Omega-3, probiotics driving Seven Seas growth in UK

Related tags Cent Omega-3 fatty acid Fatty acid

Merck KgaA, owner of the UK's leading supplement brand Seven Seas,
reported a strong rise in sales at its consumer healthcare
division, driven by its omega-3 products and probiotic

The 12 per cent rise in sales to €88 million, also included a 5.8 per cent boost from acquisitions, mainly the purchase last August of the direct-to-consumer UK business Lamberts Healthcare (formerly Peter Black Direct Marketing).

The German group said its UK Seven Seas business showed a 9.8 per cent organic growth rate due to the good development of Bion3, which contains vitamins, minerals and probiotic cultures, and the Omega 3 family of products.

There are 18 different Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil products, including a recently introduced Extra High Strength product, and a Pulse range that offers high omega-3 fatty acids.

Cod liver oil is one of the best selling supplements in the UK market. The Seven Seas brand has a 21 per cent share of the total VMS category there.

France, Mexico and Venezuela also had good sales growth.

Overall the group reported first-quarter profits up 20 per cent to €99 million, aided by strong sales at its chemicals division, improved financial results, and a lower tax rate.

Group sales rose 2.5 per cent to €1.8 billion, led by the Liquid Crystals unit, where sales soared 61 per cent in spite of currency effects.

"The first quarter of 2004 developed well within our expectations so that I already feel confident to say that for the full year we expect profit after tax to increase by a high double-digit rate compared to last year,"​ Merck CEO Bernhard Scheuble said.

The increase will come from improved operating profits at the chemicals unit and exceptional gains of around €345 million beforetaxes booked from the sale of its laboratory distribution business VWR International and its 50 per cent stake in the BioMer joint venture.

Merck has improved its financial results by 28 per cent as it retired debt. In addition, the tax rate dropped to 38 per cent, resulting in taxes of €61 million compared to a tax rate of 43 per cent and taxes of €65 million in the year-ago quarter.

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