How would you describe 2015?
MARIO GUEVARA: 2015 was another good year for BIC. Sales rose by 6.2% on a comparative basis. Consumer activities (Stationery, Lighters and Shavers) progressed by 6.9%, with strong growth in Lighters and Shavers. Every geographical zone contributed to this solid performance, including Eastern Europe and Latin America. We maintained or increased marketshare in all three main categories, thanks to the success of our classic and our new products. BIC Graphic net sales also progressed, despite a difficult context.
On target, we improved our Normalized Income from Operations Margin, attaining 19.3%. Last but not least, we reinforced our financial structure with a net cash position of 448 million euros at the end of December 2015. BRUNO BICH: Our solid performance in 2015 confirms the growth trend of the past five years, with Group net sales progressing annually by 5% on average. In a challenging macro-economic environment, we have strengthened our positions around the world. In France, we gained market share in Stationery for the eleventh consecutive year. In the United States, BIC® Flex 5™, our newest men s shaver, has become
the category volume leader in just one year. In Latin America, in addition, we have reinforced our position in Lighters once more, particularly in Mexico and Brazil.
In December, we completed the acquisition of Cello Pens. A key strategic step that reinforces our writing instrument brand leadership in India, and will also accelerate our development in Asia.
You have also announced a significant increase of shareholders remuneration?
B.B.: Yes, in light of our healthy performance in 2015 and our strong balance sheet, the Board of Directors will recommend the payment of an extraordinary dividend of 2.50 euros at the next Annual Shareholders Meeting, in addition to the ordinary dividend of 3.40 euros per share. As in 2011, we have also decided to reward BIC employees with an exceptional bonus. It is our way of recognizing the daily commitment and performance of our teams worldwide.
+6.2% 2015 NET SALES GROWTH ON A COMPARATIVE BASIS
19.3% NORMALIZED INCOME FROM OPERATIONS MARGIN