French defence and commercial giant Thales posted a modest increase in organic sales of 0.8% in 2019, increasing to €18.4bn from €15.8bn in 2018.

Thales saw its organic order intake increased by 4% to €19.1bn on a like-for-like basis. Thales’ order intake was bolstered by a ‘record’ fourth-quarter, booking in 12 large orders worth over €100m each. Overall in 2019, the company booked in 21 large orders, including the Royal Navy’s order of five Type 31 Frigates.

In mature markets, Thales saw sales continue to increase, however, this was tempered with a decrease in sales of 7.7% in emerging markets. Thales has reported continued growth in emerging markets since 2014, but the most recent results showed sales dropping below that of 2017.

Thales’ defence and security business saw strong performance across the board, making up for shortfalls in the company’s space and aerospace divisions. Thales’ aerospace division sales saw a 4.2% drop in sales, whereas the defence portion of the business increased sales by 6.4%.

Thales Defence and Security saw its order intake increase by 17% on a like-for-like basis buoyed by strong naval sales.

Thales chairman and chief executive officer Patrice Caine said: “Thanks to the commitment of its 80,000 employees, Thales ended 2019 with a commercially very dynamic fourth quarter. The booking of 12 projects over €100 million in the last quarter drove us significantly above our order intake objective.

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“After recording growth above 5% in the past three years, sales slowed down due to the commercial Space market downturn and an exceptionally high basis of comparison in Transport. EBIT and adjusted net income were up 19%, boosted by the smooth integration of Gemalto.”

Europe continued to make up the bulk of Thales’ business, with over half of its order intake and sales coming from the continent. France and UK were the company’s biggest European customers. France accounted for 28% of order intake, with the UK accounting for 9%. In terms of sales, 24% or €4.4bn were in France and €1.3bn (7%) in the UK.

Thales touted its diverse customer base as a sign of future security, with 45% of the company’s business taking place outside of European markets.