CE North America sales down


8 February 2007 — Amsterdam (NL): Buhrman’s latest financial results have revealed that Corporate Express (CE) North America’s Q4 sales fell to €763.6 million ($991.6 million) from €809.8 million a year earlier. And for the year, the division’s organic sales grew by only 1 percent from €3.04 billion in 2005 to €3.18 billion.

Buhrman president and CEO Frans Koffrie said: "We are disappointed with our North American performance in the fourth quarter. While completing the centralising of back office functions and implementing a new organisational structure, we did underestimate the impact that such temporarily increased internal focus would have on new business generation. Combined with unexpectedly soft December sales, this resulted in a decline in organic sales for the quarter."


CE Europe fared better, reaching Q4 net sales of €352.3 million, compared to €253 million in the previous year period. For the year, net sales rose to €1.09 billion compared to €947.6 million a year earlier.


Koffrie said: "Office Products Europe increased its market share in 2006 through organic sales growth and acquisitions. Early in the year, Ofiexpress, a Spanish office products distributor was acquired while in September, ATG, the leading office products group in the Nordic region, became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Group. This acquisition is an excellent strategic and geographical fit, delivering a market leadership position in Norway and Sweden and a strong platform for further expansion in the Nordic region."


CE Australia also achieved sales growth in Q4 and during 2006. Q4 net sales increased from €180.8 million in the previous year to €192.6 million. Annual sales were €743.5 million compared to €700.7 million last year.


"As a single-source supplier of choice, Corporate Express Australia continues to gain a larger share of its customers business and will actively pursue a range of new growth opportunities – both organically and via acquisitions – to leverage its existing infrastructure. The investments made in 2006 are bearing fruit and should result in another solid business performance in 2007", said Koffrie.


Buhrmann’s group annual net sales improved by 7.6 percent, at constant rates, to €6.3 billion, compared to €5.89 billion a year earlier. Q4 net sales rose by 9.2 percent, at constant rates, to €1.66 billion from €1.60 billion in Q4 2005.


Koffrie added: "The North American, European and Australian office products divisions are increasingly aligning their sales growth and gross contribution initiatives. As per 2007, Office Products North America, Office Products Europe, Office Product Australia and the corporate costs will be grouped under the heading Global Office Products and will be assigned a target range for operating result before depreciation and amortisation of intangibles (EBITDA), excluding special items, of 7-8 percent."