By Charlie Lunan

Thule Group reported net sales grew just 0.5 percent in the Americas in the second quarter due largely to the bankruptcy liquidation of Sports Authority and Sport Chalet in the United States.

“We generated growth in Canada and Latin America, while the market situation in the US was less stable,” said Magnus Welander, president for the Swedish  company, which makes racks and hitches for carrying bikes, kayaks, skis and other  sports gear as well as a growing line of strollers and back packs.The bankruptcies of two major US retail chains in the sports and outdoor market during the spring has impacted overall confidence at the retail level, including the Sport&Cargo Carriers category. The performance of the bike market was also weaker than expected in the US.”

Welander added that it appears Thule is defending its share of sport and cargo carriers and growing its share of backpacks and other outdoor packs and bags in the weaker U.S. market. Sales of the company’s sports stroller line, which was launched in the last three years, was strong. Sales stabilized at its Bags for Electronic Devices segment, as its Case Logic brand shifted its focus from camera bags to day packs and laptop cases.

Thanks to strong growth outside the Americas,  Thule was able to report group sales of SEK1.80 billion for the quarter ended June 30, up 6.3 percent, or 8.2 percent on a currency-neutral (c-n) basis. Growth was driven primarily by Europe & ROW  (Rest of World), where sales grew 12. 8 percent currency-neutral.

Group operating income grew 12.7 percent to SEK417 million, or 23.2 percent of sales, up from 21.9 in the year earlier period. Underlying EBIT rose 12.3 percent to SEK420 million, or 9.9 percent after excluding the impact of exchange rate fluctuations, an improvement of 40 basis points.

Net income was SEK308 million, up from SEK278 million. Earnings per share before dilution amounted to SEK3.05, compared  with SEK2.78.

Cash flow from operating activities improved to SEK381 million from SEK248 million.

In Early July, Thule paid €10 million to acquire GMG B.V., a manufacturer of child bike seats in the Benelux region that generated sales of €6.1 million in 2015. Thule will sell the company’s Yepp brand alongside its existing range of child bike seats to grow its Active with Kids category.

“GMG B.V. has operated with a lean, product-focused sales and marketing organization with six employees and we expect a swift and smooth integration,” said Welander.

Photo courtesy Thule