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Business supplies group Bunzl's first-half profit up four percent

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By Reuters

(Reuters) – British business supplies distributor Bunzl’s <BNZL.L> first-half profit rose 3.9 percent, driven by gains from recent acquisitions and higher demand from North America.

The FTSE-100 group, which supplies everything from disposable tableware and personal protection equipment to cleaning chemicals, has benefited from a string of acquisitions that have boosted earnings while improving performance in the United States, Bunzl’s biggest market.

Revenue from North America, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of overall revenue, jumped 10 percent in the first half of 2018 although the company pointed to risks from both Brexit and a still developing conflict over global trade.

Bunzl listed possible risks as foreign exchange volatility and lower economic activity in the United Kingdom because of Brexit, as well as the operational consequences of trade tariffs.

“The board is also monitoring the developing situation with respect to trade tariffs in North America,” the company said, a day after the United States and Mexico reached an agreement to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Bunzl, which has bought four businesses for a combined 132 million pounds so far this year, announced another acquisition on Tuesday, of Norwegian catering equipment supplier Enor. It gave no deal value.

Bunzl’s adjusted profit before tax rose to 257.9 million pounds ($328.9 million) in the six months ended June 30, from 248.3 million pounds last year. Revenue rose 5.5 percent to 4.34 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Justin George Varghese and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)