DIRECTORS’ REPORT – THE GROUP

Duni is one of Europe’s leading suppliers of inspiring table setting concepts and creative packaging solutions for take-away. The Group’s strong position has been achieved by focusing on food, people and design and the ambition to always help the customer create a positive food and drink experience. A combination of high-quality products, a well-reputed brand, established customer relations as well as a strong local presence in most European markets have resulted in Duni being a market leader in Europe. Operations are conducted within four business areas: Table Top, Meal Service, Consumer and New Markets.

The Table Top business area offers Duni’s concepts and products primarily to hotels, restaurants and catering, and companies in the health and care sector. Table Top mainly markets napkins, tablecoverings and candles for the set table. Duni is a market leader within the premium segment in Europe. The business area accounted for approximately 53% (54%) of Duni’s net sales during the year.

The Meal Service business area offers concepts for meal packaging and serving products for e.g. take-away, fresh ready-to-eat food and various types of catering. The business area’s customers are mainly take-away-driven restaurants, food producers, and companies in the health and care sector. As a niche player, Duni enjoys a leading position within this area in the Nordic region and has a clear growth agenda for identified markets in Europe. The business area accounted for approximately 16% (16%) of Duni’s net sales during the year.

The Consumer business area offers consumer products primarily to the retail sector in Europe. The business area’s customers mainly comprise grocery retail chains, but also other channels such as specialty stores, including garden centers, home furnishing stores, and DIY stores. The business area accounted for approximately 23% (24%) of Duni’s net sales during the year.

The New Markets business area offers Duni’s attractive quality product concepts and table setting concepts, as well as packaging solutions, focused on new markets outside Europe. In addition to customer segments such as hotels, restaurants and catering, the business area also aims its offering at the retail sector. The acquisition of 80% of Sharp Serviettes (United Corporation Ltd) in New Zealand, which was conducted in May 2017, was integrated during the year and is a part of New Markets. The business area accounted for approximately 7% (5%) of Duni’s net sales during the year.

PRODUCT AND CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT

Within product development, Duni’s work involves new designs, form and color schemes, as well as new materials and product solutions. Duni focuses on product and concept development, and possesses a unique strength within form, design and functionality. Duni’s innovation process is characterized by the ability to quickly and flexibly develop new collections, concepts and products that create a clear added value for the various customer categories in the market.

Designs for Duni®

Designs for Duni® was created in 2013 to strengthen the Duni brand as an innovative player. This is a unique concept whereby Duni develops products in cooperation with well-known European designers and design houses. The concept positions Duni as a leading design partner at the retailers. This strengthens Duni’s range while making Duni more attractive in the market and increasing the degree of innovation. Over the years, Duni has collaborated with the likes of the Melli Mello design house, Harald Glöökler and byGraziela in Germany, Vallila in Finland, and sisters Lisbet and Gocken Jobs in Sweden. In 2017, Duni launched the Amazonica collection, which is the result of a design collaboration between Duni and the design duo Bernadotte & Kylberg. Amazonica is an innovative and stylish collection of disposable plates, bowls, cutlery and napkins. The collection is made of environmentally-sound and plant-based materials like bagasse and CPLA, and is also falls under Duni’s ecoecho® range.

CONTINUOUS INNOVATION

Products in the Duni ecoecho® premium range are manufactured from innovative materials with a clearly improved environmental profile compared with the standard product range. Focus is placed on aspects such as resource efficiency, renewability, compostability, and responsible forestry.

Ecoecho® includes, for example, products made from the environmentally-sound material bagasse, as well as an entire compostable range of single-colored napkins carrying the OK Compost® ecolabel.

Duni has a number of products that are an alternative to linen. The table cover material Evolin® combines the look and feel of textile and linen table covers with the advantages of single-use products. Evolin® is aimed at restaurants and catering firms that perceive an advantage in using linen-like single-use material.

MARKET DEVELOPMENT 

Global economic prospects are one of the main indicators as regards growth on the HoReCa market. Broad economic growth is positive for the industry. It stimulates consumption within the HoReCa sector, as well as demand for single-use products. The long-term trend continues to point towards an increasing number of restaurant visits and an increase in the number of hotel nights, driven mainly by increasing urbanization, changed consumption patterns and a lifestyle trend whereby meals are increasingly consumed on the go. New restaurant concepts, such as ready meals in grocery stores, take-away and fast service restaurants, are continuing to increase and gain ever larger market shares. After several years of stagnating economic growth, consumers in the mature European markets are showing greater interest in seeking value, and HoReCa companies are competing harder to attain an even greater share of the total mealtime market. On the customer side, continued structural changes are taking place within the restaurant industry, with restaurant chains that operate under joint brands growing at a faster rate than the market in general. This is a development that favors Duni’s sales of customized concepts.

Duni’s product category in the retail trade focuses primarily on low-price products and private labels. Distribution of parts of the category has also expanded into new channels, such as gardening centers, home furnishing stores and DIY stores.

Another sector of the market comprises the serving of food to companies and institutions. It is primarily the care sector that is taking larger share of the segment, and the market has experienced stable growth in recent years. Here, there is clear potential for Duni to create growth.

PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE

The HoReCa industry is greatly influenced by lifestyle changes and trends. Long-term demand is being driven primarily by greater purchasing power combined with changed habits, including an increased proportion of meals being eaten outside of the home. Demand for brand-profiled and environmentally-sound single-use products is also increasing. Furthermore, the trend towards increased accessibility and convenience connected with meals is continuing, and thus the take-away alternative is continuing to grow. This trend is reinforced by the increase in the number of single households and the fact that urbanization is continuing. The number of restaurant chains that wish to profile their brands through single-use products is also increasing, and this is an area where Duni is well positioned.

REPORTING

The annual report covers the 2017 financial year. “Preceding year” refers to the 2016 financial year. Duni controls its operations based on what Duni refers to as operating income. “Operating income” means operating income before restructuring costs, non-realized valuation effects of currency derivatives, fair value allocations and amortization in connection with business acquisition. For the bridge between EBIT and operating income, see the table below.

Restructuring costs amounted to SEK 0 m (-10). Restructuring costs were incurred for efficiency improvements in marketing and sales. In addition, revenue was recognized for damages relating to the period before Duni was listed. For more information on restructuring costs, see Note 9.

The non-realized valuation effect of currency derivatives reported in the operating income amounted to SEK 0 m (0).

Bridge between operating income and EBIT

SEK m 2017 2016
Operating income  491 502
Restructuring costs  0 -10
Amortization of intangible assets identified in connection with business acquisitions  -34 -27
Fair value allocation in connection with acquisitions  -1 -1
Reported operating income (EBIT)  456 463

NET SALES

Duni’s net sales amounted to SEK 4,441 m (4,271), a 4.0% increase in sales. At unchanged exchange rates from the preceding year, net sales would have been SEK 129 m higher compared with the outcome for 2016, representing a 3.0% increase in sales. Organic growth, excluding structural changes, amounted to 0.9% at fixed exchange rates.

The Table Top business area reported net sales of SEK 2,338 m (2,293). At fixed exchange rates, this corresponds to a 1.2% increase in sales. The year has been characterized by a somewhat more stable situation in the main market, Germany. The business area also shows growth in all regions. The consumer confidence index rose gradually over the course of the year, which had a positive effect on the restaurant sector, which grew at pace with the economy as a whole.

The Meal Service business area reported net sales of SEK 704 m (666). At fixed exchange rates, this corresponds to a 4.9% increase in sales. The market for Meal Service products is growing more than the restaurant industry. Environmentally-sound packaging material is driving growth, with increasing market interest in solutions of this type. The business area is showing growth in all regions.

Within the Consumer business area, net sales amounted to SEK 1,010 m (1,039). At fixed exchange rates, this corresponds to a 3.6% decrease in sales. The European retail sector has developed positively since the end of 2013, with an annual increase rate of just above 2%. However, competition is intense in most markets, especially with regard to standard products. Duni is primarily growing in areas in which it offers unique materials or environmentally-sound products and in which it has taken a leading position. The business area is growing in the Nordic region, but has lower sales than the preceding year in the remaining markets.

The New Markets business area reported net sales of SEK 322 m (220). At fixed exchange rates, this corresponds to a 42.4% increase in sales. From May, the acquisition of Sharp Serviettes, New Zealand has been consolidated within New Markets. The year shows sound growth in several strategically important areas, such as Asia and Oceania. There was also lower demand in other regions, such as the Middle East. As in Europe, there is strong development within environmentally-sound alternatives, with distinct demand for these products.

INCOME

Operating income amounted to SEK 491 m (502). Adjusted for translation effects due to exchange rate movements, operating income was SEK 17 m lower than last year. The gross margin amounted to 28.5% (28.8%) and the operating margin decreased from 11.8% to 11.1%.

Net financial items amounted to SEK -17 m (-22). The translation effects were less negative than the preceding year. Income before tax was SEK 439 m (441).

A tax expense of SEK 106 m (107) was reported for the financial year. The effective tax rate was 24.0% (24.3%). The tax expense for the year includes adjustments and non-recurring effects from the preceding year amounting to SEK -1.3 m (-0.4). The deferred tax asset relating to loss carryforwards was utilized at the amount of SEK 18 m (35). Duni AB has now utilized its entire loss carryforwards and is now once again paying tax in Sweden.

Net income for the year amounted to SEK 334 m (334), of which non-controlling interests amounted to SEK 5 m (2).

INVESTMENTS

The Group’s net investments excluding acquisitions amounted to SEK 234 m (176). In early 2017, a SEK 55 m investment was made in a logistics property in Germany. Apart from this, the investments related primarily to the Group’s production plants in Poland, Germany and Sweden. Depreciation/amortization amounted to SEK 174 m (159).

CASH FLOW AND FINANCIAL POSITION

The Group’s operating cash flow was SEK 449 m (446). Cash flow including investing activities amounted to SEK 156 m (146). Cash flow for the year was affected by the acquisition of Sharp Serviettes in New Zealand in the amount of SEK -59 m. Terinex Siam, Thailand, was acquired in 2016, which affected cash flow by SEK -103 m.

The Group’s balance sheet total on December 31 amounted to SEK 4,833 m (4,487).

The Group’s interest-bearing net debt amounted to SEK 855 m, compared with SEK 757 m on December 31, 2016.

OPERATIONAL AND FINANCIAL RISKS

Duni is exposed to a number of operational risks that are important to manage.

The development of attractive product ranges, particularly the Christmas collection, is very important in order for Duni to achieve satisfactory sales and income growth. Duni addresses this issue by constantly developing its range. Approximately 25% of the collection is replaced each year in response to and to create new trends.

A weaker economic climate over an extended period of time in Europe could lead to a reduction in the number of restaurant visits, reduced consumption and increased price competition, which might impact on volumes and gross margins through factors such as increased discounts and customer bonuses.

To minimize risks in the form of, inter alia, fire, disruptions or other damage to inventory, property and plants and to cover liability, the Company has a comprehensive insurance program covering the entire Group.

The Board’s audit committee conducts annual reviews of the Company’s operational and financial risks based on the risk analysis conducted. This also includes environmental risks as well as risks related to entry into new markets such as anti-corruption, fraud and social aspects such as conditions from an labor law and diversity perspective. The Company’s approach to managing different risks is presented in the policy that the Board reviews and approves each year. The management team held a workshop during the year where they discussed and updated their view of the Company’s operational and financial risks. The aim was to ensure that both management and the Board have a shared view of what risks the Company is exposed to, and to ensure there is a monitoring strategy for each individual risk.

Duni’s financial management and its management of financial risks are regulated by a finance policy adopted by the Board of Directors. This work is presided over and managed by the Group’s Finance Function (EFF), which is included as a unit within the Parent Company. The Group divides the financial risks into market risks (consisting of currency risks, price risks and interest rate risks), credit risks and liquidity risks. These risks are controlled in an overall risk management policy that focuses on unforeseen events in the financial markets and endeavors to minimize potential adverse effects on the Group’s financial results. See also Note 3 regarding risk management.

LEGAL DISPUTES

Upon closing of the accounts, there were a few disputes with customers and suppliers involving small amounts. Provisions have been made in the annual accounts that, in the management’s opinion, cover any negative outcome of these disputes. See also Note 35, Pledged assets and contingent liabilities.

SUSTAINABILITY REPORT

Duni’s corporate social responsibility work (including policies and significant risks in the areas of the environment, social conditions, personnel, respect for human rights, and anti-corruption) is collected into an overarching program called “Our Blue Mission”.  The program is updated and presented annually in an independent report that is published at the same time as the annual report. Duni’s sustainability work is also reported here in the directors’ report under “Environment and social responsibility” and “Employees and work environment”. See also Note 35, Pledged assets and contingent liabilities.

ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

In accordance with an adopted environmental strategy, Duni works according to policies and goals covering development and information concerning products, efficient and controlled production, as well as knowledge and communication from an environmental perspective.

An environmental management system and a quality management system in accordance with ISO 14001 and ISO 9001, respectively, have been implemented and certified at all of the Group’s European production units.

Suppliers of traded goods and significant raw materials are evaluated according to the Group’s code of conduct, which covers both environmental and social responsibility. Prior to new contracts for the purchase of traded goods, an audit is first performed at the supplier’s plant based on the code of conduct. Audits are also performed on a regular basis at existing suppliers based on a risk assessment that takes into account the suppliers’ location, previous results and type of production. The audit focuses on human rights such as the risk of child labor and involuntary labor, as well as working conditions, pay conditions and working hours.

Duni has also been granted FSC® certification, license number FSC-C014985 (Forest Stewardship Council), regarding the sale, production and distribution of products such as napkins, table covers and serving products. This means that Duni’s paper products are sourced from sustainable forests.

Rexcell Tissue & Airlaid AB conducts two operations that are subject to permit requirements pursuant to the Swedish Environmental Code. The Group holds permits for the production of 65,000 tonnes of wet laid tissue per year and 52,000 tonnes of airlaid tissue per year at the mill in Skåpafors and 10,000 tonnes of airlaid tissue in Dals Långed. The mills hold permits issued by the Administrative Board in Västra Götaland County regarding emissions of carbon dioxide, CO2. For 2017, the allocation of emission rights was 0 tonnes in Dals Långed and 18,438 tonnes in Skåpafors. The total allocation of emission rights will diminish each year up to 2020, when Dals Långed will have emission rights corresponding to 0 tonnes per year, and Skåpafors 17,349 tonnes per year. Since the plant in Dals Långed is not in operation, the emission rights belonging to Dals Långed will be dormant as of 2017. In total, 13,308 tonnes were used in Skåpafors in 2017.

EMPLOYEES AND WORK ENVIRONMENT

Duni operates based on four core values that provide guidance in the day-to-day work and clarify how things are done “the Duni way”. The core values – Ownership, Added Value, Open Mind, and Will to Win – find concrete expression in a number of operational principles that, taken together, are aimed at creating profitable growth, organizational efficiency, and increased customer satisfaction.

Good working conditions, clear goals and structures combined with regular support to employees form the foundation for creating growth and profit. Human Resources (HR) has the task of supporting management, supervisors and employees in order to stimulate employee development, increase involvement, and drive and coordinate change processes. Duni works actively with diversity in many different ways to make it clear within the organization that it is considered an important issue. Duni shall be a company that reflects the surrounding society. HR also assists in the work of ensuring a sound work environment for all employees. Since 2014, development plans have been gradually produced whereby all employees in the organization shall have clear, individualized goals that are followed up. Duni’s code of conduct for employees also includes the work environment. An employee survey covering all employees in the Group is conducted every other year, and was last conducted in 2016. The survey includes questions regarding the employees’ work environment. Systematic work on the work environment is performed at Duni’s plants, and is audited through internal audits based on Duni’s code of conduct. Each month, Group Management and the Board receive key ratios concerning accidents and sick leave due to accidents at the plants.

Duni’s Board has a clear policy that all employees must be aware of and work to prevent corruption. In addition to compliance with the code of conduct, the Duni Board has also adopted a business ethics policy that all employees and suppliers are expected to follow. This policy states how Duni as a company and its employees must observe accepted business practice and act in accordance with the Group’s ethical standards and expectations. The business ethics policy states in particular how managers and employees are expected to act in their contact with customers, suppliers, owners, competitors and other external parties. Duni requires that all third parties, suppliers and external parties with whom Duni cooperates shall comply with Duni’s business ethics policy and applicable legislation in the respective country.

Duni also has a whistleblower policy that clarifies that any suspicion of fraudulent behavior, corruption or other similar situations that are witnessed must be reported without delay. Reporting may take place anonymously and the recipients are always the HR Director, the CFO and the Chairman of the Board’s Audit Committee.

As of December 31, 2017, the Company had 2,362 employees. The number of employees on December 31, 2016 was 2,279. 1,057 (966) of the employees were employed in production. Duni’s production plants are located in Bramsche and Wolkenstein in Germany, Poznan in Poland, Bengtsfors in Sweden, Bangkok in Thailand and Auckland in New Zealand.

The Board’s work

Since the Annual General Meeting held on May 3, 2017, the Board of Directors comprises five members and two employee representatives. Two alternate employee representatives also attend all board meetings. During the year, the Board held eight meetings at which minutes were taken. For further information on the work of the Board, see the Corporate Governance Report.

REMUNERATION TO THE CEO AND SENIOR EXECUTIVES

Principles regarding the CEO and senior executives, as proposed to the 2018 Annual General Meeting, to be applicable in 2018 up until the next Annual General Meeting, correspond in all essential respects to the established principles which were adopted by the 2017 Annual General Meeting. For information regarding remuneration to the CEO and senior executives and relevant guidelines, see the Corporate Governance Report and Note 13.

FOREIGN COMPANIES AND BRANCHES

Duni conducts operations under its own management and has employees in 21 countries.