RPC looks to get fitter after fortunes stumble

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Plastic packaging bellwether RPC has seen its performance dented by continued weaknesses in Europe and restructuring costs.

The firm saw net profit halve in the first half, partly due to restructuring costs incurred during the rollout of its it 'Fitter for the Future' business optimisation programme. Net profit for the six months to September was £13.9m, down from £26.3m in the same period the year before.

Sales fell from £587m to £518m, year-on-year – a situation blamed on a weaker euro and a 3% drop in overall volumes. The firm’s increased European presence – boosted two years ago by the purchase of Denmark’s Superfos – has exposed RPC to weakening markets.

“This was another creditable performance by the group in a continually challenging economic environment," said chairman Jamie Pike. “The return on capital employed target set following the Superfos acquisition has been largely achieved but with the prospect of prolonged macro-economic weakness the group has embarked on the 'Fitter for the Future' optimisation programme to ensure that this level of performance can be sustained.

“Opportunities to grow the business from a position of financial strength through innovation and acquisitions continue to be explored.”

In addition to realigning its current business, RPC is also looking to add growth by acquisition. Last month the firm purchased Manuplastics – a UK manufacturer of plastic jars – for £7m. The aim is to use the company to enhance its enhancing presence in the personal care market.