Stuttgart, Germany, February 15, 2018. In the full year 2017, TAKKT achieved organic growth (adjusted for effects from acquisitions and disposals as well as currency fluctuations) of 0.4 percent. At EUR 1,116.1 (1,125.0) million, the Group generated slightly lower sales than in 2016 due to negative currency effects. In the final quarter, organic sales were almost at the same level as the previous year. With minus 0.1 percent it showed a similar development as in the first nine months of the year. Sales development in 2017 was thus in line with the forecast, which had been adjusted during the course of the year. While demand at TAKKT EUROPE increased over the previous year, various individual effects at TAKKT AMERICA (an uncertain market environment in food retail, the expiration of a framework agreement with a larger government customer and weaker project business) caused a decline in performance.
The gross profit margin of 42.5 (42.6) percent was at roughly the level of the previous year. EBITDA was significantly below the previous year level at EUR 150.3 (171.3) million due to positive one-time effects in the previous year, increased costs as anticipated for the implementation of the digital agenda and weakened sales development. TAKKT was nevertheless able to meet the forecast published at the beginning of 2017 in terms of its EBITDA margin, which was in the middle of the long-term target corridor of 12 to 15 percent with 13.5 (15.2) percent. Adjusted for one-time gains in the previous year, profitability was at 13.5 (14.5) percent.
"We have made good progress with the implementation of our digital agenda and were able to further expand our e-commerce business," said CEO Felix Zimmermann. The digitalization activities will continue to be pushed in 2018 and TAKKT also reinforced its management team: Heiko Hegwein assumed his duties as member of the Management Board of TAKKT AG on February 1, 2018. He will be responsible for implementing the digital agenda in the TAKKT Group as well as managing the newport group. "I am glad that with Heiko Hegwein a proven digital and retail expert has joined the TAKKT Management Board. His expertise will help us to accelerate the digital transformation of TAKKT," commented Zimmermann.
At the end of the year, the TAKKT Group benefited from the passing of the US tax reform reflecting in the reported net profit. The significant decline in corporate tax rates resulted in a positive effect on earnings in the 2017 year under review of EUR 18.4 million from the non-cash revaluation of deferred tax liabilities. Earnings per share were at EUR 1.47 (1.39). From 2018, TAKKT also anticipates a significantly lower tax ratio than in previous years in the TAKKT AMERICA segment.
For the 2017 financial year, the Management Board proposes to the Supervisory Board that an unchanged dividend of EUR 0.55 per share be paid. This would correspond to a payout ratio of 37.5 (39.5) percent and 46.3 percent without the non-cash one-time gain mentioned earlier resulting from the US tax reform.
TAKKT anticipates a stronger year in 2018 than 2017. "In Europe, we expect a beneficial market environment for our sales brands in the coming months. The picture is less clear in the USA and we continue to see uncertainty in some market segments," said CFO Claude Tomaszewski in view of the current financial year. Alongside organic growth, TAKKT wants to continue to grow through acquisitions. At the end of January, a leading British online direct marketing specialist for office furniture was acquired with OfficeFurnitureOnline. The company will become part of the newport group founded at the beginning of January in the TAKKT EUROPE segment.
TAKKT will give further details on the 2017 consolidated financial statements and assessment of future business development with the publication of the 2017 annual report on March 21, 2018.
For further information, please see the attached press release.