Wrigley, the US-based gum producer, has reported first quarter 2003 sales growth of 12 per cent on the back of a 4 per cent hike in global volume sales. The company's business in Europe and the US was the driving force behind the improvement, which helped offset investment in brand support, sales infrastructure and technology.
In value terms, sales reached $672 million (€612m), up $73 million from the same quarter last year. In constant dollars, eliminating the benefit of currency translation, total company sales increased by $33 million or 5 per cent.
Outside the US, Q1 sales were up 17 per cent, with a strong performance in Europe and the Pacific, offset by relatively flat performance in Asia. Furthermore, the increased strength of European and Australian currencies gave an additional boost to international sales.
First quarter sales in the Americas region were up 7 per cent on a 6 per cent unit volume increase. The region's performance was driven by results in the US, where sales and unit volumes were up by 10 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. In the balance of the region, a similarly strong performance in Canada was more than offset by slight declines for Amurol in the quarter and sharper declines for Latin America compared to the record gains in the same quarter of 2002.
Net profits for the three-month period reached $97.0 million, up 14 per cent from the prior year. Operating profits in the quarter grew by 13 per cent in the Americas region and by 11 per cent in the overseas regions versus the prior year, with consolidated brand support up 14% worldwide.
The good sales performance was driven by Wrigley's continued innovation and new product development. During the quarter the company extended its Juicy Fruit brand in Asia with new fruit flavours, while in Europe, the distribution of Orbit Drops - sugar-free lozenges available in four flavours - continued to expand. The company said it was pleased with early sales results for Extra Thin Ice, its first international fresh breath strip product.
In the US, the rollout of two additional fresh breath strip products - Eclipse Flash Spearmint and Winterfresh Thin Ice - is nearing completion, Wrigley said, and the groundwork is being laid for some mid-year chewing gum line extensions.
Wrigley is the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum, with global sales of over $2.7 billion in more than 150 countries.