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Bunzl Profit Beats Expectations As Acquisitions Counter Slowing North America Growth

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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British business supplies distributor Bunzl's annual profit surpassed expectations on Monday as it benefited from acquisitions, although growth in organic revenue slowed in its largest market North America.

Bunzl, which had warned last year that organic growth was slowing, said sales from grocery and retail business in North America was hit by weakening demand in the region.


The company, which had bought three companies in 2019, also said it bought Sao Paulo-based healthcare products distributor Medcorp in January and has entered a deal to buy a Denmark firm which distributes personal protection equipment.

The company said its adjusted pretax profit rose to £579.1 million (€534.8 million), up 2.4% at a constant currency rates on a consistent IAS 17 basis.

Analysts on average had expected adjusted pretax profit of 564.4 million pounds, according to a company-compiled consensus of estimates.


Challenging Conditions

Chief executive Frank van Zanten, who has led the charge on hundreds of acquisitions, said the company continued to see challenging trading conditions in many of its markets but expressed optimism that more acquisitions will help improve growth.

Shares of the FTSE 100 firm fell around 1% in early deals.

Bunzl, which supplies a range of products from food packaging to face masks, said operating margin was 6.8% compared with 6.7% last year.

Total revenue for the year grew 1% to £9.33 billion (€8.62 billion), while organic revenue was marginally down in North America, its biggest sales contributor.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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