Global consumer packaging company Rexam has reported a marginal rise of 2% in 2011 sales to £4.73bn compared to £4.61bn a year ago.

Rexam said the company’s underlying operating profit increased by 7% to £549m primarily due to improved volumes in standard cans in Europe and in specialty cans in all the regions.

The company’s underlying earnings per share grew 15% while underlying profit before tax rose by 15% to £450m due to improvement in operating profit and a lower total underlying net finance cost.

In 2011, organic sales of beverage cans increased by 4% and the volumes grew close to 5% due to good volume growth in Europe and in specialty cans across all regions.

According to Rexam, organic sales growth excluding the cost of aluminium passed through to customers for the year stood at 1%.

Driven by volume growth, organic underlying operating profit improved by 15% to £447m, and underlying operating profit margin improved to 11.8% from 10.7% in 2010.

Rexam CEO Graham Chipchase said the group has begun the sale of its PERSONAL CARE operations, announced in November 2011.

Rexam’s net income in 2011 tripled after the sale of its closures unit, which produces seals for drink containers, to Berry Plastics for $360m.

The group operates in the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia, with plans underway to expand in Brazil by setting up a factory, which would have an annual capacity of 1.2 billion cans.

Over the next two years, the company will complete a £30m investment to install a new line at the Taloja plant in India to help Rexam produce 950 million beverage cans annually from the current 400 million cans.