Business in the first half of 2020

Orell Füssli achieved net revenues of CHF 104.1 million during the first half of 2020. The fall of 10% compared to the equivalent period last year (CHF 115.2 million) was mainly due to the effects of COVID-19, the different product mix for the Security Printing Division and the sale of Track & Trace activities by Zeiser. EBIT for the first half of 2020 fell to CHF 6.7 million (last year CHF 8.1 million). This figure incorporated special effects of CHF 0.1 million (last year CHF 0.3 million).


As anticipated, the performance of the Security Printing Division fell during the first half of 2020 compared to last year. Net revenues fell by 13% to CHF 48.7 million (last year CHF 56.0 million) as a consequence of the reduction in capacity due to COVID-19 in addition to the rise in the proportion of international customers within the product mix. This led to an EBIT of CHF 5.9 million (last year CHF 6.6 million). Despite the restrictions imposed in relation to COVID-19, production by the Security Printing Division essentially continued during the first half of 2020, with additional orders being acquired from international customers. Alongside international printing orders, during the first half of the year, bank notes continued to be produced for the Swiss National Bank as well as another anchor customer. Order books as at 30 June 2020 ensure good capacity utilisation in 2020 and beyond into 2021. Sales efforts will be continued to be focused on the acquisition of new customers. In the ID documents business, the foundations have been laid for an initial digital product which will provide new business opportunities in the future.


New revenues of the Zeiser Division declined to CHF 12.4 million in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year (CHF 14.6 million). The fall is attributable mainly to the sale of the Paderborn site, which was finalised last year, as well as the completion of production under contract for AZ Coesia. EBIT amounted to CHF 2.8 million, representing a gain in operational terms of around 20% over last year’s result. The high profit margin of more than 20% was due to the product mix, with an extraordinarily large proportion of orders with high value added. Order books at 30 June 2020 remained at a consistently high level (CHF 12.7 million). Incoming orders during the first half of the year of CHF 11.9 million were around 21% below comparable figures for last year (CHF 15.0 million). This is also due to the fact that investment activity was delayed by a number of state organisations at the start of the pandemic. Thanks to healthy order books as well as the incoming orders anticipated over the coming weeks, we expect to be operating at full capacity for the whole of 2020. The process of closing the branch in Italy continued during the first half of the year. The liquidation process will be started after the final orders on the books have been completed. During the first quarter, the integration of the value-added processes of the UK subsidiary into the Emmingen facility was completed. The introduction of a new ink-jet printer marked the start of expansion by the strategic core area of security document individualisation.


The net revenues of the Book Retailing Division consolidated according to the proportional method, amounted to CHF 38.2 million in the first half of 2020 and were thus 6.6% below last year’s figure (CHF 40.9 million). EBIT in the first half of 2020 was CHF -0.6 million (same period last year CHF 0.4 million). The fall in revenues and EBIT was essentially due to the closure of all stores from 17 March until 10 May 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Whilst overall market sales contracted during the first six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Book Retailing Division was able to gain market share. Digital and online shipping business contributed significantly to this trend with revenue growth of 60.7% (last year 9.6%). In particular online sales of physical products were able to offset the losses incurred in stores due to COVID-19, growing by 72%. The portfolio of fixed sales outlets was further expanded with two new stores in Regensdorf (Regensdorf shopping centre) and in Volketswil (Volkiland shopping centre). Within the business customer segment, in April 2020 the operations of LC Lehrmittel ( were integrated into Delivros Orell Füssli Ltd further bolstering our presence in this important market segment.


Net revenues of Orell Füssli Publishing in the first half of 2020 were 15% higher than the same period last year. This increase is attributable above all to the high sales figures for children’s and non-fiction books. Revenues earned by “Globi im Spital” in particular were positive. Net revenues for non-fiction books built positively on last year’s figures during the first half of 2020 with three best sellers in the spring publishing programme. In contrast to the volatility affecting the non-fiction books caused by market conditions, revenues for the educational and legal media programme segments were stable despite publication delays, albeit slightly down on last year due to COVID-19-related school and university closures. Implementing the extensive transformation programme was a priority during the first half of 2020 with a view to streamlining organisation and increasing its focus. As of November 2020, Ms Martina Barth will take over at Orell Füssli Publishing from Group CFO Beat Müller, who led the division ad interim.

Outlook for 2020

The economic perspectives and full implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for society, consumer behaviour and economic performance are difficult to estimate at this time. Assuming there is no further deterioration in the current situation, Orell Füssli Group expects net revenues to be slightly below their 2019 level and the EBIT margin to be in the mid-single-digit range.

Orell Füssli Group figures

in CHF million   Jan–Jun 20   Jan–Jun 19   2019
Net revenues from sales to customers   104.1   115.2   237.4
Total operating income   104.7   114.1   241.4
Operating earnings (EBIT)   6.7   8.1   18.2
Special items   0.1   0.3   –1.5
 Cost for restructuring   0.1   –0.5   1.0
 Impairment    –   0.8   –2.5
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) and before special charges   6.6   7.8   19.7
Net income for the period   8.0   5.4   10.9
Total equity   138.0   142.3   147.8
Net income for the period before minority interests   8.3   5.3   8.5
Equity before minority interests   131.2   135.0   138.2
Full time equivalents FTE (annual average)   576   654   639
Full time equivalents FTE (of reporting date)   568   631   627