Brussels - Belgian foam group Recticel said its total consolidated sales decreased in the first quarter of 2012 to Euro 351.1 million ($456 million) from Euro 359.6 million in Q1 2011 (a 2.4 percent drop).
The company commented that this was in line with the trend observed during Q4 2011.
"Trading conditions remained very challenging in all end-markets, especially in the bedding segment," said Recticel.
During Q1 2012, raw material prices were at levels comparable to those of Q1 2011, and have been quickly rising as last year, but Recticel said that "despite lower sales in all segments except insulation, overall profitability remains in line with expectations thanks to the progressive pass-through of the higher raw material costs into the selling prices."
Sales were down 1.5 percent in flexible foams at Euro 157.4 million, 6.7 percent in bedding at Euro 73.6 million, and 6.5 percent in automotive, while rising as already noted by 9.5 percent in insulation to Euro 53.0 million.
Recticel attributed the drop in sales in flexible foam to lower volumes in comfort uses and to weak business levels in Spain and Scandinavia. In bedding, the 'Private label' sub-segment particularly suffered from weakening consumer confidence, the company added.
Meanwhile, insulation sales continued to benefit from increased demand for high-performing building insulation products, as well as increased market penetration of polyurethane solutions, Recticel said.
However, overall activity level was affected by the very low temperatures in the first half of February, which Recticel noted brought construction activity after a relatively mild winter till then.
Automotive sales decreased as sales in interiors fell, with some running programmes approaching their phase-out stage, the company said.
Sales were, however, stable in Recticel's Proseat 51/49 joint venture in automotive seating with Canadian group Woodbridge,