Swiss-based Vetropack Group was affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year.

Net sales came to CHF 323.8 million ($360.2 million), down 10.4% on the same period last year (2019: CHF 361.2 million, $396.5 million) or 5.6% after adjusting for currency effects.

Consolidated operating profit remained virtually the same as last year, while reported profit rose to CHF 46.3 million compared to CHF 37.9 million the year before thanks to the sale of a property not required for operations.

It sold 2.35 billion units of glass packaging in the first half, 9.3% fewer than last year (2.59 billion units).

With capacity being actively reduced, Vetropack Group produced 725,000 tonnes in the first half of the year compared to 730,000 tonnes in 2019.

It group responded swiftly and effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures to protect staff were coordinated across the group and implemented locally.

Efforts were also made to guarantee the supply of raw materials and the delivery of glass containers.

In a statement the group said: “Thanks to the Vetropack network, with eight production facilities and a committed workforce, we were able to keep the production process going safely and without any interruptions. Stringent cost control measures were also introduced.”

This, along with lower energy prices, meant that savings could be made across all areas. This included accrued staff overtime and untaken leave were reduced and delivery costs were optimised.

The consolidated semi-annual profit of CHF 46.3 million (2019: CHF 37.9 million*) was up 22.2% on the previous year’s figure. The profit margin amounted to 14.3% (2019: 10.5%).

An unrequired property in Zurich was sold in the first half of 2020, generating one-off proceeds before tax of CHF 11.7 million.

Vetropack Group employed 3414 people in the first half of the year compared to 3646 in 2019.

The company anticipates sales volumes to slightly increase in the second half of 2020 thanks to the opening of restaurants and catering outlets.

Production capacity will be reduced further in the second half to bring its high stock levels down, which will impair production efficiency.

This will impact its performance in the second half of the year.

“We are therefore expecting the operating profit margin for 2020 as a whole to fall slightly short of last year,” the company concluded.