Soda machine maker launching new products in Italy
* Aims to reach 25 pct of Italian households in coming years
* CEO says 2013 financial targets conservative
By Antonella Ciancio
MILAN, April 10 (Reuters) - Israel's SodaStream International, whose machines make carbonated drinks from tap water, expects to reach 25 percent of Italian kitchens in the coming years as consumers seek green, trendy and cheaper alternatives to bottled water.
The U.S.-listed group, which also makes flavours, carbon dioxide refills and re-usable bottles, said on Wednesday it was targeting style-conscious customers in Italy with designer machines and local flavours including bitter-sweet "chinotto".
"Globally we are changing the way consumers do beverages around the world and Italy is very much part of that revolution," Chief Executive Daniel Birnbaum told Reuters in an interview.
The company did not provide sales forecasts for the Italian market but said revenues in Europe have grown despite an economic slowdown, helped by the launch of new products which are more friendly on the environment than bottled beverages and are also cheaper after the initial outlay on a machine.
"In the United States they think that Europe is going to hell. But I have explained to them that Europe is not one place, but many countries," Birnbaum said.
The group's sales in Western Europe, which accounts for 44 percent of revenues, rose 33 percent in 2012, the company said.
Birnbaum said the company's forecast for 25 percent growth in global revenues in 2013 was conservative. "It's better to overdeliver, underpromise," he said.
Global sales at SodaStream, which sells at upscale department stores such as Harrods as well as at budget chains like U.S. group Target Corp, have risen more than three-fold since 2009.
The group, which is also investing in a new facility in Israel and expanding in Asia, booked sales of over $436 million last year, with net profits up 18 percent to $44 million.