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Bene AG presents its restructuring concept and preliminary figures for 2012/13

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Bene AG, a publicly listed company on the Vienna Stock Exchange, today presented its first preliminary figures for the financial year 2012/13 and its restructuring plan. The Austrian office furniture manufacturer reported group revenue of EUR 213.6 million for the financial year 2012/13, and a net loss of EUR 28.7 million. Bene AG will not meet the criteria required by Austria's Company Reorganisation Act. The company's continued existence is not endangered, due to the current ongoing constructive discussions with financing banks. In order to place the company on solid footing, the new Executive Board team is focusing its restructuring plan, along with market cultivation, equally on cost-reducing and profit-increasing measures as well as a comprehensive refinancing concept. These measures, along with Bene's strong brand, which stands for quality and innovation, make the new Executive Board team certain that Bene is headed back to the path of long-term success. The Executive Board is expecting revenues in the amount of EUR 200 million for the financial year 2013/14. An adjusted financial calendar will be published soon for financial year 2013/14.

Bene is a premium brand that stands for the highest quality and ongoing innovation, and it is very well positioned internationally. Bene's extensive product portfolio, which is able to provide for all dimensions of the modern working environment, meets the needs of office projects of any size. The portfolio ranges from classic office furniture and furniture for executives and communication, to wall systems and seating furniture. Bene's leading position as a worldwide integrated provider is underscored by its functional designs and innovative design concepts. Despite these undisputed successful factors, the Group's profitability came under strong pressure in recent years due to its expansion strategy. Major projects that were priced at especially aggressive levels delivered negative results to the bottom line. Although preliminary figures indicate that Group revenues for the financial year 2012/13 increased year-on-year by 10.1% to EUR 213.6 million (2011/12: EUR 193.9 million), there was also a Group loss of EUR 28.7 million (2011/12: loss of EUR 2.4 million).

Restructuring plan for sustainable profitability improvement

The new Executive Board team, appointed on 15 December 2012 and consisting of Rudolf Payer (Executive Director for Finances & Production) and Michael Feldt (Executive Director for Sales & Marketing), are here to lead the company back to a successful course. "We remain convinced that Bene's fundamental strategic direction is sound. Bene is represented by a tight sales network around the world; it stands for a strong international brand with high-quality products; and it enjoys the highest global reputation among customers and architects. Bene was and is an essential innovator in the industry", said the Executive Directors at the opening of today's press conference, where they expressed optimism about leading Bene back to its original strength. They then presented their restructuring concept, which focuses both on cost-reducing and profit-increasing measures that will be rounded out by a refinancing concept that will be coordinated with the financing banks.

Bene is therefore focusing very specifically on reducing material and personnel costs. Staff levels are being reduced by about 110 people. Reductions in warehouse capacity, office space, showroom spaces, and an evaluation process that includes all branch locations, have already begun.

The heart of the restructuring plan centres on measures that are meant to increase Bene's profitability over the long term; in the past, however, there were major projects that resulted in losses that were responsible for the Group's sharp drop in earnings. Management will therefore focus on adjusting the product and project mix in the core markets of Austria and Germany, as well as in highly profitable markets with high growth potential, such as Western Europe and the Middle East.

Management is currently in constructive negotiations with financing banks to secure long-term financing for the Bene Group. Their shared aim is to develop a refinancing concept that places Bene on a long-term, stable financial basis.

Numerous orders completed since January 2013

Bene is a sought-after partner when it comes to delivering complex office solutions. In recent months the Group has won renowned international clients such as Bilfinger Power Systems GmbH, Mittelbayrischer Verlag in Germany, and BMW in China, thereby impressively demonstrating its innovative ability to develop solutions. As the market leader in its home market of Austria, Bene used its solution competence and innovative capacity to win over companies such as Prangl and Kraft Foods.

Revenues of EUR 200 million planned for 2013/14

Bene's restructuring concept is focusing on markets with high growth potential and high-profit orders. In this context, Bene will be reducing revenues in a controlled manner. The Executive Board is forecasting Group revenues of EUR 200 million for the current financial year 2013/14. "In the company's more than 200 years of history, Bene has successfully overcome several challenges. We started the new financial year in very good shape, with numerous high-profit orders in the first quarter. This and the positive feedback from our customers and partners confirms that Bene will also master the challenges of this difficult phase, especially because the owners and the banks fully support the restructuring plan", said Rudolf Payer and Michael Feldt.

Current developments mean that the previously published finance calendar must be adapted. The modified financial calendar for the financial year 2013/14 will be published soon and will include the new date for presenting the final results of the financial year 2012/13.

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