UK's Bunzl raises operating margin outlook as HY profit climbs

(Reuters) -Bunzl Plc on Tuesday raised its 2022 group operating margin outlook, as the British business supplies distributor benefits from demand for its cheaper, high-margin products from inflation-hit customers amid a cost-of-living crisis.

Bunzl, which supplies food packaging, latex gloves, work wear and stationery to businesses, said its first-half performance was driven by continued volume recovery as well as growth spurred by acquisitions over the past 12 months.

"We now expect group operating margin in 2022 to be higher than historical levels and only slightly lower than that achieved in 2021," the company said in a statement.

The FTSE 100 firm, which has benefited from demand for COVID-related products since 2020, said growth of the base business was expected to be only partially offset by the further normalisation of sales of such items.

Its adjusted profit before tax for the six months ended June 30 rose more than 12% to 380.5 million pounds ($445.4 million), while revenue grew 16%.

($1 = 0.8543 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)