The EXPRESS Division has significantly improved profitability compared to last year. First-quarter earnings increased by €120 million and return on sales improved from a negative 1.8% to a positive 1.9%.
Revenue grew by 0.9% to €3,333 million (previous year: €3,302 million), reflecting shipment volume growth in both international and domestic activities. As over half of all revenue is generated in countries outside Europe, currency effects decreased revenue substantially by around €150 million. Measured in local currencies, we attained organic revenue growth of 6.5%.
The prior-year figures for the EXPRESS Division have been restated following two transfers of activities within the Group. We transferred the European overland transport business to the LOGISTICS Division effective July 1, 2006 and the German parcel business to the MAIL Division effective January 1, 2007.
In Europe, we achieved gains both in revenue and shipment volumes. Revenue grew by 1.5% to €1,588 million (previous year: €1,565 million), however, underlying organic growth reached 3.9% for the region. The falling revenue in France has now been stabilized.
We also recorded, in local currency, revenue growth of 3.2% in the Americas region, most notably in our Latin American domestic business. In the United States shipment volumes remained weak in line with a slowing overall market. This was offset by an improved product yield. Combined with negative currency impacts revenue for the region fell by 5.6% to €1,047 million (previous year: €1,109 million).
In the Asia Pacific and EEMEA (Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa) regions, greater shipment volumes combined with weight increases more than offset negative currency effects and double digit growth was attained.
Profit from operating activities (EBIT) climbed by €120 million to €62 million in the first quarter, a substantial increase. The US and European regions recorded the largest gains.