Atria is one of the leading food companies in the Nordic countries. The new ESEF reporting requirement accelerated the reform and automation of their external reporting process. With Certent CDM, manual work has been automated and there is no time wasted on updating and checking figures. Thanks to the new solution, cooperation between Atria’s financial and communications departments is smoother, and the reporting process meets the requirements of tomorrow.
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Atria is an international public company whose roots are deep in Finnish agriculture and food production. In 2019, the company’s net sales were approximately EUR 1.45 billion, and Atria had an average of 4,450 employees in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Russia. The company’s major shareholders are cooperatives owned by the producers. Atria’s objective is to become the winning food company in Northern Europe.
“We started off with the purpose to produce Finnish food for the Finnish people. Now, we have several production units in Northern Europe, and we are one of the leading meat and food companies in the Nordic countries. In addition to our employees, we indirectly employ several thousand contract producers,” says Hanne Kortesoja, Communication and IR manager at Atria.
The thought of reforming the quarterly reporting processes was not new, but the new ESEF reporting requirements for listed companies residing in the EU regulated area accelerated the decision to renew the entire external reporting process in one go. The companies subject to the ESEF requirements must prepare their annual financial reports in an electronic reporting format and forward them to an Officially Appointed Mechanism from 1 January 2020. The format in use, iXBRL, is a human-readable document with embedded XBRL tags that can be opened in a web browser.
The purpose of the solution reform is to create a simple solution that is easy to use in Atria’s external reporting. Previously, the financial and communications departments worked jointly on reporting by using separate Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. The figures transferred to Excel automatically even before the reform, but they had to be transferred to the reports manually. The fact that all reports are prepared in both Finnish and English challenged the update further.
“We saw the new ESEF reporting requirement as an opportunity to reform the entire reporting process as we are meeting the requirements. We wanted to develop our reporting and utilise automation. Choosing Certent CDM was not a difficult choice. We also believe that in the future machine language will be increasingly used in reporting, so the effort we have put in will most definitely help our work in the future,” Hanne Kortesoja explains.
“Implementing iXBRL reporting doesn’t sound like an easy and pleasant project – especially when all workshops are arranged remotely. We have advanced with the project as planned regardless, and we have even had time to have fun at the meetings”.Hanne Kortesoja, Communication and IR manager, - Atria
The solution reform project started in the spring of 2020 with a target of publishing the Q3 report and PowerPoint presentation by using Certent CDM. First Intito’s specialists got well acquainted with Atria’s reports and reporting process to be able to design the best possible way to prepare it with Certent CDM.
“Intito’s consults had already left a good impression on our financial department while working with the IBM Cognos Controller reporting, so it was a natural decision to choose them for this solution reform. The Intito employees are also very familiar with the Certent CDM solution and the ESEF requirement, so they have a clear perspective of the framework needed for the reporting,” Kortesoja says.
The project advanced in close cooperation. The purpose of the cooperation was to find out the origin of the figures: who at Atria is responsible for what, and how the Atria project team would wish the new solution to work. The purpose of the discussion was to find all possible points for automation to allow Atria to maximise the use of the new solution. From the very beginning, one of the project’s priorities was to train the Atria project team to use Certent CDM, so that they would not have to rely on consultation with the new solution.
“It was pleasant and convenient to work on such a complex solution with the Intito team. Everyone was aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project. This way every Atria project team member had the chance to familiarise themselves thoroughly with their part in the new solution and nobody was left with only a superficial general overview. The meetings were fun because we can also laugh together. It’s nice to learn something new when you make it fun and it doesn’t feel like hard work,” says Kortesoja.
With the Certent CDM solution, Atria’s reporting is already highly automated. Financial figures are automatically transferred from the source system to the report. The figures are also transferred to the necessary language versions in the language-appropriate format. PowerPoint presentations are based on the same figures and charts that are automatically updated. The cooperation between the financial and communications departments flows significantly smoother.
“We prepared the entire Q3 report with the new solution. We were prepared for complications when using the new solution for the first time. However, no problems arose, and everything went by the book. We can already see the benefits of the automation because we can rely on the figures being correct and we don’t have to spend extra time checking them,” says Kortesoja.
The greatest achievement of the project was to allow Atria’s reports to be updated in real time as the changes do not cause extra work. This way the financial team can concentrate on their work better as the latest figures are automatically updated in the text. Also, the communications department has more time to devise the verbal part of the reports instead of updating figures manually.
Currently, Atria is working on an annual report in the iXBRL format in Certent CDM for the first time. There is no rush as the report will not be published until the end of March. The Atria team is learning about XBRL tagging with the help of Intito team. Whether the ESEF requirement will be carried out as scheduled or it needs to be postponed, is still under observation.
“Even if the ESEF reporting requirement would be postponed, adopting the Certent CDM solution was a good step forward in the modernisation and automation of our external reporting process. The number of our iXBRL tagged reports is due to increase, so we are well prepared for the future,” Kortesoja summarises.
Atria is one of the leading meat and food companies in the Nordic countries, Estonia and Russia in the St. Petersburg area. The company was established in Finland in 1903. The Group’s net annual sales exceed EUR 1.45 billion, and it employs an average of 4,450 people. Atria’s operations are divided into the following four business areas, from largest to smallest: Atria Finland, Atria Sweden, Atria Estonia & Denmark and Atria Russia.
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