The sudden appreciation of the Swiss franc against other currencies following the Swiss National Bank’s decision at the start of the year to abandon the minimum euro exchange rate also affected Ricola. “As a heavily export-oriented company, Ricola generates over 90% of its total sales abroad. We were therefore significantly impacted by the shock appreciation of the franc, but we were not unprepared,” sums up Felix Richterich, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ricola. Group sales in 2015 amounted to CHF 294.7 million. Deducting the share of sales generated by Disch Ltd., which was sold in May 2015 for strategic reasons, this represented a decrease in Swiss francs of 2.1% from the previous year as a result of the adverse currency situation. In local currencies, however, net sales increased by 2.4%.
The positive overall result was primarily attributable to the very good performance in North America and the expansion of the Asian market. As a consequence of the continuously positive development of business in the USA, the promising market expansion in Mexico and the founding of a subsidiary in Canada, the significance of the North America region for Ricola continued to grow. Also of increasing strategic importance to the company is the Asian market, where further encouraging progress was made in 2015, such as in China. Nevertheless, the European market remains the company’s key region, and here, too, it was able to increase market share despite the challenging exchange rates.
Proven products and innovative strength provide recipe for success
2015 also marked two anniversaries for the Swiss herb drop manufacturer: 85 years ago, Emil Richterich founded the family company in Laufen, and ten years later, he created the original herb drop. This traditional core product of Ricola continues to be its best-seller, and as part of its 75-year anniversary, it was celebrated in novel fashion. Alongside its tried-and-tested classics, Ricola also committed itself to sustainable innovation with new products in 2015, with the launch of the new Ricola Glacier Mint flavor in Western Europe and Switzerland proving very successful. In fact, no other new product on the Swiss candy market has performed nearly as strongly in recent years, and Glacier Mint is already one of the most popular Ricola flavors.
Outlook for 2016: promising product innovations in the pipeline
Ricola will continue to rely on internationalization and innovation as strategic pillars for success in the current year. There are some extremely promising product developments in the pipeline, which are expected to help strengthen the company’s presence in international markets. At the same time, the site in Laufen and the sense of Swissness will also be reinforced. The Kräuterzentrum opened in Laufen in 2014 has proved highly valuable, while significant investments have also been made in production facilities over the past year. “We are proud that we have been able to strengthen the site in Laufen in spite of the difficult currency situation, and are confident that political and economic conditions will enable us to continue investing in Switzerland in the future,” affirms Felix Richterich.
Ricola is one of the world’s most modern and innovative manufacturers of herb drops. Ricola herb specialties are exported to more than 50 countries and are famous for their fine Swiss quality. Founded in 1930, with company headquarters in Laufen and subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and the USA, Ricola now produces around 60 different herb drops and tea specialties. Group sales amounted to CHF 294.7 million at the end of 2015 (excluding Disch Ltd. for the first time). In Switzerland, this family-owned company is a pioneer in herb cultivation and places great value on using carefully selected locations and controlled, environmentally friendly cultivation methods without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Ricola has concluded fixed long-term purchase agreements with more than 100 farmers in Swiss mountain regions. Ricola is a responsible employer of more than 400 employees and is committed to sustainable corporate management: economically, socially and ecologically. The traditional values of a family-run enterprise coupled with Swiss quality and a passion for innovation are crucial factors in the success of the Ricola global brand.