Book Retailing Division
The Book Retailing Division posted pro rata consolidated net revenue of CHF 92.2 million in the 2018 financial year, slightly higher than a year earlier (CHF 91.7 million). Operating earnings (EBIT) were not depressed by special items in 2018 and increased sharply in the year under review compared to the previous year to CHF 5.0 million (CHF 1.6 million in 2017). This positive trend was attributable mainly to a further improvement in the cost structure compared to the previous year.
In the year under review the Book Retailing Division reported a slight increase in net revenue compared to the previous year for the first time in 10 years. This was despite continued adverse market conditions in the Swiss book trade, which again suffered a 1.0% decline in sales on a comparable basis in 2018 (-2.9% in 2017). The Book Retailing Division resisted this general trend with numerous measures in the past year and increased its market share. On the basis of comparable selling space, growth in net revenue amounted to 2.1% (-2.0% in 2017). Growth in the digital and online mail order business continued in 2018.
The pleasing trend in net revenue and operating earnings shows that the transformation programme launched in 2015 and resolutely implemented since then is bearing fruit. Steps such as ongoing work on the bricks-and-mortar product range and the expansion of customer loyalty programmes such as the “Young Circle”, a community for a younger readership, made a considerable contribution to the continuing positive trend relative to the market environment. In addition, the unification of the online brands at www.orellfüssli.ch, completed in 2017, also had a favourable impact. With regard to expenditure the main focus of attention remained on increasing productivity per unit of space and optimising indirect costs. The merger of the activities of Orell Füssli with Delivros in the business customer segment agreed in the 2018 financial year boosted our presence in this important market segment. This transaction was completed in January 2019.
The bricks-and-mortar branch portfolio was reinforced in several places by relocations and new openings. New sites offering improved profitability were occupied in the inner cities of Basle and St. Gall. Orell Füssli was also able to secure new branch premises in attractive locations on Europaallee in Zurich and in the Seedamm Center in Pfäffikon. These moves will be implemented in the current financial year.
The emphasis for the Book Retailing Division in 2019 will be on the profitable expansion of market share across all sales channels. The continuing resolute pursuit of transformation activities will provide the basis for this.