Against an economic backdrop unfavorable to consumer spending in Europe and an eroding geopolitical environment in the Near and Middle East, consolidated sales advanced 5.9% on a published basis in 2015, owing to the favorable impact of foreign exchange fluctuations and the positive impact from changes in the scope of consolidation. Organically, consolidated sales edged up 0.1%, versus 2014.

Organic sales declines in Europe — despite a steady volume performance — and in the Near and Middle East were offset by sales growth in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Greater Africa regions.

In 2015, the Group rebuilt its operating margin, following a decline reported in the prior year. The performance stemmed from a positive forex impact and favorable raw material prices throughout the year. Regions outside Europe benefitted the most from the favorable forex and raw material price impacts. Nearly 80% of operating income growth was generated by regions outside Western Europe. All told, operating income came to €272 million in 2015, after factoring in nearly €21 million in non-recurring operating expense.