Bunzl looks for growth overseas

The grocery and retail packaging giant Bunzl said yesterday that a consumer spending squeeze had dented first-half sales in the UK as the firm looks overseas for growth.

Bunzl, which makes packaging and checkout displays for shops, said UK sales fell by 5 per cent in a "tough" trading climate despite profits being boosted by earlier cost-cutting moves. It was also hit by the weakness of the construction industry and a spending clampdown by healthcare customers, which buy products such as bandages and masks.

But Bunzl enjoyed far better fortunes in North America – its biggest market – where sales rose 5 per cent. This helped group revenues to edge up 2 per cent to £2.35bn as pre-tax profit rose 6 per cent to £100m.

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