Invacare’s European business returned to growth in the company’s first quarter thanks largely to the expansion of its mobility, seating and lifestyle arms.
Constant currency net sales in Europe increased by 2% in Q1, despite a £600,000 reduction in operating income, which was blamed on exchange rate challenges.
Mobility and seating products increased by nearly 6% in constant currency net sales and lifestyle products rose by 2%.
The Invacare group’s net sales reduced overall by 6% down to around £170m, with growth in mobility and seating more than offset by a significant hit in respiratory products in North America.
Invacare’s Q1 report said that in Europe, it was “leveraging centralised innovation and supply chain capabilities while reducing the cost and complexity of a legacy infrastructure”.
Matt Monaghan, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said that the first quarter is usually Invacare’s slowest in terms of sales because of seasonality.
He said: “Our European business returned to growth as we realised constant currency net sales growth in mobility and seating and lifestyle products.
“While gross margin was negatively impacted by unfavourable foreign exchange, gross margins are expected to improve as we operationalise the production transfers that temporarily resulted in margin weakness, unfavourable manufacturing variances and higher levels of inventory in the past few quarters.”
Mr Monaghan said that Invacare is “well-positioned to accelerate the business” based on a pipeline of new product launches, investment in infrastructure and cost reductions.
Kathy Leneghan, senior vice president and chief financial officer, said: “Our first quarter results demonstrate a continued focus on managing expenses and working capital, specifically inventory management, and positioning the business for sustainable growth and improved profitability.
“We have a clear line of sight into continued improvement and building momentum throughout 2019.”