Bunzl has reported double-digit underlying sales growth at its UK & Ireland division for 2022.
Revenue of £1.44 billion represented underlying growth of 12.2%. This was driven by strong price inflation, recovery in verticals such as foodservice, and acquisitions. In its office-related businesses, there was an improvement in footfall towards the end of the year, although this continues to be below 2019 levels.
UK & Ireland operating profit rose by 42% year on year to £95.3 million – thanks to the strength of the core business – with operating margin climbing by 130 basis points to 6.6%.
Bunzl provided further commentary on its UK & Ireland reporting division:
In our cleaning and hygiene businesses, which include businesses servicing care homes, we saw strong revenue growth throughout the year. Our product range continued to develop, offering more sustainable solutions to our customers, including the launch of a new award-winning Eco Cleaning range of chemicals.
Our safety businesses were impacted by a lack of major infrastructure investment during 2022, with construction and manufacturing industry customers also impacted by a shortage of raw materials and labour availability particularly earlier in the year. Despite this challenging backdrop, our businesses continued to secure new customers and develop more sustainable product ranges throughout the year.
Our retail businesses witnessed good growth over the year, supported by high levels of product cost inflation. Online packaging sales weakened throughout 2022 as more shoppers returned to ‘bricks-and-mortar’ traditional shopping methods which aided our luxury packaging supplies businesses. Our grocery business saw good growth, benefiting from inflation and expanded product ranges supplied to some of our larger grocery customers.
Our foodservice businesses saw very strong growth, driven by both volume recovery as well as inflation. Office catering remains well below pre-pandemic levels given work-from-home trends, although the return of leisure and sporting activity and consumer desire to return to dining out helped bolster sales, which, supported by inflation, finished close to 2019 levels. We secured new customers, launched a new web shop, and continued to roll out both sustainable products and services throughout the year.
Our businesses in Ireland performed well during 2022. Further improvements have been made during the year to both our digital and sustainability offerings. We continue to improve our operating model with the introduction of new stock management software and new transport management software in some businesses.