Grupo Bimbo products - Sara Lee Artesano bread, Thomas' Swirl Bread, Entenmann's Little Bites
Bimbo's strategic brands such as Sara Lee, Thomas' and Little Bites experienced growth.

MEXICO CITY — Operating income of the North American baking business of Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V. was 1,163 million pesos ($67 million) in the first quarter ended March 31, up 240% from 342 million pesos in the first quarter last year. Net sales were 30,181 million pesos ($1,738 million), up 21% from 24,935 million pesos.

First-quarter B.B.U. operating margins were 3.9%, up sharply from 1.4% a year earlier.

The surge in quarterly sales reflected the exchange rate benefit and growth in strategic brands such as Thomas’, Sara Lee, Little Bites, Ball Park, Nature’s Harvest, Dempster’s and Barcel due to increased marketing investment, as well as focused price and promotional strategy, B.B.U. said.

“Continued growth in the sweet baked goods, snacks, buns, flatbreads and frozen categories was offset by pressure in premium bread and private label,” the company said. “However, the branded mainstream bread category in the U.S. began to trend positively, benefited by new product introductions.”

Adjusted EBITDA for the North America baking business during the first quarter was 2,273 million pesos ($130.9 million), up 76% from 1,294 million during the first quarter last year. EBITDA margin widened to 7.5% from 5.2%.

Grupo Bimbo net majority income in the first quarter was 1,372 million pesos ($79 million), up 58% from 871 million pesos in the first quarter of 2015. Sales were 56,638 million ($3,262 million), up 13% from 50,048 million.

Bimbo’s Mexico business had operating income of 2,664 million pesos ($153 million), up 18% from 2,259 million pesos. Sales were 19,944 million pesos ($1,149 million), up 6%.

“Net sales in Mexico rose 5.9% over 2015, primarily driven by stronger volumes arising from a solid consumption environment, increased client penetration and positive performance in every channel and categories like buns, bread, cookies, confectionery and salty snacks,” Bimbo said. “This was partially offset by continued pressure in the sweet baked goods category.”