Manitou president and CEO Michel Denis.

Manitou president and CEO Michel Denis.

Manitou Group is forecasting 3% sales growth and a 4% to 4.5% improvement in profit margin in 2015 after announcing its 2014 financial results.

The group declared a pre-tax operating profit of €48.2 million, more than double the figure announced 12 months ago.

The most significant change was in the Compact Equipment Products division, which posted an increase in sales of 17% for an operating profit of €16.8 million, up almost €5 million year on year.

This division is dominated by its Gehl and Mustang brands which generate most of their revenues in USA, where construction and rental demand are currently good.

Of the group’s other divisions, Materials Handling and Access (MHA) produced profits of €20.3 million, with continuing success in Northern European markets. Services and Solutions’ profit was €11 million, which the company attributed both to increased sales and new product launches during the year.

The increase in the company’s compact equipment business was reflected in the group’s results by region, with American markets producing growth of 12% during the year.

However, the greatest growth in percentage terms was in Northern Europe, up 15% on 2013, mainly from the MHA division that produces the group’s core product range including telehandlers and access platforms. In 2014, the region accounted for 37% of the group’s total revenues of €1.25 billion, up three percentage points on the previous year.

This was in sharp contrast to Southern Europe, which dropped by 6%, mainly due to the impact of the French and Italian economies. The Asia Pacific, Africa and Middle East area grew by 3%.

President and CEO Michel Denis said: “The very good work accomplished in 2014 and the new strategy presented last June clarified the ambitions and the objectives of the group. We are now more simply organised, lighter and more responsive.”

He added: “With a margin on current operating profit more doubled from 1.8% to 3.9% of sales, the 2014 results are the first stage of the return to profitability, which we want to be strong and sustainable.”

The Manitou Group produced its 500000th machine in 2014.

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