A 9.5% increase in operating profit at its Branded Consumer Goods business helped boost overall profits at Norwegian conglomerate Orkla in the first quarter, the group said in a statement.
Overall, group operating profit stood at NOK 1.3 billion (€130 million) for the period, a 13.5% increase, while group operating revenues were NOK 11.5 billion, on a par with the same period the previous year.
Despite tough comparatives, its Branded Consumer Goods business saw a 0.5% increase in revenue, the group said.
“The start of 2021 for Orkla’s Branded Consumer Goods business has been very positive," commented Orkla President and CEO Jaan Ivar Semlitsch.
"We achieved strong profit improvement and organic growth, despite facing strong comparables as a result of consumer stockpiling of food and cleaning products in the corresponding period of 2020. The first quarter was also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There was good market growth in the grocery sector, but activity was still lower in the Out of Home sector. The outlook in most of our home markets is now brighter."
Orkla has been active on the M&A front in recent months, acquiring a stake in Indian company Eastern Condiments Private Limited, taking over Polish sales and distribution company Ambasador92, and acquiring Finnish foodservice business Fort Deli and Norway's Nutra Q, among others.
According to Semlitsch, acquisitions will "continue to be part of Orkla's growth strategy" going forward.
"In the first quarter we made several purchases to strengthen Orkla’s position in selected categories, channels and geographies," he said.
"I am particularly pleased that the acquisition of the Indian company Eastern Condiments has now been completed. Furthermore, by acquiring NutraQ we will take a new and important step into a growing health and wellness market. The acquisition will bring us a new sales channel and exciting growth opportunities."