Mario Guevara: This performance is the result of the serious work we have been doing over several years, of our deep understanding of our markets and our constant search for ways to improve. It confirms the solid foundation of our business model – offer consumers quality products at the right price and that meet their needs or their desires. Our business has also benefited from the dynamic of developing markets, and despite the crisis, we performed well in developed countries.
Mario Guevara: In Europe, we gained market share in Stationery. The back-to-school season was excellent and now we are beginning to benefit from the growth in Eastern Europe. Shavers did well, as did Lighters, despite competition from Asian products. In North America, the stationery market was highly competitive. We made progress with distribution for lighters and the 4 moveable blade and hybrid shavers showed excellent performances. In developing markets, our stationery activity saw more than satisfactory sales, both in Latin America and in Africa and the Middle East. We earned market share in Latin America where shavers had strong growth. Finally, our lighter sales nearly doubled in Japan after the implementation of the ISO 9994 and child resistant safety standards.
Mario Guevara: : Yes, as far as shavers are concerned, we successfully reinvented the category by making quite a few investments over the past ten years, and this has made the difference. More than 60% of our sales come from products that didn’t even exist in 2002.
Mario Guevara: Sales dropped by 10%. We were able to maintain our market share and our position as leader for writing instruments and calendars. However, we lost market shares in our “hard goods” activities following some issues in customer service which have since been resolved. More than 90% of BIC APP sales were made in Europe and North America, in countries where there is not a lot of growth. 2011 was a transitional year as we integrated Norwood and Antalis. In 2012, we will focus our attention on customer service and product innovation.
Bruno Bich: Our goal is to realize more than 40% of our net sales from developing markets. Middle East and Africa zone will play an important role in reaching this goal. We are going to build a new Stationery plant in Tunisia that will allow us to better meet the consumer demands in the region. As far as Asia is concerned, the continent as a whole is very complex, but we will continue to invest to develop our brand’s name over the long term.
Bruno Bich: The International Arbitration Tribunal constituted in Singapore decided in our favor concerning the complete application of the definitive agreements signed on January 21, 2009 with the Cello company.
Bruno Bich: There is a growing consumer demand for mobile power sources for smartphones, tablets etc. Since 2003, we have beenworking with partners including the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energy Commission (CEA, Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) on the research and development of portable fuel cell cartridges. Now, with the specialized skills of Angstrom in fuel cell devices, our goal is to off er a complete power source solution in the next two to five years.
Mario Guevara: We have updated and renewed our Sustainable Development Barometer for the next three years. We launched a “Social Business” initiative in Bangladesh together with CARE. The BIC Diversity Charter was rolled out around the world, accompanied by various actions in all of our subsidiaries to meet the needs specific to the culture in different countries.
Bruno Bich: We have a great brand, very good products always at the right price, creative teams with extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of our markets - those are fantastic assets. Our economic model is healthy and, with our solid financial situation, we can face the future with confidence. We can increasingly invest in developing countries and in innovation, while increasing shareholder dividends.
For 2011, the Board of Directors has proposed an ordinary dividend of 2,20 euros as well as an exceptional dividend of 1,80 euro per share. We also decided to give an exceptional bonus to all employees around the world who are not eligible for our free performance share plans. The economic context will continue to be difficult over the next few years, but we will continue to grow in the face of adversity.