Private label boosts Buhrmann profits

9 February 2005 – Amsterdam (NL): Buhrmann more than tripled its net profit in 2004 to €139 million ($177.7 million) from €43 million in 2003, thanks to reduced financing costs and a shift to higher margin private label products.

Sales for the year came in at €5.54 billion, down from €8.05 billion in the previous year – largely down to lower prices as a result of the private label shift.

Net profit for the company’s Q4 was €48.4 million, up from €24.6 million in the year ago quarter. Sales declined slightly to €1.42 billion from €1.71 billion.

Organic sales for global office products in the quarter were up 3 per cent, compared with 2 per cent in Q3, the company said, reflecting continued growth in North American and Australian operations, while sales in Europe showed a lower rate of decline.

The successful launch of the company’s private Corporate Express brand portfolio, which constitutes 20 per cent of office supplies sales in North America and 25 per cent in Europe, helped bump up profit.

Commenting on the results, Buhrmann president/CEO, Franks Koffrie, said: "I am pleased with the improved earnings. Positive trends continued into Q4 with a further improvement in underlying sales, added value and operating profit. All in all we are positive about prospects for further success in 2005, based on our expectations of a steady improvement in market conditions."