2018 sees existing formats renewed. In only five months Valora develops a new concept for avec that is strictly focused on the latest foodvenience and ultra-fresh products. avec also now has a regional product line - something new in small-scale retailing in Switzerland. Eight avec stores are opened in the new design by the end of 2018. Valora also announces the opening of the first avec box in spring 2019, the first cashier-free sales outlet in Switzerland. This allows Valora to offer customers 24/7 access to foodvenience and the fresh products range for the first time. In addition, in 2018 Valora revises the Press & Books retail format and opens the first branch with the new look and feel at Zurich airport. Valora also updates the k kiosk format, so it will include more fresh products and food offerings in future.
In the Food Service division, Brezelkönig sales outlets get a makeover. The new BackWerk concept is also adapted for Switzerland and the store in Winterthur reopens. Valora continues to invest in expanding pretzel production facilities to strengthen its leading position in this market. At Ditsch USA Valora manages to double capacity on the existing production line. A further line is also under construction in the USA and two more in Germany.
Valora achieves a strong operating profit in 2018, demonstrating its resilience despite the decline in the print media business in Germany. By permanently renewing its formats and range of offerings, including new services and digital solutions, the dense network of outlets and B2B business for pretzels mean Valora is very well positioned. On this basis it will continue to implement its growth strategy successfully in future.
This is helped from 1 January 2019 by the new organisation with the market and customer-focused Retail and Food Service divisions and Group-wide Shared Services. The new structure allows Valora to better capture synergies and ensure expertise is shared across the Group.
Following the completion of the transformation process in 2016 to become a focused convenience and food service provider, Valora implements its announced growth initiative in 2017. The acquisition of the franchise business BackWerk turns Valora at a stroke into the leading vertically integrated snack food provider in Germany. As a result, Valora has a much greater inner-city presence and enters the Dutch market. In the B2B business, significant developments include the acquisition of the up-and-coming pretzel producer Pretzel Baron in the US and the replacement of a production line at the Ditsch pretzel bakery in Germany.
Following the successful capital increase by CHF 166 million in autumn 2017, a bonded loan for EUR 170 million is placed on the market with attractive conditions in January 2018. This is a significant step by Valora towards the implementation of its long-term financing strategy.
In addition to various growth and investment activities, Valora continues to expand its offering of products and services. This includes new launches in the area of e-smoke and other tobacco alternatives, the introduction of the award-winning k kiosk app focusing on promotions and loyalty offers, the consolidation of the digital financial offers through the bob Finance brand, and the modernisation of Caffè Spettacolo and the avec sales outlets. Valora also plays an active role in digitisation topics as a partner of Digital Day 2017 in Switzerland and exploits new technological opportunities to improve its internal processes. In addition, Valora concludes a new Collective Labour Agreement with the Swiss Association of Commercial Employees stipulating higher minimum salaries for employees and other improvements in working conditions.
Valora makes operationally and strategically significant progress in 2017 and is on a growth path. The international expansion of Valora continues to progress and the company is even better positioned in a market shaped by a growing trend towards “foodvenience”.
With the sale of Naville Distribution and the sale of the Naville property in Geneva, Valora successfully concludes the transformation of the Group into a focused convenience and food service provider. The further optimisation of the sales point network in Switzerland and Germany and the expansion of the Ditsch/Brezelkönig retail formats remain a priority.
At the same time, we expand the integrated value chain with our own brands ok.– in Germany, Caffè Spettacolo in Switzerland and Germany as well as the increasing use of Ditsch bakery products in our own convenience stores. We also push ahead with the expansion of production capacities for pretzel and bakery products for third-party customers.
The selection of food and beverages on offer is also expanded across the entire kiosk and convenience business. For example, around 100 sales outlets in Switzerland receive Starbucks coffee machines and approximately 650 Caffè Spettacolo machines.
At the same time, various new digital offers are launched, including the Caffè Spettacolo app that allows customers to place orders while on the move and to pay via the app, the scan&go pilot project aimed at increasing transaction speeds during rush hour periods, and the establishment of a Retail Analytics team. The objective is to tailor new offers better to customer needs with simple and practical digital solutions and to increasingly position Valora as a service partner.
These numerous initiatives lay a good foundation for our medium to long-term growth plans. The strategy provides a clear focus: growth and expansion, efficiency, a performance-driven culture and innovation.
Significant strategic milestones are achieved in 2015 and operational efficiency is improved throughout the company.
The sale of the Trade division and the outsourcing of warehouse logistics in Switzerland are the last major steps of the focusing strategy. This involves Valora concentrating on the convenience and food service business with a major stake in pretzel production.
Moreover, the already large network in Switzerland is successfully expanded through Naville. Operating efficiency is improved across all core processes in Retail Switzerland and Group management as part of the Naville integration.
In Retail Germany, we succeed in strengthening the organisation and laying the foundation for future growth. The founding of the fintech company bob Finance AG is another milestone. The Valora Lab is another new creation – a digital innovation team developing digital products and services, such as the Caffè Spettacolo app.
Valora undergoes a comprehensive transformation process. The aim is to become the leading small-scale retailer at high-frequency locations and a specialist in ready-to-eat foods.
The press wholesale operation was sold last year and the Valora Trade division classified as a disposal group. These are two important milestones in the transformation. The acquisition of the small-scale retailer Naville in French-speaking Switzerland is an important step within this process. It enlarges the location network, which now covers the whole of Switzerland. This opens up exciting new opportunities for Valora.
2013 is an important year for Valora in terms of strategic measures. The focus remains on the core small-outlet retail business. The transformation of the Swiss kiosk network makes good progress. The 111 sites which were either newly built or re-designed perform well. A key attribute of these transformed outlets is their clear emphasis on food and beverages for immediate consumption. The Ditsch/Brezelkönig business continues its successful expansion and enjoys excellent growth prospects.
At Valora Services, key decisions are taken to pave the way for handing over control of the business. The division also expands its logistics services. Valora Trade begins to reap its first rewards from the initiatives taken to improve its profitability.
The acquisition of 1,300 Lekkerland subsidiary Convenience Concept retail outlets in Germany in January 2012 is a major milestone. In early 2012, Valora also purchases the outlet network operated by Schmelzer-Bettenhausen, Austria’s largest railway-station bookseller. In the autumn of 2012, Valora acquires the Ditsch/Brezelkönig group of companies, further expanding its portfolio of retail formats. The focused product range and the expansion of the location portfolio ideally complement Valora’s existing retail formats in Germany and Switzerland.
These activities enable Valora to further enhance its leading position in Europe’s German-speaking markets, establishing the Group as a leading retailer with more than 3,000 outlets in four countries. The “Valora 4 Growth” strategy programme is successfully concluded. In the future, the primary objective of the “Valora for a fast moving world” programme will be to achieve a sustained increase in profitability by focusing on Valora’s core areas of retail expertise and exploiting the Valora Group’s outstanding potential.
The integration of the German outlets acquired in 2010 into the k kiosk format continues apace and the number of k kiosk units in Switzerland adopting the agency business model also grows rapidly. By acquiring the distributors EMH in Norway and ScanCo in Sweden, the Trade division is able to add two attractive cosmetics companies to its portfolio. In addition, the purchase of niche distributor Salty Snacks Delicatessen in Germany enables it to expand into the profitable savoury baked goods category.
A number of major milestones are reached and some 80 percent of the measures under the strategic programme have now been accomplished. The next phase, the “Valora 4 Growth” strategy, is initiated in November 2010. It is based on organic margin and turnover growth in all areas and acquisition-led expansion in Retail/Services and Trade.
The programme “Valora 4 Success” has four core initiatives: focus on the core business, growth for the convenience sector, improvement of efficiency and the strengthening of our corporate culture.
Valora operates 1,404 of its own retail outlets in three European countries and supplies approximately 60,000 wholesale customers in ten countries.
Valora now has three components to its business model: small-scale retail, press & book wholesale, distribution of branded goods. It also restructures its kiosk business in Switzerland and hives off Fotolabo.
The degree of complexity in its corporate structures prompts Valora to dispose of business areas which are no longer core activities – including the traditional Merkur coffee and specialty store businesses. New k kiosk styling introduced.
Kiosk and press wholesale is expanded, initially to Germany, then Luxembourg and Austria.
Strengthening of press distribution: Valora acquires Melisa in Ticino, thus expanding its press distribution activities. Purchase of Fotolabo: Valora acquires Europe’s leading mail order film developer. The Italian coffee bar concept Caffè Spettacolo is launched in Switzerland.
From five to three divisions – Kiosk, Alimarca, Slumberland. Selecta is sold.
On 1 July 1996, Merkur Holding AG becomes Valora Holding AG. The diversification strategy aims to reduce overall exposure to market volatility and the risks borne by investors. Companies with weak profitability are replaced with higher margin firms.
The Swiss firm Alimarca AG is acquired, followed by further trading company purchases. The acquisition of the Scandinavian Consiva group in 2001 makes Valora Europe’s leading distributor of fast-moving consumer goods.
The Group acquires Schmidt Agence and Kiosk AG, whose combined Swiss outlets number 1,500.
Merkur acquires Bico, Switzerland’s leading mattress manufacturer.
Merkur acquires the Selecta Group, whose activities attain a European dimension over the next four years, with operations established in Germany, Sweden and France.
Foundation of Kiosk AG.
Numerous acquisitions in and outside Switzerland transform the face of the Group over subsequent decades.
Merkur AG expands it network to 130 outlets and acquires “Schweizerische Kaffeeröstereien”, a coffee roasting company.
A group of innovative entrepreneurs in Olten establish the “Schweizer Chocoladen & Colonialhaus”, the parent company of Merkur AG and the precursor of today’s Valora.