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Bene AG results

Monday 30 September 2013

Despite Bene’s sales in the year to 31 January 2013 increasing by 10.1% to EUR 213.6 million (2012: EUR 193.9 million) the Austrian office furniture specialist incurred an operating loss. One-off effects of write downs and the cost of restructuring added to the negative impact on the result. EBIT for the last financial year of EUR -17.2 million (2011/12: EUR 1.7 million) and EBITDA of EUR -8.2 million (2011/12: EUR 10.0 million). Earnings after tax fell correspondingly to EUR -29.0 million (2011/12: EUR -2.4 million).
As at 31 January 2013, the Group had 1,387 employees in total worldwide and reported net financial debt of EUR 55.1 million (31 January 2012: EUR 15.0 million).
Following several quarters in which Bene pursued an aggressive growth strategy – with a significant negative impact on its bottom line – the Bene Group is now undergoing a phase of comprehensive change. After facing substantial operating losses in the financial year to 31 January 2013, plus the additional burden to the results of one-off effects of impairments and restructuring measures, the adverse effects of restructuring operations continued to be a feature of the first half of its current financial year to 31 July 2013. The agreement on restructuring its financing that was reached with the banks at the beginning of the third quarter represented a major milestone on the road to an all-encompassing restructuring and a restoration to health for Austria’s market leader.
In line with its restructuring concept presented at the beginning of the year, Bene has switched its focus to markets with high potential for growth. This was the context for Bene’s reduction of sales in the first half year of 2013/14, by making changes in the sales process. The reduction in sales is also reflected in the decline in revenues and the results in the first half year of 2013/14 versus the first half year of the previous year. Overall, sales in the first six months of the reporting period were down 18.3% in comparison to the first half of the previous year, falling to EUR 82.3 million. Over the same period, EBIT fell to EUR -13.5 million (HY1 2012/13: EUR -1.1 million) and EBITDA to EUR -8.4 million (HY1 2012/13: EUR 3.2 million). As part of Bene’s programme to reduce material and personnel expenses, these figures included a reduction in the Group’s global headcount since the year-end reporting date on 31 January 2013 by 135 employees or 9.7%.


Bene has implemented a large number of measures in recent months aimed at ensuring an operational turnaround in addition to financial restructuring. As part of the operative restructuring measures, Bene is focusing specifically on the reduction of material and personnel costs. There was a significant personnel reduction and by year end 2013 the headcount will be about 250 people lower than the previous year. It has also started to cut back its warehousing capacity, office space and showrooms, and initiated an evaluation process covering all its locations. The heart of the restructuring plan, however, centres on measures that are meant to increase Bene’s profitability over the long term. This takes place in consideration of past events, in which major projects that resulted in losses were responsible for the Group’s sharp drop in earnings. This is what has led the Bene Group to concentrate on managing its product and project mix and to focus its selling power on those markets that promise potential for high growth.

As part of its financial restructuring activities, Bene signed a restructuring agreement with the financing banks on 29 August 2013 which includes a waiver on the part of the lending banks until 2016. The total package provides for a realignment of the existing credit lines with longer terms, the refinancing of the EUR 40 million bond 2014, and fresh funds amounting to about EUR 14 million.


The two remaining quarters of the current financial year will still be dominated by the implementation of the restructuring measures. With this in mind, Bene will be reducing sales. Together with the cost increases arising from the restructuring measures, this is likely to result in the Bene Group achieving total sales of around EUR 175 million and a net loss for financial year 2013/14. This is consistent with the plans, which were also the basis of the restructuring agreement signed with the financing banks.

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