Gifts Today magazine

BHS Tabletop AG posts profitable growth

The global market leader in professional porcelain sees a significant increase in sales, with positive USA operations and a successful acquisition

BHS tabletop AG, global market leader in the field of professional porcelain, remained on its winning track in the financial year ended (calendar year 2014). The company’s sales almost reached the 100 million mark at EUR 99.3 million, 9.1 per cent higher than in the previous year (EUR 91.1 million). The earnings position was equally pleasing: operating income (EBIT) in 2014 totalled EUR 4.7 million, an increase of around 29 per cent compared with the previous year (EUR 3.7 million).

Christian Strootmann, CEO at BHS, explains: “We counter the persistently fierce price competition resulting from worldwide overcapacity with highly innovative product concepts and sophisticated international tabletop and logistic solutions. We position ourselves as a service provider and a problem-solver, and that is precisely why we remained the world’s most sought-after contact for the professional foodservice business last year.”

The continued success of the BHS tabletop strategy in the financial year ended is shown by a number of new references such as the new cruise liner TUI Mein Schiff3, leading hotels such as the Four Seasons in Moscow and the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem, and the company’s presence at the football World Cup. In the VIP areas at the twelve World Cup stadiums in Brazil, BHS was represented with professional porcelain from its brands Bauscher, Schönwald and Tafelstern.

BHS tabletop expands its business in the USA
With regard to the company’s foreign markets, business operations in the USA, in particular, produced disproportionately positive results for BHS: its US-based subsidiary BauscherHepp Inc. has further expanded its market presence and its sales with the porcelain brands Bauscher and Tafelstern professional porcelain, as well as from Hepp and WMF. In the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, moreover, the sales collaboration with the Italian glass manufacturer Luigi Bormioli produced the desired effect: BHS has thereby positioned itself on the American markets as a solution-rich supplier of holistic tabletop solutions.

Acquisition of John Artis strengthens market position in UK
BHS has also enhanced its position on the British market by acquiring the importer John Artis Ltd. as from 1 October 2014. John Artis is one of the biggest suppliers to the British hotel and catering industry and serves all target groups in this field. “This acquisition and its concomitant affirmation of the continuous expansion of our worldwide distribution network through collaborations with strong, internationally active and experienced partners are strengthening the BHS profile in our fiercely competitive target markets.”

Noble China: BHS tabletop proves its innovative power
Strootmann regards the market launch of an extremely innovative bone-white porcelain body under the brand name Noble China as another milestone of the financial year ended and a revolution from a technological perspective. The porcelain, with its precious and filigree aura, is tailor-made for use in high-class catering establishments and hotels and impresses with its edge impact resistance and surface hardness. Accordingly, Purity, the new up-market china collection from Bauscher, is the most successful new product launch in the last 20 years at BHS. “Noble China has given BHS tabletop access to new target groups. We have shown that we can translate our state-of-the-art technology head start into innovative products of the highest quality”, adds BHS tabletop’s CEO.

BHS tabletop makes further investments in Germany
Investments in technology and capacity extension are the driving force for further growth and for differentiation among competitors. In the reporting year, BHS invested a total of EUR 14.7 million. The main focus of its investment, apart from the acquisition of John Artis, was the installation of a new high-pressure casting plant at the company’s Schönwald site.

BHS is going to invest another EUR 5 million in 2015. This will finance a further carousel crushing plant at the Weiden site with a view to increasing its existing capacities. The investment volume estimated for that project is EUR 1.3 million. In Schönwald, another EUR 1.4 million is going to be invested in the expansion of high-pressure casting capacities.

From a sustainability point of view, too, BHS is playing a global pioneering role in the porcelain industry. Sustainable business management and modern environmental management are anchored firmly in the company’s processes and in its code of conduct. The company is certified in accordance with DIN EN ISO 14001 (environmental management) and DIN EN ISO 50001 (energy management).

As of 31 December 2014, the company employed 1,132 people (previous year: 1,103). This increase resulted primarily from the acquisition of John Artis. At the German sites the employment situation is pleasingly stable.

Despite the high level of pension obligations, the financial and liquidity position at BHS remains solid. The unprecedentedly low interest rates led to a dramatic increase in pension provisions in the financial year and were accompanied by a reduction in the equity ratio. Even the group’s positive earnings figures were unable to offset this state of affairs. Consequently, the equity ratio declined from 40 to 32.5 per cent – although it remains at a comfortable level. Together with its highly positive liquidity position, then, BHS also retains the necessary financial strength to carry on investing successfully in markets and processes in the future.

Outlook: Positive forecast for the current financial year

The geopolitical crises in Eastern Europe are affecting all consumer and capital goods manufacturers. The economic sanctions imposed by the USA and the European Union, among others, and the sharp drop in the rouble for which these were partly responsible makes exporting more difficult and are currently having a depressant effect on investment intentions in the hotel and catering sector. The severe debt crisis in Greece is presently generating the same effect. In the USA, on the other hand, the buoyant economic figures give grounds for optimism. The fact that BHS exports to more than 120 countries and has developed even greater proximity to its customers in recent years continues to give the company a solid starting position for profitable growth. Christian Strootmann: “Although no upward trend will be discernible for a long time to come in the southern and eastern European economies, there are encouraging signals from other important regions and target markets. Thanks to our global presence, which is underlined by an export ratio of around 50 per cent, to our proven business model, and to our highly motivated and professional workforce, we are starting the current financial year optimistically despite the many challenges.”

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