Statement of the CEO
2019 was a very challenging year for Beter Bed Holding N.V. as a group. Despite reasonably good order intake in the Benelux, Sweden and within DBC, the business was severely affected in the first quarter suffering failing deliveries from a major part of our suppliers. This led to inefficiencies, customer complaints, higher costs and lower sales.
During the course of the first half year all these issues were managed, however it has been proven to be difficult to recover the direct and indirect costs related to these issues. At the same time the projected recovery of Matratzen Concord was too slow after a well-managed reorganisation in the second half of 2018 by which 172 stores were closed, 64 FTE were made redundant and around € 10 million of stock was reduced. The new initiatives started promising however did not deliver according expectations. Given the developments at Matratzen Concord the Group was experiencing liquidity challenges going forward. Therefore the Management Board and the Supervisory Board made a conscious and thought-through decision to divest Matratzen Concord. Incremental financing was secured in order to make a thorough divestment process of Matratzen Concord possible and to provide continuity for the other businesses in the Group.
Matratzen Concord has been sold to Magical Honour Limited, a company backed by Healthcare Co. Ltd. (a Chinese public company). Healthcare is mainly engaged in research and development, manufacturing and sales of memory sponge household products. The main products of the company are memory sponge mattresses and memory sponge pillows, among others. The company distributes its products in domestic and to overseas markets. Healthcare has factories in China, the United States, Thailand and Serbia. From a retail perspective Healthcare delivers to approximately 2,500 stores in China through a franchise partner, is running itself about 250 stores and owns a Spanish bedding manufacturer and retailer. Mlily is its international retail brand for mattresses and pillows.
The growth of Beter Bed in the Benelux continued to be strong with both revenue and order intake improving in the offline network as well as online. Furthermore developments took place in the assortment through for example the implementation of Tempur and the new Karlsson box spring range, the start of the Beter Bed Academy to train and educate all employees for their respective roles and a content upgrade of our online platforms to enable more traffic, more conversion and higher appreciation. The commercial activities have been further developed and sharpened with higher ROIs as a result.
Sängjätten delivered revenue and order intake growth in 2019, however improvement is required in order to meet the performance standards. These efforts will continue in 2020.
DBC is well underway in positioning itself as a branded international wholesale business with more content than just M line. In 2019 DBC business demonstrated very strong revenue results mainly driven by the success of M line within the Beter Bed network and with existing dealers. DBC is expanding nationally and internationally through the addition of new retailers and retail chains.
In the Netherlands DBC launched a M line web shop in the fourth quarter of 2019. This is to enable customers to purchase directly with DBC. Throughout 2020 this initiative will be further rolled out in countries abroad. M line has intensified relationships with professional athletes through partnerships with Jumbo-Visma, Olympics Team NL and KNVB national male and female teams.
We are aware that consumers might become less confident due to the current macroeconomic and political volatility especially now the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the global economy provides increased uncertainty.
2019 was a year in which a number of managerial changes took place. At the Annual General Meeting in April Mrs Gabrielle Reijnen was appointed to the Supervisory Board in the role of financial expert. In December the Supervisory Board and Mr Hugo van den Ochtend agreed that it is in the interest of Beter Bed Holding N.V. that someone else would fulfil the position of CFO and that Hugo would explore different opportunities outside the Group. We would like to thank Mr Van den Ochtend for his efforts in a for the Group very challenging period and wish him all the best for the future. Following his departure Mrs Reijnen accepted and assumed the role of CFO with immediate effect. The Group is convinced that she is very well-positioned to fulfil this role successfully and wishes her great success. In the Annual General Meeting to be held on 13 May 2020 her appointment as Statutory Director of Beter Bed Holding N.V. will be requested.
Despite the challenging phase the Group has been going through, Beter Bed Holding N.V. has been able to deliver significant milestones in order to end the year in a much healthier financial position. This fundament will be the starting position for 2020, a year in which the Group has the ambition to return to sustainable growth, to further develop its stability and to start the implementation of a refined and sharpened strategic plan.
Beter Bed Holding N.V. could have never accomplished the delivery of the key milestones in 2019 without the passionate and committed contribution of all employees and stakeholders. Huge resilience was demonstrated within the Group to stay committed to that what we believe in:
Offer best QUALITY REST @ AFFORDABLE prices
The Group consequently wishes to sincerely thank all employees and stakeholders for the contribution they have made both individually and as part of a team.
Uden, the Netherlands, 17 March 2020