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A solid operating result for the Ringier Group in 2020 despite the pandemic

A solid operating result for the Ringier Group in 2020 despite the pandemic

The coronavirus crisis had a significant impact on the financial results and operating profit of the Ringier Group in 2020. But thanks to innovative initiatives and rigorous cost management, the Group managed to offset a considerable part of the decline in sales caused by the pandemic.

The Ringier Group’s operating profit (EBITDA) fell to CHF 84.4 million (2019: CHF 114.1 million). The lower revenue of CHF 953.7 million (2019: CHF 984.8 million) is attributable primarily to the decline in the advertising market, digital marketplaces and events (ticketing) as a result of coronavirus. The revenue generated by e-commerce and food delivery companies in Switzerland and Slovakia was significantly higher than budgeted.

The Ringier Group managed to offset a significant part of the pandemic-related drop in revenue through implementation of extensive revenue and cost measures in all segments. Despite this, the EBITDA margin fell to 8.8% in 2020 (2019: 11.6%).

Employees are top priority

Ringier’s management focused above all on ensuring that staff and their families were protected, introducing comprehensive work-from-home rules in all 19 Ringier countries, issuing face masks and launching safety concepts.

Continuing with digitalisation

The Ringier Group continued to systematically implement its digitalisation strategy in 2020, and the investment rate of about CHF 100 million in digital products in the media and marketplaces segments was similar to previous years.

Ringier CEO Marc Walder: «The impact of the coronavirus pandemic will cost us about two years in the implementation of our ambitious transformation. Our goal by 2023 is to be back at the original medium-term level we had planned before the pandemic in all relevant financial indicators. In addition to the two operational pillars of Media and Digital Marketplaces, Tech & Data will be expanded to become a third, strategic pillar. We are thus pressing ahead with our three technology centres in Poland, South Africa and Switzerland. A new strategic goal in the area of media is to develop a digital sports media portfolio.»

Due to shifts in revenue between the divisions, the EBITDA digital share of 69% (2019: 72%) is slightly below the previous year, but it remains at a high level in a comparison of European sectors. The digital share of revenue increased from 51% in 2019 to 57% in 2020.

Stabilisation measures in effect since the fourth quarter of 2020

Despite the turbulence caused by the coronavirus pandemic, expectations were exceeded in many of the subsidiaries in the final months of 2020. This trend is a cautiously encouraging sign for 2021.

Good basis for further investments

With the acquisition of a 25% stake in Ringier AG by La Mobilière, the Ringier Group is financially well positioned with its currently minimal net debt to continue investing, both organically and through transactions.

In spring 2020, Ringier and the media company Axel Springer acquired gratka.pl, a leading digital marketplace in Poland. Ringier also acquired the Polish sites morizon.pl, a leading real estate portal, and lendi.pl, an innovative platform for the digital processing of financial services.

In Romania, four years after acquiring a majority stake in Imobiliare.ro, Ringier acquired the remaining shares from the founders and is now the sole owner of the digital real estate marketplace.

For the Bulgarian market, Ringier announced the acquisition of a majority holding in Sportal Media Group and Digital Ventures OOD in March 2021. The Sportal Media Group brings together Bulgaria’s leading digital media under one roof, with a strong focus on sport; the acquisition is a central element of Ringier’s sports media strategy.

A selection of key initiatives launched in 2020

In Switzerland, Blick TV was launched as the country’s first digital TV channel on 17 February 2020. With a current daily audience of more than 600,000, Blick TV has become well established within this period. The proportion of videos on the Blick Group’s platforms has also been significantly increased. 

The proprietary registration and login service Ringier Connect has made Ringier one of the first media companies worldwide to introduce authentication via face ID and touch ID. This makes it even faster and more secure to log in to the platforms via Ringier Connect. Ringier Connect is the technical basis of the OneLog single sign-on from the Swiss Digital Alliance. The TX Group’s 20 Minuten has been using this Ringier software since 10 March 2021; CH Media and NZZ will follow in the near future.

The EqualVoice initiative, launched at the end of 2019 with a view to achieving greater visibility for women in the media, was successfully driven forward in 2020. The underlying data required for measurability is obtained via semantic, AI-based analysis of media coverage. The initiative was recently rolled out with 12 media brands belonging to Ringier Axel Springer Media AG in Poland.

Ringier Annual Report art project – 2020 designed by Ed Atkins

The Ringier Annual Report has this year been designed by the British artist Ed Atkins, the 24th issue of the Annual Report to be produced together with a famous artist. All text has been handwritten and the charts and diagrams drawn by hand, without the use of any of the technical aids Atkins usually has at his disposal.

Atkins, born in Oxford in 1982, is best known for his video art and poetry. He is seen as the pioneer of a generation of artists who use digital tools to create a hyper-real visual world. Atkins lives and works in Copenhagen.

Since 1997, Ringier’s Annual Report has been published in a limited print run in collaboration with a well-known artist whose works form part of the Ringier collection. The series was initiated by publisher Michael Ringier and curator Beatrix Ruf as a way to further integrate the world of art into the company’s activities.

The Ringier Annual Report 2020 is available for download in English, French and German from ringier.ch from 22 April 2021, or a print copy can be ordered via communications@ringier.ch.

Ringier AG, Corporate Communications