Strong and steady at Buhrmann

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Buhrmann has posted a Q1 net profit of 120.2 million ($26 million), up 15.4 per cent from 117.5 million a year ago.

With the exceptional charge of 185 million related to an outstanding shares repurchase, however, the company made a net loss of 177.7 million.

Net sales were at 11.315 billion, down 2.3 per cent in euros but up 0.7 per cent in constant rates from 11.346 billion a year ago.

Net sales for the group’s office product businesses meanwhile decreased 1.8 per cent in euros and increased 1.4 per cent in constant rates to 11.228 billion, reflecting what the company described as "the higher success rate in winning large account business in almost all of our markets".

OP sales in North America showed a continued growth curve with Corporate Express North America posting a rise in constant rates of 2.4 per cent to 1709.1 million. In Europe, sales were flat at 1238 million, despite an encouraging performance in the German office supplies market.

Corporate Express Australia, which from now on will report on a quarterly basis, showed marked success, with organic sales rising by 6.9 per cent to 1145.3 million.

Commenting on the results, Buhrmann’s president/CEO, Frans Koffrie, said: "We are pleased with the overall performance of the group, in particular with the improvement in organic sales growth for our office product businesses. Sales, gross profit and operating result all increased at constant exchange rates, reflecting our strong competitive position and success of our single source supplier strategy to be the preferred supplier of a comprehensive range of office products.

"We continue to be positive about prospects for further success in 2005, based on our expectations of a steady improvement of market conditions across North America and the further positive effects of measures to enhance our European performance.

"Growth is forecast to continue in the Australian economy, albeit at a somewhat slower pace," he added.