UZWIL, Switzerland – While continuing its policy of reinvesting profits to secure future development, Bühler has continued its growth path, showing a healthy performance in 2016. Order intake in 2016 was up 3% to CHF 2.54 billion, compared to a decline of 4% in 2015. Turnover rose by 2% to CHF 2.45 billion, and profitability remained stable at 7.1% (EBIT margin). R&D investments were significantly increased. “For a company based in Switzerland, 2016 marked a real proof point considering the Euro/Swiss franc shift a year ago,” said CEO Stefan Scheiber. “In this context, we can be satisfied with these results.”
Both businesses of Bühler, Grains & Food and Advanced Materials, contributed to the success of the group in 2016. The strategy of two businesses that are both based on leading process technologies and services has proven successful. The group’s performance was strongly supported by its customer service business. Customers appreciate the local network of 92 service stations worldwide. Consequently, the service business showed higher growth and recorded a turnover of CHF 578 million, which is 7% higher than last year. The service share of turnover now accounts for 24% (previous year: 22%). On a regional level, growth in North and South America, Europe, and China compensated for downturns in the Middle East & Africa and Southeast Asia. Overall, Bühler holds a balanced position with its global presence: Europe reported a turnover share of 30%, Asia 25%, Middle East & Africa 15%, North America 17%, South America 6%, and South Asia 6%.
Net profit for the company remained stable at CHF 143 million. Despite ongoing high investments of CHF 71 million into the worldwide asset base, net liquidity grew significantly by 18% to CHF 462 million. With an equity ratio of 47% (previous year 46%), the group is free from all bank liabilities. The return on net operating assets (RONOA) stayed on a high level of 19% (previous year: 22%). “With this strong financial position, Bühler is well equipped to continue investing into its own future”, said Scheiber.
With around 40 new products and technologies, Bühler proved to be a true innovation accelerator in 2016 and maintained its position as the leading technology and solution provider in its industries. R&D investments were increased significantly by CHF 7 million to CHF 109 million, corresponding to a share of turnover of 4.4%. Bühler signed a partnership with Bosch to develop future IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. The company engaged with the start-up accelerator MassChallenge and won the prestigious Nestlé Research Award. With its Networking Days held in August 2016, Bühler brought together 750 leaders of the global grain and feed industry to discuss and develop sustainable solutions that address global challenges such as malnutrition and energy efficiency.
In line with its strategy of operating “in the region for the region,” Bühler also invested substantial sums in 2016 to enter new markets, develop decentralized applications centers, and further expand and update its global manufacturing network. Eight new service stations were added to the global network for a total of 92 locations with 60 workshops. This move further increases Bühler’s proximity to customers. In Vietnam, a new factory for rice equipment was opened. New regional applications centers were established, for example, in North America, and the buildup of a new production site in China is ongoing. In Switzerland, the company launched a modernization program. In the fields of battery manufacturing and insect processing, Bühler is set to capture the massive growth potential.
Looking forward, Scheiber commented, “With the accomplishments of 2016, and a strong order backlog, Bühler has a positive outlook for 2017.” The dynamic nature of market and technology trends, regional developments, and political conditions make predicting potential business outcomes increasingly challenging. Bühler has adjusted to new developments with flexibility, a collaborative innovation model, and strong partnerships with customers, the science community, and technology and industry. Based on its leading technologies and solutions, Bühler aims to further increase its growth rate and profitability in 2017.