Valora Annual Report 2019 Valora Annual Report 2019

We brighten up our customers’ day. Wherever people are on the move.

Valora Profil Valora Profil

We offer the best food and convenience concepts based on: an in-depth understanding of customers and formats, operational excellence, ongoing innovation and agility as well as optimal value creation.

Valora Brands Valora Brands

Valora Brands



avec — Modern convenience format at highly frequented locations, for example train stations or service stations, with an extensive offering of fresh food, other comestibles and regional products.


BackWerk — Germany’s largest self-service bakery with a broad and flexible range of snacks and feel-good food.


Brezelkönig — Sale of high-end lye bread products, such as pretzels, baguettes, croissants, hot dogs or selected sandwich snacks when on the move. International franchise system.

Caffè Spettacolo

Caffè Spettacolo — Italian-themed coffee bar concept with its own locations and an integrated coffee module concept for other Valora formats.


cigo — Tobacco retailer also offering press products and a range of services for people on the move.


Ditsch — Leading producer and provider of pretzels and products for immediate consumption for the retail and wholesale market with its own branch network.

k kiosk

k kiosk — Market leader in the kiosk business, mainly supplying tobacco, press and lottery products. A growing share of food as well as fresh products and expanding digital services offering.

Press & Books

Press & Books — Specialist in delivering a wealth of reading. Extensive press offering complemented by selected book titles and a range of services for people on the move.

ServiceStore DB

ServiceStore DB / U-Store — Convenience format in Deutsche Bahn or Hamburger Hochbahn locations for commuters’ everyday needs.


SuperGuud — Small, trendsetting snacking concept. The Valora format with a difference for the adventurous, urban commuter.

Own Brands

bob Finance

bob Finance — the bank-independent financial services provider offers practical financial services tailored to modern and digital requirements at fair conditions.


ok.– — the own brand with the best price/performance ratio is the trendsetting companion of young, mobile people and synonymous with a dynamic, urban lifestyle.

Foodvenience Foodvenience


Convenience as the shopping experience and as a product range combined with an ever growing fresh food selection – that is foodvenience at Valora.

[ Food + Convenience ]

Positive market environment

Recent development shows that consumers are demanding foodvenience. Convenience sales in 2018 reached a market volume of EUR 4.5 billion in Switzerland and EUR 13.2 billion in Germany. The markets grew on average by +3.7 % and +1.6 % per year respectively between 2013 and 2018.* This trend corresponds to Valora Group‘s annual growth of +3.5 % in the foodvenience categories food, non-food (excluding press, books, tobacco) and services. The food category performed at +3 % per year (excluding the BackWerk acquisition in 2017) and it accounted for the biggest share (83 %) of foodvenience external sales in 2019.

Besides highly frequented locations in the inner city and agglomerations, shopping centres and service stations, transport hubs are particularly ideal foodvenience locations. More than half a million customers visit Valora‘s sales outlets at these locations daily and they account for approximately half of Valora’s external sales.

As a result, a growing number of supermarket operators and other providers are targeting these sites. However, Valora‘s success in its core business stems from its competence and experience, which date back to its first kiosks at SBB stations over 100 years ago.

* Source: AlixPartners, 2019
Trends Trends


Three social macrotrends determine what Valora customers need: Mobility, the changing lifestyles and rapid growth of digitalisation in everyday life. As a clearly positioned foodvenience provider, Valora systematically aligns its business and offering with these trends and their resulting customer needs. Valora is where its customers want it to be, providing them with what they want whenever they want it.
The growth of passenger transport in Switzerland exceeds population growth
The growth of passenger transport in Switzerland exceeds population growth 1)


Society is becoming ever more mobile. People are permanently on the move – by road, rail or air. The boundary between private life and work, city and countryside is becoming blurred. However, daily needs are constant and must be met, even when on the move.

The growth of passenger transport in Switzerland exceeds population growth
The growth of passenger transport in Switzerland exceeds population growth 1)
Out-of-home market in Germany
Out-of-home market in Germany 2)


Lifestyles have shifted. A growing number of people live in smaller households or alone. People are more flexible with their daily routine and are more likely to eat outside the home, at different times of day, quickly consuming smaller meals or snacks.

Out-of-home market in Germany
Out-of-home market in Germany 2)
Nine out of ten adults in Switzerland and Germany own a smartphone today
Nine out of ten adults in Switzerland and Germany own a smartphone today 3)


Meanwhile digitalisation has touched all areas of life. People are always connected through their smartphones wherever they may be. The opportunities presented by new technologies fundamentally redefine the customer relationship and shopping experience by opening up new options.

Nine out of ten adults in Switzerland and Germany own a smartphone today
Nine out of ten adults in Switzerland and Germany own a smartphone today 3)
1) Federal Statistical Office, 2019
2) npdgroup Germany, 2019
3) Deloitte, Global Mobile Consumer Survey, 2018
Strategie Strategie


Each and every day, around 15 000 employees in the Valora network work to brighten up their customers’ journey with a comprehensive foodvenience offering – nearby, quick, convenient and fresh. Valora applies a multiformat strategy with eleven sales formats and more than 2 700 outlets at highly frequented locations in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The company recruits committed entrepreneurs to manage its outlets, builds on strong own brands and benefits from a vertically integrated value chain as one of the world’s leading pretzel producers.

Five strategic pillars

Valora has communicated its strategy until 2025 for the entire Group and its Retail and Food Service divisions in order to move closer to its vision of having the best food and convenience concepts. The strategy is based on five strategic pillars:

oriented Culture,


Expansion of the sales outlet network

Valora wants to pursue organic growth, including by expanding its sales outlet network.

The main focus in Retail will be on the convenience formats such as avec and ServiceStore DB, as well as k kiosk and tobacco retailer cigo where Valora also sees growth potential.

The growth driver in Food Service is BackWerk. Growth with this format will move towards new sites especially in the Netherlands and Austria as well as shop-in-shop presence.

Selective expansion is planned for the other formats.

In addition to the expansion of current formats, Valora is open to suitable acquisition opportunities in its core business of foodvenience. That may include expanding to new locations.

Expansion of pretzel production capacity

Through its integrated value chain as a pretzel producer, the Food Service division sees expansion potential in its role as a provider of pretzels to retail partners. Valora wants to further improve its strong market position in B2B business through high product quality, adequate production capacity and a strong sales and marketing team. Its main focus is on the two biggest pretzel markets in the world: Germany and the US. Particularly in the US, penetration of the pretzel market is still relatively low. Valora is aiming for annual growth in its B2B channel of up to + 10 % per year by 2025.

Increasing the offering’s attractiveness

Valora does not plan solely to increase the number of its sales outlets and increase its pretzel production capacity, but is also targeting solid same-store sales growth in the B2C area. The target is annual growth of approximately +0.5 % per year. That is why Valora will focus on optimising the current range, especially the further expansion of the higher-margin food category and the introduction of new fresh products. Tobacco is still a profit contributer, whereby alternative, potentially risk-reduced products offer interesting opportunities through growing demand and higher margins. In addition, Valora’s dense sales outlet network in attractive locations and digitalisation potential place it in a strong position to grow its service offering, for example pick-up and drop-off services or rental models.

Valora’s consumer credit provider bob Finance presents a further growth area and access channel to new B2C and B2B partners, which it will exploit through customer retention measures and new digital financial services.

Stronger position as a promotion platform

Besides growing its proprietary product range, Valora prioritises further consolidation of its position as a preferred marketing platform. Brand partners can strengthen the brand value of their products through direct contact with a broad customer base. Of particular interest in this connection are product promotions in which Valora enjoys significant market share, for example tobacco, press articles or lottery tickets.


Strengthening vertical integration

Valora’s vertical integration is a further key competitive advantage. The internal value added and earnings potential of the Valora Group are enhanced by own brands, such as ok.– or Caffè Spettacolo, and its in-house pretzel production. Own brands are a unique identifier enabling Valora to stand out from the competition and offer an alternative to classical brand products. Valora wants to exploit these strengths even more and to increase the proportion of own brands in its overall product mix. At the same time, Valora aims to establish an even clearer positioning when marketing its own brands.

More efficiency to improve profitability

Valora does not rely solely on growth, profitability is also essential to ensure sustainable financing of investments in expansion and innovation. To that end, Valora works hard to improve efficiency via the following strategic thrusts:

Process improvement through automation, retail analytics, efficient working procedures and increased cooperation within the Group enabling know-how transfer across borders, formats and topics. This also releases additional synergies and improves purchasing conditions. Ultimately cooperation is nurtured through working with pure logistics partners that are distinct from wholesale or, where it makes business sense, optimising own logistics. Logistics for fresh produce will be very important in the future. Delivery frequencies will have to increase in tandem with the growth in food and fresh food supplies. Valora and its partners are specialised in dealing with a large number of delivery locations, small quantities of goods and the inaccessibility of some sales outlets.


New food and technology concepts

Valora needs to access new income sources through innovation to remain competitive. Its objective is therefore to launch fresh food and further new concepts and products. Valora will also use new technologies to develop software-based solutions for customers and to develop its operations and organisation. In an initial phase, these solutions will support the current business, increase productivity and speed and enlarge the scope of the business model thereby increasing customer benefit. In a second phase, these solutions should be rolled out to third parties. Valora doesn’t just want to offer customers products but a convenient shopping experience as well. That is contingent on customers contributing to new solution concepts at an early stage so the company can improve its service from their perspective.

Valora is committed to continual renewal as regards its innovatory endeavours. This calls for the courage to try new approaches, plus speed and agility. Valora nurtures innovation through its internal expertise and is developing its in-house skill set for food and technological development. Valora also welcomes innovation from industrial partners and offers them, through its sales outlet network, a platform so it can work with them to pioneer new foodvenience market models.

Performance-oriented culture

More entrepreneurship, customer focus and employer appeal

Valora relies on entrepreneurial operators to implement its strategy. That is why it is Valora‘s ambition that at least 90 % of the sales outlets are managed by franchisees or agents by 2025. An agile organisation is indispensable to ensuring entrepreneurship, customer focus and innovation. Valora will therefore place more emphasis on agility going forward.

Valora wants to offer its staff an open, dynamic working environment where they can develop through future-oriented competencies, horizontally as well as vertically. The Valora competency model creates clarity regarding what is expected of employees and the contribution they can make to the successful implementation of the corporate strategy. Valora’s objective is to exploit employees’ strengths, nurture talent and enable them to take the initiative and realise ideas. They gain the required knowhow on the job and through targeted training.

Valora wants to strengthen its appeal as an employer so it can attract and retain talented people with strong potential. To that end, Valora recruits employees who fit the corporate culture in addition to having the requisite professional competence.


For people and the environment

The stakeholders of Valora rightly expect it to contribute to sustainable development as a responsible company. For that reason, Valora’s declared aim is to square profitable growth with sustainable growth by adapting its operational processes, procedures and products to the changing requirements in a targeted manner. Valora pursues a comprehensive approach to sustainability – based on the three action areas of People, Planet and Products – and is careful with its resources. In the process, the priority is fair employment conditions for all employees in the network and the promotion of talent and careers. Valora also aims to reduce its impact on the environment, implementing measures to avoid food waste, cut energy consumption and protect the climate. Finally, Valora aspires to offer environmentally friendly, fair products and healthy alternatives while also paying attention to the issue of sustainable packaging.

Operational financial targets for 2025

Valora has set itself ambitious but realistic operational targets for the period up to 2025:

  • External sales:
    +2 – 3 % per year
  • Gross profit margin:
    on average +0.5 percentage points per year
  • EBIT margin:
    on average +0.2 percentage points per year
  • Earnings per share*:
    on average +7 % per year

In the medium term, Valora expects the EBIT margin to grow to approximately 5 % in 2022. By then, the conversion of 262 SBB locations, which were successfully secured until 2030 in a tender, will be concluded. This target is in line with the long-term operational targets.

* Without extraordinary effects.
Kennzahlen Kennzahlen

External sales in CHF million

2 681

EBIT in CHF million


Sales outlets

2 733

Employees in the network

~15 000

Bakery products per year

~700 Mio.

Dear shareholders
Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Franz Julen
Chairman of the Board of Directors

We can look back on an outstanding financial year with EBIT of CHF 91.5 million, thus exceeding our guidance expectations. The EBIT margin was 4.5 %. Our retail business in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg particularly stands out with solid same-store growth versus last year. Our Food Service division was equally impressive, with record B2B sales of pretzel products. The contribution of these units offset the challenges we faced in our Swiss retail business, which was, among others, impacted by accounting effects and project costs arising from the successful SBB tender.

External Group sales were stable at CHF 2.7 billion. We are particularly pleased to see the positive impact to overall results from our sustained strategic focus on foodvenience. We achieved external sales of +2.2 % in our core foodvenience categories – food, non-food and services – mainly driven by higher food sales. These changes to the product mix in favour of higher-margin food also resulted in an increased gross profit margin (+1 percentage point to 45.2 %).

Another highlight of 2019 was the SBB tender for 262 kiosk and convenience sites in highly frequented prime locations. Valora successfully secured all the sites until 2030. A key differentiator for Valora in this process was our modernised concepts for avec and k kiosk as well as our innovativeness in the form of several new offerings. This tender was highly significant for Valora in strategic terms. We maintained our position as Switzerland’s leading kiosk operator and we can expand the convenience part of our overall business.

Michael Mueller, CEO Michael Mueller, CEO
Michael Mueller

An additional highlight was the launch of avec box, the first cashier-free convenience store in Switzerland. Following a pilot at Zurich main station, we have been accumulating further experience with the avec box in operation at ETH Zurich since September 2019. This concept is a first step towards autonomous stores, providing customers with a still more flexible shopping experience. This also testifies our innovativeness and shows how we apply digitalisation and make it tangible within our retail business.

Valora has successfully established itself in recent years as a foodveniencefocused retailer at highly frequented locations. This phase culminated in the successful SBB tender in spring 2019. Subsequently, the Board of Directors and Group Executive Management have finalised the strategy 2025. It is based on three macrotrends: increasing mobility, changing lifestyles with people consuming more when on the move and making more impulse purchases, and the rapid growth in the everyday use of digitalisation. With our focused business model we are optimally positioned to fully exploit the potential of these trends.

We are confident for the 2020 financial year as we implement our growth strategy, centred on the further growth of the food share. In particular, the conversion of the SBB sales outlets including an increased food offering and the expansion of B2B business with pretzel products will play a major role. We are accordingly investing a lot in the SBB sites and in expanding our production capacity.

The Valora Group has positioned itself extremely well in recent years and looks forward to further positive development. There are about 15 000 employees in our network who contribute daily to the success of Valora. We thank them most sincerely for that. We also depend on many longterm, reliable partners and suppliers to whom we are most grateful.

Finally, we thank you our valued shareholders. Your support and confidence enable us to continue further development of Valora successfully. We propose an unchanged dividend of CHF 12.50, gross at the upcoming General Meeting on 24 March 2020. Half of the distribution is made from available earnings and half from the reserve from capital contributions. We will do our very best to remain a reliable dividend payer for you in the future.

Best regards

Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors Franz Julen Chairman of the Board of Directors

Michael Mueller, CEO Michael Mueller CEO

“We are following a growth strategy with food as the main driver.”
Michael Mueller, CEO Michael Mueller, CEO
Michael Mueller, CEO Valora

Michael Mueller, how was the 2019 financial year for Valora?

Valora exceeded expectations with operating profit of CHF 91.5 million and an EBIT margin of 4.5 %. External sales remained stable. However, we did post +2.2 % growth in the foodvenience categories – excluding press, books and tobacco – mainly due to food sales. That is a very pleasing result that reflects our strategy.

You attracted a lot of interest with the launch of the cashier-free avec box in spring 2019.

We presented the most modern convenience store in Switzerland. It was our first step towards sales outlets enabling autonomous shopping as a complement to our current formats at selected locations. Following the initial pilot in Zurich main station, we have been accumulating further experience since September with the avec box at ETH Zurich. These tests show how we can use digitalisation to be innovative and improve the retail experience for customers.

What feedback have you had so far?

We have received very positive and valuable input. Customers particularly like the product selection and the simple and fast purchasing process outside normal opening hours. We have used the customer feedback to further optimise the app and background systems. The development is still not complete. In parallel, we are working towards auto-checkout concepts to make shopping still more convenient.

What were some other highlights in 2019?

The main story was the SBB tender. There were 262 kiosk and convenience sites on offer, not only did we secure the 231 stores we already run but we gained an extra 31 as well. In doing so, we saw off strong national and international competition and leveraged our strengths: unique experience in small-scale retail at highly frequented locations and food competence combined with our innovativeness and feel for market trends.

What was the significance of this tender for Valora?

We have now secured these important sites until 2030. That means we remain Switzerland’s leading kiosk operator. At the same time, we can really expand the convenience part of our business and increase awareness of our avec brand. The number of avec stores at SBB locations will increase when we convert the k kiosk sales outlets and, adding the new sites, grow from currently 32 to about 140 by 2021. In addition, the remaining k kiosk sales outlets at SBB locations will be completely overhauled. We plan to invest about CHF 70 million in modernisation and conversion work over the next two years and the plan is to have finished work on all locations by 2021.

“At the 262 SBB sites secured until 2030, we will convert a lot of the kiosks into convenience stores with a higher food component and we will also have more food at k kiosk.”

Rents for Valora will increase significantly.

Future rents for the convenience stores are in line with more recent comparable leases; the rents for the kiosk sites will substantially increase. However, we will convert a lot of the kiosks into convenience stores with a higher food component. We will also have more food at k kiosk. The adjusted range will have a positive effect on the gross profit margin. Besides, customer frequency at SBB stations has grown by +1.5 % on average over the past four years and is set to rise further still. That provides valuable impetus for sales growth.

What makes you so confident?

Macrotrends such as society’s growing preference for smaller households, increased mobility and the associated on-the-move consumption all support our business model. Given our dense sales outlet network at highly frequented locations, we are at the heartbeat of society, i.e. where the customers want us to be. We can meet the growing demand for fast, fresh meals and snacks through our foodvenience offering. Our new 2025 strategy is based on that. We finalised and communicated the strategy following the successful SBB tender. Having focused on our core business, we are now in a new, growth-oriented phase centred on food as the key to success.

Is the significance of food already apparent in the figures?

Food grew by approximately +3 % per year between 2013 and 2019 and the higher- margin food business has since become Valora’s main gross profit driver. It accounted for a total of 37 % of external sales in 2019 and 53 % of gross profit. We want to continue that development. We have renewed all formats in recent years, optimised the range through a higher food component and strengthened our expertise in food production. The expansion of pretzel production for trading partners (B2B) is also significant.

Valora invests a lot in pretzel production. What is your position regarding that?

We are investing about EUR 50 million in capacity expansion in Germany and the US, the world’s biggest pretzel markets. We have had a new production line in operation in Oranienbaum since October 2019. It is already highly productive and well utilised. We also increased the efficiency at our current facilities. The new line in the US has been operational since the end of 2019, in spring 2020 we will have another production line in operation in Oranienbaum. The 20 % capacity increase in Germany is necessary to meet the high market demand. When the work is done, Ditsch will operate 15 modern pretzel production lines with over 800 workers. We therefore expect a big increase in B2B sales volumes for 2020.

“Given our dense outlet network at highly frequented locations, we are at the heartbeat of society, i.e. where the customers want us to be.”

What is behind this high demand?

It stems directly from the growth in outof- home consumption. Pretzels are a convenient baked snack to enjoy when on the move. We are also tapping into new sales channels as pretzels become better known, including in the US. Pretzel production is also often outsourced as a niche in the baked goods market. Ditsch pretzels are popular, we see that for example with the 100-year anniversary we celebrated in 2019. Pretzel production in Germany increased on average by +3 % per year between 2012 and 2018, while Ditsch increased its volume on average by +10 % per year between 2012 and 2019. In our annual survey, the B2B customers again referred to the high product quality, innovativeness and advisory competence.

And how do the Valora formats benefit from the expansion in production?

In 2019, over 10 % of the 700 million pretzels we produced went to Valora formats. In future, we want to sell even more of our own products through our own formats and incorporate our innovation. That corresponds to our objective of more vertical integration in the value chain. The same principle applies to the ok.– own brand. We also want to include more of our fresh product know-how from BackWerk in other formats.

You merged the Ditsch B2C format with BackWerk organisationally in 2019. What was the outcome?

We separated the B2C Ditsch format organisationally from the production and B2B business and integrated it with BackWerk into the new Food Service Germany business unit managed out of Essen. Having completed the merger successfully, we clustered the expertise and created a platform to facilitate further growth. We also make better use of the resulting B2C synergies. We have already initiated a combined logistics platform to reduce costs and optimise purchasing conditions. An efficient logistics chain not only adds efficiency, it also helps us grow. We have increased supply chain capacity for our Food Service Switzerland business unit and integrated all the formats into one logistics operation to improve margins.

How did your Food Service business develop overall in 2019?

The Food Service division had a successful year. The B2B / Production unit posted record sales with +15.5 % growth and gained important market share. The B2C units, especially Food Service Switzerland, posted respectable same-store growth. Food Service Germany also benefited from the initial synergies following the merger and further optimised its sales network at the same time.

How about the Retail division?

Accounting effects (IFRS 16) and project costs from the SBB tender impacted the profitability of Retail Switzerland. Otherwise, following an outstanding 2018, we had lower same-store sales, especially in press and tobacco, combined with higher costs related to the new convenience and kiosk concepts. Retail Germany incl. Luxembourg and Austria, on the other hand, enjoyed solid same-store growth. Even if press products in Germany remain under pressure, the decline was less pronounced in 2019. The cost-saving programme also bore fruit and the unit made good progress in converting its own stores into franchise operations.

“With the capacity expansion of our pretzel production we expect a big increase in B2B sales volumes for 2020.”

So it was a good year in spite of Retail Switzerland?

It is remarkable that we were able to offset the challenges faced by Retail Switzerland with the positive development of Retail Germany and Food Service.

Besides press products, tobacco is under pressure as well. Why is that?

People smoke considerably fewer cigarettes these days. We do nevertheless expect tobacco to make a stable contribution to profit over the next few years. Tobacco continues to provide high frequency and sales in our stores. Our dense network of retail formats at highly frequented locations is also a popular promotion platform. Take, for example, the sale of the increasingly sought after alternatives, such as heat not burn or e-smoke products. We saw unprecedented demand for these products in 2019, but they still remain a niche within the tobacco category where they account for around 5 % of sales.

Did you also increase efficiency in Retail in 2019?

We did make the Retail division more agile by realigning the management structure. The cross-market roles were merged, which clustered important skills in category and in supply chain management, purchasing and marketing. The expansion of the agency model in Switzerland and the franchise operations in Germany will also bring more efficiency.

Were there any other organisational changes in 2019?

We strengthened the extended Group Executive Management with the addition of Monika Zander, who is in charge of the Food Service Switzerland business unit. The Valora CFO left the company for personal reasons at the end of November. We strengthened the Board of Directors by adding two people: the food-retail and franchising expert Insa Klasing and the retail and supply chain expert Sascha Zahnd, part of the Tesla leadership team. mobilezone CEO Markus Bernhard, eBay top manager Karin Schwab and Suzanne Thoma, CEO of BKW AG, will also stand for election at the 2020 Annual General Meeting. The long-serving directors Peter Ditsch, Markus Fiechter and Cornelia Ritz Bossicard will step down at the General Meeting on completion of the last strategy period.

You have been directly responsible for the digital area since 2019. How is that going?

We founded the Digital Product Development unit in the early summer. We are building our technological competence through the new unit and developing new solutions for customers, operations and organisation. Although work has already started before, the autonomous store models have taken centre stage. The team has also upgraded the k kiosk loyalty app into which other brands can be included in future. Our planning over the next three years includes investment and operating expenditure totalling in the region of CHF 20 to 25 million for digital projects. That shows how important they are to Valora.


And what about bob Finance?

bob Finance is progressing well. We need new digital product ideas to achieve more success, something like the online shop for iPhones ad Apple accessories launched at the end of 2019, which enabled Valora to expand its exclusive partnership with Apple as an Authorised Reseller.

Have you also worked on the performance culture?

We drive entrepreneurship in the sales outlets. Today, 76 % of our stores are operated by agency or franchise partners. We have maintained an ongoing, digitally supported feedback process in-house through Valora Dialog. We have also created a competency model to clearly show what is required of whom. We will incorporate that into our recruitment and development process in 2020. We want to provide our employees with a platform for continual learning and further development – that is more important than ever given the pace of change these days.

“We want to provide our employees with a platform for continual learning and further development.”

You announced that Valora would be made more sustainable. What is your position in that regard?

In 2019, we put a sustainability team together, gauged the expectations of our stakeholders, established the key themes for us and our environment and defined the measures we will focus on going forward. The priorities of People, Planet, Products fit with our corporate strategy and offer differentiation opportunities at the same time.

How is Valora expanding its network?

Besides securing the SBB sites until 2030, we extended our contract with Tamoil by ten years, thereby securing over 50 avec stores in gas stations. Generally speaking, the convenience and service station business is of interest to us and offers scope for expansion. We want to expand our network in a sustainably profitable way, particularly also for Food Service Germany. For example, we are conducting a pilot with Eurogarage, in which we are testing store-in-store models with BackWerk and Ditsch at four service station. Our expansion with BackWerk into the Netherlands and Austria is also proceeding well and we acquired the food service format SuperGuud with three sales outlets in Switzerland.

What are the main growth levers currently?

We are following a growth strategy with food as the main driver. The key growth levers are currently the conversion of the SBB sales outlets, the expansion of the B2B pretzel business and higher food sales in general. However, we also want to maintain tobacco’s profit contribution. The Services category has growth potential, albeit at a much lower level.

And how much will you invest?

We are in a bigger, growth-oriented investment cycle right now. In 2019, we spent CHF 95 million and we expect to invest in the region of CHF 110 million in 2020, mainly on converting the SBB sales outlets.

Are there any acquisitions in the pipeline?

We want to keep the leverage ratio under 2.5 x EBITDA to retain our strategic flexibility. We are in a solid financial position for further growth. Minor, complementary acquisitions are a possibility with our current credit lines. We are prepared at all levels for straightforward and rapid integrations.

What are your financial targets for the coming years?

For the 2020 financial year, we expect flat development with EBIT of CHF 85 to 91 million. In the medium term – that means including the completion of the SBB conversion work scheduled for 2022 – we anticipate a higher EBIT margin of approximately 5 %. That matches our financial goals up to 2025.

“Valora wants to remain a reliable dividend payer in the future.”

What can investors expect of Valora?

Valora wants to remain a reliable dividend payer in the future. The proposed dividend for 2019 remains unchanged at CHF 12.50, gross and our plan is to sustain the dividend level for the next few years.

EBITin CHF million 2019 91.5
EBIT marginin % 2019 4.5
Gross profit marginin % 2019 45.2
EBITDAin CHF million 2019 157.4
ROCEin % 2019 8.4
Earnings per sharein CHF 2019 18.70
External salesin CHF million 2550 2015 2574 2016 2454 2017 2731 2018 2681 2019
EBITin CHF million 55 2015 72 2016 79 2017 90 2018 91 2019
Free Cash Flowin CHF million 69 2015 73 2016 82 2017 49 2018 76 2019
Investmentsin CHF million 45 2015 49 2016 53 2017 71 2018 95 2019
Employeesnumber in full-time equivalents 4349 2015 4228 2016 4265 2017 4230 2018 3906 2019
Outletsnumber excl. independent partners at Retail Germany 2309 2015 2415 2016 2754 2017 2749 2018 2725 2019

Net revenues 1) 2)
CHF million
2 029.7
2 074.9
2 001.6
2 095.0
2 077.4
EBITDA 1) 3)
CHF million
in % of net revenues
Operating profit (EBIT) 1)
CHF million
in % of net revenues
Net profit 1)
CHF million
in % of net revenues
in % of equity
Net cash provided by (used in) 1)
Operating activities
CHF million
Leasing rates, net
Mio. CHF
Ordinary investment activities
CHF million
Free cash flow 1) 3)
CHF million
Earnings per share 1)
Free cash flow per share 1) 3)
Cash and cash equivalents 1)
CHF million
CHF million
Equity ratio
Number of employees at December 31
3 906
4 230
4 265
4 228
4 349
Net revenues per employee 1)
Number of outlets operated by Valora
1 796
1 868
1 882
1 872
1 838
thereof agencies
1 133
1 105
1 031
1 014
Net revenues per outlet 2)
CHF 000
1 130
1 111
1 064
1 119
1 130
Number of franchise outlets

All totals and percentages are based on unrounded figures from the consolidated financial statements. 1) From continuing operations 2) 2017 and 2018 revised according to IFRS 15 3) Definition of alternative performance measures in Financial Report on page 197

For reasons of comparability, 2018 figures in this report are referred to on a pro-forma adjusted basis, allowing for IFRS 16 and at constant currency rates, unless otherwise stated. See section H for details.

Valora achieved EBIT above its communicated guidance for the 2019 financial year, at CHF 91.5 million and 4.5 % margin, driven by the stronger than expected development of Retail DE / LU / AT and Food Service as well as phasing effects from the rollout of the Retail CH SBB project. The Group thus successfully concluded its first transition year after the award of the SBB tender. Group net profit grew by +35.0 % to CHF 73.7 million (+25.0 % vs. 2018 revised figures), supported by extraordinary positive tax effects in 2019 and a value adjustment for discontinued operations in 2018. This corresponds to an EPS increase of +45.3 % to CHF 18.70 (+33.8 % vs. 2018 revised figures) also benefitting from the hybrid bond replacement in 2018. Free cash flow rose by +55.1 % to CHF 76.0 million with improved net working capital more than compensating for increased investment activities, while the increase in cash flow from operating activities vs. 2018 revised figures from CHF 116.1 million to CHF 290.4 million is largely affected by accounting changes related to IFRS 16 and thus only limited comparable.

Overall, external sales of CHF 2,680.6 million (–0.0 %) and net revenues of CHF 2,029.7 million (–0.8 %) remained stable, while foodvenience categories – i.e. Group sales excluding press, books and tobacco – grew by +2.2 % and +2.9 % respectively, mainly driven by higher food sales. These improvements in the product mix were the main contributor to the increase in gross profit of +1.3 % to CHF 917.2 million and gross profit margin of +1.0 percentage point to 45.2 %. EBIT amounted to CHF 91.5 million versus CHF 96.3 million in 2018. Adjusted for special costs related to the SBB project of CHF –9.0 million, EBIT growth would be +4.4 % with a strong contribution from Retail DE / LU / AT (+32.5 %) and Food Service (+18.0 %). Return on capital employed (ROCE) amounted to 8.4 % as a result of the EBIT development (2018: 8.9 %).

In 2019, Valora achieved a major success with Retail CH being awarded all the locations put out to tender by the SBB. This underscored Valora’s position as the leading kiosk operator in Switzerland while at the same time significantly expanding the convenience share of its total business. The Group also achieved a milestone in the execution of its digital strategy with the opening of the first cashier-free convenience stores avec box and the avec X future store in April 2019 at Zurich main station.

Financially, the Retail division had a mixed 2019. At Retail CH, IFRS 16 effects and project costs related to the SBB tender impacted the unit’s profitability. In addition, lower same-store sales and increased expenses related to new concepts burdened performance after an outstanding 2018 financial year. Retail DE / LU / AT on the other hand achieved strong development through sound same-store growth with lower press decline than in recent years and savings from the unit’s cost initiatives and divisional synergies. Moreover, Retail DE made good progress in the conversion of its own stores to franchise outlets.

Food Service had an entirely successful year with attractive same-store growth, especially at Food Service CH, and record B2B sales. The integration of Ditsch B2C and BackWerk under the Food Service DE umbrella was completed including the first synergy effects from the combined platform. In addition, Food Service DE continued its strategy of network optimisation focusing on sustainably profitable locations. The B2B business achieved record sales as most production lines were fully utilised. The unit’s pretzel production capacity expansion was successfully completed: Two of three new production lines were put into operation in the USA and in Germany in the fourth quarter 2019 and the third line is expected to follow at the beginning of the second quarter 2020 in Germany.


“Today, prudent business practices that are sustainable in the broadest sense of the word are absolutely essential for every responsible company. All internal and external stakeholder groups are becoming increasingly sensitive to the quality of the working conditions behind products as well as ecological and social challenges. We accept these challenges and we aim to play our part through a consistent sustainability strategy. We are still at the start of this journey but we are making steady progress and we have big plans for 2020. We want to incrementally incorporate sustainability in our everyday business”, says Franz Julen, Chairman of the Valora Board of Directors.


Value chain

Valora’s evolution into a focused foodvenience provider has simplified its value chain. Products from suppliers, Valora's own brands and own pretzel production operation are sold to consumers (B2C) and, in the case of pretzels, to other companies (B2B). B2C customer sales take place through different formats, whereby the sales outlets are operated by Valora employees as well as franchise and agency partners and their staff. They brighten up their customers’ day, particularly at airports, railway stations and central urban locations.



The growing world population, an ever bigger global middle class, urbanisation, climate change and the accelerating effect of digitalisation: these developments affect Valora, its customers, its employees and its entire value chain. They harbour opportunities as well as challenges and increase the urgency for Valora to intensify its own sustainability endeavours. Compliance with legal requirements is the bare minimum. A responsible company looks after its employees, protects the environment, manufactures excellent products that exceed the expectations of its customers, and generates an attractive return in the process. Valora takes this responsibility seriously and meets sustainability challenges.



Valora conducted a materiality analysis in 2019 to establish a basis on which to build its sustainability strategy. Using a multi-step process, the analysis revealed the main sustainability topics from which key areas requiring action have been derived. Central elements include the impact analysis and stakeholder engagement. The procedure comprises five steps:

  1. Identification of potentially relevant topics Environmental analysis taking account of survey results and standards, including the Global Reporting Initiative, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, UN Global Compact and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  2. Topic prioritisation Stakeholder engagement and impact analysis to arrange the topics in a materiality matrix
  3. Topic validation Alignment with the corporate strategy and internal workshops with the Board of Directors and management
  4. Development of the sustainability strategy Elaboration of measures, definition of KPIs and the resulting goals is planned for 2020
  5. Implementation New measures will be initiated in 2020


In order to gain a clearer understanding of where the critical sustainability issues are in the value chain, experts carried an evaluation to assess the impact of Valora on sustainable development. This entailed dividing the value chain into three parts. Upstream includes the production of raw materials, the agricultural processes and suppliers’ production processes. The middle part covered operations: production, logistics and sales. Downstream covers the effects of covering the effects of consumption including disposal. The analysis revealed that the greatest impact is in the upstream part of the value chain. The detailed findings of the impact analysis were included in the materiality matrix.


Expectations of key stakeholder groups and megatrends


In order to better understand the expectations of different stakeholders and acknowledge new developments, direct contact was initiated with internal and external stakeholder groups as part of the materiality analysis.

Stakeholder mapping was used to identify the different groups and place them in order of priority. The selection criteria were the involvement of each group as well as the extent to which the group influences the company. Internally this involved the Board of Directors, management and employees. External groups were agency and franchise partners, investors, proxy advisors, suppliers, environmental organisations, landlords and customers.

The project team conducted individual interviews with over twenty representatives of these stakeholder groups. Reports and surveys were also used as reference material for larger stakeholder groups (the employee satisfaction survey for example). On that basis, Valora was able to acquire a detailed picture of its sustainability performance to date. The exercise also enabled Valora to gauge expectations and identify new emerging topics. The results were qualitatively assessed and incorporated in the strategic development as part of the materiality analysis. The chart above shows the key topics per group.


The impact analysis and stakeholder engagement results were summarised in a materiality matrix. The vertical axis shows stakeholder expectations of Valora, while the horizontal axis shows the size of Valora’s impact on sustainable development. The eight topics highlighted in colour in the top right were classified as material. A follow-up evaluation of the topics’ business relevance revealed that the key areas also offer differentiation potential and align most closely with Valora's five material strategic ambitions for 2025. The key topics were allocated to the three pillars People, Planet and Products, which form the core of Valora’s sustainability strategy. Having established this basis, the Board of Directors and management validated the results and further developed the sustainability strategy. Measures were elaborated for seven topics, which will be described in further detail on the following pages. The key topic of corporate culture is managed as an overarching topics, as are stakeholder engagement and innovation.

The structure of this report is also based on People, Planet and Products.

Sustainability matrix and strategy


Three action areas




The company's most important capital is the workforce, the franchise and agency partners and the employees. They represent Valora externally and ensure that customers' journeys are brightend up. They do this particularly well when they are happy and motivated at work. Work satisfaction depends on many factors including working hours, work break rules, social benefits, job security, promotion of health, diversity, equality and remuneration. Many of these topics come under the remit of the business units and HR department. Ultimately, however, fair working conditions are a universal issue and the responsibility of all managers.

Net turnover rate *
Net turnover rate *

Selected measures

Fair working conditions: Selected measures


The relatively high employee turnover rate remains a big challenge for Valora, especially during the first few months after starting the job. A detailed analysis was carried out to investigate the issue. The outcome was a systematic onboarding process included in the online training that will be set up in 2020 and consists of workshops.

The sales outlets will also be analysed as a next step. The needs of employees working in the sales outlets will be established in order to initiate targeted measures to improve their working conditions.


Talents & Careers

Talents & Careers involves offering employees attractive prospects and a good working environment so they can develop by applying future-oriented competencies. A newly defined competency model creates clarity regarding what is expected of employees and how they can contribute to the successful implementation of the corporate strategy and to their own personal further development. The model covers all Valora employees, including agency and franchise partners and their employees. Knowledge, ability and extra qualifications prepare employees for continuous change, as well as improving their professional performance, their motivation and employability.

Employee development score from the employee survey
Employee development score from the employee survey

Selected measures

Talents & Careers: Selected measures


Mandatory courses for all employees in the extended Valora network, for example with regard to youth protection, can be efficiently managed through the e-learning platform. Many attendance-based courses and programmes, Progresso gastronomy training for example, complement this offer. Agency and franchise partners benefit especially from the format-specific introduction programmes that prepare them for their role as independent entrepreneurs. However, according to the survey the employees do not feel they receive enough support, so there is room for improvement in that area.

Staff working in sales outlets will be more closely involved in future and will be encouraged through internal further training programmes, for example. The new competency model sets a framework for more systematic and dynamic talent management, which Valora now needs to develop into a more detailed concept.

Sustainability-related issues will also feature more in staff training from 2020.




According to, approximately a third of foodstuffs worldwide fail to complete the journey from farm to table. That is problematic economically as well as ecologically, especially when taking account of the entire value chain. As a retailer, Valora causes only a small share of food wastage compared to cultivation and consumption. Nonetheless, it is still very much an issue in absolute terms, especially for fresh products and sandwiches. Food waste affects Valora's in-house production of baked items and its sales outlets. Valora's food waste prevention efforts initially comprise improved volume planning in order to preempt oversupply. The next step is to sell any remaining stock at a discount or put it to alternative use, for example in biogas production.

Avoided food waste* portions in ‘000
Avoided food waste* portions in ‘000

Selected measures

Food Waste: Selected measures


The Valora Food Service formats prepare comestibles onsite in response to demand. This results in a low proportion of food waste relative to other suppliers. The main excess supply in the retail formats involves fresh products and promotions. Valora aims to exploit these measures to attain a leading position in the avoidance of food waste, details on the implementation of these initiatives will be established in 2020. One challenge is that often only minimal volumes of waste occur per location, which poses a logistical challenge, for example in making donations to aid associations. Nonetheless, the preventive “Redundancy cockpit” and the sales-promotion measures Too Good To Go and price reductions combine to form a valuable waste reduction system that Valora is now implementing.



Energy costs money and emits greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming. Two good reasons to minimise energy consumption in pretzel production, sales outlets and logistics and use more renewable energy sources. The climate impact of the supply chain is managed through measures in the “Products” pillar of the sustainability strategy. Coolers and, in some cases, ovens and air conditioning systems are the main energy consumers in the sales locations. Valora is achieving its first major energy savings from the coolers and plans to expand data collection to identify further energy-reduction levers. New and significantly less energyintensive equipment is being used for product expansion.

Energy consumption in MWh ‘000
Energy consumption in MWh ‘000

Selected measures

Energy & Climate: Selected measures


The certified energy management systems in pretzel production reliably lead to continuous and cost-efficient improvements. However, energy management is more of a challenge in the sales outlets. That is why Valora will initially only activate the first lever by introducing more efficient cooling units in 2020. Data gathering will be expanded in parallel. Other areas offering optimisation potential will be specified at a later stage following analysis of the data.



Ecological & fair products

The possibility to buy products manufactured by fair and environmentally friendly means is also something that brightens up customers’ journeys. With food in particular, the reduction of the considerable impact of agricultural processes in the upstream value chain is a priority. Valora wants to offer its customers attractive, sustainable and tasty products without patronising them. An attractive vegan and vegetarian selection would reduce the value chain’s ecological footprint to the largest extent. The social impact is also massive: in the region of 2,000 coffee farmers will profit from the planned conversion to fair trade coffee in 2020. Valora’s interest in sustainability extends beyond foodstuffs to the creation of non-food products and the extension of sharing models leads to a more efficient repeated use of the same product. Valora has the greatest influence over its own brands and products, so they are the company’s main focus.

Proportion of fair trade coffee cups in total sales with own brand coffee
Proportion of fair trade coffee cups in total sales with own brand coffee

Selected measures

Ecological & fair products: Selected measures


The almost complete conversion to fair trade coffee for all own brand coffee is a major development. There are also other products offering clear ecological benefits in the pipeline: a water dispenser and the planned sharing platform. The sustainable selection comprises occasional organic and fair trade labelled products plus vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Sustainability criteria will also be included in some tenders. An analysis based on recognised scientific methods is under way. Its findings will be used to proceed more systematically in future and focus on the main levers. Valora will then generate commensurate measures as a next step.



Healthy products are another important aspect of brightening up a journey. Although Valora continues to generate massive turnover from the sale of tobacco and sugary drinks, the company also wants to offer its customers healthy alternatives. They must have the choice of meeting their needs in a healthy way. While Valora makes its own recipes for its Food Service business and can therefore make healthy products, the influence of its convenience business mainly stems from product selection. Product development and quality management are fundamental to pretzel production.

Sales outlets with a dedicated “healthy snacks” or “healthy bars” section*
Sales outlets with a dedicated “healthy snacks” or “healthy bars” section*

Selected measures

Healthy Choices: Selected measures


The Food Service formats are especially active with healthy products and are testing improvements to their product development. The concepts are still format- specific and depend on individuals. Customer acceptance of healthy alternatives to snacks and drinks is tested most in the convenience business. Group-wide change to a healthier product offering will be more resolute over the medium term and there will be general recommendations for how to deal with additives, sugar, fat and salt.



Packaging is a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, it protects products and is important to the reduction of food waste. On the other hand, it is only used fleetingly before being thrown away. Disposal is usually laborious and can be harmful to the environment. Taking account of the resources used in producing packaging as well, there can be only one conclusion: avoid, reduce, reuse, use sustainable materials and recycle packaging. Packaging is used in production, logistics, sales and consumption. Valora has also set packaging priorities. The current focus is on avoiding packaging being given to customers, particularly plastic bags and coffee cups.

Proportion of reusable cups used for all warm drinks to go
Proportion of reusable cups used for all warm drinks to go

Selected measures

Packaging: Selected measures


Concerning plastic bags and reusable cups Valora is forging ahead. However, the most far-reaching measure, the introduction of a reusable cup system with partners, still needs time. Specific improvements are planned for packaging for the own brand ok.–. These improvements do not yet cover the full product range and extensive conversations with suppliers are required. Valora will mark a first step towards rolling out its packaging initiatives in 2020 by setting general guidelines for more sustainable packaging. The share of reusable cup use should increase from its current low level during 2020 through more discounts, greater supply and awareness campaigns.



Valora wants to embed sustainability in the company’s DNA. It has yet to achieve that. Valora is on the path to that goal and plans further information and promotion events at more than 2 700 locations. Beside training in the Code of Conduct, some employees were involved in the development of the sustainability strategy in 2019. A group of sustainability champions emerged who will assume a multiplier and expert role within the company. The new social Valora Connect intranet facilitates communication with the sustainability champions and will be used in future for broader communication on sustainability. The sustainability strategy for 2020 will be communicated within the company through an in-house campaign. Sustainability will also be integrated gradually in the recruitment process. In 2019, sustainability cases were presented to some candidates. Sustainability will also become part of the employee onboarding process in 2020.


It takes new ideas and courage to bring new products to market which go beyond incremental improvements. Valora now plans to develop these ideas in cooperation with universities and students. In 2019, a group of students spent a week working on a task set by Valora. A hackathon with a supplier is scheduled for 2020, which will also include sustainable packaging. Further talks and projects are planned with suppliers and partners to ensure joint implementation of sustainable innovations.


Stakeholder engagement will remain stable in future within the framework of the materiality analysis (see page 34). The current sustainability report will be optimised annually with extra key figures and made available to stakeholders. There will also be direct conversations with stakeholders and sustainability topics will be addressed in customer and employee surveys. Customer inquiries on sustainability issues will be systematically gathered and evaluated. Other engagement formats are currently being reviewed.