SWEDEN: Leading European refrigeration wholesaler Beijer Ref has reported a first quarter sales increase of 16.7%.

Backed by a stronger performance in southern Europe, net sales amounted to SEK1,845.7m (€198m), producing an operating profit improvement of 32.1% compared with the first quarter of 2014.

According to Beijer Ref, Southern Europe – which accounts for approximately 40% of total group sales – shows signs of recovery from the recession that began with the financial crisis in 2008. Sales in southern Europe were up 9.6% to SEK772.1m (€82.7m).

The Nordic markets also enjoyed a strong opening of the year, where Beijer Ref’s own eco-friendly refrigeration systems continue to gain ground. Central Europe, operations remained stable, with growth in Germany, Holland and Belgium contributing to an increase of just over 12% to SEK469.9m (€50.3m).

The UK, which has been a particularly strong performer in recent years, stagnated slightly in the first quarter of this year due to a reduction in spend by some of the leading supermarkets. However, Dean & Wood’s UK md John Billson reports that the non-retail parts of the businesses are stronger especially in air conditioning and April has seen the business back in growth compared to 2014.