2015 sees Ringier strengthen its position as a digitalized, diversified media group

Ringier attained its business objectives for 2015, fulfilling its ambition of achieving significantly higher levels of profitability. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) advanced 16.8 percent year-on-year, to 96.1 million francs. This increase is largely attributable to the Group’s digital businesses, whose share of overall EBITDA rose to some 61 percent. Sales revenue for 2015, at 946.0 million francs, was a modest 4.3 percent below its 2014 level, reflecting exchange-rate effects and divestments. Digital activities accounted for 36.6 percent of consolidated sales revenue. Profit after tax amounted to 11.3 million francs.

– EBITDA raised by 16.8%, from CHF 82.3 million to CHF 96.1 million.

– Digital businesses contribute some 61% to 2015 EBITDA, up from just
under 50% a year earlier.

– EBITDA margin expanded to 10.2%, up from 8.3% in 2014.

– 2015 sales revenue at CHF 946.0 million. Modest -4.3% decline on 2014 figure
largely reflects currency effects and divestments.

– Digital proportion of sales revenue raised from 32.1% to 36.6%.

– Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland and Admeira joint ventures both get off to good
start in 2016.

Ringier continued to benefit from the systematic implementation of its diversification strategy in 2015, generating EBITDA of 96.1 million francs, a 16.8 percent increase on 2014. The Group’s EBITDA margin also rose, reaching 10.2 percent, versus 8.3 percent a year earlier. This positive outcome is principally due to the performance of Ringier’s digital businesses, whose share of overall EBITDA rose to around 61 percent, up from just under 50 percent in 2014, thus further strengthening the firm’s position as a diversified, digitalized media enterprise. In addition to its more than 140 print publications, the Group now operates some 160 digital platforms and more than 70 mobile applications.

Sales revenue for 2015 amounted to 946.0 million francs. This is slightly below its level a year earlier, and largely reflects the lower exchange rates applied to the results of units outside Switzerland. After adjusting for these currency effects and for divestments over the relevant period, revenue was unchanged on its 2014 levels. Revenue in Switzerland and Germany increased by 3.6 percent. After-tax profit for 2015 declined to 11.3 million francs. While this 2015 result mainly reflects the costs incurred in systematically developing new markets and products, it should also be noted that after-tax profit for 2014 also benefited from non-recurring divestment effects.

“The transformation of the media industry continues apace. Newspaper and magazines are losing readers, and they are losing advertising. This is a worldwide and irreversible trend. The objective of the diversification and digitalization strategy Ringier initiated some years ago and has been systematically pursuing ever since is to reduce the Group’s dependence on its core newspaper and magazine business. Since 2008, we have rapidly developed new sources of revenue in a variety of new business areas, ranging from digital marketplaces and e-commerce to ticketing, radio and sports marketing. That strategy has produced pleasing results. Whereas digital businesses contributed only 0.1 percent to our consolidated EBITDA in 2011, that figure has since risen to around 61 percent in 2015. Ringier is thus very well positioned to face the future.”

Ringier CEO, Marc Walder

Performance by business area:

For Ringier Digital Switzerland, 2015 was another year largely defined by the growth of the leading Swiss online marketplaces. Ringier’s digital portfolio gains its strength from its combination of established classified-advertising business models, growing e-commerce portals and investments in aspiring digital ventures.
The online marketplaces operated by the Scout24 and JobCloud groups further strengthened their leading market positions in 2015. In all its vertically integrated markets (cars, real estate and recruitment) Ringier Digital systematically developed a range of ancillary services to complement its established online classified-advertising offering.

AutoScout24.ch focused its energies on the continued expansion of services linked to the marketing of new cars. Roughly one quarter of the 160,000 or so vehicles on offer on the platform are now new cars, available for direct sale from their dealerships.
ImmoScout24.ch and Anibis.ch also continued to develop very successfully. Both portals again significantly extended their market reach in 2015, as well as substantially expanding the number of advertisements in their individual categories.

In e-commerce, the acquisition of MyStore.ch, the leading flash-sales provider in French-speaking Switzerland, enabled Ringier Digital to extend the strong position already enjoyed by DeinDeal.ch to encompass the entire Swiss market. The planned merger of these two platforms will generate major synergies, thus creating yet another local champion to complement Ringier Digital’s well established Geschenkidee.ch gift portal. Following the sale of its stake in Qualipet Digital, Ringier has withdrawn from the niche market for pet food and pet accessories.
2015 also saw the establishment of Ringier Digital Ventures AG. Its objective is to provide aspiring consumer internet start-ups with capital, media reach and business know how. The  strategy of providing these young companies with a broad range of media services has paid off handsomely. Within a short period of time, Ringier Digital Ventures has been able to build a promising business portfolio, comprising stakes in Verkaufen.chCampanda.comMovu.chWeinclub.comFoodarena.ch and Pamono.com. The company’s stated objective is to make approximately six new investments each year.

Ringier Publishing Switzerland’s titles maintained their strong market stance in 2015, continuing to enjoy high levels of acceptance among readers, users and advertisers. The Blick Group remained advantageously positioned in 2015. With 598,000 readers, Blick held its own as Switzerland’s most widely read paid newspaper title (based on MACH Basic 2016-1 data). In aggregate, Blick products were accessed by a total of 2.33 million users each week, thus reaching one in every two people in German-speaking Switzerland. The Blick Group’s web video offerings achieved particularly impressive growth in 2015, with more than 175 million videos streamed from its websites, compared to 60 million in 2014.
Among Ringier’s Swiss magazine titles, the new design for Schweizer Illustrierte and the decision to switch its publication date to Friday both had a positive impact on its subscription print run. Since June 2015, all Swiss women’s magazine titles are now produced in Ringier’s new Fashion Factory. Schweizer LandLiebe, Ringier’s country-life magazine title, continued its record-breaking performance, and now has no fewer than 627,000 readers. The Landliebe brand will be further developed in 2016, with LandLiebe courses, tours, books and more. The magazine’s editorial offices will also move from their town location to new premises in the country.

In September 2015, Ringier and Axel Springer Switzerland agreed to establish a new magazine joint venture, Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland AG, which commenced operations in January 2016. This decision clearly underscores Ringier’s continuing and substantial commitment to its publishing business. The joint venture’s portfolio encompasses all the magazines published by the two partners in German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland, plus the LeTemps and Handelszeitung newspapers. It also provides an ideal basis for developing the digital offerings of these well-known, heavy-hitting titles. The joint venture will be fully consolidated in Ringier’s accounts. From 2017, it will have its head office in the new media park in Zurich West.

On May 4, 2015, Ringier Romandie took possesssion of the new Le Temps and L’Hebdo newsroom in Lausanne. This move – and the new, closer ties to Ringier Axel Springer Switzerland AG’s weekly Handelszeitung and Bilanz titles – will enable Ringier Romandie to benefit from significant synergies in 2016.

Ringier’s printing businesses performed well in 2015. In a declining overall market, Ringier Print Adligenswil decisively held its own and achieved a pleasing set of results, principally by making the most of the 2015 elections in Switzerland. Thanks to a range of initiatives, Swissprinters in Adligenswil also exceeded its defined objectives, closing the year with encouraging results.

Despite the further improvements in their results and their increased kiosk sales, Ringier has decided to transfer its two quality German periodicals, Cicero and Monopol, to new owners via a management buyout which will come into effect on May 1, 2016. While other alternatives would have been less costly, the paramount concern for Ringier was to create the best possible conditions for the future success of the two magazines.

At Ringier Entertainment Switzerland, 2015 saw Radio Energy advance to the number-one position among Swiss private broadcasters for the first time. Between them, the three Energy radio stations in Basel, Bern and Zurich now reach 514,000 listeners every day. Energy has now established itself as a news and entertainment brand which also boasts a strong digital presence. The Energy app is installed on 2 million devices, while its Facebook following has now grown to 326,000 fans. Energy’s other strengths include the major events it hosts each year – such as Energy Air in Bern, the Energy Fashion Night and Energy Stars For Free –  and Energy Now, the TV format broadcast on ProSieben Switzerland and EnergyTV. The Energy Zurich radio station’s move to the new-look Ringier building on the Dufourstrasse has provided it not only with a state-of-the-art studio, but its own themed café bar, The Studio, as well.

Ringier Entertainment’s advertising slots on Sat.1 Switzerland performed well in 2015, helped by local content formats such as LandLiebe TVTF1 Suisse, French broadcaster TF1’s Swiss channel, outperformed the overall market. 2015 also saw new advertising contracts signed with French-language broadcasters TMC and NT1, as well as a new marketing contract with German-language channel S1 in the autumn.

Ticketcorner upheld its position as Switzerland’s most recognized digital retail brand in 2015, winning first place in Young&Rubicam’s Brand Asset Evaluator survey. Thanks to major new clients signed up in 2015, not to mention the long-standing partnerships it has already established, the firm achieved further growth in its core business, increasing its annual ticket sales to 9.6 million. 2015 also saw the launch of several innovations, including a state-of-the-art live event app for promoters, venues and clubs and a redesigned ski-pass platform, the largest of its kind in Switzerland.

InfrontRingier Sports & Entertainment Switzerland AG strengthened its position as the country’s leading sports-marketing agency in 2015. In June, the company organized the annual Tour de Suisse cycling race for the first time, while its B2RUN Swiss company runs, now staged at six venues, provided their 14,000 participants with plenty of exercise. 2015 also saw InfrontRingier revive the Swiss Ice Hockey Cup, with SC Bern as its first winning team. These matches were a major marketing success, as were the 360 Swiss Football League games played in 2015, which attracted a total of 2.3 million fans.

The Moon & Stars Festival on Locarno’s Piazza Grande again attracted audiences of more than 50,000 to its eight concert evenings in 2015, both from across Switzerland and other nearby countries.

Ringier Eastern Europe is rapidly digitalizing its businesses. In 2015, the proportion of the Ringier Axel Springer Media AG joint venture’s EBITDA generated by digital activities rose to 53.1 percent, while the digital proportion of its overall sales reached 37.1 percent. Ringier Axel Springer Media is the leading tabloid-newspaper publisher in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia. Its media output currently comprises some 300 digital and print offerings, all of which hold leading positions in their respective markets.
In Poland, the Onet online group reaches 70.6 percent of all internet users. Fakt, Poland’s best-selling paid newspaper title, and Przeglad Sportowy, the country’s only national sports daily, make Ringier Axel Springer Media AG the leading newspaper publisher in Poland. In addition, its Media Impact Polska subsidiary is Poland’s number-one marketing organization.

In Hungary, Ringier Axel Springer Media’s portfolio comprises titles which are well-positioned in their respective markets and enjoy good digitalization prospects. The focus is on women’s magazines and the tabloid press, where its titles include Blikk, Hungary’s leading tabloid brand. 2015 saw particularly strong performance by Profession.hu, the country’s number-one recruitment platform, which the joint venture acquired last year.
In Slovakia, Azet.sk is the leading online portal, reaching 82.3 percent of all internet users. The joint venture is also Slovakia’s market leader in print media, largely thanks to its family of Nový Čas brands, comprising two newspapers and four magazines. The Nový Čas tabloid newspaper is the country’s most widely read tabloid title, accounting for 39.6 percent of nationwide newspaper sales. Ringier Axel Springer Media publishes a total of nine magazines in Slovakia.

In Serbia, Ringier Axel Springer Media’s three newspapers, five magazines and their associated online offerings make it the country’s largest publishing house, both in terms of circulation and market reach. The firm’s Alo! and Blic titles also make it Serbia’s leading tabloid publisher, while their online counterparts enjoy wide popularity. 2015 also saw the launch of Media Impact Serbia, whose business model is based on that of its Polish marketing counterpart.

2015 was a very successful year for Ringier Romania, which actively pursued a number of digitalization initiatives. As a result, the leading Libertatea.ro tabloid platform has advanced to become the most popular website in Romania, while Unica.ro is now the country’s leading women’s lifestyle portal. The firm’s online classifieds business is also doing well. The Ejobs.ro recruitment platform strengthened its market position in 2015, while 2016 has also seen the addition of Imobiliare.ro, Romania’s leading real-estate domain, to the portfolio.

Ringier Africa achieved further impressive growth in all five of its national markets in 2015. Not only did the firm increase its revenue by 250 percent on its 2014 levels, it also further strengthened the leading positions that its existing platforms already enjoy, thus propelling all its websites to the number-one or number-two position in their respective markets. Ringier Africa, which now employs a staff of 250, also added a number of promising new products to its portfolio during 2015.

In 2015, Ringier Asia focused its attention on modernizing its operations and on strengthening and consolidating its position as a digital media company. Following the sale of individual businesses in China and the Philippines, Ringier can now concentrate its efforts on its key activities in the Chinese and Vietnamese markets. A highlight for Ringier in Asia in 2015 was the launch of its Duwun.com.mm news portal in Myanmar, its first foray into the media landscape of that country.

Key financial data Ringier AG

 2013CHF million2014CHF million2015CHF million
Total Turnover by Region1026.3988.5946.0
Switzerland and Germany595.5611.1632.8
Print Switzerland115.2110.1109.2
Central Europe289.5241.1183.9
Asia and Africa26.126.220.1
EBITDA Margin12.0 %8.3 %10.2 %
Annual Profit after Taxes26.521.411.3

Ringier AG, Corporate Communications