London, UK-based Bunzl plc, an international distribution and outsourcing group, reported sales for the first half of 2009 of £2.3 billion (US$3.8 billion), an increase of 17% over the first half of 2008. Profit improved 3% to £65.1 million (US$106.8 million). Excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange rates, sales declined 1% and profit was down 13%.
In North America, revenue rose 31%, primarily due to the stronger US dollar with underlying growth at the same rate as the first halves of 2007 and 2008, and operating profit increased 27% as a result of the positive impact of currency translation. In constant currency, sales improved 1%.
In the UK & Ireland revenue and operating profit decreased 3% and 36% respectively due to weaker performances across lines. Revenue and operating profit in Continental Europe rose 12% and 11% respectively.
In the Rest of the World revenue grew by 6%, due to the positive impact of currency translation and prior year acquisitions, while operating profit fell 24% largely as a result of the transactional impact of the weaker Australian dollar.
Cost reduction initiatives were implemented across the group, including headcount reductions and site consolidations.