D'Ieteren Reports Slight Growth in Belron's First-Quarter Sales
May 20, 2013

by Jenna Reed, jreed@glass.com

Belron's parent D'Ieteren reported that sales for Belron's first quarter were 1.6 percent higher than 2012. The company issued an interim management statement and Belron's profits were not discussed, just sales percentages were reported. Belron's worldwide repair and replacement jobs for the period were down by 2 percent. Just after discussing financials, D'Ieteren's Board of Directors also announced the appointment of Axel Miller to succeed Jean-Pierre Bizet as managing director and CEO of the D'Ieteren group as of August 1.

Looking at sales results, the company reported these were slightly higher due to a 1.5-percent organic increase and 2.7-percent growth from acquisitions. The results were partially offset by a 0.5-percent negative currency translation and a 2.2-percent decline due to fewer trading days.

European sales were 3.2-percent higher than the prior year, showing a 3.1-percent organic increase and 3.3-percent growth from acquisitions, which were partially offset by a 0.3-percent negative translation effect and a 2.9-percent decline due to fewer trading days.

"The organic sales increase was due to market share and mix gains, with the majority of markets continuing to decline as economic effects outweighed the impact of the significantly colder winter than in 2012," officials reported in a statement.

"The impact of the winter weather on the first-quarter sales was not significant as the greater probability of breakage was mitigated by fewer miles driven due to snow. The snow also hampered the businesses ability to complete scheduled work with the resulting backlog generating a substantial volume increase in April," the statement continued.

The acquired growth is mainly due to acquisitions of Doctor Glass in Italy in January and ADR Group in the United Kingdom in 2012, according to officials.

Outside Europe, sales growth for the quarter was 0.1 percent, including a 0.1-percent organic increase and 2.2 percent fewer trading days.

"The small organic growth primarily reflects the colder winter weather in North America compared to 2012, partially offset by the impact of market declines reflecting the continued challenging economic environment," officials reported.

Beyond Europe, the acquisition growth was largely due to Giant Glass and Windshield World in the U.S. and the former franchisees in Canada, according to the statement.

Company officials expect the second quarter trading to be strong due to the weather.

Specific numbers for Belron's U.S. operations were not provided.

While sales at Belron were up slightly, sales at D'Ieteren Auto were down 10.7 percent in the first quarter.

Looking forward, D'Ieteren officials write in the statement, "Given that the start of the year (including April) is broadly in line with expectations, and given the current outlook of its activities as well as the uncertain economic environment, D'Ieteren still expects its 2013 current consolidated result before tax, group's share, to decline by 10 to 15 percent, compared with 2012. As a reminder, excluding the impact in 2012 of the reversal of provision related to Belron's long-term executive incentive scheme, the like-for-like result for 2013 would remain roughly flat."

As for the newly announced group CEO, Miller, 48, has held various leadership positions within Dexia Group and later became partner and chairman of the executive committee of Petercam. He joined the D'Ieteren board in May 2010 as an independent non-executive director. Officials note he has known the board for more than 20 years.

"The board and I are delighted to have the opportunity now to entrust the chief executive responsibility of the group to Axel Miller, who has known the company for many years, as well as its challenges, organization, environment and family shareholding," says Roland D'Ieteren, chairman of the board.

Bizet, 65, joined D'Ieteren in October 2002 and became managing director and CEO in May 2005.

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