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Book Retailing Division

In 2020, the Book Retailing Division’s proportionately consolidated net sales amounted to CHF 96.2 million, a slight decline of 1.2% from the previous year (CHF 97.4 million). The operating result (EBIT) was CHF 5.5 million (previous year CHF 6.5 million).

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The extremely challenging market conditions caused by Corona led only to a slight decline in sales in the book trade in 2020. As a consequence of the national lockdown in March/April 2020, all branches had to be closed for eight weeks. In December 2020, renewed restrictions for the retail trade such as the ban on Sunday sales, lockdowns in the cantons of Aargau and Solothurn as well as capacity restrictions in the shops led to significant impairments in the Christmas business. Switzerland-wide home office recommendations during practically the entire year led to low commuter frequencies, which had a negative impact on the sales performance of our bookstores in important railway station as well as in city centres. Overall, the brick-and-mortar business recorded a 22% decline in sales in the 2020 financial year. Thanks to the established omnichannel strategy and a leading position in e-commerce, the digital and online mail order business recorded sales growth of 46%, thus compensating for a significant part of the sales losses from the stationary business. The business customer segment also continued to perform positively in this challenging environment thanks to the merger of Orell Füssli and Delivros activities in 2019. The acquisition of LC Lehrmittel Center contributed to this.

The relatively robust development in net revenue and operating income show that the transformation programme adopted in 2015 and consistently implemented since then is taking effect and bearing fruit in the long term. In 2020, significant savings were realised in operating expenses through short-time work and flexible staff deployment as well as through successful negotiations with landlords.

The stationary store portfolio was strengthened by new openings in the popular Volkiland shopping centre in Volketswil and the Regensdorf centre. The largest Orell Füssli bookstore on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich was completely refurbished and renovated. The new branch in Berne was opened in a central and attractive location at the end of November 2020 to replace the location in the LOEB department stores’, which was closed at the end of the year.

In 2021, the Book Retailing Division will again face major challenges. For example, all branches had to close again from 1. January 2021 to end of February due to Corona restrictions.