Business in the first half of 2017

Net revenue of CHF 131.9 million reported by Orell Füssli in the first half of 2017 was 5% below the previous year’s level (CHF 139.5 million). Operating earnings (EBIT) of CHF 3.2 million were significantly lower than a year earlier (CHF 7.9 million). Earnings excluding minority interests at the half-year stage amounted to CHF 3.1 million (CHF 4.8 million in 2016).


Net revenue at the Atlantic Zeiser Division in the first half of 2017 was CHF 23.6 million (CHF 38.2 million in 2016), equivalent to a decline of 38%. Operating earnings (EBIT) fell to CHF -1.6 million due to the low net revenue (CHF 1.8 million in 2016). The decline in net revenue is attributable to two factors. On the one hand the small order backlog at the beginning of 2017 prevented net revenue from being earned at the previous year’s level, especially in the early months of the year. On the other hand, more substantial orders were acquired mainly in the second quarter of 2017, thus shifting the focus of sales recognition into the second six months. Atlantic Zeiser’s cumulative order intake in the first half of 2017 was virtually identical to that in the comparable period of 2016. Following an especially successful 2016, order intake in the Banknote Serialisation business unit remained high, but net revenue in the first half of 2017 was significantly below the previous year’s level. Compared to the first half of 2016, the Card Personalisation business unit reported a strong rise in both order intake and order backlog with the new products launched in 2015. However, net sales at this business unit were especially low due to the small order backlog at the start of the year. The Packaging business unit also remained below expectations in the first half of 2017. After a further subdued start to the year, agreements were reached with various customers in the second quarter for the delivery of machinery and systems in the fields of late-stage customisation and serialisation. The second generation of MediLine Track & Trace, which permits existing packaging lines to be upgraded for serialisation tasks while saving space and maintaining process reliability, was exhibited at the international “Interpack” trade fair in May. In the second half of the year the focus will be on achieving a significant increase in order intake and net revenue at the Packaging business unit.


Net revenue at Security Printing in the first half of 2017 increased to CHF 64.0 million (CHF 55.0 million in 2016). Operating earnings (EBIT) amounted to CHF 7.8 million (CHF 8.5 million in 2016). The main reason for the increase in net revenue was a change in the product mix compared to the previous year. The same effect, together with higher expenditure on additional sales personnel and improved machine availability, is responsible for the decline in operating earnings (EBIT). Production of further denominations for two key customers in the context of issuing new series of banknotes is in full swing. The Swiss National Bank issued the 20-Swiss franc note as the second denomination of the new series of banknotes in May 2017. Furthermore, the new 50-Swiss franc note won the world’s two most prestigious industry awards for its design and functional features. On the basis of this, efforts to acquire new key customers were intensified, and sales successes were booked accordingly in the first half of 2017. A strong market presence is assured by the further reinforcement of the sales organisation. A large number of projects were implemented and completed in the context of the existing Lean initiative.

Investment in a new system for the packaging and quality control of finished banknotes was approved in order to boost production volumes and efficiency in final processing. In coordination with the overall efforts involved in the Lean programme, this investment will contribute to making production more flexible and thus enhancing competitiveness.


Net revenue at the Book Retailing Division in the first half of 2017 amounted to CHF 39.2 million, 6% lower than the previous year’s figure (CHF 41.7 million in 2016). Operating earnings (EBIT) in the first six months of the year amounted to CHF -1.8 million (CHF -0.7 million in 2016). The decline in operating earnings compared to the previous year was due mainly to the absence of non-recurring income arising from the restructuring of the branch portfolio. Market dynamics in the Swiss book market remained negative in the first six months, and the market as a whole contracted by more than 4% cumulatively across all sales channels compared to the same period of the previous year. The main reason for this decline continues to be the migration of purchases to the Eurozone due to the Swiss franc/euro exchange rate situation. As a consequence of this, footfall is declining, especially at branches close to the border and at shopping centres. However, the Book Retailing Division succeeded in outperforming the market as a whole in the first half of 2017. The reduction in net revenue was 3% on the basis of comparable space. Sales figures for e-books recorded double-digit growth in the first half of 2017 compared to a year earlier. The transformation programme launched at the end of 2015 is still on schedule after 18 months of implementation. Completion of the consolidation of all online brands at www.orellfü was approved in the first half of 2017 and this will be implemented in the second half of the year. This will create the basis for a comprehensive omnichannel strategy and the focus on a strong core brand. The programme for active customer acquisition in the branch outlets was also continued, together with the expansion of the customer loyalty programme. The branch portfolio was optimised further in the first half of 2017 with regard to structure and costs. The relocation of the branches in Frauenfeld, St. Gall (Rösslitor) and Basle approved in the first half of 2017 will enable operating costs to be reduced significantly in equally attractive locations.


Net revenue at Orell Füssli Publishing in the first half of 2017 was some 12% higher than a year earlier. This increase was due mainly to the non-fiction sector, where the new autumn and spring releases sold well and several substantial commissioned works were completed. Revenues in the educational media, legal media and children’s books programme sectors were at the previous year’s level. As expected, spring 2017 was dominated by general interest titles. For example, two new books in the «Globi» series were launched, and in the non-fiction sector several Switzerland-related titles were published, such as “Ich war ein Verdingkind” by Friedrich Dreier, “Die Schweizer Landwirtschaft stirbt leise” by Jakob Weiss, and several small presentation books, such as on Swiss names or “City legends”. The legal media sector brought out all of the publishing house’s legal commentaries by way of a product innovation in electronic form based on its database. In educational media, where the main season in the third quarter has yet to come, the “Verlag Fuchs” secondary grade 2 series is being developed further and expertise in the field of mathematics is being expanded by new works.

Outlook for 2017

We expect a result for the Orell Füssli Group on the order of the previous year’s outcome. Atlantic Zeiser’s target in the second half of the year is to achieve a significant increase in net revenue at all business units and clearly positive earnings. Security Printing will continue to work on improving productivity and reducing reject costs. Assuming satisfactory Christmas season business, we expect the earnings situation at Book Retailing to be comparable to that of the previous year, adjusted for special items.

key figures of the orell füssli group

in CHF million   Jan–Jun 17   Jan–Jun 16   2016
Net revenues from sales to customers   131.9   139.5   298.9
Total operating income   138.3   143.8   299.4
Operating earnings (EBIT)   3.2   7.9   18.5
Net income for the period   2.9   5.0   12.3
Total equity   150.4   153.1   160.4
Net income for the periode before minority interests   3.1   4.8   10.8
Equity before minority interests   141.8   140.6   146.6
Full time equivalents   864   873   881