- The Melrose Group has reported an 8% surge in sales during the first quarter of 2021, when compared with the same period a year earlier.

The operating margins achieved in the first quarter of the year continued to improve faster than expected and Melrose was cash neutral in the first quarter, a period that has traditionally been a cash outflow period.

Excluding Nortek Air Management, group sales grew by 4%.

In the period, as expected, Aerospace continued the sales trends seen last year with defence growing and civil significantly down. Sales were down 27% compared to the same period in 2020 and 33% on 2019.

Aerospace did, however, make a modest profit in the first quarter of 2021 at a demand level that was loss making last year, suggesting that the numerous cost saving, and improvement projects put in place are having a positive impact.

On 31 March 2021 Fokker Services BV and Fokker Techniek BV were sold for a nominal sum, in 2020 these businesses had sales of approximately £140 million and were breakeven.

Automotive sales in the period were 28% up compared to the same period in 2020, and 13% below 2019. This is consistent with the market demand recovering, but with a deferred impact on growth rates due to the impact of the semi-conductor shortage in the global automotive industry, the group said.

The automotive margin in the first quarter was above that achieved in the second half of last year.

Nortek Air Management continued to perform well in the first quarter of the year with sales up 28% on last year and 27% up on 2019, continuing the momentum seen in the second half of last year.

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