BIC Group CEO To Retire

BIC Group, parent company of Top 40 supplier BIC Graphic (asi/40480), announced that CEO Mario Guevara will retire in May and that Chairman Bruno Bich will be nominated to assume his duties. The company made the announcement along with the release of its earnings for 2015, where the company grew sales by 6.2% on a comparative basis.

“I want to express our gratitude to Mario Guevara for his contribution to the success of our Group during his career,” Bich said in a statement. “Under Mario’s guidance, BIC reinforced its leadership positions throughout the world and significantly improved net sales and results. We wish him the best for his retirement.”

With his nomination to the CEO role, Bich would also retain his title as chairman. BIC Group’s Board of Directors will propose at its next shareholders meeting to expand the age limit for the chairman and CEO positions to 72 years – a change in the company’s bylaws that would allow the 70-year-old Bich to fill the role. Guevara will remain a member of the board.

BIC Graphic, the company’s promotional product entity, grew by 15.9% in 2015 with a total of 319.3 million Euros ($355.2 million). On a comparative basis (taking into account exchange rates and excluding acquisitions and other events), sales increased by 1.6%. During Q4, net sales were up 4.6% on a comparative basis with mid-single digit growth in North America. For the year, the supplier attributed its North American growth to increased online business, new products, its Good Value line and its BritePix imprinting technology.

In its release, the company noted the wave of consolidation with both promotional product suppliers and distributors. “Considering the recent evolution of the promotional products industry’s environment,” Guevara said, “the Board has decided to initiate a review of strategic alternatives for BIC Graphic.”

Overall for parent company BIC Group, its normalized income from operations margins grew to 19.3% last year from 18.7% in 2014. The company’s earnings per share increased in Euros from 5.57 to 6.89, a jump of 23.7%. Net sales in the fourth quarter grew 7.3% on a comparative basis.

For 2016, BIC Group forecasts that net sales will increase by mid-single percentage points on a comparative basis, and normalized IFO will decline as the company invests in R&D with a goal toward profitable mid- and long-term growth. For BIC Graphic, the company said it will focus in North America on new products, its Good Value line and enhanced service with customers.