Chairman's Statement & Strategy

Guillaume Robin

In July 2021, we thought we would have difficulty improving on the achievements of the second half of 2020. And yet, our people have done exactly that, despite a still very complex situation. Many thanks again to them for their work and loyalty, and congratulations on these results. Over the past year, the large number of energy renovation projects in France accounted for approximately 30% of the Group’s growth, boosting our subsidiary Thermador to more than €76 million in turnover. At the same time, inflation passed on by our subsidiaries to our customers in price rises averaged 4.3%.

Although they grew by a very respectable 11%, our exports struggled to keep up with the pace recorded in France, reducing its share to 16.4% of consolidated turnover. This is partly due to exports’ high dependency on industrial activity in Europe which, despite the economic recovery, has been slowed by tensions regarding the supply of certain raw materials or components and by the difficulty of physically visiting our customers. Finally, our consolidated turnover stood at €486.5 million, well above our expectations. Likewise, our operating profit increased to 15% and net profit to 10.9%.

Our subsidiaries’ purchasing teams remained focused on managing price increases, the scarcity of containers shipped from Asia, plant shutdowns and volume increases in product categories boosted by energy renovation programmes for buildings. This is evidenced by our stock level, which has risen to 201 days of purchases consumed, compared with 142 days at the end of June 2021 and 173 at the end of December 2020. Our rigorous management of trade receivables and payables have resulted in a slightly lower WCR to that of December 31, 2019 when correlated to turnover, and a particularly healthy financial situation.

At December 31, 2021, our cash position was €27.4m, our bank debt €28.2m and our equity after earnings distributions €260.2m. We have kept to our sustainable development goals of doubling size every 10 years whilst respecting the environment and our stakeholders (see pages 10 & 11).

We have kept to our sustainable development goals of doubling size every 10 years.

In the short term, we need to take a long, hard look at the extraordinary results described above before resuming a more sustainable growth cycle. This relative caution is important, given the ups and downs of the pandemic, geopolitical tensions and the threat of a major ecological crisis. In this respect, our objectives and strategies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions are outlined on page 58 of our 2021 universal registration document, which includes our extra-financial performance statement.

A summary of our commitments over time to our key indicators appears on page 21. At December 2021, institutional investors held 48.5% of the capital, individual shareholders 40.9% and current and retired employees 7%. In line with our distribution policy and confident in our ability to meet the challenges ahead, we propose a dividend of €2, i.e. 34.8% of net profit per share.

Unless a new variant of the covid-19 virus forces us to go digital again for our AGM, it will be held on April 4 at 5pm at Hôtel Dieu in Lyon. We are counting on your presence or your votes to once again exceed the 70% participation rate, a ratio that is now part of our extra-financial objectives. If possible, we will also organise an information meeting at Salons Hoche in Paris on April 7 at 4pm.

Our strategy

Challenges 2022-2027

HUMAN RESOURCESAttract and retain talent at all levels of the Group.
Promote parity in all governance bodies.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENTMeet our objectives as set out on page 21 of this document.
Encourage and support internal initiatives for the protection of
the environment.
BUSINESSBetter understand and meet the expectations of our customers’ customers.
Increase international activity in a proportionate manner.
Continue the integration process of recently-acquired companies.
Increase our sales via digital channels.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATIONDevelop our skills and digital tools to gain operational efficiency.
Ensure the integrity of our information systems.

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.

Over 10 years, our objective is to maintain an average annual growth rate of over 7% while respecting our people, 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, to ‘get it right first time’, 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 Groupe FCPE (mutual 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.

We seek to increase our sales and logistics efficiency by:

• the continued improvement of our information systems by increasing our degree of autonomy and development capacity,

• the collection, storage, analysis and exploitation of data useful to our business by adding appropriate algorithms to our information systems,

• the gradual introduction of mechanised storage systems.

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,
• taking customer satisfaction into account at every turn,
• 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,
• excellence of logistics and operational processes,
• mastery of digital tools at their disposal,
• 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%,

• the 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, with a preference for companies located in Europe and outside France in order to better balance our domestic and export sales, laying down a few prerequisites: distribution companies close to our business model and market, a proven strategic interest, a reasonable price acceptable to our shareholders, the honesty, professionalism and involvement of the managers and management teams, control over 100% of the capital in the long term, and upholding operational excellence in the medium term.