The Group’s consolidated sales for the first half of 2015 totaled €1,449 million, up 7.9% on a published basis versus the prior-year period. The Group benefited from a positive 5.8% foreign exchange impact, with no changes in the scope of consolidation during the period. Organic sales growth came to 2.1% in the first six months of the year.
In the second quarter of 2015, sales trends remained similar overall to those observed in the first quarter of the year. In Q2, organic growth totaled 1.7%, after excluding a positive 6.5% foreign exchange impact. The Group continued to report strong volume momentum outside Europe.
Second quarter and first-half 2015 sales performances are presented by geographical region in the following table.
The sales performance for the first six months of the year can be broken down as follows:
In Western Europe, against a still shaky economic backdrop, sales declined moderately. In a shrinking cheese market, the Group nevertheless strengthened its market share thanks to the power of its brands, which were backed by effective advertising and promotion campaigns.
Sales in North and East Europe were negatively impacted by unfavorable currency fluctuations, tough sales conditions in the region’s markets and continued operating difficulties in Ukraine.
The Americas, Asia-Pacific region reported strong sales for the half-year period, coupled with a very favorable foreign exchange impact. The growth momentum of volumes sold in the Americas remained solid, particularly for Mini Babybel in the United States. The product’s growth was supported by the ramping up of the new production plant in Brookings, South Dakota.
Greater Africa continued to expand during the period, with very robust sales growth reported in all of that region’s markets.
In a still turbulent geopolitical context, the Near and Middle East reported strong sales growth at constant foreign exchange rates. The good performance stemmed from a further enriching of the product offering and the responsiveness of the region’s organization.
Against a backdrop of more favorable foreign exchange fluctuations and eased raw material prices, the Group continued its efforts to improve its operating efficiency.
In this context, and thanks to the measures implemented, the Group recovered its profitability. First-half 2015 operating income advanced from the year-ago period to €141 million, with the improvement coming primarily from regions outside Western Europe. The Group’s operating margin returned to a level close to that achieved in the first half of 2013.
After taking into account net financial result and income tax expense, consolidated net profit, Group share, totaled €93 million, up versus the €47 million reported in the year-ago period and the €91 million achieved at June 30, 2013.
The Group’s balance sheet remained strong at June 30, 2015, with net financial debt amounting to €30 million and equity totaling €1,369 million.
Outlook for 2015
In May, Bel announced that it had acquired a majority interest in Moroccan company, Safilait, a major player in Morocco’s dairy market. Safilait is expected to be integrated into the Group’s consolidated financial statements in the last four months of the year, after closing conditions have been met.
Market conditions remain challenging, with an uncertain economic environment, lackluster consumer spending in Europe, high foreign exchange volatility and increased geopolitical instability in some world regions.
Nevertheless, Group teams are fully prepared to continue their daily efforts to strengthen operating excellence. Bel remains confident about its growth prospects, thanks to the strength of its global brands, its ambitious innovation strategy and the favorable geographical spread of its activities.
This press release may contain forward-looking statements. Such trend and/or target information should in no way be regarded as earnings forecast data or performance indicators of any kind. This information is by nature subject to risks and uncertainties that may be beyond the Company’s control. A detailed description of these risks and uncertainties is provided in the Company’s Registration Document, available at (www.groupe-bel.com). More comprehensive information about the Bel Group can be found in the “Regulatory Information” section of the www.groupe-bel.comwebsite.