By Martin Vedris

ECULLY, FRANCE: Groupe SEB has reported a 14.2 per cent increase in revenue for the first nine months of 2008, compared to last year, and it says that the company is in a healthy financial state to weather the current economic conditions.

The company reported revenue of €2,184 million (AUD $4,191 million) for the first nine months of 2008 — an increase of 14.2 per cent over the same period last year. The company also reported that its business remained “generally good in the third quarter”, with revenue up 3.5 per cent, like-for-like.

Operating margin for the first nine months rose 26 per cent to €208 million (AUD $400 million), including a €20 million (AUD $38 million) contribution from the recently purchased Chinese Supor business. Without the Supor figures, operating margin amounted to €188 million (AUD $360 million), which the company reports is a 14.3 per cent improvement.

At September 30, 2008, consolidated net debt amounted to €696 million (AUD $1.3 billion), with the increase compared to €573 million (AUD $1.09 billion) at September 30, 2007 mainly due, the company says, to the Supor acquisition.

In the Asia-Pacific region (China, Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, etc.), sales rose 137 per cent over the first nine months, with organic growth (excluding Supor) amounting to 13.4 per cent.

In Australia, the company reports that "sales were once again up sharply". Groupe SEB says this is due to sustained demand for Jamie Oliver cookware and the success of Group SEB’s steam cookers and irons. And In the still booming Chinese market, Supor increased its sales by 37 per cent on the domestic market in the first nine months, with growth led by small electrical appliances.

“We are very pleased with the overall results that have been achieved to date here locally,” said Groupe SEB Australia and New Zealand managing director, Wivina Chaneliere.

“The results for both the electrical and cookware business remain strong. This year we have made a very strong commitment to driving the growth of our brands and we have supported our key launches through strong TV advertising investment and BTL activity.

“This year we have launched some very innovative products which have been very well received by the market and also strongly supported by our retailers. Quick Cup and Actifry have performed very well and we feel there are more opportunities as well as our other core categories steam irons, steam generators and food steamers.”

Moving forward, in the current tenuous economic climate, Groupe SEB is confident. The company says that current financial crisis has not weakened its capacity for finance, which it says “is based on a well-established flexible long-term financing strategy”.

In addition, the company says, “at this point in time, the Group has no reason to adjust its 2008 objectives of organic growth in revenue and improvement in operating margin.”