By Martin Vedris

ECULLY, FRANCE: The Asia-Pacific region accounted for nearly 17 per cent of consolidated revenue for Groupe SEB in the first-quarter 2008 — this is up from seven per cent in 2007.

The company attributed the spike in growth to the full consolidation of revenue from the Supor company it has acquired controlling share in (see the previous report on Current).

While the Supor result skewed the figures, Group SEB said in a statement that organic growth in the Asia-Pacific region accelerated to 10.7 per cent from seven per cent a year earlier. The company attributed this to growth in South Korea, further sales growth in Australia and New Zealand, strong sales in Japan despite the unfavourable currency environment and renewed sales growth in Malaysia.

“We are very pleased with the overall company results from the start of the year and again we have been able to achieve strong results here in Australia and New Zealand,” said Groupe SEB Australia and New Zealand managing director, Wivina Chaneliere.

“A lot of this has been due to the great support of our retail partners and the hard work put in by the team.

“We are very committed to supporting our retail partners and we feel that the momentum we have created will continue throughout this year. It is definitely a very exciting time as we launch a number of highly innovative products and have a strong marketing program in place to support our brands.”

In total, Groupe SEB reported revenue growth of 18.2 per cent for the first three months of 2008. The €78 million first-time contribution from Supor boosted that result. Excluding Supor, organic growth at constant exchange rates reached at 8.5 per cent, compared to 9.2 per cent reported in first-quarter 2007 and 8.6 per cent achieved over the full year 2007.

Groupe SEB also reported that operating margin rose 73 per cent to €73.5 million (including a €7.3 million contribution from Supor) from €42.6 million in first-quarter 2007.

Net debt stood at €489 million at 31 March 2008, compared with €351 million a year earlier. The €138 million increase reflected the acquisition of Supor, which was not consolidated at 31 March 2007, as well as the positive impact of a sharp improvement in working capital, especially in first-quarter 2008.

Groupe SEB said the rising cost of raw materials pushed purchasing costs up, but the company is pursuing a disciplined cost management program to manage profit margins. The company also said that future growth will come from further increasing its advertising expenditure starting from the second quarter, ahead of Mother’s Day.