Valora Holding AG - News



The Valora Group has a new CFO: on 1 July 2020, Beat Fellmann will take over the position that has been vacant since November 2019 and will become a member of the Group Executive Management. In addition, Valora has successfully renegotiated a syndicated loan facility and increased it to CHF 150 million. The effects of the coronavirus and the accompanying official orders are having a major impact on revenue within the Valora Group, even though sales have stabilised at a low level. The Annual General Meeting has been rescheduled for 11 June 2020.
Beat Fellmann will take up the position of CFO and become a member of the Valora Group Executive Management on 1 July 2020. He will succeed Tobias Knechtle who left the company at the end of November 2019. Since then, the role of CFO has been filled by CEO Michael Mueller and Christian Tümmler, Director of Corporate Group Accounting & Tax.
Beat Fellmann (55) is a financial expert with many years of international experience as CFO at various companies. He was CFO and Head Corporate Center at Implenia and a member of the Group Executive Board from 2008-2019. During the past few months he was a member of the Executive Board of Exyte AG in Stuttgart, a company specialised in the high-tech construction of complex production facilities. Beat Fellmann graduated with a lic. oec. HSG from the University of St. Gallen and is a certified accountant. He began his career at the international industrial company Bühler, and in 1998 he switched to the former Holcim Group (now LafargeHolcim). There he was responsible for all the finance and holding companies worldwide. In 2005, he was appointed deputy Group CEO, in which capacity he was also responsible for corporate tax as well as IT and finance & controlling for the management company. Beat Fellmann has been a member of the Board of Directors of Vitra Holding AG since 1 January 2016 and a member of the Board of Directors of Helvetia Holding AG since 20 April 2018.
“I am excited to welcome Beat Fellmann to the Valora Group. With his long-standing and broad-based experience as a CFO, he will be an ideal addition to our management team,” explains Michael Mueller, CEO of Valora Group.
Successful renegotiation of the syndicated loan facility
On 9 April 2020, Valora renewed the current syndicated loan facility of CHF 50 million that was set to mature on 29 June 2020 ahead of schedule with more attractive conditions, including additional corona-related headroom for the leverage ratio covenant, and increased it to CHF 150 million. The new syndicated loan facility has a term of five years with two extension options of one year each. The renewal of the “Multi Currency Revolving Credit Facility” safeguards the financing and liquidity of Valora and increases the company’s strategic flexibility overall. Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft, Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG and UBS Switzerland AG are acting as bookrunners under the lead of the coordinator and agent Credit Suisse (Schweiz) AG.
The coronavirus crisis puts strain on business
The dynamic of developments associated with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has significantly affected business performance at Valora Group. In spite of the official orders issued to contain the virus, the foodvenience provider has been able to keep some 80% of its sales outlets open to provide basic supplies and maintain operations in all its markets with the exception of the Netherlands and parts of Austria, albeit with significantly amended opening hours. The B2B business with pretzel products has experienced a downturn in orders due to a lack of demand in the out-of-home market, which only set in after a time delay.
The developments of the last few weeks therefore continue to have a major negative impact on revenue, although it has stabilised at a low level. The retail network in the affected markets has posted a fall in same-store revenue for the current month of April of around -20% over the previous year, while the decline in the food service network stands at about -70%. Sales for the B2B business are -60% down compared to the previous year. The way in which this development will change in future depends on how and when the easing of the respective lockdowns decreed by the various national authorities will impact customer frequency. It is therefore still too early to make reliable forecasts about future revenue and earnings development.
Package of measures implemented – salary compensation for Valora employees on short-time working
As communicated on 26 March 2020, the Executive Management of the Valora Group has implemented numerous measures to reduce the cost base and to proactively safeguard liquidity. These measures include suspending all investments in expansion and conversions and the agreement with key lessors to defer rental payments. Valora has also made use of the government financial support for the Group and employees. Almost half of the Valora employees have been on short-time working since 1 April 2020. Valora is covering the resulting salary shortfalls incurred by its employees up to the end of April in full, lost earnings for the month of May will be compensated to 90%. Furthermore, Valora is pursuing solutions with its agency and franchise partners to secure economic viability for these self-employed entrepreneurs and their staff. The 100% compensation for loss of earnings in April and 90% in May also applies to retail agencies in Switzerland.
Despite cost-saving measures, Valora expects a pronounced negative effect on EBIT and net profit both for the first half-year and full-year 2020. In free cash flow, the negative effects can be largely offset by the investment stops and by waiving the dividend, meaning that net debt is expected to only increase slightly.
Annual General Meeting rescheduled for 11 June 2020
The Ordinary General Meeting of Valora Holding AG scheduled for 24 March 2020 and postponed as a result of the Swiss Federal Council issuing the “Ordinance 2 on the measures for combating the coronavirus (COVID-19)” (“Verordnung 2 über die Massnahmen zur Bekämpfung des Coronavirus (COVID-19)”) due to the current situation will now take place on 11 June 2020. Although this year’s Ordinary General Meeting will take place within the stipulated six months after the close of the financial year, it cannot be held in its usual format because of the government measures. To protect shareholders and employees, the Board of Directors has decided, based on Art. 6b of Ordinance 2, that shareholders may not attend the Annual General Meeting and may exercise their rights exclusively via the independent proxy. The Board of Directors still proposes to the 2020 Annual General Meeting a waiver of the dividend for the 2019 financial year in view of the coronavirus crisis. This decision is based on adopting a prudent approach to the company’s financial resources in the interests of Valora and all its stakeholders.
Valora assumes responsibility towards its stakeholders
Michael Mueller says: “This crisis demands that all stakeholders and partners embrace a spirit of solidarity, as part of which the focus must be on the long-term and sustainable management of the financial consequences. Valora is assuming its responsibility as an employer, partner and tenant and is actively helping provide its customers with basic supplies.”
Looking to the future, Michael Mueller adds: “We have prepared ourselves for a process that will challenge us throughout 2020. We would like to thank all the staff for their tireless commitment in the sales outlets, as well as those in production, logistics and administration.



Die behördlichen Anordnungen zur Eindämmung der Ausbreitung des Coronavirus (COVID-19) und die damit einhergehenden Frequenzverluste und Verkaufsstellenschliessungen führen bei der Valora Gruppe zu deutlichen Umsatzeinbussen. Valora hat Massnahmen zur Reduktion der Kostenbasis eingeleitet sowie wesentliche Investitionsprojekte vorerst zurückgestellt. Gleichzeitig führt das Unternehmen Kurzarbeit ein, übernimmt aber die Lohndifferenzen für ihre davon betroffenen Mitarbeitenden, vorerst bis Ende April. Der Verwaltungsrat beantragt der Generalversammlung zudem ein einmaliges Aussetzen der Dividende für das Geschäftsjahr 2019.
Die Dynamik der Entwicklungen im Zusammenhang mit der Ausbreitung des Coronavirus (COVID-19) ist gewaltig und beeinflusst auch den Geschäftsgang der Valora Gruppe deutlich. Trotz behördlicher Anordnungen zur Eindämmung des Virus kann die Foodvenience-Anbieterin im Rahmen der Grundversorgung vorerst über 80% ihrer Verkaufsstellen offen halten und diese bis auf Österreich und die Niederlande in all ihren Märkten weiter betreiben. Es ist aber damit zu rechnen, dass es über die kommenden Wochen aufgrund der behördlichen Restriktionen und damit verbundenen Frequenzverlusten sowie krankheitsbedingten Personalausfällen zu weiteren Schliessungen und Reduktionen von Öffnungszeiten kommen wird. Das B2B-Geschäft mit Laugenbackwaren hat bisher keine wesentlichen Einschränkungen erfahren.
Deutliche Umsatzrückgänge, insbesondere im B2C-Geschäft von Food Service
Diese Entwicklungen schlagen sich auch in den Umsätzen nieder. Seit dem Ausbruch der Coronakrise Anfang März 2020 verzeichnet das Retail-Netzwerk in den relevanten Märkten auf gleicher Fläche für den laufenden Monat einen Umsatzverlust von circa 10% gegenüber Vorjahr; im Food-Service-Netzwerk beträgt der Rückgang rund 30%. Das B2B-Geschäft hält sich gut mit Umsätzen nur leicht unter Vorjahr, ist aber abhängig von der weiteren Entwicklung des Ausserhaus-Markts. Mit den verschärften behördlichen Anordnungen der letzten Tage hat sich der Umsatzverlust der noch offenen Verkaufsstellen insbesondere im Food Service weiter akzentuiert. Valora erwartet für die kommenden Wochen über das gesamte Netzwerk zusätzliche deutliche Umsatzverluste.
Fokus auf Reduktion der Kostenbasis und der Investitionen, Mietstundungen sowie Antrag auf Unterstützung für Kurzarbeit und KMU-Unternehmer, Aussetzen der Dividende
Für verlässliche Prognosen zur weiteren Umsatzentwicklung ist es aufgrund der sehr dynamischen Entwicklung der Coronakrise noch zu früh. Daher ergriff die Valora Konzernleitung bisher in erster Linie Massnahmen zur Reduktion der Kostenbasis und der Investitionen. Sämtliche Investitionen in Expansion und Umbauten werden vorerst zurückgehalten. Das gilt auch für den Umbau der in der SBB-Ausschreibung gesicherten Verkaufsstellen. Gleichzeitig konnte mit den wichtigsten Vermietern eine Stundung der Mietzahlungen vereinbart werden. Ebenso beabsichtigt Valora, für die Gruppe und die Mitarbeitenden sämtliche zur Verfügung stehenden Unterstützungsleistungen der Regierungen in Anspruch zu nehmen. Dennoch rechnet Valora trotz des guten Starts ins Jahr bis Ende Februar sowohl für das Halbjahr wie auch für das gesamte Jahr 2020 mit einem deutlich negativen Effekt auf den EBIT und den Reingewinn. Im Free Cashflow können die negativen Effekte mit Investitionsstopps teilweise aufgefangen werden, sodass nur eine leicht steigende Netto-Verschuldung zu erwarten ist. Der Verwaltungsrat beantragt der Generalversammlung 2020 ausserdem, die Dividende für das Geschäftsjahr 2019 einmalig auszusetzen.
Lohnausgleich für Valora Mitarbeitende in Kurzarbeit vorerst bis Ende April, Unterstützung der Franchise- und Agenturbetriebe
Per 1. April 2020 wird Valora für ihre von Schliessungen und reduzierten Öffnungszeiten betroffenen Mitarbeitenden im Verkauf, aber auch für einen grossen Teil der Mitarbeitenden in der Verwaltung sowie für Mitarbeitende in Produktion und Logistik Kurzarbeit beantragen. Als Unterstützung der Mitarbeitenden und zur Sicherung der wirtschaftlichen Tragbarkeit wird Valora im Monat März allen ihren Mitarbeitenden unabhängig davon, ob sie bereits in Kurzarbeit sind, den vollen Lohn ausbezahlen. Zudem wird sie vorerst für den Monat April Lohneinbussen ihrer Mitarbeitenden aufgrund von Kurzarbeit vollständig kompensieren. Mit den Agentur- und Franchisepartnern sucht Valora nach Lösungen, um die wirtschaftliche Tragbarkeit auch für die selbständigen Unternehmer und deren Mitarbeitende sicherzustellen. So wird zum Beispiel in der Schweiz für die Mitarbeitenden der Retail-Agenturen in Kurzarbeit der volle Lohnausgleich im März und April garantiert. Damit will Valora auch die wirtschaftliche Handlungsfähigkeit und die Stabilität ihres Netzwerks für die Zeit nach der Coronakrise gewährleisten.
Langfristige Planung und Investitionen in den Erhalt des Netzwerks
Michael Mueller, CEO der Valora Gruppe, sagt: «Aufgrund der grossen Unsicherheiten und den drastischen Veränderungen unserer Lebensumstände sind wir alle maximal gefordert. Alle Mitarbeitenden im Valora Netzwerk setzen sich in dieser schwierigen Zeit mit grossem Engagement für die Grundversorgung der Bevölkerung und unser Unternehmen ein. Als Unternehmen setzen wir alles daran, sie dabei bestmöglich zu schützen und zu unterstützen. Wir wollen im Rahmen der Möglichkeiten unseren Beitrag für unsere Kunden, Mitarbeitenden und Partner leisten und dabei die finanzielle Stabilität wahren, um gut durch diese Krise zu kommen und danach gemeinsam wieder zur alten Stärke zurückzufinden.»
Mit Blick in die Zukunft ergänzt Michael Mueller: «Wir stellen uns auf einen Prozess ein, der uns nicht nur in den nächsten Wochen, sondern über das gesamte Jahr 2020 fordern wird. Entsprechend planen wir alle unsere Massnahmen langfristig und investieren in unser Verkaufsnetzwerk und in unsere Partnerschaften. Wir danken allen Mitarbeitenden für ihren unermüdlichen Einsatz in den Verkaufsstellen, in der Produktion, in der Logistik und in der Verwaltung.»



Valora Holding AG will present three new members for election to its Board of Directors at the 2020 Annual General Meeting: mobilezone CEO Markus Bernhard, eBay executive and e-commerce specialist Karin Schwab and Suzanne Thoma, CEO of BKW AG. If elected, they will succeed longstanding Board members Peter Ditsch, Markus Fiechter and Cornelia Ritz Bossicard, who will not stand for a further term following the completion of the current strategy phase.
Valora has successfully established itself in recent years as a retailer with a clear focus on convenience and food service at highly frequented locations. In spring 2019, this period in the company's development came to an end with the successful SBB tender through which Valora secured 262 kiosk and convenience outlets at attractive SBB stations until 2030. Subsequently, the Board of Directors and Group Executive Management have developed the strategy 2025 and presented it to the capital market. The implementation of this strategy marks a new, growth-oriented phase for the company. Three longstanding Valora Holding AG Directors – Peter Ditsch, Markus Fiechter and Cornelia Ritz Bossicard – consider this an opportune time to stand down at the next Annual General Meeting on 24 March 2020. The Board of Directors proposes to the General Meeting that Markus Bernhard, Karin Schwab and Suzanne Thoma succeed them as Board members:
Markus Bernhard
Markus Bernhard has been CEO of mobilezone Group since 2014, an independent telecommunications retailer based in Switzerland and operating in the DACH region. He joined the company as CFO in 2007. Before that, the 55-year-old Swiss was in charge of finance at the international Novavisions AG (now Bloxolid AG; previously Mount10 Holding AG, Cope Inc. and Cope Holding AG), which combines real assets, such as precious metals, with modern blockchain technology, thus creating a new asset category. From 1991 to 1997, Markus Bernhard was an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Markus Bernhard holds a Master of Business Administration, specialising in Fiduciary & Audit and Corporate Finance, from the University of St.Gallen and is a qualified auditor at Treuhand-Kammer Zurich. Markus Bernhard is a member of the Board of Directors of NovaStor Software Group, Bloxolid AG and Wickart AG. He will strengthen the Board of Directors through his expertise in finance, M&A and stationary and digital retail, in addition to other areas.
Dr Karin Schwab
Karin Schwab is Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at eBay Inc., one of the world's leading online marketplaces. In this position, she has detailed knowledge of all the legal and operational issues relating to products, technologies, payments and data protection. The 47-year-old Swiss joined the eBay head office in San Jose, USA, in 2013 as Deputy General Counsel North and Latin America. Prior to that, she was Associate General Counsel Europe and served as secretary of the Board of eBay International AG. She joined the company in 2005 as Legal Counsel for Austria, Switzerland, Poland and Sweden and was subsequently responsible for intellectual property and litigation in Europe. Karin Schwab started her career as an associate with the Zurich law firm Homburger. She holds a law degree (lic. Iur.) from the University of Fribourg, a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich and a Master of Laws from the University of London. She is licensed to practise in Switzerland and California, USA. Karin Schwab is a member of the International Advisory Board of the ZHAW School of Management and Law, Zurich. In addition to her international legal experience, Karin Schwab offers Valora expertise in e-commerce, product, technology, payment and data protection issues.
Dr Suzanne Thoma
Suzanne Thoma is CEO of BKW AG, an international energy and infrastructure services company based in Bern and listed on SIX Swiss Exchange. Suzanne Thoma has many years of management experience in industry. As CEO of BKW, she has been successfully leading the company through a fundamental transformation since 2013. The 57-year-old Swiss joined BKW in 2010 as head of the Power Grid business area and member of the Executive Committee. Prior to that, she managed the international automotive supply business at WICOR Group and was CEO of Rolic Technologies Ltd., a high-tech supplier of coatings and functional materials to the electronics industry. She held a number of management positions within and outside Switzerland at Ciba Speciality Chemicals Inc (now BASF AG) from 1990 to 2002. Suzanne Thoma studied Chemical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich where she gained a Ph.D. in Engineering. She also holds a Bachelors in Business Administration. Suzanne Thoma is a member of the Board of Directors of OC Oerlikon. She is Vice-Chair of the foundation Avenir Suisse and a member of the Economiesuisse Board. Suzanne Thoma will contribute her broad experience as a CEO in leading companies through fundamental transformation to the Valora Board of Directors.
Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors, is pleased about the nominations: “Valora has achieved a lot in the past few years and created a solid basis for the future. At the same time, changing lifestyles, growing mobility and digitalisation all fit with our business model. We are building on that, consistently changing our offer to match current customer requirements, driving innovation and efficiency and using new technologies in doing so. Our aim is to keep growing profitably. The remaining Board members and the three new members are optimally placed to add value to Valora and increase its investment appeal through their professional backgrounds and international experience.” Franz Julen also says: “I would like to thank our outgoing directors Peter Ditsch, Markus Fiechter and Cornelia Ritz Bossicard, who have taken the decision to step down from the Board of Directors in light of the successful SBB tender and the completion of the 2025 strategy process, for their competent and commendable work over many years. They have made a material contribution to focusing Valora on its core business and strengthening its position as a leading foodvenience provider.”
Subject to the agreement of the Annual General Meeting to the proposed candidates, the Valora Holding AG Board of Directors will comprise the following members: Franz Julen (Chairman), Markus Bernhard, Insa Klasing, Michael Kliger, Karin Schwab, Suzanne Thoma and Sascha Zahnd.