Brussels - Foam group Recticel NV/SA said 10 May that its sales for the first quarter of 2010 rose to Euro 334.7 million, a rise of 6.2 percent compared to sales for Q1 2009. On a like-for-like basis, however, sales increased by 11.3 percent, once the sale of Recticel's 50-percent stake in Cofel of France (Bedding) is accounted for.
The PU foam maker noted that the group succeeded in improving its overall profitability.
According to Recticel, all business lines recorded higher sales, with earnings (EBITDA and EBIT) "positively influenced by higher activity levels, and the automotive unit returning to profitability."
In flexible foams, the sales of Euro 151.8 million rose 7.5 percent, following higher volumes, especially in technical foams, which Recticel noted "benefited most from the upturn in the industrial markets. In composite foams (rebonded materials), sales benefited from higher trim foam prices, said the group, while in comfort sales, volumes to the bedding sector continued to develop positively.
In bedding, sales of Euro 80.8 million were a drop of 13.2 percent from Q1 2009 following the Cofel sale. But Recticel stressed that, on a comparable basis, and "despite difficult market conditions," sales rose by 8.3 percent. They were higher in all regional markets, except for slightly lower sales in Germany and Poland.
In its insulation activities (Euro 39.4 million) Recticel said sales grew by 6.6 percent, continuing to benefit "from the structural upward trend in the applications for building insulation." Sales also "increased strongly in March," after slack activity during the winter.
Recticel sees structural demand for rigid PU foam insulation remaining high as a result of stricter insulation standards, higher energy prices and growing environmental awareness of the need for more and better insulation.
Sales in Recticel's automotive business (Euro 78.0 million) increased by 24.4 percent, mainly from higher volumes both in seating (its Proseat joint venture with Woodbridge) which rise by 17.4 percent, and in interior solutions (+33.1 percent). Automotive sales were hit hard last year by the downturn of the global automotive market, said the group, noting that this is the first time since mid 2008 that its automotive sales grew both in Europe and in the US.
Recticel said it expects its 2010 operational results to be in line with those of 2009 with a further reduction of its net financial debt.