Group underlying sales growth of 1%, with 3% International growth and 3% UK decline
International driven by 3% growth in both Europe and North America, with Asia Pacific flat
UK sales trends improved through the period
Gross margin stable at 45.4%, operating costs grew by 1% at constant currency
Group return on sales increased by 0.5% points to 7.4%, with contribution increasing in all regions
Headline profit before tax increased by 14%, with 10% points due to extra trading days and currency
Headline free cash flow grew by 50% to £36.0m, with higher profit and improved working capital
Strong balancesheet with net debt:EBITDA of 1.1 times
Interim dividend per share maintained at 5.0 pence
Group eCommerce sales growth of 6%, share of Group sales increasing by 3% points to 57%
Group customer numbers increased by 5%
Successfully launched DesignSpark Mechanical, our latest design tool for engineers
Significant enhancements to our websites, particularly regarding search functionality
Our Famous For product sales, comprising electronics and automation and control, grew by 3%
Successful pilot with TE Connectivity of our strategy to build a global offer across RS and Allied
Successfully rolled out existing SAP-based IT system to South East Asia
In October, Group underlying sales growth was 4%. International grew by 5% and the UK declined by 1% (excluding sales of Raspberry Pi the UK was flat). Within International, Continental Europe grew by 6%, North America grew by 8% and Asia Pacific was flat.
IAN MASON, GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE, COMMENTED:
"The Group has delivered a solid performance in the first half, with an improved operating margin and strong free cash flow. Underlying sales growth rates have improved from 1% in the first half to 4% in both September and October.
We have made good progress implementing our global strategy. Our move towards a single global offer is now underway, we made further website enhancements and customer numbers have increased by 5%. We believe that this strategy will enable us to grow our market share and improve our financial performance over the medium term."