Berner celebrated a special milestone in 2018. Last year marked 135 years since our Norwegian founder Sören Berner went into the herring import business in Helsinki and subsequently expanded his company’s operations to include the wholesale and agency business. It was also a jubilee year for our two iconic rubber boot brands, with Nokian Footwear reaching the venerable age of 120 years and the Hai brand celebrating its 50th anniversary.
We expanded and developed our operations
In 2018, there were no big changes in Group’s turnover and result compared to the previous year. We recorded an operating profit of MEUR 15.6 on turnover of MEUR 315.9.
In line with our strategy, we also pursued growth through acquisitions. In the summer, we acquired the business operations of the magnesium chemicals producer Catrock Oy and its subsidiary located in Kokemäki. Our new subsidiary Berner Chemicals will further develop the production of magnesium chemicals in Kokemäki, complementing the service portfolio of our Berner Agency business area.
I am very pleased that we have been able to establish our position in the agricultural trade. We practically started from scratch in 2015 when we launched online and direct sales to farmers. Last year, we continued to develop our operations in this area by combining the production input and grain sales organizations of Farmer’s Berner and Avena Nordic Grain Ltd, which is part of the Apetit Group, to create a joint organization called Farmer’s Avena Berner. The business model is similar to Gullviks that is our agricultural trade unit in Sweden.
We also began the systematic development of our supply chain management in 2018.
Growth and renewal in our domestic brands
Berner is known among consumers for its Finnish brands manufactured in Heinävesi. XZ remains the best-selling brand of shampoo in Finland and it enjoys strong consumer trust. LV had a record year in terms of sales and the brand renewed its communications, while Herbina was given an entirely new brand identity. We also found a new use for our Rajamäen spirits vinegar in the new Heti family of cleaning products and laundry detergents, which have vinegar as the active ingredient.
Continued development of responsibility
In today’s world, responsibility must be a core component of business operations, integrated into day-to-day operations and decisions. Late last year, we joined the UN Global Compact initiative to mark our commitment to promoting responsible ways of working in all of our operations and in every country we operate in. We have also joined the S Group’s Big Deal climate campaign by making a commitment to reduce emissions. Responsibility is also a key consideration in our product development and packaging decisions. Our new Heti product family, for example, is packaged in bottles produced from recycled plastic.
In 2019, the focus of our responsibility efforts will be on building a strong foundation. As part of this, we will survey our stakeholders to determine what are the most material aspects and themes of Berner’s responsibility from their perspective.
Toward the next full century
Our company and many of our brands have a long history behind them. Naturally, there have been many changes over the years. Nevertheless, many things have also remained unchanged since our early days. The pursuit of new business opportunities, being a diversified company and the continuous development of operations are key elements of Berner’s business to this day. None of these goals can be achieved without motivated and committed employees who are inspired by new initiatives
I want to take this opportunity to thank our employees, customers, partners and owners for their contribution to our success in 2018. I look forward to continued strong cooperation in the future.