BIC has released financial performance for the first quarter of 2021. The highlights include:

  • Robust results driven by the exceptional growth of U.S. Lighters in Q1, propelled by a shift in market dynamics and trading environment in both Pocket and Utility lighters
  • Challenging underlying market trends in core Writing Instruments, worsened by the pandemic in developing countries
  • Solid performance of Rocketbook in Digital Writing
  • Continued growth in e-commerce, driven by all channels of trade, and share gains in key markets
  • Improved manufacturing costs driven by procurement efficiencies
  • Sustained Free Cash Flow and solid Net Cash Position

“Our first-quarter performance was positively impacted by exceptional results in our U.S. Lighter business. Rocketbook, our digital writing business, doubled its sales vs the same period last year, with strong results across all online channels. In Shavers, we were able to grow in added-value products and in e-commerce amidst underlying weak market trends. While we continue to effectively navigate through a challenging trading environment, we remain cautious for the balance of the year due to uncertainties related to the pandemic, particularly in Latin America and India. With our Horizon plan serving as our North Star, I am encouraged by the direction that we are taking and the capabilities we are building throughout our organization that will drive accelerated profitable growth,” said Gonzalve Bich, CEO.


In Human Expression (Stationery category), Rocketbook more than doubled its Net Sales compared to Q1 2020, growing in all online channels, and propelled by efficient promotional activities on Amazon. Nevertheless, the overall Stationery category remains highly challenging, and BIC’s core Writing Instrument business continues to be hit hard by home-schooling and consumers’ evolving shopping habits. In Europe and North America, sell-out was negatively impacted by the decline in core Writing Instruments segments, such as Ball Pens, at the expense of more positive trends in Coloring. Sell-in performance was driven by a rebound in demand from Office suppliers in France and Italy and robust e-commerce growth. 

Q1 2021 Human Expression division adjusted EBIT margin was 2.6% compared to 0.7% in 2020. This increase was driven by higher Net Sales (including Rocketbook’s), lower Brand Support investments and manufacturing costs savings linked to Procurement efficiencies, which more than offset unfavorable Forex (from Latin American currencies versus USD).

2021 Outlook (based on current market assumptions)

Despite a better-than-expected start of the year and an exceptional performance in Lighters, our Full-Year Net Sales outlook remains unchanged, although we now expect to be at the high end of our +5% to +7% growth objective at constant currencies. The trading environment remains volatile in Latin America, Africa and India, and the visibility of the upcoming Back-To-School is reduced due to evolving consumer shopping habits. The Group will provide an update on overall business trends alongside its half-year results in July. Full Year 2021 operating margins should improve thanks to tight management of input costs and further manufacturing efficiencies. The Full Year 2021 Free Cash Flow is expected to be above 200 million euros, driven by strict control of CAPEX and Working Capital.

Source: Intrado