Bel insisted it "strengthened" market share in western Europe

Bel insisted it "strengthened" market share in western Europe

  • Net profit, sales increase
  • Operating profit up thanks to good performance from outside Western Europe
  • Market conditions for 2015 expected to remain challenging

Bel Group has reported higher first-half sales and profits, with the French cheese maker's international reach offsetting stagnant sales in Europe.

The Laughing Cow owner booked an increase in net profit to EUR93m (US$101.7m), compared with EUR47m a year earlier for the first half of the year.

Operating income rose to EUR141m against EUR82m for the same period last year. Bel said the improvement came primarily from regions outside western Europe.

Sales in western Europe fell 1.1% to EUR543m, although Bel insisted it had "strengthened" its market share in the region. Sales from Bel's division focusing on northern and eastern Europe dropped 7.4% to EUR253m, in part due to foreign exchange but also "continued operating difficulties" in Ukraine.

Total sales were up 7.9% year-on-year to EUR1.45bn, with revenue from Bel's combined Americas and Asia Pacific unit jumping over 38%. Bel's Near and Middle East division rose by almost 24%/

In its outlook for the rest of 2015, Bel said market conditions remain challenging, with an "uncertain economic environment, lacklustre consumer spending in Europe, high foreign exchange volatility and increased geopolitical instability in some world regions".

Nevertheless, it added: "Bel remains confident about its growth prospects, thanks to the strength of its global brands, its ambitious innovation strategy and the favourable geographical spread of its activities."