motivation and commitment, all employees have contributed towards the fact that CeWe Color has reached new record heights and has been able to strengthen its position on the European market. For this reason, the Board has decided to once again give each employee in Germany the opportunity to acquire 30 voting denominated CeWe Color Holding AG shares this year. As employee shares, they will be available at a concession. Furthermore the Stock Option Plan, introduced for the top management, will be implemented for the second time. The company will commence with the repurchase of its own shares (to approximately 260.000) on the stock exchange at short notice.

    Hubert Rotharmel, the Chairman of the Board, emphasises that the growth achieved was possible only because the photo laboratory chain, founded by Herr Senator h.c. Heinz Neumüller, started with international expansion at an early stage. In the coming years, too, CeWe Color will extend its regional basis and include other countries in its market penetration. Thus the CeWe Color Group will increase its efforts in Catalonia by means of the establishment of its own subsidiary. The 26 industrial photo laboratory in Budapest will commence operation before the summer season 2000. In southern Scandinavia, too, operations are being expanded.

    The Board expects the ongoing positive business trend to continue in the year 2000, both in the field of traditional silver halide photography and - increasingly - by means of digital photo techniques. CeWe Color will extend the range of digital products and services while at the same time focussing increasingly on collaborations and joint ventures.

    Further information is available on the Internet under:

    Should you have any enquiries, please contact: CeWe Color Holding AG Hella Meyer Tel.: 0441/ 404-400 Fax: 0441/ 404-421

    CeWe Color intends to publish further information as follows: Week 18, 2000 Publication of the company report for 1999 04 May 2000 Conference concerning the balance sheet 09 May 2000 Analysts' conference 29 June 2000 General Meeting

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