Box-maker DS Smith takes profit hit from Covid crisis

·1 min read

Packaging producer DS Smith has seen a plunge in profits as the Covid-19 crisis hit the business.

Bosses said profits were hit by an initial fall in packaging volumes and swings in the cost of raw materials, particularly during the first quarter of the financial year.

But, as the year progressed and sites remained open throughout the pandemic, volume grew as online businesses saw a surge in trade and the demand for boxes increased.

The second half of the year saw strong growth of 8.2% but it was not enough to offset the heavy falls in the first, the company added.

Overall, revenues fell 1% to £5.98 billion with pre-tax profits down 37% to £231 million in the 12 months to April 30.

Looking ahead, bosses said that, despite the fall in profits, they are now in a stronger position and remain hopeful for the future.

But they also admitted that cost pressures remain, with prices of raw materials still high, alongside energy, transport and labour.

Demand remains strong and, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, online shopping is expected to remain at higher levels than before the crisis.

Chief executive Miles Roberts said: “We invested heavily to keep all of our people safe and all of factories open throughout the pandemic and this enabled us to build good momentum through the year after a challenging first quarter.

“The growth drivers of e-commerce sustainability and plastic-free packaging have accelerated over the last 12 months and we are very well placed to capitalise on this growth.

“We have worked hard over many years to focus our business purely on fibre-based packaging and this differentiation is clearly recognised by our customers.”

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