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BIC sets game plan around the lasting impact of the pandemic

9 March 2021 Global stationery firm prepares for an “uncertain and volatile” future. Global consumer products company BIC has reported a 12.6 per cent decline in sales to Euro1628 million (A$2528m) in 2020, largely due to the impact of COVID-19. With many of its major markets still gripped by the pandemic, the Paris-based company, which also markets shavers and lighters, said COVID-19 will continue to have a lasting impact on consumption patterns and shopping behaviours. Gonzalve Bich, CEO of BIC (pictured), said: “We expect the overall trading environment to remain uncertain and volatile, particularly during the first half, as COVID-19 will continue to affect trade channel dynamics and consumer shopping habits in our major markets. Bich added: “In stationery, the overall writing Instruments segment was hit hard by the shift to e-learning and remote working as people temporarily adapted to new rhythms and norm. A bright spot with the colouring segment, which grew mid-single digits across key markets as consumers leaned into more artistic and creative activities during the lockdown period. “We made noticeable gains in the colouring and permanent markers segments across key countries such as the US, Brazil, France and the UK. In stationery, we will extend the BIC Cristal family with a BIC Cristal ReNew, a premium refillable version of our iconic Cristal [leading the tower].” In a conference call, Bich said: “The strong shift to online purchases during the pandemic resulted in an 18 per cent increase in net sales in e-commerce with double-digit growth across key geographies like the US, Europe, Latin America and India. Our direct-to-consumer sales more than doubled, a 118 per cent growth rate. “Pure players with Amazon leading grew 85 per cent through 2020. And their share of our overall e-commerce sales climbed to 14 points. At the same time, the pandemic lockdowns caused certain omnichannel retailer sales to plummet. The brunt of this came from the B2B business-like office suppliers – due to office closures.  “Sales to omni-retailers declined by 10 per cent yearly with B2B channels down 20 per cent.  “Looking ahead, our overall e-commerce strategy is on track. We’re building meaningful digital capabilities within the organisation to accelerate online growth, paving the way to becoming a genuine omnichannel company,” he said.

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