Hochland looks back on a satisfactory business year 2019. Group-wide cheese sales rose by 4% to 378,000 tons. Processed cheese accounted for almost half of this growth. Food Service products played a decisive role, with strong growth especially in Russia and in exports to third countries. Group sales rose to €1.6bn, an increase of around 7%.
The brand business segment closed with a Group-wide sales increase of over 4%. This was primarily attributable to Hochland Russia, Hochland Germany and Hochland Romania. The development of the Hochland brand was good: Group-wide sales volumes increased by 7%, in Germany even by a double-digit percentage. In the private label business, the company launched the first semi-hard cheese with the label of the German Animal Welfare Association in 2019.
The company achieved growth in all three customer systems in the food service sector, in some cases in double digits. This makes Food Service the second largest sector in the German Hochland business. In Quick Service restaurants, sales developed positively (+8 %). The German business contributed +2 % to this. The main drivers of the sales development were special offer assortments, which account for almost 20 % of sales.
The result from ordinary activities increased by 27.4%. The pre-tax return on sales was 5.1%. Of the balance sheet total of €1.049bn (+17%), €585.3m was accounted for by non-current assets, while the fixed-assets-to-net-worth ratio in 2019 was 112.7% (2018: 132.5%). The equity ratio in the balance sheet rose by 0.2% to 62.7% in the reporting year. The company employed 5,228 people (+ 385), of which 1,977 (+ 132) were in Germany. Personnel expenses are reported in the income statement at € 233.1 million (2018: € 204 million).
The Hochland Group’s market investments amounted to around € 42m and were € 3.5m higher than in the previous year. Technical Investments were About €60m.
Hochland was able to complete two major construction projects with the commissioning of the semi-hard cheese plant in Belinsky and the expansion in Prokhorovka (both in Russia). Fromagerie Henri Hutin in France will now be converted into a highly flexible production facility over the next few years at a cost in the high double-digit millions. It is intended to take on a pioneering role in terms of sustainability within the Hochland Group. Simply V, a subsidiary that has been speiclaised in plant-based cheese alternatives since 5 years, will receive a secind production plant.