European appliance maker Groupe SEB reported consolidated sales for the first quarter ended March 31, 2005 increased slightly to 484.9 million euros (approx. U.S. $623.8 million).
The company said that the early-year business environment was marked by fierce competition and was very uneven, with sluggish consumer spending in Europe contrasting stronger growth in other regions.
In France, sales declined 8.3 percent to 114.3 million euros (approx. $147 million). The company said the decline was mainly due to heavy promotional costs for cookware associated with Chandeleur (Candlemas), a day that the French traditionally celebrate with crepes. Sales were also slow for irons and vacuum cleaners, while sales of hair dryers, steam generators, pressure cookers, and espresso coffee makers were strong, Groupe SEB said.
Sales were also down almost everywhere else in the European Union, reflecting both persistent difficulties in Italy and a cyclical downturn in a few countries that registered strong growth in 2004, such as Spain, the UK, and Portugal, the company said. First quarter sales declined 11 percent to 133.9 million euros (approx. $172.2 million).
According to the company, North America -- after a difficult 2004 -- showed encouraging signs of growth. Total North American sales increased 34.6 percent to 70.4 million euros (approx. $90.5 million). The upturn, following 2 years of decline, reflected a stabilization in T-FAL sales, as expressed in dollars, a turnaround in business of the Krups brand, led by new products launched in late 2004, and a confirmation of Rowenta's momentum, driven by the successful launch of new-model irons and hand steamers.
In South America, macroeconomic indicators continued to trend favorably, enabling Groupe SEB to make further inroads. Total sales increased 12.4 percent to 31.4 million euros (approx. $40.4 million). In Brazil, sales were helped with the introduction of new products such as blenders, both dry and steam irons, and personal care appliances, while rapid expansion continued in Argentina and Venezuela.
In the other countries, sales increased in nearly all markets, notably in Southeast Asia, where the recent start-ups in Thailand, Taiwan, and Singapore produced results. In addition, growth was spurred in Japan, where the Group gained market share, in Turkey, where the company still sees high growth potential, and in Central Europe, where Groupe SEB further strengthened its positions. Sales increased 8.1 percent to 134.9 million euros (approx. $174 million).
According to the company, entry-level products manufactured in Asia and sold through discount retail chains increased its market share, especially in industrialized countries.
to Daily News