Bühler strengthens its strategic position and continues to grow
The Bühler Group has released its annual results for 2018, which shows the business continued its positive development over the last year, following the integration of Haas and the establishment of its third business pillar, Consumer Foods.
From the very beginning, these steps generated positive momentum among employees and customers. “This encouraged us to accelerate the full integration and new setup of our food businesses,” said Bühler CEO Stefan Scheiber. Consumer Foods stands alongside Grains & Food and Advanced Materials. Under the leadership of Germar Wacker, Haas achieved CHF 382 million (USD$383m) in order intake and CHF 373 million (USD$373m) in turnover. This represents the best result in the history of Haas, driven mainly by the Wafer and Biscuit business units.
Group turnover increased by 22% to CHF 3.3 billion (USD$3.3bn). Its new factory in Changzhou, China, is fully operational, and construction of its CUBIC innovation campus in Uzwil, Switzerland is nearing completion. To drive digitalisation, the company entered a partnership with Microsoft.
“We are satisfied with the 2018 overall results. Volumes developed well, but profits were below our objectives. Despite risks such as trade conflicts, we are well positioned with our portfolio and our global organisation, and look to the future with confidence,” said Scheiber. The 2018 business year was characterised by continued organic growth in all businesses with a gain in market share, increased order intake, and higher turnover.
Investments in the asset base rose by CHF 118 million (USD$ 118m) (+18%), driven by spending on the new CUBIC innovation campus and application centers, the ongoing modernisation of the Swiss locations, and the ramp-up of sites in China. In addition to the acquisition of Haas and US-based Sputtering Components Inc., the funds were used for the development of new digital technologies and process solutions, as well as for strengthening Bühler’s innovative capabilities. The new factory and R&D facility for the feed industry in Changzhou, China was opened in 2018 and is in full operation. Bühler also expanded its global production network with the opening of a new battery application lab in Wuxi, China; the move of Bühler’s Die Casting revision business to a new site in Brescia, Italy, and the modernisation and expansion of the Uzwil site.
The CUBIC innovation campus in Uzwil is nearing completion, with the official inauguration of the fully operational campus scheduled for spring. The CUBIC combines research and development with seven renewed application centers, which will be available to customers for conducting tests and trial series together with Bühler.
Spending on research and development amounted to CHF 145 million (USD$145m) (4.4% of turnover). The Group introduced more than 20 digital products, achieved sizeable initial turnover, and entered a partnership with Microsoft in April 2018. Currently, customers can choose from a digital portfolio of over 30 digital services, with a further 30 will being launched during 2019. In September, Bühler launched its Insights digital platform – a secure, high-performance, and reliable platform for all of its digital services. These initiatives create new potential for improving safety, quality, efficiency, and traceability across production value chains. Today, more than 85 % of Bühler’s solutions can be connected to the platform. It offers numerous interfaces with standard industry automation and control systems, thus enabling the connection of a wide range of technologies.
Bühler faces the future with confidence. The Group is aware of the accelerated changes in our digital age and is keeping a watchful eye on the current global developments that bring about a degree of uncertainty, but believes the combined Consumer Foods business is expected to address new market potential, and that its opportunities outweigh the risks.