UK's Bunzl Warns On Revenue As Price Inflation Eases, Demand Wanes

By Reuters
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UK's Bunzl Warns On Revenue As Price Inflation Eases, Demand Wanes

Britain's Bunzl, which sells everyday items from food packaging to latex gloves, has warned it expected a drop in full-year revenue as price inflation eased and demand for COVID-19 related products declined.

Bunzl had been able to lift its prices in response to the higher cost of raw materials like plastic as inflation surged in recent years, but that trend has now slowed, it said.

Shares in the FTSE company, which had enjoyed a boom in demand for its sanitary products during the pandemic, dropped 4.5% to 2,725 pence in early trade.

The company reported group revenues of £12.04 billion ($14.78 billion) for the year to 31 December 2022, and had previously forecast this year's revenues to come in slightly above that level.

It also reported a small impact on its top line from the disposal of its UK healthcare unit, and has been plagued by weak volumes in key market North America.


Third-Quarter Update

The group said its third-quarter underlying revenue declined 4.7% on the prior year, while operating margin was slightly ahead of its expectations.

Jefferies analysts said the revenue growth was well below its forecast for a 2% decrease.

"Shareholders will be disappointed with the fact that Bunzl has suffered such a slide in revenue, but it remains profitable and is expected to hit year-end expectations," eToro analyst Adam Vettese said.

According to Frank van Zanten, chief executive officer of Bunzl the company's “performance continues to highlight the strength and resilience of the group’s business model, with revenue over the quarter 29% higher, and operating margin substantially higher, than the comparable period in 2019 at constant exchange rates.”

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