Business in the first half of 2021

The Orell Füssli Group generated net sales of CHF 97.3 million (previous year: CHF 104.1 million) and an order volume in line with expectations in the first half of 2021. Operating earnings (EBIT) amounted to CHF 6.4 million (previous year: CHF 6.7 million).


As expected, in the first half of 2021 the Security Printing Division showed a slight decrease compared to the previous year. Net revenue fell by 19.6% to CHF 39.2 million (previous year: CHF 48.7 million) due to a high proportion of less complex banknotes in the product mix. This resulted in an operating result (EBIT) of CHF 4.2 million (previous year: CHF 5.9 million).

Despite the coronavirus-related restrictions, production in the Security Printing Division continued uninterrupted in all areas in the first half of 2021. The identity documents business developed positively and was expanded by an additional international project. In the area of innovation, various partnerships were entered into with customers and key suppliers. In the second half of the year, a further weakening of the banknote business is expected due to the pandemic with, as a result, a slightly lower utilisation rate.


The Zeiser Division generated net sales of CHF 13.2 million in the first half of 2021 (previous year: CHF 12.4 million). The division’s operating result (EBIT) was CHF 3.3 million, up 16.9% on the previous year (CHF 2.8 million). The stable basic business with a high degree of vertical integration continued to contribute to the good profit margin. The high backlog of orders from the previous year was partially reduced and stood at CHF 8.8 million at the end of the first half of the year.

All planned orders were finalised and delivered on time in the first half of 2021. This also includes the largest single order in Zeiser’s history for mechanical numbering machines. The customer was an Asian central bank. Despite the continuing difficulties in approaching customers, which had to be done exclusively by virtual means and not on-site at the customer, some new orders were acquired. Due to the pandemic, however, government organisations in particular are still holding back somewhat with new orders. Zeiser expects demand to pick up again in the third and fourth quarters. The initial orders for the new inkjet products launched in 2020 were won in the first six months of 2021. The introduction of further product innovations is also planned for the current business year. The closure of the Hong Kong branch was successfully completed in the first half of the year. The completion of the new building in Emmingen, Germany, is progressing well, so that moving the production, logistics and shipping departments can begin as planned in the fourth quarter of 2021.


Proportionately consolidated net sales of the Book Retailing Division amounted to CHF 41.4 million in the first half of 2021, 8.5% above the previous year’s figure (previous year: CHF 38.2 million). The operating result (EBIT) amounted to CHF 0.6 million in the first half of 2021 (previous year: CHF -0.6 million). As a result of the lockdown, all branches had to close again for six weeks from 1. January to 28 February 2021 (previous year: eight weeks). Capacity restrictions in the retail spaces posed an additional challenge. The branches in railway stations and large city centres recorded significantly lower frequencies of customers because of the lack of commuters. Due to a change in shopping behaviour, branches in smaller towns and regional shopping centres performed comparatively well. In addition, a certain pent-up demand after the reopening of the branches supported the growth in sales of the stationary business. In e-commerce, a large customer base, a comprehensive offering and an excellent performance once again compensated to a large extent the sales losses of the brick-and-mortar business. The business customer segment was able to compensate for revenue losses in the continuing education business through the acquisition of new customers. In addition, stringent cost management contributed significantly to the economic success in the first half of 2021. With the successful launch of the reading community, “Book Circle”, the company has created another offering to provide inspiration and promote discussion on the subject of reading.


In the first half of 2021 net revenues at Orell Füssli Publishing were slightly below the company’s own expectations and amounted to CHF 3.4 million (previous year: CHF 4.7 million). However, net revenues in the first half of 2021 are not comparable with the same period of the previous year, as Atlantis Children’s Book Publishing was sold in December 2020 and no new works will be published in the non-fiction segment and the Orell Füssli children’s book series from 2021. Sales in the legal publication business are on track despite postponements of publication dates in the first half of the year. In the children’s book programme, the new volume of “Globi and Roger” lived up to the high expectations. Due to the pandemic, the teaching material programme has been rather subdued, as there has been an increased demand for digitally enriched teaching material in recent months. A strategic project was initiated for the publishing house in the first half of the year with the aim of identifying market opportunities and defining measures to exploit them.

Outlook for 2021

Provided that the coronavirus pandemic does not necessitate any further drastic restrictions, Orell Füssli continues to expect net sales slightly below 2020 and an EBIT margin in the mid-single-digit percentage range for the 2021 financial year.

Orell Füssli Group figures

in CHF million   Jan–Jun 21   Jan–Jun 20   2020
Net revenues from sales to customers   97.3   104.1   218.6
Total operating income   99.4   104.7   219.7
Operating earnings (EBIT)   6.4   6.7   14.4
in % Net revenue (rounded)   6.6%   6.5%   6.6%
Special items   0.1   0.1   0.2
 Cost for restructuring   0.1   0.1   0.2
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) and before special items   6.3   6.6   14.2
Net income for the period   5.7   8.0   15.0
Total equity   144.7   138.0   144.5
Full time equivalents FTE (of reporting date)   569   568   581