In the year under review, risks we thought had been overcome resurfaced – from inflation, an energy shortage and geopolitical confrontations, to a war in Europe. Reinforced by pandemic-related uncertainties, Emmi had to withstand the resulting upheavals with determination. Our teams did just that, acting thoughtfully and demonstrating extraordinary passion, expertise and flexibility. Alongside our enhanced strategy and supported by a culture of cooperation, we succeeded in maintaining business momentum and inspiring people with our high-quality products and unique brands.
“At Emmi, we will continue to act thoughtfully and responsibly also in future.”
Emmi turned in a respectable performance in this challenging environment. With broad-based organic, higher-than-expected sales growth of 7.0%, we exceeded the historical 4-billion sales threshold for the first time. The CHF 4.2 billion in sales reflect how rigorously we have implemented our strategy and our differentiated market positions with innovative brand concepts and a balanced product, country and customer portfolio.
Our international business continued to display high momentum, with organic growth of 13.1% in the division Americas and 6.7% in the division Europe. In particular, our growth markets of Brazil, Mexico and Chile, along with the USA and Spain, made significant gains. Thanks to leading brand concepts and close cooperation with our customers, as well as recovered momentum in the food service and industry business, we also recorded pleasing organic growth of 2.9% in the Swiss domestic market.
Activities in strategic niches once again proved to be a major growth driver, particularly ready-to-drink coffee with our flagship brand Emmi Caffè Latte and premium desserts with Italian dessert creations. The speciality cheese business did not quite reach the pandemic-related record levels seen in previous years in the counter segment in Europe, which is an important channel for Emmi. However, our vegan brands Beleaf in Switzerland and Begetal in Spain were able to further expand their base for plant-based milk alternatives.
Thanks to the seamless integration of Athenos, the leading feta business in the USA, we were able to expand our range of speciality cheeses in the most significant foreign and key market for Emmi, and also reach new customers. In Switzerland, we believe we are well equipped for further growth thanks to the successful inauguration of our new resource-efficient, ultra-modern large cheese dairy in Emmen. As part of the transformation of our portfolio, we also announced the divestment of our minority stake in the Italian cheese specialist Ambrosi S.p.A., which has no longer a strategic priority.
In response to the dramatic increase in purchasing costs for raw and packaging materials, as well as energy and logistics services, we have further accelerated our efficiency programme at all levels. Thanks also to continuined strong discipline in our cost management, we have succeeded in absorbing some of the additional costs. Together with necessary sales price increases we managed to deliver adjusted earnings within the range announced halfway through the year, with significant improvements in the second half of the year.
The operating result at EBIT level amounted to CHF 253.0 million, or CHF 266.1 million adjusted for an impairment at Gläserne Molkerei as a result of structural market changes. On the basis of adjusted values, this corresponds to a decline of CHF 18.0 million and an EBIT margin of 6.3% (previous year: 7.3%). Net profit amounted to CHF 182.5 million (adjusted: CHF 194.3 million) and the net profit margin was 4.3% (adjusted: 4.6%). In the previous year, the net profit stood at CHF 216.7 million and the net profit margin at 5.5%. In view of our strong positioning, solid balance sheet and sound prospects, and in the interests of a continuous dividend policy and dividend growth, the Board of Directors is proposing to increase the dividend by 3.6% to CHF 14.50 per share (previous year: CHF 14.00).
“Emmi turned in a respectable performance in an extremely challenging environment.”
The outlook for 2023 remains subject to economic uncertainty and recessionary risks. In contrast to inflation, it is likely that purchasing costs have not yet reached their peak. At Emmi, we will therefore continue to exercise discipline and take our usual forward-looking approach to tackle the sustained cost pressure with intensive productivity measures alongside responsible sales price increases. We will also continue to drive forward our ongoing strategic development. For the financial year 2023 we are anticipating organic sales growth of 3% to 4%, which remains above medium-term expectations of 2% to 3%. In Switzerland, growth is likely to be 1% to 2%. Boosted by inflation, international business is expected to grow by 6% to 8% in the division Americas and 3% to 5% in the division Europe. At EBIT level, despite sustained cost pressure, Emmi is anticipating a result of between CHF 275 million and CHF 295 million and a net profit margin in the range of 4.5% to 5.0%.
Extreme weather and natural disasters in the previous year continued to make the risks of climate change feel ever-present. This confirmed us in our belief that acting sustainably and linking economic, social and environmental aspects remains essential. As a result of this conviction, also expressed by the Emmi Purpose, we have made our long-term commitment to sustainability an integral part of our strategy. Consequently, we continued to invest time, effort and resources in shaping our products, processes and value chain more sustainably in 2022. We made particular progress in decarbonising our energy supply and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We also co-initiated the “KlimaStaR Milk” industry initiative in Switzerland, and have recently joined the international “Pathways to Dairy Net Zero” initiative. This enables us, in cooperation with over 100 private, public and scientific protagonists, to accelerate the development of evidence-based methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in milk production.
Today, Emmi is on a very firm footing, both strategically and operationally, and is well positioned as an internationally successful manufacturer of premium dairy products. After almost 15 years in our roles as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emmi Group, we believe this is the ideal time to put responsibility for Emmi’s future path into new hands. As announced, Ricarda Demarmels started her new role as CEO at the turn of this year.
Together with a strong management team and over 9,000 employees, she is ideally qualified to carry forward Emmi’s success.
On 1 January 2023, Ricarda Demarmels succeeded Urs Riedener as CEO of the Emmi Group.
The HSG graduate previously served for several years as Chief Financial Officer and as Member of Group Management at Emmi, helping to steer our strategic and operational development. Before that, she held management positions at various food, investment and strategic consultancy firms.
The 43-year-old hails from the Grisons, has two daughters and lives with her family in central Switzerland.
Chairman of the Board