Chairman's Statement & Strategy

Guillaume Robin

Guy Vincent, founder of Thermador, resigned from his position as Director on January 28, 2020, bringing to an end an extraordinary professional commitment spanning more than 50 years. We would like to express our immense appreciation to him for having initiated this human adventure, created the foundations for our corporate culture, shared the profits of a vast collective effort and ensured the longevity of our group, which currently employs 600 people.

We ended FY 2019 with net growth in Q4, improving still further our cumulative performance. In spite of the dip in the French market for new house builds and protest movements which undoubtedly disrupted business at the beginning and end of the year, the group’s growth to constant scope reached a wholly satisfactory 8.3%. The addition of Rousseau’s turnover for a full year reflects an 18.5% increase in consolidated turnover, now up to €368.8m.

We forecast reasonable growth for the next decade.

We would like to thank our subsidiaries’ staff and management teams for their commitment, professionalism, reactivity and discernment in an environment where each unforeseen event has to be converted into an opportunity.

Our export activities with Syveco, Sodeco, FGinox and Ets Édouard Rousseau accounted for 19.2% of our 2019 turnover. We pursue our efforts to reduce the risks of our high exposure to domestic markets.

The onboarding of Ets Édouard Rousseau, acquired on 31/12/2018, continues with the appointment of Laure Empereur as CEO on January 1, 2020. We have recently welcomed the Distrilabo team from Alsace, and look forward with enthusiasm to working together, ready to roll out our commercial synergies. Finally, we expect to complete the acquisition of Thermacome before the end of the first semester. The company reported turnover of €20.2m in 2018. This transaction would round off a series of acquisitions begun in 2015, and would herald the onset of a two-year period dedicated to synergies and operational efficiencies. However, we do remain open to further acquisition operations that neither exceed €5m nor take up too much time.

Our trading profit progressed 8.6% (8.2% to constant scope), curbed by an unfavourable euro-dollar exchange rate during the first half of the year. We also note the sale of the French side of the Sodeco business, which had exceptionally generated €525,000 in 2018. The lower tax rate improves still further our net profit, to €32.4m.

Our teams increased their efforts to improve stock rotation, resulting in a drop of 22 inventory days (purchases consumed). On December 31, 2019, our net cash position was €32.3m, our bank debt €41.7m, and our equity situation €203.2m after appropriation of net income. This low level of debt allows us to look ahead with equanimity.

Our excellent commercial results in 2019 will clearly not be repeated in 2020 because of the very beneficial effects of the Tax Credit for Energy Transition on some of our business areas. This tax incentive will be notably reduced in 2020, which will obviously have a substantial impact on our subsidiaries Thermador and Isocel. Ready to face up to unforeseen events linked to our business fields, we forecast reasonable growth over the next decade overall. We provide more detail on this objectives and strategy on page 10 of this document.

2019 was marked by a drop in trading volumes for Midcaps in general and for Thermador Groupe in particular. In spite of that, we were able to re-classify a block of 5.4% of our capital in the space of two hours (cf. our press release of October 9th 2019). At the time of our most recent TPI (identifiable bearer share) in December 2019, institutional investors held 47% of the group’s capital and private shareholders 34%. Faithful to our distribution policy and in keeping with the long-term evolution of our results, we are offering a dividend of €1.80, up 2.9%.

Our Annual General Meeting will be held in Lyon on April 6 at 5pm at Hôtel Dieu. We count on your attendance or votes to exceed the 70% participation threshold, a symbolic indicator illustrating the vitality of this democratic body. We are also organising an information meeting in Paris on April 21 at 4pm at Salons Hoche.

Our strategy

Challenges 2020-2025

  • Attract and keep talent at every level of the Group.
  • Continue the integration process for recently-acquired companies.
  • Develop digital tools to gain in operational efficiency.
  • Develop our digital skills and tools so that our products can be sold via digital channels.
  • Foster and support internal initiatives to protect the environment.
All about strategy

Thermador Groupe owns, controls, groups together and drives companies distributing:
• materials and accessories for fluid circulation in buildings and industry,
• large tooling for the retail and pro markets.
Our objective is to pursue growth at a similar pace to that of the past ten years whilst respecting our employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, other stakeholders and the environment. We continue to prioritise trust, transparency, simplicity, sobriety and conviviality in human relations, whilst continuing to be highly demanding and alert to the best possible efficiencies.
We ask everybody to work well and do things properly, so as not to have to do them again. We want to offer our staff excellent working conditions and coherent, fixed earnings. Some of the profits are shared in the subsidiaries. The Thermador FCPE trust fund is the Group’s incentive tool.
We expect our executives to perform highly, to be exemplary, communicate effectively and be primarily driven by the collective interest. Our choice of opening up our capital very broadly imposes upon us the obligation of satisfying our shareholders through exemplary communication, management and behaviour, regular results and dividends, a high level of transparency and flawless accountability.
We continue to pursue a determined policy to ensure that our employees and executives own a substantial share of capital.

Our model

Our model involves a high-performance information system, large amounts of stock and suitable buildings we are able to own thanks to our very solid financial structure, which we must continue to defend.
The model relies on specialist commercial subsidiaries performing sales, marketing and logistics in their geographical areas, and with the customers and distribution channels agreed with their manufacturing partners. Their purchasing price and cost control policies ensure good profitability whilst keeping them competitive. They are differentiated by:
• The stability, quality and commitment of their staff,
• The breadth, depth and incessant adjustment of product ranges,
• Permanent, high-performance sourcing,
• Product expertise in after-sales service,
• Efficiency and consistency in after-sales service,
• The excellence of the information system, logistics and operational processes,
• The pertinence of information sent to the market to effectively feed the digital channels,
• An ability to adapt and innovate.
Executives have substantial autonomy as to the conduct of their business activities and man-management.

Our growth

We can act on several levers to ensure our growth.
Organic growth. Each subsidiary acts on three levers to develop sales through:
• The development of market share for product ranges where it is below 30%,
• Price increases where market conditions allow it,
• Extension of product ranges without ever competing with another subsidiary of the Group.
International. From France, we focus on markets that are accessible to our logistics organisation and product ranges for which we have a competitive advantage. Subsidiaries physically present abroad apply the conventional levers of organic growth.
Creation of subsidiaries. This is possible in a segment that is close to what we do already, as long as we can find the men and women to lead the project and the industrial partners to provide the basic offer.
External growth. We study opportunities by fixing a number of prerequisites: distribution companies which work in a way that is compatible with our model and our market, a proven strategic interest, a reasonable price which is acceptable to our shareholders, honesty, professionalism and commitment of the executives and management teams, 100% control of capital in time, upholding of operational excellence in the medium term. We announced a break in 2020 and 2021 on operations that are time-consuming or above €5m so that our resources can be dedicated to implementing synergies and operational efficiencies.