CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-DS Smith sees second-half growth on online shopping boom

(Clarifies first and fourth paragraphs to show that record growth was in box volumes; removes “record” from headline)

June 22 (Reuters) - DS Smith said on Tuesday it saw record second-half growth in box volumes, as the British cardboard maker benefited from a pandemic-driven boom in online shopping that helped offset the initial impact of COVID-19 lockdowns.

Through 2020, the COVID-19 crisis accelerated growth in e-commerce and demand for sustainable products, as consumers stuck at home turned to the internet for shopping.

DS Smith, which supplies packaging products to companies including Amazon, Nestle, and Unilever , said its second-half adjusted operating profit came in at 272 million pounds ($378.13 million), compared with 230 million pounds in the first half, driven by strong demand for packaging material, particularly in the United States.

“It is our highest growth rate ever achieved. We are pleased with that growth in the COVID era,” Chief Executive Officer Miles Roberts said of its box volumes.

The packaging giant has also spiked its investments to set up box plants in Italy and Poland that cater to making materials for e-commerce packaging.

The company said statutory profit before tax fell 38% to 231 million pounds for the full year ended April 30, compared with 368 million pounds a year earlier as the pandemic impacted its operations initially.

Full-year revenue fell to 5,976 million pounds from 6,043 million pounds a year ago.

DS Smith also announced a final dividend of 8.1 pence, taking its total dividend for the year to 12.1 pence.

($1 = 0.7193 pounds)

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips