Brussels - Belgian polyurethane foam group Recticel has experienced a sales rise of 5 percent in the first quarter of 2008, as a result of what it calls "a sharp rise" in sales in it insulation (+14 percent) and automotive (+18 percent) businesses.
Meanwhile sales in flexible foams were stable while bedding sales dropped 3 percent, versus Q1 2007, the group said. Recticel's earnings (recurring EBITDA) also improved, in line with sales, and as a result, the company said, it maintains its forecast for 2008, of a further rise in sales and profits compared to 2007.
Recticel, which has 130 facilities in 27 countries, makes foam filling for seats, mattresses and slat bases of top bedding brands, as well as rigid PU insulation, interior comfort products for cars and an extensive range of other industrial and domestic applications.
The group said sales in its flexible foams business stabilised in Q1 2008, compared to sales in Q1 2007. Sales in its 'composite foams' division (recycled foam), dropped, "as a result of the further fall in the prices of trim foam," said the company. In Q1 2007 sales here were still at a record level, as they were in 2006. But this decrease was balanced by better turnover in the comfort and technical foams, where the Turkish Teknofoam group and Finnish Espe/Ewona operation were integrated, said Recticel.
Sales have dropped slightly in the bedding business, as a result of a delay in the launch of the new products for the Swissflex brand. In other markets, Recticel said, bedding sales "held up well."
A strong performance in insulation saw sales rise by 14 percent, continuing a trend started in 2007. Pushing up demand for insulation are stricter insulation standards, higher energy prices and growing social and environmental awareness of the need for more and better insulation, said the group.
Rising sales in Recticel's automotive business came both in the automotive seating venture Proseat - and its added activities in the UK - as well as in the interior skins activities.
In February 2008, Recticel arranged a new multi-currency loan of Euro 230 million ($353 million) with 10 major European banks over five years. The group said this new loan was concluded at better terms than those of its earlier syndicated loan of 2004, and has now been used to repay in full the outstanding amounts under the former loan, which was due to expire at the end of 2008.