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Merck growing sales from supplement brands

By Dominique Patton , 25-Oct-2005

Successful supplement brands are driving strong sales growth at Merck KGaA's OTC business.

The German company reported an 8.9 per cent increase in third quarter sales at its Consumer Health Care division today, driven by demand for its probiotic brand Bion3, Cebion vitamins and Seven Seas fish oils.

"The Bion3 line of probiotic vitamin preparations generated excellent sales in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, France and Belgium," said the company in a statement.

Although the division accounts for less than 10 per cent of the group's overall pharmaceutical sales, (€93.8 million during the quarter out of a total €970.1m), it has been targetted for growth both through regional expansion and acquisitions.

For example, last month it announced plans to launch its Seven Seas joint care products in large Asian markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

While the UK remains its biggest market, thanks to the continuing popularity of its Seven Seas and Haliborange brands, it has also seen good growth further afield.

"Cebion vitamin products are doing exceptionally well in Colombia and strong promotional activities for major brands resulted in a 28 per cent increase in sales in South Africa," said the firm.

These strong sales figures helped boost the quarter's operating result by 39 per cent on the prior year's same period, to €15 million, despite the higher marketing and sales costs for new product launches.

"This was due mainly to improved sales and lower pension costsin the United Kingdom," said Merck.

Over the first half of the year, operating profits have climbed 23 per cent to reach 37.7 million.

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