Berentzen-Gruppe Aktiengesellschaft (ISIN: DE0005201602), listed on the Regulated Market (General Standard) of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, has published its annual report for the 2021 financial year. In it, the Group confirms its preliminary business results for the past financial year published on February 3, 2022. According to the report, the Group generated consolidated sales revenues of EUR 146.1 million (2020: 154.6). Group operating earnings before interest and taxes (Group EBIT) increased to 6.7 (2020: 5.2) million euros in fiscal 2021, while Group operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Group EBITDA) rose to 15.4 (2020: 14.1) million euros.
"A second pandemic year with a significant impact on our business is behind us. Nevertheless, we succeeded in closing the 2021 financial year profitably once again with a significant increase in our key earnings figures," summarized Oliver Schwegmann, Executive Board member of Berentzen-Gruppe Aktiengesellschaft. Against this backdrop, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board had decided to propose to the Annual General Meeting on May 18, 2022, the payment of a dividend worth EUR 0.22 per share (previous year: EUR 0.13 per share), which is nearly 70% higher. "It is very important to us that our shareholders participate extensively in our earnings growth," explains Schwegmann.
By contrast, consolidated net sales were down in the 2021 financial year. The background to this was the termination of a contract filling business in the Non-alcoholic Beverages segment, which had already been communicated on several occasions. The significant increase in consolidated operating profit with simultaneously lower sales revenues was due to a significant increase in consolidated gross profit. "High-margin products generated growth in our portfolio, whereas a large but low-margin contract filling business was stopped after the first quarter of last year," said Schwegmann, explaining the gross profit development, adding, "This shows that the profitability strategy we adopted was also successful in fiscal 2021."
"Nevertheless, overall we have not yet been able to return to our dynamic growth path of the years 2017 to 2019," says Schwegmann. The reason for this, he said, was once again the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, which had a negative impact on the Berentzen Group's business activities, especially against the backdrop of the lockdown at the beginning of the year, which lasted for months, and the renewed restrictions at the end of the year - particularly since many of the products stand for sociable consumption.
Business segments of the Berentzen Group with varying performance
The business performance of the individual segments of the Berentzen Group varied widely in the 2021 financial year. The Spirits segment largely matched the revenue level of the previous year
(-0,3 %). "Our two umbrella brands Berentzen and Puschkin recorded a significant increase in this regard with revenue growth of more than five percent - despite the renewed absence of important occasions of use such as Carnival or New Year's Eve, through shooting festivals and music festivals to private parties. The broad liquor offensive we launched last year was successful," says Schwegmann. Business with high-quality private-label spirits also continued to expand in fiscal 2021.
The Non-alcoholic Beverages segment recorded a drop in sales of around 22%. "This is exclusively attributable to the aforementioned end of the low-margin contract filling business. For our own brands, on the other hand, we achieved an increase in sales despite the aforementioned Corona restrictions, but also despite a weak summer due to the weather," said Schwegmann. The growth driver was once again the Mio Mio brand, whose products achieved an increase in sales of around ten percent, he said. "But we were also able to increase sales of our regional mineral water brands last year," said Schwegmann.
In the Fresh Juice Systems segment, sales revenues were up 2.6% in fiscal 2021, he said. "This growth was mainly due to increased sales of fruit and bottles," Schwegmann explained. In fruit presses, on the other hand, a pandemic-related reluctance to purchase capital equipment was still noticeable, he said. "However, we have already been able to grow strongly again in important focus markets. In Germany, for example, we increased our equipment sales by 31 percent year on year," says Schwegmann.
"In summary, we can say that the strategic core topics that are particularly important for our sustainable, profitable business development - liqueur offensive, premium spirits, Mio Mio and the focus on core markets in the Fresh Juice Systems segment - recorded very successful development last year," Schwegmann says.
Outlook for fiscal 2022
These core topics, which offer the greatest potential for growth and profitability, would also be the main drivers for positive development in the 2022 financial year. Therefore, despite the current omicron variant of the coronavirus and the current war in Ukraine, the Berentzen Group expects significantly higher consolidated revenues than in the 2021 financial year. "We are convinced that social life and thus also our business volume will pick up again in the course of the year," explains Schwegmann.
For the 2022 financial year, the Group expects consolidated revenue in a range of EUR 154.0 million to EUR 162.0 million, consolidated EBIT of between EUR 5.0 million and EUR 8.0 million, and consolidated EBITDA of between EUR 14.0 million and EUR 17.0 million. Despite the forecast growth in sales, Group EBIT and EBITDA are thus expected to remain at around the same level as the previous year. The background to this is, among other things, massive, unprecedented cost increases for energy, raw materials and supplies. Among other things, this is also related to the direct and indirect consequences of the war in Ukraine. "On the sales side, however, the Berentzen Group has so far not been significantly affected by this war, which we as a company condemn in the strongest possible terms, as our business in Russia and Ukraine to date has only been marginal in scope," explains Schwegmann. The unpredictability of the consequences of the war means that the assumptions underlying the forecast may become obsolete depending on further dynamics and, if necessary, an intensification of the challenges on the procurement markets.
"Despite the current and still expected price increases and the associated uncertainties in our procurement markets, we have decided, after two pandemic years with strict cost management, to also invest more heavily again in personnel, sales and marketing to enable long-term growth. After all, despite current events, we are fundamentally optimistic about the future and are convinced of the long-term and sustainable success of our business model," concludes Schwegmann.