• Shares down 2% by 0915 GMT
  • Expects H1 underlying revenues to be broadly flat
  • Sees slightly lower FY operating margins vs 2022

June 15 (Reuters) - Britain's Bunzl (BNZL.L) forecast on Thursday that its first-half underlying revenue growth would be "broadly flat", while for the full-year it will be slightly higher than in 2022.

Shares in the distributor of products from plastic spoons to PPE fell 2% to 3,042 pence by 0915 GMT after Bunzl highlighted weak volumes in North America and as COVID-19 related demand for protective marks and gloves ebbed.

Bunzl said in a statement that a slowdown in global volumes in the food service sector due to inflationary pressures had stalled underlying sales in North America, its biggest market.

"Underlying revenue in North America is expected to decline moderately, driven by volume weakness in our food service sector, some of which is anticipated to be temporary, and with reducing benefit from inflation over the period," Bunzl said.

London-listed Bunzl is betting on elevated inflation levels and acquisitions to "drive good underlying revenue growth in Continental Europe and strong growth in UK & Ireland".

Bunzl, whose customers range from hotels to supermarkets, said full-year revenue growth will be slightly higher than 2022, while operating margins will be slightly lower.

"We expect an end to destocking, most pronounced in North American food service, and lapping COVID sales should support moderate organic growth in the second half of the year," Credit Suisse analysts said in a note.

Reporting by Richard Rohan Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Alexander Smith

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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