In the first half of 2019 Orell Füssli was able to make further progress in dealing with the challenges facing the group on a stable business background. Zeiser has been established on a new basis and Security Printing has acquired substantial orders from new customers.
Net revenue at the Orell Füssli Group was 10% lower at CHF 115.2 million, which was due mainly to completing the strategic focusing of the Zeiser business in 2018. Operating earnings increased to CHF 8.1 million compared to CHF 3.2 million in the previous year. The Zeiser and Book Retailing divisions were the main contributors to this positive outcome.
In the first six months of its existence Zeiser GmbH completely fulfilled expectations. Both order backlog and order intake are at a very healthy level. There was a striking increase in net revenue on a comparable basis to the previous year. The streamlined cost structure and the spin-off of loss-making activities in 2018 resulted in a positive outcome and a double-digit profit margin. In addition, a suitable investor was found for the Serialisation/Track & Trace software business, which had remained with Zeiser after the sale of substantial activities in the autumn of 2018. The main structural adjustments for the reorientation of the business have therefore been completed. Based on its sustained focus on its core competence in the serialisation of banknotes and security documents Zeiser will concentrate on maintaining its dominant market position on the one hand while scrutinising potential strategic business opportunities on the other.
Results at Security Printing in the first half of 2019 were slightly down compared to the previous year’s outcome. This was to be expected in light of the growing proportion of orders from international customers and reduced capacity utilisation compared to previous years. The important operating parameters of quality and productivity continued to develop positively. Order acquisition was expanded in the first half of 2019. Encouragingly, this also included central banks which had already placed orders with Orell Füssli in earlier years. Since the beginning of the year Security Printing has had a streamlined organisation with fewer interfaces and shorter decision-making paths. Customer-acquisition efforts will continue to be pursued with top priority in the second half of the year. In addition, the work which has been started on making the organisation more flexible will be continued in order to absorb order fluctuations efficiently. Improvements in operating aspects also remain an essential component of day-to-day work.
Book Retailing not only maintained the positive trend of recent months in the first half of 2019, but also made further gains in its share of the Swiss book market. Significant sales growth was recorded in the important channels of e-books and online sales, and the integration of Delivros in the business-to-business market is making good progress. The fact that two new branches were opened in Zurich and Pfäffikon/SZ against the general market trend shows that unutilised potential can also be exploited successfully by targeted site selection in the sector of bricks-and-mortar sales locations. A further important step in this direction will be made with the opening of the branch in Basle railway station in the coming year.
The emphasis in the second half of 2019 will be on continuing to focus the thrust of Security Printing on the international customer market while working further on the strategic orientation of the Orell Füssli Group. Both Zeiser and Book Retailing are focusing on continuing to pursue their chosen paths consistently and successfully. Daniel Link will probably already be able to take up his duties as CEO of Orell Füssli Holding Ltd in autumn 2019.
Zurich, August 2019