STRENGTHENING OUR STRATEGIC POSITION
Dear customers, colleagues, and business partners,
The 2018 business year was characterized by continued growth and the progression of our strategic setup to further secure and advance the sustainable future of our company.
Operationally, we can report a continuation of organic growth within our businesses. Grains & Food increased turnover by 9.2% to CHF 2.2 billion, and Advanced Materials by 5.6% to CHF 705 million. Haas contributed turnover of CHF 373 million. Organic- and acquisition-related growth led to a jump in Group turnover of 22% to CHF 3.3 billion. In terms of profitability, we are not fully satisfied. Our EBIT increased by 13% to CHF 231 million with a slight margin decline from 7.6% to 7.1%. Profitability was impacted by necessary adjustments at our Changzhou, China, site. After years of over-proportional growth in China, this move ensures its alignment with Bühler’s global standards and systems and sets the foundation for further expansion. Without this one-time effect, the EBIT margin would have reached 8%.
Our strategic position was improved by several factors. First, by the full integration of the Austrian Haas Group. The Haas business has already contributed favorably to the development and financials of the Bühler Group. This encouraged us to accelerate the full consolidation of Haas and to unify our complementary businesses. We therefore established a third strategic pillar – Consumer Foods – to focus on this important, global growth market. This pillar stands alongside Grains & Food and Advanced Materials from January 2019.
Second, we further strengthened our global setup. Our new factory and R&D facility for the feed industry in Changzhou, China, is now in full operation. Third, we have also nearly completed our CUBIC innovation campus in Uzwil, Switzerland. The first departments have moved in. The CUBIC, with its new application centers, heralds a new age of collaborative innovation, where we can more fully live our cross-boundary, collective approach to research and development. With the CUBIC, we are creating a catalyst to turn the pressing global challenges of today into viable business models with customers, partners, academia, and start-ups.
In this context, we continued to develop and harness digital opportunities. We are convinced that these new, value-driving digital services will benefit not only our customers, but also end consumers. A key moment in our digitalization journey was marked in April 2018 when we formed an alliance with Microsoft to drive the rollout of cloudbased solutions. In September, another milestone was reached with the launch of the Bühler Insights digital platform – our secure, high-performance, and reliable platform for all of our digital services. These initiatives create vast potential for improving safety, quality, efficiency, and traceability across production value chains.
We feel good about developing sustainable solutions and doing what is right together with our customers and collaboration ecosystem. “Feeling good” is also the motto of this year’s annual report.
We wish to express our sincere gratitude to our customers, partners, our workforce and their families, and our owners. Our success and our ability to feel good about all that we have achieved is due to your commitment and trust. We look forward to working closely with you for years to come.
Calvin Grieder Stefan Scheiber
Chairman of the Board Chief Executive Officer