Thule Group reported vastly improved results for the first quarter of 2015. Sales increased by 27.1 percent to 1.37 billion Swedish kronor (€145.6m-$163.1m). They went at a lower rate of 11.5 percent in local currencies, with lower growth in North America than in Europe and the rest of the world.
Sales went up by 23.2 percent in the Outdoor & Bags segment, with growth of 9.0 percent in local currencies, thanks in part to the introduction of new products. Currency-neutral sales increased by 1.3 percent in the Americas, where bags for electronic devices account for a larger proportion of the company's sales in this category, and by 12.8 percent in Europe and the rest of the world. The underlying operating margin (Ebit) of the segment increased by 20.5 percent
In the smaller Specialty segment, Thule sold more snow chains than a year earlier because of higher snowfalls.
Exchange rates led to a slight decline in the group's gross margin to 39.3 percent in the quarter. The underlying Ebit margin of the group rose by 0.9 percentage points to 15.4 percent, but cash flow was still negative for the period. Net earnings jumped by 184 percent to SEK 142 million (€15.1m-$16.9m).
Thule said it would close its warehouse for bags and cases in Belgium during the current quarter and transfer its operations to a third-party warehouse in the Netherlands.