The unfolding of the past several months has led to more unpredictability than any of us could have imagined. Stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines and consumer panic buying have created major irregularities in tissue and towel market dynamics and consumption patterns. These challenges also present a great opportunity to help tissue and towel producers adapt and respond to these sudden changes. As consumers around the world actively stockpiled supplies and household staple items, tissue makers were pushed to maximize production. In some countries, bath tissue sales increased by more than 50% during the early months of the pandemic. Though machine utilization rates spiked to nearly 100%, there were still difficulties meeting demand. In the wake of the global pandemic, there is a renewed emphasis on hand hygiene that has resulted in more hand washing and hand drying occasions. Many establishments are also replacing hot and jet air dryers with paper towel dispensers in public restrooms. In addition, experts recommend cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces at least once a day to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission via surface contact. All of these trends are driving an increase in paper towel usage and pushing manufacturers to enhance their product requirements.
Strong sales growth continued throughout the second quarter, driven by volume growth, product mix and higher prices. Sales volumes increased compared to the same period last year despite different timing in the maintenance schedule. Profitability continued to strengthen with excellent cash flow delivery in the second quarter.
Halfway into 2021, we experienced strong demand and a good sales momentum for all our product segments. The positive market outlook is expected to remain throughout the year. We are implementing additional price increases in several of our segments to counterbalance cost increases in chemicals, energy, market pulp and logistics. Pulp wood supply in our regions remains good and at relatively stable price levels.
In April, we had a production incident at our Gävle mill. Fortunately, no one was injured, but our board production was disrupted for a few weeks and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all our customers affected. I assure you that we will do our outmost to ensure stable deliveries going forward.
Our new board machine at Gruvön, KM7, produced its first commercial output of liquid packaging board in May, ahead of schedule. The ramp-up and certification work will continue, and we expect gradually increasing deliveries of both liquid packaging board and carton board from Gruvön. This will allow further mix improvements by reallocating production across mills as well as the acceleration of KM7 over the next few years.
Net sales grew by 6% to SEK 6 504 million (6 156) Excluding currency effects net sales grew by 9%
Adjusted EBITDA increased by 14% to SEK 883 million (774)
*Operating profit amounted to SEK 404 million (245)
*Net profit was SEK 311 million (202)
*Earnings per share amounted to SEK 1.50 (0.98)