By Martin Vedris

ECULLY CEDEX FRANCE: In a statement on its first half 2007 results, Groupe SEB announced that its revenue grew by 9.8 per cent in the first six months of 2007, led by the ongoing expansion of the small domestic equipment market.

The company also reported that its operating margin rose by roughly 32 per cent to €78 million, in what the company stated was a result that reflected an improved product and price mix. The company also stated that this increase in operating margin more than offset higher prices for raw materials (mainly aluminium and nickel) and outsourced products as well as increased marketing and research and development expenditure.

According to the report, operating profit amounted to €52 million and net profit came to €28 million, contrasting with the company’s net loss incurred in first-half 2006 due to major restructuring costs.

“2007 should be a good year for the Group, which has continued on a path of recovery since 2006 with strong organic growth and improved profitability,” said Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise, chairman and CEO.

“This performance attests to the quality of our innovation strategy and the success of our international development policy, which both illustrate our ongoing commitment to planning for the future.”

Looking ahead the company stated that, “As we enter the second half of 2007, the business environment continues to be favourable outside of the US and the UK, and the markets remain buoyant in terms of sales volumes and revenue. Metal prices remain high despite levelling off slightly recently and the euro remains strong against most other currencies.

“In this environment, the Group is confident of achieving strong full-year growth, despite the slower growth rate forecast for the second half due to a higher basis of comparison in 2006. In spite of accrued end-of-year marketing spend, Groupe SEB is still aiming to achieve sustained improvement in 2007 operating margin.”

In other news, after obtaining the approval of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) to issue restricted shares, Groupe SEB announced that 65 million shares of the Supor company have been registered under its name as the result of the acquisition of 25 million shares from the Su family at a price of RMB 18 per share and the issue of 40 million restricted shares at RMB 18 per share.

These transactions represent the first two steps in the process of Groupe SEB becoming a majority shareholder in Supor. They cost Groupe SEB a total of €117 million. The Group now holds a 30 per cent interest in Supor and will therefore launch a partial takeover bid for the company after submitting the bid details to the CSRC for approval in the next few days.