The Swedish-based Thule Group saw its sales soar by 32.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 1,605 million Swedish kronor (€159.3m-$193.2m), and they were up 44.6 percent in constant currencies. Net income jumped to SEK 164 million (€16.3m-$19.7m) from SEK 30 million for the fourth quarter of 2019.

The gross margin expanded by 1.8 percentage points to 40.0 percent, thanks to an advantageous product mix, over-absorption, lower material costs and efficiency improvements in the assembly plants. The underlying Ebit margin climbed by 9.1 percentage points to 15.0 percent, led by higher sales as well as by lower overheads compared with the same period last year.

The company achieved these better-than-expected results by riding the strong global bike trend that started in June.

In the Europe & Rest of World region, sales rose by 42.9 percent in constant currencies, with a positive trend in all European markets. Bike racks, bike trailers and child bike seats benefited in the quarter from a continued positive bike market, which gained a further boost from a mild autumn and winter. Sales of roof racks and Tepui rooftop tents were also healthy.

However, the closure of winter sports venues in the Alps depressed sales of roof boxes and ski-racks slightly. On the other hand, accessories for RVs performed well in the fourth quarter, as many RV manufacturers ramped up production after significant challenges earlier in the year. Meanwhile, the bag category continued to be negatively affected due to reduced international travel. For the full 2020 financial year, net sales in this region declined by 23 percent in constant currencies.

In the Americas region, revenues improved by 48.0 percent in constant currencies in the fourth quarter and by 10 percent for the full year. A high level of demand for bike racks was the main growth driver, but other product categories also performed well.

Overall, Thule’s sales rose by 11.2 percent in 2020 to SEK 7,828 million (€777.1m-$942.7m), or by 13.1 percent in constant currencies. The gross margin progressed by 1.1 percentage points to 41.3 percent, and net income reached SEK 1,166 million (€115.8m-$140.4m), versus SEK 883 million in 2019.

Looking ahead, Thule said that, in spite of considerable uncertainty regarding the scope of any pandemic-related lockdowns in many countries, it is convinced that the robust trend for outdoor and vacation activities closer to home will remain positive factors for its product categories.