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Zodiac seats business begins recovery with sales uptick

Zodiac Aerospace's seats business is beginning to bounce back from a production crisis that temporarily crippled the division, but its new owner cautions that a full sales recovery will not be seen for several years.

The seats business, part of Zodiac's cabin-interiors operation, had suffered severe production difficulties from 2015 – drawing criticism from airlines and manufacturers – with the difficulties only easing last year.

But Philippe Petitcolin, chief executive of Safran – which took control of Zodiac in February this year – says the seats business booked in the first half of the year "a few very good contracts" with undisclosed customers.

"We are pleased with what we have seen from the last couple of months," Petitcolin said during a half-year results call on 6 September.

Safran's financial disclosure for the six months ended 30 June refers to two "major airlines" – one from Asia and the other from the Middle East – which have selected Zodiac seats for their future widebody deliveries.

However, he cautions that, with seat contract cycles lasting around three to four years, the operation will not see sales return to the previous level "in six, 12 or 18 months".

But he adds: "For the last four months, what we have seen is very encouraging."

Financial performance at the division continues to lag, however: the cabin-interiors business recorded revenue of €774 million ($897 million) for the four months to 30 June.

"The performance continued to be negatively impacted by lower volumes, notably due to the commercial impacts of previous design and execution issues," Safran says. Recurring operating income for the business was zero, it adds.

But it points out that the division is starting to see the "first benefits of operational improvement plans and cost-reduction programmes".

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