Recent measures are taking effect
In the first six months of 2020 we have continued to implement the restructuring of the HOCHDORF Group that was introduced in the summer of 2019. In Baby Care, numerous customer and product development projects were launched to stimulate future growth. The initial delivery of Bimbosan infant formula to Vietnam represents a first milestone. The business relationship with Pharmalys was stabilised and a company-wide cost efficiency programme was set up in the form of “OPTIMA”. The success of these measures is already reflected in EBITDA and EBIT results.
In the first half of 2020 the HOCHDORF Group processed 187.9 million kg (–15.2% compared to previous year) of milk, whey, cream and butter milk (liquid quantity) in Switzerland and sold 46,357 tonnes of products. An EBITDA of CHF 5.0 million means that the company has completed the first half year with positive results, fulfilling the bank covenant requirements. The positive EBIT of CHF 1.2 million (previous year CHF –52.4 million) is slightly influenced by capital gains from the sale of Uckermärker Milch GmbH. It has not yet been possible to achieve the required amortisations due to low capacity usage of the production lines for producing infant formula.
Restructuring programme continues apace
The management team continued to work on the restructuring programme launched in the middle of 2019. The sale of Uckermärker Milch GmbH was successfully completed at the end of February 2020. It was not possible to find a buyer for Zifru Trockenprodukte GmbH, Snapz Foods AG and Snapz Foods USA Inc. HOCHDORF announced the liquidation of these loss-making companies on 6 May 2020. The liquidations were implemented and completed without affecting results.
The new Board of Directors was appointed at the Annual General Meeting of 30 June 2020. Two new appointments were also made to the senior management team in Nanette Haubensak (CFO; as of 29 June 2020) and Géza Somogyi (COO; as of 1 July 2020).
Following significant changes to the Board of Directors and senior management team, the focus is on shaping the future of the company; the strategy for Dairy Ingredients and Baby Care will be further refined and operationalised in the second half of the year.
A period of change for Baby Care
In the first half year the senior management team focussed on the strategic development of the Baby Care division. The sales department was strengthened in key areas and a variety of projects were launched to promote market, customer and product development. The division aims to bring at least three new products to market by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The first delivery of Bimbosan infant formula to Vietnam was successfully completed and is a significant milestone towards internationalising the brand. We were able to stabilise the business relationship with Pharmalys again after the sale in December 2019.
OPTIMA leads to increased cost efficiency
The senior management team launched a company-wide “OPTIMA” cost efficiency programme. In the first five sub-projects, work is underway to make cost savings in plants and building, production processes, logistics, administration and purchasing. For 2021 we expect savings in the region of CHF 2 to 3 million from OPTIMA.
Effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the half-yearly results
The coronavirus pandemic has dominated operational business and internal processes in the first half of the year. From a very early stage we have given highest priority to protecting our employees and to ensuring production. A crisis team consisting of business and divisional management has been set up to monitor and assess the development of the infection and to decide and monitor any necessary measures. Comprehensive internal measures and intensive contact with our suppliers enabled us to maintain consistent production. Milk receipts were lower than expected, in particular due to increased domestic demand for fresh dairy products as a result of the coronavirus-related ban on shopping tourism and an earlier start to alpine pasturing this year, which led to supply bottlenecks in the cream sector. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our employees for their commitment in implementing the required measures and our suppliers for working so well with us. Overall the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the half-yearly results can be described as moderate.
In Baby Care we are not expecting the coronavirus pandemic to have a significant impact on sales and revenue in the second half of the year. However, there were coronavirus-related delays to new longer-term customer projects in the first half of the year and these delays may continue to some extent. If travel restrictions persist, a postponement of the market development measures to 2021 cannot be ruled out for the internationalisation of the Bimbosan brand.
By comparison, the impact of coronavirus on the Dairy Ingredients division is likely to be felt more acutely. We expect the Swiss chocolate industry, in particular, to see lower product demand if travel restrictions persist; development in this sector will depend very much on the progress of the pandemic.
We still expect to meet the end-of-year projection made in March, with net sales revenue of CHF 280 – 320 million and positive annual results for the EBITDA.
We would like to thank you for the commitment you have shown us, and we look forward to continue working with you to ensure the success of the HOCHDORF Group.