European industrial and MRO reseller RS Group edged to like-for-like growth in the fourth quarter of its financial year despite a double-digit decline in electronics supplies.
In a trading statement ahead of its full annual results on 23 May, the UK-based company said Q4 organic sales were up by 1% year on year. This was driven by a 10% increase in its core industrial ranges that was largely offset by a 14% drop in electronics.
EMEA grew by 4% thanks to volume growth in industrial and its more solutions-led and specialist product offer and service. The Americas fell by 4% due to tough comparisons versus last year, a softening market, and customer destocking.
There was also some rebranding disruption as the group strengthens its omnichannel and product and service solutions offer under the RS brand. Risoul, the recent acquisition in Mexico, “is trading strongly and integration is progressing well”.
The RS Pro brand performed well in the quarter, with like-for-like sales up by 16%. Meanwhile, digital revenue increased by 5% organically, with 1% web growth.
On the bottom line, RS said that gross profit margin had improved in Q4 after a one-off price inflation gain. Full-year adjusted operating profit is expected to be slightly ahead of consensus expectations of £386 million on sales of around £3 billion.
“While revenue momentum has slowed in the fourth quarter against tough comparatives, we continue to drive profitable growth, manage our costs appropriately and invest where we can generate the greatest value,” stated CFO David Egan.
New CEO Simon Pryce said that RS had entered the new financial year with a strong pipeline of potential acquisition opportunities, adding that he was confident in the group’s ability to “outperform even in a more difficult economic environment”.