DS Smith announced Thursday that CEO Miles Roberts, who has helmed the British paper packaging company for 13 years, will retire and also step down from the board by Nov. 30, 2025, and it will recruit a successor.
“After 13 years this seemed like the appropriate time to make this announcement, so that a proper succession and orderly handover process can take place. In the meantime I remain fully focused on continuing to develop and strengthen our business and leadership in the circular economy,” Roberts said in a statement. Board Chair Geoff Drabble said Roberts “transformed” the company.
The DS Smith announcement came the same day the company shared half-year results for the six months ended Oct. 31, touting “robust performance” in a “challenging environment.” Year over year box volumes declined 4.7%. Revenue decreased 18%, to 3.51 billion pounds, and operating profit fell 13%, to 365 million pounds.
Packaging prices were “more resilient than expected” but down approximately 9%, “reflecting lower external paper, recyclate and energy sales,” the company reported in the earnings release.
“Encouragingly, with destocking amongst our customers now largely over, we are seeing signs of volume improvement, with the second quarter performance being better than the first, albeit remaining below the comparable prior period,” DS Smith said in the release.
Volumes increased in North America during the period, which the company attributed in part to recent investments in additional capacity, but revenue declined 15%, to 300 million pounds, amid pricing reductions in paper and packaging. The most significant volume declines were in Northern Europe. The company called out greater weighting to industrial and e-commerce customers, “which have seen the biggest sectoral declines.” Overall, the company expects volumes to improve in the second half of the fiscal year versus the first.
In its earnings release, the company said it anticipates markets “to remain challenging.” Still, looking ahead, “the structural growth drivers of plastic replacement and changing retail formats remain strong and we expect market corrugated volumes to return to being in line with GDP growth rates.”