The rise in organic revenues – which excludes the impact of changing currencies – is the first ad specialty sales improvement BIC has reported since its acquisition of Norwood and Europe-based firm Antalis in 2009.
"With restored customer service and new brand positioning, BIC Graphic has started to regain customer confidence," the company said in its earnings statement. "All regions and business segments showed some improvements thanks notably to a renewed range of products focused on quality, safety compliance and innovation."
While BIC Graphic made gains in Q1 organic sales, its normalized IFO margin decreased by 1.8 points to -7.2%. BIC said the change was "due to increased marketing investments in both Europe and North America to support sales growth." Comparatively, BIC Group's Q1 worldwide consumer business (shavers, lighters, stationery) normalized IFO margin was 20.9%.
BIC Group has reaffirmed its 2014 ad specialty sales forecast, expecting BIC Graphic revenues to increase by "low-single digits" on a comparative basis. "We are confident in our ability to achieve our full-year target for 2014 in both consumer and advertising and promotional activities, despite the ongoing economic uncertainty, notably due to the strong volatility of currencies," said Mario Guevara, BIC Group's CEO.
BIC Group now reports the entirety of its promotional products sales under the BIC Graphic (not BIC APP) umbrella, following an official brand merger announced earlier this year. Ranked by Counselor as the fourth-largest supplier in the industry, BIC Graphic reported 2013 North American ad specialty sales of $313 million, a year-over-year decrease of 3.4%.