Substantial sales increase from Falken Group consolidation – falling market demand puts pressure on earnings
Brügg/Biel, 27 August 2013 – Biella-Neher Holding Ltd (Biella Group), Europe’s largest producer of files, folders and ring binders, showed a significant sales increase in the first half of 2013 compared to the previous year. This increase was due to its acquisition of the Falken Group in the previous year. Market conditions meant that demand in the paper, office supplies and stationery sector was noticeably weaker, however. Strategic partner-ships were formed in the Polish and other east European markets as well as in the soft plastics product area.
Throughout Europe, the first half of 2013 was characterised by structural changes in the paper, office supplies and stationery sector. Last year was still mainly marked by the poor economic situation in many countries, while progressive digitalisation is increasingly weakening demand.
Biella Group's sales revenues in the first half of 2013 amounted to CHF 91.2 million (previous year: CHF 78.3 million). This increase was due to the previous year’s acquisition of the Falken Group, whose sales were first consolidated from the second quarter of 2012. Market conditions meant, however, that demand weakened significantly. In almost all countries, particularly in eastern Europe and Switzerland, sometimes appreciable falls in sales had to be absorbed. On the other hand, the German market, now Biella’s largest, contracted only slightly. In particular, heavy losses in the soft plastic products business had to be faced.
Biella Group's operating result (EBIT) at 30 June 2013 was CHF -3.2 million (previous year: CHF -2.9 million). Significantly positive effects were achieved with the progressive integration of the Falken Group and the resulting synergies. At the same time, however, the lower sales described above put significant pressure on income. Particularly affected was the production facility in Kimle (Hungary), where mainly soft plastic products are manufactured. The Group’s operating result in the first half was CHF -3.2 million (previous year: CHF -2.9 million).
In July and August of this year, as mentioned, Biella forged two strategic partnerships. In Poland, Biella’s wholesale business was transferred to PBS Connect Polska, a subsidiary of PBS Holding AG, in return for a long-term agreement for exclusive supply with Biella-manufactured products. In the soft plastics area, the loss-making operations at the Kimle plant in Hungary were closed down and the production facilities sold to the ProOffice subsidiary of Ring International Holding AG; in future, all soft plastic products will be purchased through long-term supplier agreements. These important steps give the Biella Group a sharper profile as Europe’s largest manufacturer of files, folders and ring binders.
In terms of the current market situation, despite the synergies gained from the Falken acquisition, structural adjustments and other cost reduction measures, Biella will face a very challenging task in striving for a significant improvement in the EBIT margin as early as this year.
Thanks to the acquisition of the Falken Group, the Biella Group is now one of the most important and most efficient European suppliers of office equipment. The Group has production sites in Germany, Switzerland, Poland, the Unites Kingdom and Romania, as well as logistics centres in Brügg/Biel, Wiener Neustadt, Cottbus and Enkhuizen (NL), not to mention its Europe-wide sales and marketing network. The Biella Group as a whole employs approximately 1,000 people.
Biella-Neher Holding Ltd is quoted on the Berne stock market BX Berne eXchange (symbol: BLLN, security: 151948S, ISIN: CH001519484).
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