UK Cardboard Maker DS Smith CEO Roberts To Retire After 13 Years

By Reuters
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UK Cardboard Maker DS Smith CEO Roberts To Retire After 13 Years

Miles Roberts, the chief executive of DS Smith, plans to retire after 13 years, the British cardboard maker said, as the company reported a sharp drop in half-year profits and said the macro environment was challenging for demand.

"When I started, our market capitalisation was just over £400 million ($503.36 million). And today it's over £4 billion," Roberts told Reuters in an interview.

Roberts will step down no later than November 2025, giving the company time to identify his successor, it said. His formal notice period will start on 1 December 2024.

The London-listed company, which provides packaging, paper and recycling services to companies including Amazon and Unilever, reported a 15% drop in half-year pre-tax profit to £268 million in line with analyst expectations.

Originally, a UK-focused business, it operates in more than 30 countries. Roberts expanded into Europe, which has become its biggest market, and into the United States in 2017 after buying a majority stake in Interstate Resources for $1.15 billion.


Tougher Macroeconomic Conditions

After a sales surge during pandemic lockdowns, when e-commerce demand soared, other packaging companies, including Mondi, Smurfit Kappa and WestRock, have also suffered from the impact of de-stocking and tougher macroeconomic conditions in the last year.

DS Smith said the macro-economic environment remained challenging, but there were signs of improvement.

'Encouragingly, with destocking amongst our customers now largely over, we are seeing signs of volume improvement, with the second quarter performance being better than the first,' the company said in a statement.

For the six-months ended 31 October, its like-for-like box volumes fell by 4.7%.

"Despite the fall in volume, our margins have actually gone up slightly over the last year," Roberts said.

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