In 2020, Bühler proved to be a reliable partner to all its stakeholders and showed robust business performance. 


Protection of the health of employees, securing supply chains for customers, and keeping the innovation rate high were the top priorities.


Despite adverse conditions, Bühler fulfilled all customer contracts and delivery agreements without interruptions. 


The company also launched major innovations for key markets. 


The Group gained additional financial strength, with equity ratio reaching 44.2% (+1.4 percentage points) and net liquidity soaring to CHF 749 million (+66.8%). Turnover was CHF 2.7 billion (-17%), with order intake amounting to CHF 2.6 billion (-16.7%). 


“With high agility, we adapted quickly to the new situation to ensure continuity on all levels,” CEO Stefan Scheiber said. “In light of our global set-up and innovation power, we are looking into the future with bounded optimism.” 


Bühler assured the health of its employees and its daily operations throughout the year. Supply chains proved remarkably solid, as Bühler was able to absorb the pandemic’s waves thanks to its global network of 33 factories, 100 service stations, and digital tools such as remote customer trials or commissioning, to bring much-needed food capacities online worldwide. 


“We have seen a sharp rise in customer demand for digital solutions, but also for sustainable solutions, such as CO2-reduced emissions, nutritious and healthy food, high-end deposition technologies, and clean mobility,” Scheiber said.


“Protecting our liquidity had the highest priority over the course of last year,” CFO Mark Macus said. “Our target was to remain a very solid and strong partner for all our stakeholders, and we achieved this even in a challenging year like 2020.” 


Driven by diligent finance management, operating cash flow jumped 211% from CHF 151 million to CHF 470 million. Strict cost management allowed Bühler to offset a significant part of the adverse volume impact, resulting in EBIT of CHF 146 million (previous year: CHF 248 million), and an EBIT margin of 5.4% (7.6%).


Turnover was CHF 2.7 billion, down 17.0% from CHF 3.3 billion. The 2020 figures are impacted by the development of currency exchange rates, specifically of the Chinese yuan, euro, and US dollar against the Swiss franc. Adjusted for the impact of the foreign exchange rates, the reduction of the top line versus last year was 13%.


Along with the divergent course of Bühler’s businesses, there was also a shift in regional development towards Asia. 


While all markets reported lower volumes, Bühler Asia managed to be stably driven by the strong growth of Bühler’s business in China. Order intake in China rose sharply by 15% for the full year. Regarding turnover, Asia now makes up 35% (previous year: 31%), Europe 30% (30%), North America 16% (16%), Middle East & Africa 11% (14%), South America 5% (6%), and South Asia 3% (3%).


Despite the challenging environment, Bühler launched 86 new products and solutions. 


The expenses for research and development were about at last year’s level at CHF 139 million (previous year: CHF 149 million), leading to an increase relative to Group turnover of 5.2% (previous year: 4.6%). 


All innovation efforts of Bühler are aligned to the company’s commitment to lower energy use, water consumption, and waste in the value chains of its food, feed, and mobility customers by 50% until 2025. 


“For 2021, we expect our business volume and profitability to stay stable, as the coronavirus crisis will have a longer-lasting effect on our businesses. At the same time, we are now laying ground to return to profitable growth in the future, by addressing new markets and adapting to new market conditions and opportunities with agility and determination,” Scheiber said.


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