Bunzl goes on the deal trail as 2012 starts well

City A.M. Reporter
DISPOSABLE products supplier Bunzl said yesterday that 2012 had got off to a good start, helped by continued strong demand in the United States and the contribution of acquisitions, and said it was targeting more deals.

The British company, which supplies food packaging and healthcare consumables, said first-quarter group revenue at constant exchange rates rose seven per cent, of which four per cent was underlying growth, with the remainder coming from acquisitions.

Revenue from its North American business remained strong, the company said, seeing similar growth rates as at the end of last year.

Bunzl said the companies it bought last year in countries ranging from Spain to Brazil had boosted its operating margins, and further deals were on the cards.

“Acquisition growth continues to be a key part of the company’s strategy. The pipeline for acquisitions is promising as discussions continue with a number of potential targets,” it said in a statement.

However, it warned that the economic environment in Western Europe continues to be weak, despite its underlying revenue growth continuing at the same level as in the second half of 2011.

At the end of February Bunzl’s shares hit a record high after it posted a greater-than-expected 11 per cent rise in yearly pre-tax profit for 2011.

Its performance is seen as a good economic indicator because it is a replenishment business which receives weekly orders from companies such as Whitbread’s Costa Coffee for products they ran out of in the previous week, including spoons, packets of sugar and cups.