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Ontex CEO Charles Bouaziz Steps Down As Like-For-Like Sales Slide

Personal hygiene firm Ontex has announced that its chief executive, Charles Bouaziz, is stepping down from his role with immediate effect.

Bouaziz, who led the company for more than seven years, will be replaced on an interim basis by chief transformation officer Thierry Navarre.

The departure comes following a disappointing set of second-quarter results from the group, in which it saw like-for-like revenue drop 10.5%.

Second-Quarter Performance

Reported revenue at the business in the second quarter stood at €479.2 million, down 15.6% on the €568.1 million it reported last year, the group said.

Adjusted EBITDA was up 36.4% at constant currencies, however, with the group citing lower raw material costs and the continuing rollout of its Transform 2 Grow (T2G) strategy as having boosted its profit performance.

For the six month period to 30 June, Ontex saw like-for-like revenue down 2.0% to €1.09 billion, while adjusted EBITDA was up 42.0%.

“Ontex delivered a meaningful improvement in H1 operating performance amid the exceptional context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an unprecedented surge and subsequent unwinding of demand, as well as extreme currency headwinds," commented Navarre.

"While lower market demand weighs on our sales, we generated a substantial improvement in profitability, from gross margin to net profit, on the back of strong delivery from our T2G plan."

Personal Hygiene

The group said that the personal hygiene market experienced an 'unforeseen surge in demand towards the end of Q1 with category revenue up double-digit in March, followed by double-digit decreases in April and May', due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, Ontex incurred costs of around €8 million in COVID-related expenses, including additional cleaning and disinfection costs, the provision of protective equipment and additional transportation measures, and extra compensation costs.

Looking ahead to the third quarter, the group refrained from offering projections, saying that it remains 'focused' on supporting its customers and improving its operating performance.

It also recently made a number of investments in the US market, with the launch of a new greenfield project and a feminine care acquisition.

"While addressing current challenges, we invested to drive future growth, as attested by our recent announcement of a new manufacturing facility and the feminine care acquisition, both in the US," said Navarre.

"In an environment that remains uncertain, we will continue all efforts to protect our people, improve operations, and enhance profitability and cash generation.”

© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.

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