And, the company’s profits rose from £194 million to £280 million in the same period.
DS Smith published its accounts for the financial year, covering 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022, today (21 June), describing them in a statement as “strong operational, environmental and financial results”.
The company attributed the positive results in part to the record growth of global organic corrugated box volumes – and in Northern Europe in particular – by 5.4% across the year.
DS Smith said this reflected “continued growth in the resilient fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and other consumer-related sectors”, which represent more than 80% of the company’s volumes, together with a recovery in the industrial sector following the impact of the pandemic in the prior year.
However, the company said the “good” corrugated box volume growth in Germany and Benelux was offset by declines in the UK, where “there was a particularly strong comparator following the exceptional e-commerce related growth during the pandemic.”
DS Smith also said price increases had offset “significant cost inflation”.
Miles Roberts, DS Smith’s group chief executive, hailed the results, saying: “It has been another year of volatile trading conditions where we have worked through the tail-end of the pandemic and, more recently, the tragic events of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“These difficult periods have again brought the best out of all of our colleagues at DS Smith, demonstrating their resilience, compassion and commitment.”
Adrian Marsh, DS Smith’s group finance director, added: “Significantly improved profitability and returns, good volume growth and robust cash performance were delivered through our agile business model, which responded to a fast changing and highly volatile market environment while continuing to meet our customers evolving needs through our supply of sustainable, innovative fibre-based packaging solutions.”
Turning to the current financial year, Mr Roberts said trading had “started well”, with DS Smith expecting to see 2-4% growth in its volumes, aided by the company’s focus on “resilient” end markets, a “strong performance in the US and the opening of new sites in regions “where demand is buoyant”.
Mr Roberts told BBC Radio 5 Live this morning that the UK represented a “modest” part of DS Smith’s business, at around 10%.
Looking back at the past year, DS Smith said in its statement that it had opened a “state-of-the-art” laboratory at its Kemsley Mill in Kent to advance its research into alternative fibre sources for paper and packaging products (see letsrecycle.com story).
And, the company has also announced a new flagship innovation centre for ideation, design, testing, piloting and collaboration near Birmingham.