Diversification strategy enables Ringier to achieve good 2013 results

In 2013, Ringier increased its EBTIDA by 23.7 percent to CHF 123.1 million. Group revenue was CHF 1,026.3 million. The proportion of this generated by the Group's digital businesses increased to 25.7 percent. Despite this, Publishing, the Group's traditional core business, remained its principal source of revenue. The profitable acquisitions made in recent years, the positive performance achieved by the Group's Swiss magazine titles, its systematic initiatives to build strong digital portals for its successful print brands and a variety of restructuring measures all played their part in the good set of results Ringier achieved.

  • EBITDA increased by 23.7 percent to CHF 123.1 million (CHF 99.5 million in 2012).
  • EBITDA margin raised to 12.0 percent (9.1 percent in 2012).
  • Share of overall Group revenue generated from digital businesses substantially increased to 25.7 percent (18.3 percent in 2012).
  • Excellent performance by JobCloud and Swiss magazine titles.
  • Investments in recent years total CHF 1.4 billion, principally in digital growth businesses.
  • 7,427 employees in 14 countries, with 2,681 working in Switzerland and Germany.
  • Operating costs cut by 9.6 percent.

The Ringier Group’s diversification strategy is bearing fruit, as evidenced by the 23.7 percent increase in EBITDA, to CHF 123.1 million. In interpreting these figures it should be remembered that a number of positive one-off effective increased the Group’s earnings, both at the EBITDA and the net-profit level, in 2012. Adjusting for those one-off factors, the year-on-year increase in Ringier’s EBITDA between 2012 and 2013 was an impressive 49.5 percent.

Ringier’s investments in digital businesses – with its 2013 acquisitions of JobCloud in Switzerland, Onet.pl in Poland and eJobs.ro in Romania – paid off particularly handsomely in 2013, as did its systematic initiatives to provide its strong print brands with effective digital portals. As a result, the proportion of overall Group revenue generated from digital businesses increased to 25.7 percent in 2013, up from 18.3 percent in 2012. This represents a year-on-year increase of 32.8 percent between 2012 and 2013.

The Group’s Swiss magazine titles continued to make substantial bottom-line contributions. Ringier’s 2013 results were also substantially boosted by the various restructuring initiatives it carried out and the concentration of all Swissprinters’ activities at one site in Zofingen.

Ringier AG’s Group sales for 2013 came in at CHF 1,026.3 million, compared to CHF 1,087.6 million in 2012. This modest 5.6 percent decline reflects the streamlining of the Group’s business portfolio, most notably the consolidation of Swissprinters’ operations at one site and the systematic emphasis on high-yield business areas.

On the costs side, the focusing of the business portfolio and disciplined cost control in all 14 national markets in which the Group operates had a significant positive impact on operating expenses. Activities generating low yields were systematically reorganized.

In the words of Ringier CEO, Marc Walder, “The investments of some CHF 1.4 billion we have made in recent years, principally in digital growth businesses, are reflected in the pleasing set of results we have achieved. Our strategy of diversifying into the digital and entertainment businesses in order to tap into new and sustainable sources of revenue is bearing fruit. Our traditional publishing business continues to make a substantial contribution to the good results we are generating. We will drive the digitalization of our business forward, our innovations will continue to attract attention and we will play an active role in shaping the structural transformation of the media industry.”

Ringier Publishing’s traditional print businesses remain successful

Ringier Publishing Switzerland, the Group’s traditional core business with its strong publishing brands, remains the kingpin of the business, holding its own in challenging market conditions by increasing its profitability, investing in its journalism and delivering numerous innovations. 2013 saw the successful creation of Ringier Publishing Media, a marketing unit jointly serving the Blick Group and Ringier’s magazine titles in German- and French-speaking Switzerland.

Every week, some three million people now read Blick, Blick am Abend or SonntagsBlick, visit the Blick.ch or Blickamabend.ch websites or use one of the Blick Group’s numerous apps. With a current daily readership of 720,000, Blick is by far the most widely read paid daily newspaper in Switzerland. Along with its magazine, SonntagsBlick reaches a total of 1,077,00 readers, while each edition of Blick am Abend, now in its fifth year, is read by 779,000 readers, the highest it has achieved so far. The number of people visiting the Blick.ch website grew by 18 percent in 2013, to reach 1.8 million per month. As a result Blick.ch is now also making a substantial financial contribution to the Blick Group. By opening an office in the United States, Blick has now established a direct link from its Zurich newsroom to California. Blick am Abend, Switzerland’s only evening newspaper, successfully launched its own online portal in 2013, with a strong focus on social networks and users accessing the site from smart phones.

Ringier’s Swiss magazine titles again managed to outperform the excellent results they had achieved the previous year, thus significantly contributing to Ringier Publishing’s good 2013 results. In 2013, more than 50 individual magazine titles were published under the Schweizer Illustrierte and SI Style umbrella brands. Schweizer LandLiebe also achieved remarkable success. Its paid print run has now increased to 130,000 copies and in 2013 it also extended its brand footprint to encompass LandLiebe Radio and LandLiebe TV. Well-established titles such as GlücksPost, with its 411,000 loyal readers, also continued to perform successfully.

In French-speaking Switzerland, L’Illustré executed a successful relaunch, maintaining its position as the most widely read magazine title in its market, with 339,000 readers. In its third year of operation, Ringier’s marketing unit for the Swiss advertising slots on French TV broadcaster TF1‘s Swiss programming achieved a new record of 1,300 campaigns, substantially contributing to the good performance of Ringier Romandie. (The circulation data above is sourced from WEMF MACH Basic 2014-1 surveys)

Ringier Print Adligenswil managed to gain additional third-party contracts for its newspaper-printing operations in 2013, as well as selling its facility site. Despite the sale, Ringier will maintain full responsibility for the printing plant itself. Swissprinters in Zofingen also held its own. Having concentrated all its activities at one site in 2012, Swissprinters is now well placed to operate competitively in current market conditions.

With its Cicero and Monopol titles, Ringier Germany maintains a stable market presence. Substantial emphasis was placed on developing an in-house marketing capability in 2013, while a reorganization in the autumn created even closer links between the German and Swiss businesses.

Ringier Entertainment focuses its activities and further develops its portfolio

Ringier Entertainment significantly increased its earnings in 2013. Ticketcorner, Ringier’s 50:50 joint venture with CTS Eventim AG, Europe’s leading ticketing-services provider, continued the successful trend established in prior years.

Energy Zurich, Energy Bern and Energy Basel maintained their position as the undisputed number-one radio stations in the fiercely competitive market for listeners aged between 15 and 49. Through its three radio stations, Energy reaches more than half a million listeners every day. In addition to its existing events, such as Energy Stars For FreeEnergy Movie Night, its Energy Live Sessions and the Energy Fashion Night, in 2014 the company is planning to stage a major summer open-air concert in German speaking Switzerland and an indoor music event in French-speaking Switzerland.

Ringier Entertainment launched LandLiebe Radio in December 2013, and since spring 2014 LandLiebe TV has also been broadcast on Sat.1 (Switzerland). In the television arena, Ringier again achieved pleasing results from its interests in Sat.1 (Switzerland).

In December 2013, Ringier sold its interest in AIO Group AG to Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG), the majority shareholder. While this means that Ringier no longer has a stake in Good News Productions AG, it maintains its ownership of the Moon & Stars Festival in Locarno. In future, Ringier Entertainment’s focus will be concentrated on this, as well as on Energy Group events and the classical-music concerts hosted by The Classical Company.

InfrontRingier Sports & Entertainment Switzerland AG expanded its market position as Switzerland’s leading sports-marketing organization in 2013. From autumn 2014, InfrontRingier will host the Swiss Ice Hockey Cup and will also market the Tour de Suisse cycling race from 2015 onwards. A major current achievement for the firm is its successful marketing of VIP hospitality packages for the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Ringier Digital posts strong growth thanks to its focus on core activities

Ringier Digital is becoming an increasingly important part of the Ringier Group. Its strategy of focusing on online marketplaces, online marketing and online retailing as its three core activities is paying off. Ringier Digital achieved an impressive set of results in 2013, increasing its sales by 42.2 percent and significantly enhancing its profitability. Across the Ringier Group as a whole, the proportion of aggregate revenue generated by digital businesses increased to 25.7 percent in 2013.

In its online-marketplace activities, Ringier Digital made further very pleasing progress both with the JobCloud AG classified platforms it had purchased in conjunction with Tamedia the previous year and with the car and real-estate platforms grouped together under the Scout24 banner. Ringier Digital has been the sole owner of the Swiss Scout24 companies since January 2014. Within the space of only six years, this transaction has enabled Ringier to establish itself as the leading player in Switzerland’s online classified-advertising market.

DeinDeal, whose sales grew by 25 percent in 2013 and which now has more than 650,000 registered users (up 23 percent on 2012), is by far the largest player in Switzerland’s group-buying market. Geschenkidee.ch (with a current product range of 1 million items, 700 coupon-based offers and 4 million visitors to its website each year) extended its market offering with the launch of Parfumidee.ch (which currently carries 20,000 products online) as well as strengthening its market presence in French-speaking Switzerland and establishing subsidiaries in Germany, Austria and France. Qualipet Digital AG (whose online product range currently comprises 21,000 items) succeeded in further developing its leadership position in the market for pet food and accessories. cash zweiplus is also on track and has increased its client base thanks to the introduction of a flat-rate tariff for online trading.

Ringier Eastern Europe performs successfully in challenging market conditions

Romania’s media industry is an extremely tough environment, as evidenced by the fact that some players became insolvent during 2013. Viewed against that backdrop, the positive results achieved by Ringier Romania are all the more pleasing. Despite declining advertising volumes, the company was able to maintain its revenues at 2012 levels.

The Libertatea daily newspaper remains Ringier Romania’s flagship publication thanks to its current readership of 468,000 and the earnings it generates, while the libertatea.ro online platform, which attracted 3 million unique visitors in February, consolidated its position among Romania’s leading news websites. Thanks to its Libertatea pentru femei (with 351,000 readers) Ringier Romania remains the country’s leading publisher of women’s magazines, while its Romanian edition of Elle (with 90,000 readers) remains the leading magazine title at the luxury end of the market.

Ringier Hungary’s star publication, the daily newspaper Blikk, strengthened its leading position in the country’s newspaper market with a circulation of 143,596, nearly double that of its nearest rival. Népszabadság (with 201,500 readers) remains Hungary’s leading quality newspaper, and the sports daily Nemzeti Sport (with 228,000 readers) also performed well in 2013. A new venture for Ringier Hungary in 2013 was its debut in the TV production arena, where its reality TV show Cover-Girl, created by a team from its hot! magazine title, attracted encouraging attention from viewers, as did its celebrity TV format Sztárkoktél.

Provided approval is obtained from local regulators, a portion of Ringier’s Hungarian business portfolio will be transferred to Ringier Axel Springer Media AG in 2014 while the remainder will be sold.

Ringier Axel Springer Media AG systematically digitalizes its portfolio

Central and Eastern Europe remain key markets for Ringier. Ringier Axel Springer Media AG, the joint venture owned by Ringier AG and Axel Springer SE, continued to pursue its digitalization strategy in 2013 as well as further reconfiguring its business portfolio.

With the launch of Media Impact Polska, the joint venture has created the country’s largest advertising-marketing organization. Based on their sold circulation, Ringier Axel Springer Media’s Polish daily newspaper titles have a market share of more than 40 percent. Their Onet.pl group reaches 69.7 percent of Poland’s internet users.

In its other national markets, Ringier Axel Springer Media is also a market leader in tabloid-newspaper brands, as demonstrated by the 950,000 people currently reading Blic, its Serbian tabloid title.

In Slovakia, the joint venture’s Azet online portal is visited by more than 80 percent of internet users.

Ringier Axel Springer Media AG successfully sold its businesses in the Czech Republic to two local entrepreneurs. The transaction reflects the joint venture’s systematic emphasis on digitalizing its businesses.

With the portfolio of businesses it has now established, Ringier Axel Springer Media AG is one of the leading multi-media groups in Central and Eastern Europe.

Five Ringier Africa platforms achieve leadership in their respective markets

Ringier currently operates in four African countries, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. In Kenya, its Rupu platform has established itself as the leading online retailer in East Africa. The platform is modeled on Ringier’s DeinDeal concept, which has also been successfully deployed by the company’sTisu portal in Ghana. In Nigeria, the online news platform Pulse, based on the Blick.ch model, is achieving impressive growth, while in Ghana allsports.com.gh has now advanced to become the country’s leading sports portal. Of the seven platforms Ringier operates in Africa, five have already become leaders in their respective markets. Expat-Dakar.com, for example, is now by far the most popular classified-advertising portal in Senegal and is already generating a profit.

Ringier Asia achieves satisfactory 2013 results in a difficult environment

Thanks to its ongoing efforts to streamline processes, Ringier China was again able to report a good set of results for 2013. This performance was essentially driven by its English-language magazines and internet/mobile platforms City Weekend in Beijing and Shanghai (with 120,000 copies sold every two weeks), Shanghai Family (with a monthly circulation of 30,000and the shanghai expats digital platform (which generates 6 million page views each month). While Betty’s Kitchen, a local adaptation of the Betti Bossy magazine format, held its own with 600,000 readers each month, it did not quite meet its projected targets. 2013 was a very difficult year for the luxury-goods industry in China and Vietnam, with some advertisers cutting their marketing budgets by as much as 50 percent. This downturn had a particularly marked impact on Asia Inflight, Ringier China’s inflight magazine with a 2013 circulation of 350,000) and the Vietnamese edition of Elle, with a 2013 monthly circulation of 20,000.

Good results were achieved by Ringier’s Asian real-estate platforms, Mua Ban Nha Dat in Vietnam (which currently features 638,000 properties) and My Property in the Philippines. Both are leaders in their respective markets.

Ringier AG, Corporate Communications