SWITZERLAND – Bühler reported a 7.6% increase in EBIT margin during the company’s 2019 financial year, benefiting from a strong performance in its food and feed businesses.

The Swiss milling equipment supplier reported a stable turnover at CHF3.3bn ($3.38bn) while order intake decreased by 4.6% to CHF 3.1bn ($3.17bn), which Bühler’s CEO Stefan Scheiber, said was good performance in market situations that were “very volatile”.

“We are pleased with the 2019 achievements as they confirm our strategic set-up with the three businesses, which leveled out market volatility,” says CEO Stefan Scheiber.

“With our broad portfolio, global position, and innovation strength, we are ready to tackle the challenges of an ongoing volatile global economy.”  

Bühler noted that the newly created Consumer Foods segment, which was formed after the acquisition of the Haas Group in early 2018, exceeded expectations and made a material contribution to the group’s results.

However, the company noted that business development in the segments varied widely due to high volatility in some of Bühler’s key markets.

While the food and feed markets showed continued demand – specifically, plant-based proteins for meat alternatives and malting experienced strong upswings – the automotive, consumer electronics, and architectural glass industries underwent downward trends.

As a result, order intake for Grains & Food continued to grow at 5.2% or by CHF 1.8 billion while Consumer Foods segment declined slightly to CHF 775 million (US$792.7m).

Turnover of the company’s Grains & Food business demonstrated robustness at CHF 1.8 billion ($1.84bn), representing a 0.9 % increase, while Consumer Foods was able to grow its turnover by 2.5% to CHF 774 million (US$791.75m).

According to Bühler’s financials, the company managed to improve its profitability as well as strongly grow its financial position. The year’s net profit grew by 7.2 % to CHF 202 million (US$206.63m).

Mark Macus, the Chief Financial Officer of Bühler said that the new Consumer Foods segment clearly outperformed the company’s expectations, compensating for the lowered profit contribution of Advanced Materials.

Currently, the company has broad regional footprint – with operations in around 140 countries, nearly 100 service stations, and more than 30 manufacturing sites also supported the balancing of market variability.

In the past year, Asia and Europe drove the company’s growth. However, in 2019 North America and Middle East & Africa took over this role. With regard to turnover, Asia made up 34 %, Europe 30%, Americas 22 %, and Middle East & Africa 14 %.

For the first time in years, Bühler recorded a standstill in China which the company pinned to market saturation in the automotive segment and tariff conflicts.

During the twelve-month period, the company also increased its investments into innovation to a record high, and its financial position remained strong, improving equity ratio.

In 2019, Bühler elevated its innovation capabilities with the opening of its CUBIC innovation campus, new application centers, increasing R&D spending to a record high of CHF 149 million and developing new partnerships.

The company launched more than 20 new key solutions, with many in the area of digital applications. With these innovations, Bühler said that it aims to significantly decrease the ecological footprint of its industries.

In conjunction with its strategic set-up across its business, the company sees itself well positioned to benefit from these opportunities while managing risks. In 2020, Bühler plans for a stable and positive business development.