Antalis has announced a drop in sales and profits for the first half of the year, with no further news as yet on its search for a new shareholder to take over Sequana’s majority stake in the business.
The merchanting group has announced preliminary, unaudited results for the six months to 30 June. It expects sales to be down 5.6% on a like-for-like basis at €1.072bn (£982m). EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) is set to be around 16.7% lower than the prior year, at €30m (2018: €36m).
The business is the largest paper merchant in Europe.
In a statement, Antalis said the declines were mainly due to lower paper volumes, with the market contracting by 7% in the first half of the year, plus the impact of “the collapse of one of Antalis’ graphic and recycled papers suppliers”.
Sequana-owned Arjowiggins put its largest French paper mill at Bessé-sur-Braye, which made recycled papers, into liquidation in March. It subsequently shut down in May.
Sequana itself went into judicial liquidation in mid-May. The process of liquidating its assets could take up to two years.
Antalis pointed to the bright spots of its growing Packaging and Visual Communications businesses, which together now make up 39% of gross margin.
Antalis UK opened a Smart Packaging Centre at its Coalville site in 2018. The firm recently announced that in its first year of operation the facility has helped more than 50 customers with their packaging design challenges.
Packaging technologist manager Jason Poxon said: “Most customers visiting the centre are looking to reduce their pack cost and/or cut waste and improve their environmental footprint and credentials. We find that very often these three issues work hand-in-hand, particularly as customers are often using more packaging than they need to."
Meanwhile, five months on from the initial announcement that it was seeking to find a new shareholder to take over the 75.2% stake in the business currently owned by Sequana, Antalis said it was “progressing in its process”.
“The company will inform the market once it is in a position to announce definitive steps,” Antalis stated.
Shares in Antalis moved up slightly on the announcement, from €0.74 to €0.75 (52-week high: €1.47, low: €0.72).
The group will announce its first-half results on 30 September. Antalis had full-year sales of €595m in the UK and Ireland in 2018.