UZWIL, SWITZERLAND — The Bühler Group reported that turnover increased 22% in 2018 and that it is well positioned for the future with its Consumer Foods business pillar along with a new factory in China and its partnership with Microsoft.

“We are satisfied with the 2018 overall results. Volumes developed well, but profits were below our objectives. Despite risks such as trade conflicts, we are well positioned with our portfolio and our global organization, and look to the future with confidence,” said Stefan Scheiber, Bühler chief executive officer.

The 2018 business year was characterized by continued organic growth in all businesses with a gain in market share, increased order intake, and higher turnover, Bühler said.

EBIT increased in absolute terms by 13% to CHF 231 million ($230 million), which represents an EBIT margin of 7.1% (previous year: 7.6%).

Net profit grew by 9% and reached CHF 188 million (previous year CHF 173 million).

Results were impacted by adjustments at the Changzhou, China site. Without that one-time effect, the EBIT margin would have been 8%.

Turnover grew for Grains & Food by 9.2% to CHF 2.2 billion, for Advanced Materials by 5.6% to CHF 705 million, and Haas contributed CHF 373 million.

Order intake increased by 17% to CHF 3.3 billion and its turnover by 22% to CHF 3.3 billion, which resulted in an order backlog of CHF 1.9 billion (+5.9%). Regionally, Europe (+28%) and Asia (+40%) were the markets showing the strongest turnover growth.

With its new Consumer Foods business following the integration of Haas, Bühler plans to increase its focus on this market. This was met with “positive momentum” among employees and customers, Bühler said.

“This encouraged us to accelerate the full integration and new setup of our food businesses,” Scheiber said.

Under the leadership of Germar Wacker, Haas achieved CHF 382 million in order intake and CHF 373 million in turnover. This represents the best result in the history of Haas, driven mainly by the Wafer and Biscuit business units.

Investments in the asset base rose to CHF 118 million (+18%), driven by spending on the new CUBIC innovation campus and application centers, the ongoing modernization of the Swiss locations, and the ramp-up of sites in China.

The new factory and R&D facility for the feed industry in Changzhou, China was opened in 2018 and is in full operation.

The CUBIC innovation campus in Uzwil is nearing completion. The official inauguration of the fully operational campus is scheduled for spring. The CUBIC combines research and development with seven renewed application centers, which will be available to customers for conducting tests and trial series together with Bühler.

Spending on research and development amounted to CHF 145 million (4.4% of turnover). The Group introduced more than 20 digital products, achieved sizable initial turnover, and entered a partnership with Microsoft in April 2018.