The Swedish-based Thule Group saw sales rise by 15.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 1,846 million Swedish kronor (€177.5m) as demand for its outdoor products remained strong. However, margins were squeezed by “significant” cost increases compared to the year earlier. On a currency-adjusted basis, sales went up by 14.3 percent.

Sales growth continued to be led by the Americas region, where revenues in the three months jumped by 30.3 percent to SEK 692 million (€66.5m). On a constant currency basis, sales were 27.2 percent higher than in the year-earlier period and up about 82 percent versus the fourth quarter of 2019. In the Europe and Rest of World region, sales rose by 7.5 percent to SEK 1,155 million (€111.0m). At constant currency rates, quarterly sales in this region were 7.8 percent higher than a year earlier and up by about 52 percent compared to 2019.

Thule’s gross margin fell to 33.7 percent in the fourth quarter from 40.0 percent the year earlier, and the Ebit margin narrowed to 10.3 percent from 15.0 percent, as raw materials and freight prices rose significantly, outweighing the positive impact from prices increases made at the mid-year mark. Consequently, Thule said it is has implemented further price increases at the start of the current quarter. Net profit fell to SEK 154 million (€14.8m) from SEK 164 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

For the full year, Thule’s sales jumped by 32.7 percent to SEK 10,386 million (€998.5m). On a currency-neutral basis, sales were up by 37.7 percent in 2020 and about 58 percent higher than in 2019. Despite the negative impact of higher raw material and freight prices and increased absences for sickness in the second half of the year, the full-year Ebit margin improved to 22.5 percent from 20.3 percent in 2020, partly due to efficient cost controls. Net profit for the full year increased by 53.5 percent to SEK 1,790 million (€172.1m).

By product category, Sport&Cargo Carriers enjoyed constant-currency sales growth of 43 percent in 2021 and rose to 66 percent of total revenues from 64 percent in 2020. RV products posted constant-currency sales growth of 34 percent, with their share of the total sales pie declining to 14 percent from 15 percent. The Active with Kids category experienced 35 percent sales growth at constant currencies and inched down to 12 percent of sales from 13 percent in the prior year. Packs, Bags & Luggage reported constant-currency sales growth of 12 percent and represented 6 percent of all sales versus 8 percent the year earlier.

“I’m convinced that with this strong base, we will continue to generate good growth in 2022, in a generally positive market environment,” said Magnus Weilander, the group’s CEO. “At the same time, the growth journey has to contend with a challenging business environment, where high prices for material and freight remain, as do a variety of disruptions in the supply chain.