Demand for glass packaging on the European market increased by around 2% for the third year in succession and made a significant contribution to Vetropack’s successful operating result. The positive performance is also a result of measures to improve environmental practice in glass production in the last two decades. These include efforts to reduce the weight of glass containers, to cut energy consumption and to increase the proportion of cullets in production, for example. Increasing concern about the negative effects of plastic on the environment and health also boosted interest in glass packaging.
Vetropack invests continuously in expanding its production facilities and recycling systems, which ensure an adequate supply of cullets. It also supports research with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of glass packaging. Vetropack promotes sustainable growth by positioning itself with existing and new products in markets in which it can exploit and develop its strong market position.
Vetropack’s sustainable growth goes hand in hand with improved cash flow, which facilitates investment that secures a sustainable return on capital and reduces environmental impact.
Financial figures 2019
1 000 metric tons
Exports (in unit terms)
* operating cash flow before change of net working capital
Cash flow and profitability
Vetropack’s growth is largely financed from its own resources. Improving cash flow and profitability is therefore key to releasing capital for investment in the continuous development of the company.
In 2019, operating cash flow increased by 12.8% to CHF 153.1 million (2018: CHF 135.7 million). The improvement is attributable to increased demand and the improvements in efficiency achieved. In 2019, Vetropack invested CHF 123.7 million in further expanding its production facilities. In total, two furnaces in Slovakia and in Ukraine were restored, which consume up to 18% less energy and increase production capacity.
In recent years, Vetropack invested considerable sums in the development of a lighter recyclable glass. In the year under review, Vetropack introduced the new product under the name Vetropack Improved Performance Glass (VIP Glass) and concluded the first contracts of sale. For the future, the Group is focusing on both the development of the VIP Glass product line and on increasing production capacity.
Vetropack plans to commission a new glassworks with cutting-edge technology in Italy in 2022. Increased production capacity combined with improved efficiency will strengthen Vetropack’s position on the Italian market and secure profitability long term. The project will not only improve efficiency but also production capacity and will push capital expenditure (CAPEX) well above the normal mere maintenance level now and in the next few years.
In line with the objectives of the strategy revision, Vetropack expects these initiatives to have a positive impact on cash flow in the medium to long term. Progress is measured on the basis of KPIs, such as the costs per tonne of saleable glass produced, energy consumption per tonne of glass and the contribution margin per glass container.
Sustainable growth and market position
Vetropack benefited from persistently favourable market sentiment in Europe and again recorded excess demand in the fiscal year. Despite increased capacity and a constantly high work load, high demand led to restrictions in supplying customers with products.
Customer satisfaction is crucial to Vetropack’s continuous economic success. To understand the needs of customers and their perception of Vetropack more accurately, the Group carried out a Voice-of-Customer survey in 2019. The results showed that production bottlenecks and the longer waiting times associated therewith for products to be delivered led to dissatisfaction among customers. To strengthen its market position, Vetropack fosters its good customer relationships, invests in expanding its production capacity, maintains a quality management programme and encourages innovation.
In 2019, Vetropack implemented numerous projects, which allowed an increase in net sales of approximately 3.5%. The “Leadership in Quality” quality management programme is also expected to improve customers’ experience by boosting product quality, traceability and improving work results.
Sustainable return on capital
Vetropack creates a business environment that encourages sustainable growth by setting targets for a sustainable return on capital, which take account of both the long term needs of stakeholders and environmental, social and economic effects.
High costs and the limited availability of CO2 certificates are leading to an increase in investment in energy-reducing technologies. Even though such investments generate a low economic return on investment (ROI), they will enable a very positive environmental ROI in the long term. Measures implemented in 2019 include the installation of additional exhaust filters, the expansion of cullet processing facilities and the construction of new furnaces that consume less energy. Investment in a new, ultra-modern factory in Italy promises to make a positive contribution to a sustainable return on capital in the future.
The sustainable return on capital is tracked and measured using the return on capital employed (ROCE).
Fair behaviour that forbids bribery, corruption and discrimination, among other things, is one of Vetropack’s principles. The relevant guidelines are laid down in the Code of Conduct and in the Business Ethics Policy. The Supplier Code regulates compliance with human rights in the value chain. Compliance with this Code is checked in regular supplier audits.
Increasing digitisation means that data security has become more important. To satisfy this development, Vetropack has created the function of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Not only was a directive on data security implemented but various technical and contractual measures were also defined and implemented. Besides data security, the issue of data protection was also followed up and the principles of the European General Data Protection Regulation were also introduced in Vetropack companies outside the EU. Vetropack provided its main suppliers with information about data security and data protection at a Vetropack event organised for this purpose and started discussions about these issues.