Valora is undergoing an in-depth transformation, with the aim of becoming a pure micro-retailer. This, in turn, will increase the company‘s revenue and profit growth, while also boosting innovation.
Over the last year, Valora has sold its press wholesale operations and the Valora Trade division was recently classified as a disposal group. These mark two key milestones in the transformation. The acquisition of small-space retailer Naville in Western Switzerland also represents a further step in this process; the network of outlets is now even bigger and covers all of Switzerland. This presents Valora with a numberof exciting new opportunities. We are pleased to be able to welcome our colleagues from French-speaking Switzerland to the Valora Group and are certain that this merger will allow us to tap into an exciting, diverse range of growth opportunities.
The 2014 financial year was a very successful one for Ditsch and Brezelkönig. The division posted encouraging growth in both the wholesale and branch areas. The retail business in Switzerland also performed well. Great progress has been made in modernising the outlets and adapting the range of products at k kiosks. Retail Germany performed less well than in 2013, but still posted a solid profit.
Michael Mueller (CEO) and Tobias Knechtle (CFO) assumed their respective offices a year ago. Together with the management team, they have pushed forward the company‘s focus in challenging market conditions. The first measures to be implemented, for example the concentration of the location portfolio on heavily frequented locations, have produced positive results. Going forward, innovative services based on existing products will open up new opportunities in the digital world for our retail business. The expansion into new markets with Ditsch and Brezelkönig has begun and is proceeding at a good pace. Conditions have been put in place for us to better focus on our core activities, which will enable us to conduct business in the interests of our shareholders as well as all other stakeholder groups. By focussing our activities in this way, we can be sure that our financial and HR resources will be deployed in an efficient manner. This is all with a view to helping Valora develop sustainably over the long term.
This transformation is a reflection of our tireless efforts to strengthen the Valora Group. The hard work that our employees put in each and every day, across all countries and in all areas, deserves real recognition. The Board of Directors would like to express its special thanks and appreciation to all of these staff. We would also like to thank our customers and business partners.
At its 2014 Annual General Meeting, Valora made the necessary amendments to its articles of association with regard to the ordinance governing excessive pay for listed public limited companies («VegüV»).
In accordance with the provisions of the articles of association, which were amended as of 7 May 2014, the 2014 Remuneration Report will be approved at the Annual General Meeting by a consultative vote. Starting in 2015, the AGM will now approve the maximum amount of remuneration that is paid to members of the Board of Directors for the period running until the next ordinary general meeting. This decision will have a binding effect. In addition, the maximum amount, including both fixed and variable remuneration paid to members of the Executive Board for the 2016 financial year, will also be voted upon.
Details on the voting at the AnnualGeneral Meeting concerning remuneration and the Remuneration Report are contained in Article 27 of the articles of association. Additional information on this can be found on pages 60 and 62 of this year‘s Annual Report. All members of the Board of Directors will stand for annual re-election at the upcoming AGM.
We would like to thank all of our shareholders for the trust they place in our company and are pleased to propose a dividend of CHF 12.50 at the next Annual General Meeting.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
All totals and percentages are based on unrounded figures from the consolidated financial statements
1) From continuing operations
2) 2013 figure has been modified to reflect a new definition of external sales at Retail Germany
3) The 2013 balance sheet shown in the Financial Report has been prepared according to IFRS and includes discontinued operations, in 2014 continuing operations only
4) Cash and cash equivalents including discontinued operations amounted to CHF 201.1 million in 2014 and CHF 175.0 million in 2013
5) In the 2013 annual report, the franchisee figures for Retail Germany also included partner outlets
Mr Mueller, what is your assessment of the group’s business performance in 2014?
Valora is undergoing a profound transformation, from a broadly diversified, wholesale-focused firm to a company specialising in retail and immediate-consumption food at heavily frequented locations. In particular, the acquisition of Ditsch/Brezelkönig in 2012 has paved the way for this transformation, which we began with the formats Spettacolo in the area of immediate-consumption food and avec. in the convenience and food area. Over the last twelve months, the acquisitions and disposals we have made have allowed us to further sharpen our focus on our core business of retail and immediate-consumption goods and to further restructure our ongoing activities. In light of this, we can look back on a successful financial year – we are making good progress in implementing our strategy. We have also managed to increase our operating profit adjusted for special effects in all our ongoing business areas, even in the Retail division, which is still facing considerable structural challenges. Particular operational highlights certainly include the Ditsch/Brezelkönig and Retail Switzerland / Austria areas. Another positive aspect is our cash flow from operating activities, which has also increased. As such, despite making significantly higher investments than in the previous year, we were able to generate a free cash flow of CHF 34 million, which – together with the proceeds from the sale of the Services division – we will use to pay our shareholder dividend. The Retail Germany / Luxembourg area performed less well, however; here we are somewhat behind our original schedule in implementing operational improvements and repositioning our outlets. Thus, this area is more negatively impacted by the decline in revenues from press products. What’s more, last year we were again faced with higher integration costs. And it goes without saying that we are not yet satisfied with the margins we have generated in our retail business in Switzerland and Austria, although we are making solid improvements in this respect.
You are placing great emphasis on free cash flow. Why is this so important for the company?
We use our free cash flow to finance the dividend paid to our shareholders and it also provides us with financial leeway as regards repaying debts and future investments. In the retail area, we have a short investment cycle – the success of a given investment can be gauged within just one to two years. This is especially the case for investments in maintenance: if we renovate our outlets, this has to have a direct positive impact on our bottom line. But this is also true for growth investments in new outlets or service offerings. The development of our free cash flow is therefore also a useful indicator of the success of our transformation, because it takes into account how much capital we have tied up in our business – an aspect that is often overlooked. That is not to say that we focus only on short-term improvements; quite the opposite – we are committed to generate sustainable, attractive returns for our investors.
What have been the highlights of the past financial year?
In 2014, we made major progress as regards the transformation process at Valora. Having acquired small-space retailer Naville in November, we now have a nationwide distribution network in Switzerland. The outlets we have acquired are concentrated in heavily frequented locations and shopping centres and are comparable to our outlets as regards positioning and the state of development in many areas. In the Swiss kiosk business – still the area that generates the greatest revenues, but traditionally where margins are low – the implementation of the new shop concept, which focuses on expanding our offering in the area of food and services in the renovated outlets, is generating the higher level of profitability required – this is also helped by the increased revenues generated by promotions. Ditsch/Brezelkönig, which we acquired in 2012, continued to demonstrate positive growth momentum in both its branch network business and deliveries to third-party customers in particular. Having sold the Services division in summer, we discontinued our wholesale and logistics activities in the press area in Switzerland and Luxembourg as part of our strategy focus. In recent years, press volumes have changed so markedly that we would have had to significantly expand our services for third-party customers in order for the business to remain successful. This was never an option for us, as such an expansion would not have made any direct contribution to our core Retail business.
This «focussing» process does yet not appear to be over, as we can see with the company decision on the Trade division.
That’s correct. After studying the available options in depth and in order to consistently implement our strategy, we decided that we would no longer develop our Trade business – that is to say our distribution services for food and nonfood branded products to the retail sector – within the group and are consequently looking for a buyer.
Retail Switzerland and Ditsch/Brezelkönig both performed well in 2014, fully meeting the expectations placed on them. After adjusting for all oneoff factors, the results generated by these two core Valora businesses are appealing.
Following the acquisition of Naville, Valora is again pursuing activities in the press wholesale space. How do you see the future in this area?
Given our consistent disposals in the wholesale and logistics area for press products in Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg, the question has rightly been raised as to how we plan to integrate the corresponding activities that we took over from Naville in Western Switzerland. The operational situation and competitive position is not 100 percent comparable with our previous logistics activities. As such, we will take our time to carefully address this question and weigh up our options. A major advantage we have in this regard is that we recently subjected our own activities to exactly this type of in-depth analysis, meaning we are extremely familiar with the current competitive environment.
The fact that Valora is focussing its activities and re-outlining its core business is one thing. The issue of how these core business areas will be developed going forward, however, is also important. Where will this journey take you?
We are changing from a kiosk business, which depends heavily on selling lowmargin press and tobacco products – the sales of which are both in decline – to the market leader in small-space retailing in heavily frequented locations and specialists in immediate-consumption goods. This is a fundamental, multi-dimensional change. It is complex and will take time. Nevertheless, we have one major strength we can build on: our unique distribution network in heavily frequented locations, which we are continually maintaining, adapting and expanding. Each day in Switzerland alone, we welcome over 900 000 customers at our outlets – many of whom are regular customers. Increasingly our customers visit our kiosks not only for their newspapers and tobacco, but also for our ok.– energy drinks, coffee and ok.– debit card offers. Our goal is to offer our customers even more each day, and to inspire them with simple, attractive offers: convenient, nearby, fast. In the future, the group will attach greater importance to the areas of immediate- consumption goods and services. In our kiosks and P&B branches, press and tobacco products will continue to play an important role going forward and will make up a significant part of the market positioning for this shop format. The focus here will be on increasing the value added throughout all the areas of our product range. The acquisition of Ditsch/Brezelkönig has provided us with a solid foothold in the food area, with proven expertise in the area of immediate consumption goods and production. And we intend to build on this foothold, tapping into new markets in particular. In our kiosks and convenience formats, we are expanding our product range with new food offerings – a very successful example of this is our ok.– range. And we are also adding services such as PUDO («pick up / drop off») and financial services. Our efforts in this regard are reflected in our figures. We are already generating more than 50 percent of our gross margins from food and drink, with Ditsch/Brezelkönig accounting for a large share of this.
«We are already generating more than 50 percent of our gross margins from food and drink, with Ditsch/Brezelkönig accounting for a large share of this.»
The transformation of Valora will reduce the company to two divisions – Retail and Ditsch/Brezelkönig. Where do you see further potential for increasing cost efficiency in the core business?
Following the sale of the Services division and upcoming sale of the Trade division, we will have simplified the structure of Valora, reduced the complexity of its organisational structure, made management more aware of the potential for growth and generated more transparency. We believe there to be substantial savings potential in IT costs, in harmonizing and integrating processes across the group and formats, as well as in adapting the group structure in line with the focused retail and immediate-consumption strategy. Specifically, I believe the challenges we face lie in the following four areas: (1) Improving our operating performance and cost efficiency – in particular by realising the available synergies with Naville in Switzerland. (2) Continuing to expand our range of immediate-consumption goods in the kiosk / P&B and convenience areas – particularly in Germany, as well. (3) Tapping into new markets with new or adapted concepts in the area of immediate-consumption goods while increasing the added value we can generate here and strengthening our vertical integration – this will also include the international expansion of Ditsch/ Brezelkönig. (4) Making use of our high levels of customer traffic to develop new offerings for our industry partners in terms of product promotions and providing attractive offers to increase customer loyalty. In this regard, I see particular potential in the area of digital-based solutions as here we will be able to benefit from our strengths in distribution.
But has the digital trend not hurt Valora if anything?
We view things differently: the digital world represents a major challenge for Valora, but it also presents considerable opportunities. eCommerce cannot fundamentally harm us as our revenues are driven largely through impulse buying and immediate-consumption goods. If anything, it has even presented us with a new line of business – the «pick up / drop off» service we offer at our outlets. This enables us to participate in the ever growing eCommerce market, while we also benefit from increased customer traffic at our outlets. Furthermore, we have already proven that we are able to provide our customers and partners with attractive cross-channel offers in the promotions area, in particular. An example of this is the «Monster Deal» campaign, which we carried out together with the Zurich-based start-up Dealini. Based on these positive experiences and with a view to a long-term strategic partnership, we have even acquired a stake in Dealini. Viewed in this light, we are certain that there is still a great deal of untapped potential in the area of digitalisation. By contrast, one of the major challenges faced by Valora is the trend towards digital media use. Due to the declining market for press products, this has cost us a great deal in recent years. The gross profits for press products in Retail Switzerland – together with tobacco, traditionally our largest product category – fell by 40 percent between 2010 and 2014 alone. Aside from the rapidly declining margins – for example, in the Services area we sold – this trend also has the potential to reduce the number of customers visiting our outlets. However, here we have shown that with our new offerings we are able to reverse this trend, with press now accounting for only 11.2 percent of our entire gross profits.
«We are certain that by connecting the physical and digital sales environments, we will be able to increase customer frequency at our outlets.»
So you believe services to be key when it comes to the digital transformation of the markets? What is Valora’s position in this area at the moment? And to what extent do digital activities figure in discussions regarding growth?
We already offer our customers a wide range of services at our outlets that connect the digital and physical sales environments: customers, for example, can visit our kiosks to pick up books they have ordered online, top up mobile phones or iTunes cards, transfer money abroad or buy paysafe cards for secure online shopping. We also offer a prepaid Visa and MasterCard. As I mentioned, we are certain that by connecting the physical and digital sales environments and by providing attractive, digital customer loyalty offers, we will be able to increase customer frequency at our outlets. We will consistently expand our activities in this area – in 2015, for example, we will launch new financial services at our outlets.
What makes Valora ready for the digital transformation?
We are close to our customers and enjoy a high level of acceptance for our broad range of offerings and services – this is backed up by the initial success we have enjoyed with the financial services we offer. We have also made significant investments over the last years in the necessary IT infrastructure and IT applications. By introducing new checkout systems in our outlets and implementing centralised transaction and analysis systems, we are extremely well positioned to deal with the ongoing digital transformation. The digital business models and digitally optimised business processes also have an impact on Valora’s internal process landscape; here we must make the most of these opportunities and continue to use the trend towards digitalisation to improve operating efficiency.
Ditsch and Brezelkönig have their own fully integrated production infrastructure, which provides them with an extremely successful, self-contained valuechain. The highly efficient manufacturing plants delivered more than 500 million product items in 2014. A small fraction of this output is sold directly to consumers at the Ditsch and Brezelkönig outlets. However, the lion’s share is sold to trade customers in dozens of countries. These include suppliers for the hotel, restaurant and catering industries, large-scale bakeries and general food retailers. The growing worldwide appetite for pretzel products gave a big boost to Ditsch, which increased its wholesale turnover by nearly 30 % in 2014. While the German plants in Mainz and Oranienbaum achieved very good levels of capacity utilisation in 2014, they still have further potential for sustained and profitable growth.
Where do you see growth potential for Ditsch/Brezelkönig?
As an immediate-consumption concept, Ditsch/Brezelkönig holds an internationally unique position with significant growth potential. As a product, pretzel dough and, in turn, pretzels are seen as being very international and the trend for consuming them immediately on the go from outlets remains unbroken. The branch business is benefiting from this, as is the third-party customer business – net revenues rose by more than 11 percent across the division as a whole in 2014. With an EBIT margin of 14 percent, the division is very profitable, which is why we are naturally paying close attention to growth in this area. Ditsch/Brezelkönig produces its baked goods – in particular pretzel dough products – not only for its own branches, growing the business rapidly in the process, but it also produces goods at our own production facilities for the expanding business with thirdparty customers in the DACH region, Europe, the US and Asia. This business accounts for around 41 percent of the division’s net revenues. With approximately half a billion units produced in 2014, we are one of the world’s largest producers of pretzel dough products. Using our expertise in frozen pretzel dough products, we are tapping into a new international market with considerable potential for growth! We are also looking at product development in our immediate-consumption goods business – new innovations will help us defend and expand upon our market position. One example of this is the development of a new chocolate pretzel roll for our Brezelkönig branches. It goes without saying that we are still working to expand the branch network in Germany and Switzerland, where 59 percent of the area’s net revenues are generated. Furthermore, we will press ahead with our internationalisation strategy; in the second quarter of 2015, we will open our first Brezelkönig pilot branch in Vienna.
In summary, what are the cornerstones of the Valora Group’s realignment?
I would say that overall, we want to be a company that operates small outlets on a modular and highly efficient basis – with a focus on our existing core ranges of tobacco, press, food and services, with the integration of the value chain – in particular for food and services – playing a key role in this. We must be able to create «innovation» so that we can stand out in the market. The aim is for Valora to become an innovative company, which continually surprises its customers with new products and services. This will allow us to add value for our customers, partners and investors, with our operational excellence and competitive cost structure forming the basis for this.
What demands will such a radical change place on the way Valora operates its businesses?
Shifting the focus of Valora’s business activities from the wholesale to the retail business, together with the demands of adapting to the digital world, will require a cultural change in our company. Customers must be at the centre of our considerations and actions. We must be more flexible, faster, more innovative. We have to ensure that new, technical foundations are established.
So you will be introducing new values for Valora’s employees?
That’s correct. In future, we want there to be a greater emphasis on agility and entrepreneurship. By agility, I mean that we want to become faster, react more quickly to our customers’ needs, tap into new lines of business more efficiently. But we also want to encourage entrepreneurship. We have excellent staff at Valora; we want them to take every opportunity to put their own ideas into practice and help shape Valora’s future. They deserve my sincere thanks and my great appreciation: they actively contribute to the significantly increased pace of change and are willing to work hard day by day.
«Innovative and committed employees: that’s who we put our faith in.»
Jonathan Bodmer, Head of Human Resources
The large majority of Valora’s employees are in direct customer contact. They are our calling card, and the face of our company. Skilled, committed and innovative employees are the key to our success. And it is attractive terms of employment, sound basic training and numerous further training opportunities that lay the requisite foundation. Valora has a general employment contract, which has been in effect in Switzerland since 2009. Valora Retail further voluntarily adopted a minimum wage for its employees in Germany in 2013.
Valora actively integrates employees from other cultural backgrounds. The company’s Swiss workforce embraces people from 76 countries, while Valora Germany has 45 nationalities in its ranks. Qualifications and motivation are the key selection criteria: nationality, religion, gender, age and sexual orientation are of no relevance in the recruitment process. Valora also adopts a longterm perspective in its employee relations; and over 25 % of its personnel in Switzerland have been with the company for more than ten years.
Valora has a high proportion of female employees. Some 83.7 % of its Swiss workforce are women. The Board of Directors also resolved in 2011, together with Group Executive Management, that one management position in four should be held by a woman by 2015. The proportion of women in such positions rose from 25.1 % at the end of 2013 to 27.9 % at the end of 2014. At Valora Germany, women currently occupy 16.4 % of all management positions.
Valora strives to create and maintain a working environment that promotes satisfaction and personal further development. Our seven Leadership Principles serve as our prime guidelines here. Customer focus, prioritisation, goalsetting, decision-making and delegation, open communications, conflict resolution and learning from mistakes are all incorporated into these Leadership Principles; and the Principles and the themes they cover also provide the foundation for each employee’s annual performance review.
«Our apprentices have a very good chance of staying on with us later.»
Monika Oppliger, Head of Vocational Training, Valora Retail Switzerland
The basic training at Valora provides young people with a sound entry into the working world. The company had 78 apprentices on its books in Switzerland in 2014, though this figure does not include those at its agency and franchise operations. Some 28 apprentices completed their basic retail training in the course of the year, and four earned their commercial qualifications. 2014 also saw the first apprentice commence their career as a chain catering specialist at Spettacolo. Valora Retail Germany employed a total of eleven apprentices during 2014, four of whom completed their apprenticeships during that year. The participants follow courses in both general business administration and specialist training in retail, bookselling or IT. In the last five years, all the apprentices at Valora Switzerland have been offered permanent employment at the end of their apprenticeship.
«We have greatly expanded the further training opportunities for managers at our retail outlets.»
Reto Böhner, Technical and Management Training Specialist
Valora’s in-house further training enhances the skills and expertise of its personnel. The company offers a wide range of courses and options here, according to the employee’s function and tasks. The «Personal Führen@ Verkaufsstelle» module, a development programme for sales outlet managers that had been launched in 2013, was continued in 2014, and was supplemented by a new «Führen mit Zahlen@ Verkaufsstelle» module which puts the emphasis on understanding figures and deriving actions therefrom. Some 457 current and future managers from Valora and partner companies in Germany and Switzerland have completed the modules to date. The training is also offered in three languages, to ensure that all the Valora Group’s executives can benefit from the offer.
Valora’s continuing education programme also extended to some 7000 modules on processes, products and services that were offered via an e-learning tool. With its ability to provide learning opportunities regardless of location, e-learning can reach the widest of audiences, and Valora has now expanded the programme by a further 15 %.
The «Retail Lab Certificate Programme» and «Retail Lab Research Workshops», which are run in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen, offer a valuable opportunity to combine research knowledge with practical experience. On the skills training front, Valora also held a presentation training workshop. In aggregate, these initiatives enabled 42 employees to spend a total of 57 training days refining their specialist expertise.
Future management staff are prepared for their new duties in a series of workshops and further training programmes. All in all, some 50 employees attended the «Beraten von Unternehmern», «Leadership Days» and «Führung @Valora» events. Valora also supported extramural further education for its employees in 2014, by meeting part or all of the associated training costs.
«The goal of our trainee programme is the trainee’s holistic development in technical, methodological and social-skills terms.»
Eva Schumacher, People & Organisational Development Specialist
The Valora Trainee Programme is a oneyear familiarisation, training and development programme for university graduates. A total of 29 trainees have completed it since 2008 – 18 management trainees and 11 trainee sales managers. Press and Books now has its first trainee sales managers. The Programme, which is currently being negotiated by a further six graduates, is specifically designed to prepare these talented youngsters for a future Valora career.
«Valora is committed to quality assurance, and listens to all its customers’ feedback.»
Marc Roth, k kiosk / P&B Distribution Management
The k kiosk / P&B back office receives some 1400 communications from customers a year. All this feedback is constantly analysed to help improve services at the various retail outlets. While the volume of feedback on the k kiosk and P&B operations continues to increase, the number of critical calls or emails has remained broadly unchanged over the past three years. The demand for special products or services has more than doubled, however, over the same period; and the number of positive comments has continued to rise, too.
«With its agency and franchise system, Valora promotes an entrepreneurial approach.»
Pierre-André Konzelmann, Head of Convenience Franchise Expansion
Some 387 Valora Retail outlets in Switzerland were being run by 168 agent managers at the end of 2014. Valora has enabled many of its motivated sales personnel to take the step into running their own franchise since 2010. External applicants wishing to set up in business as agent managers have also been able to do so with Valora’s help. To promote the process, regional agent partner and franchisee meetings are held, to offer training and an opportunity to exchange news and views. At present, some 49 avec. outlets are operated under franchise, while 12 are run in partnership with Tamoil under a master franchising model. A poll conducted by students from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW) in 2014 found that the franchisees were happy with the franchise system, and that the various exchange platforms provided (such as working groups) and the support offered by franchiser Valora Schweiz AG both worked well.
«The best pretzels in the world depend on committed, responsible employees and secure processes.»
Michel Gruber, Managing Director, Brezelkönig Switzerland
Valora takes constant action to monitor the quality of the products it sells, its own brands and its internal processes. Specialists from both within and outside the company ensure that all the requisite standards are observed; and Valora is fully committed to complying with all the legal food and product safety requirements (SR 817.02 of the LGV ordinance under Swiss law, and regulations 178 / 2002 / EC [on food safety] and 2001 / 95 / EC [on product safety] under EU law), and thus also to ensuring the traceability of all its various products. Hygiene, product safety and quality are checked by cantonal food inspectors and through anonymous shopping visits (of which around 2500 are conducted each year). All actions taken are assessed by the sales managers concerned; sales personnel are sensitised to quality issues through both face-to-face training and e-learning programmes; and fresh products are also subjected to more rigorous checks and procedures. The Ditsch pretzel bakery has been subject to an annual external audit since 2005. The audit is based on the International Featured Standard (IFS), and assesses companies on their product safety, industrial safety and staff training on 275 individual points. In 2015, in addition to the three-day pre-announced audit carried out at both its plants, the two Ditsch facilities also underwent the newly-introduced unannounced IFS Food Check. From pest control to cleaning and maintenance plans, the auditors found Ditsch’s personnel to be excellently documented and able to respond to all their inquiries. Ditsch is also BRC-certificated at both its production plants.
Valora ensures the safety and the environmental soundness not only of its own products but also of those supplied by its partners. To this end, Valora insists that all its suppliers are certificated to DIN EN ISO 9001 (quality) and DIN EN ISO 14001 (environmental impact and sustainability) standards. Brezelkönig uses Suisse-Garantie flour in its products; and the meat used in the sandwiches of k kiosk is predominantly of Swiss origin.
«Valora expects all its employees and business partners to maintain high standards of moral conduct and personal integrity.»
Alexia Bühler, Compliance Officer
The Valora Code of Conduct serves as a guide for the company and its personnel. The Code describes the conduct that is expected of Valora employees and further stakeholders, and its ten principles offer guidance and advice for their day-to-day work activities. Our customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees, institutions and the media should be able to expect Valora to conduct its business with integrity. In addition, our employees should be proud not only of what they have achieved but also of how they have achieved it. All Valora’s partners will also be expected to abide by a Suppliers’ Code of Conduct from 2015 onwards.
In view of its recently-launched financial services (such as MoneyGram), the Valora Group’s employees have also been familiarised with the relevant legislation on money laundering since 2011. A total of 4149 employees attended such training in 2014. The company also provides a Compliance Manual on its intranet covering issues such as money laundering, secondary occupations, data recording and discrimination and the ramifications thereof. To ensure that they are aware of the legal scope available to them in their customer contacts, staff are also instructed in small groups in areas such as employment law, the offering and acceptance of gifts and invitations, and matters of competition law.
If they are ever in doubt, employees can always consult Valora’s Corporate Legal Services or the Compliance Officer. And should they suspect any irregularity or criminal act, or otherwise wish to lodge a complaint on the way business is being conducted, they may make use of a special Ethics Hotline, which is available free of charge to all employees at any time of the day or night and is entirely anonymous.
«Our employees are regularly trained and sensitised.»
Marion Meier, Head of Back Office, k kiosk / P&B
A new e-learning module focusing on protecting minors was developed in 2014. The new module addresses issues such as the sale of alcohol or tobacco products to minors and the positioning of adult magazine at sales outlets. The corresponding sales staff training will begin in 2015. Employees are also regularly sensitised to these issues by their sales managers, because preventing tobacco and alcohol sales to minors is a top Valora priority. In Switzerland and Germany, posters are on display at sales counters, reminding staff of the regulations in force in the relevant jurisdiction.
«Valora is committed to preventing occupational and non-occupational accidents, occupational illnesses and work-related health problems.»
Stephan Hunziker, Head of Safety
Valora’s own specialists have worked with their external counterparts to devise a concept and define actions to optimize workplace safety. The measures here extend to both fire prevention and emergency medical assistance. The adoption of the actions defined is supported and monitored by both in-house and outside specialists, who conduct hazard analyses at all the sales outlets of Valora Switzerland. Employees are also alerted to the associated regulations via the intranet, through e-learning programmes and in their introductions to their work, which are also used to familiarise them with the actions to be taken and the first-aid assistance available.
«Spettacolo’s charity project has funded five rainwater tanks worth CHF 30 400.»
Dominique Bertallo, Gastronomy Marketing Manager
Valora is a strong advocate of commitments that extend beyond the company and its business activities, and again supported various social institutions in the year under review. After conducting the «Jeder Rappen zählt» («Every Penny Counts») charity drive the previous year, numerous Spettacolo customers and employees involved themselves in a campaign to provide clean drinking water in Tanzania. The World Vision charity is supplying 17 rainwater tanks for schools in the country’s Mbuka region. And Spettacolo customers have been invited since June 2014 to support the project by donating 50 Swiss centimes for any tap water they order. Elsewhere in the Valora Group, Ditsch makes an annual pre-Christmas donation to cancer research.
«Customers can return their empty PET bottles to any k kiosk outlet.»
Marco Hocke, Business Unit Leader, k kiosk / P&B
Valora’s Muttenz centre has almost halved its paper consumption, following a switch in 2014 to printing on both sides of any paper used. Employees can also collect waste paper at their desk and submit batteries, PET bottles or glass for recycling at a central collection point.
Valora is also a member of the «Basler-Litteringgespräche» community. The latest product of this joint anti-litter drive was the «Ein Drecksack macht sauber» campaign, which ran between May and August 2014. Instead of a normal plastic bag, customers were given a «Drecksack» («rubbish bag»), which they were urged to put their rubbish in. The packaging materials used by Brezelkönig are intentionally minimal and very easy to dispose of.
The PET bottle collection facility has also been substantially expanded throughout Valora’s Swiss sales outlets. In addition to providing PET containers, some 600 000 bottle tags were distributed with PET drinks purchased; and the recycling drive was further underlined with wobblers and magnet buttons for staff. A number of contests also helped prompt customers to dispose of their empty bottles correctly.
In Germany Valora is an active participant in the DPG deposit system, accepting deposit bottles from customers at its outlets and passing them on for re-use. Waste paper is also collected at the sales outlets, picked up separately by the collector of surplus print products and sent for recycling.
«Sparing use of all resources is central to everything we do.»
Klaus Westerwelle, Head of Production and Technology, Brezelbäckerei Ditsch
In 2013, Ditsch began the phased introduction of a new energy-management system. Implementation is planned for completion in 2015, with an ISO 50001 audit. While electricity and gas consumption had been measured and documented the previous year, the system’s focus in 2014 was on documenting the energy use of specific plant and equipment. This enabled the «prime users» of electricity and gas to be identified, energy flows measured and their relevance charted for the company as a whole. It further permitted energy-intensive processes to be identified companywide. All these activities were also audited and certificated by TÜV Rheinland. The last element in the new system will be the preparation for the final audit at the end of 2015.
All Valora sales outlets have their energy consumption credentials enhanced whenever they are refurbished. The improvements here include installing LED lighting (instead of light bulbs) in all k kiosk, Press & Books, avec. and German retail outlets. LEDs last longer, are mercury-free and consume substantially less electricity. The refurbished outlets can cut their electricity and energy costs by up to 35 % – thanks also to the installation of energy-efficient Class A+ ovens, coffee machines and coolers. This equipment generates less heat, so the food itself requires less cooling to be stored and sold at its optimum temperature.
With its sales outlet interiors, too, Valora maintains a sustainable approach. All its German outlets use only FSC- and PEFC-certificated wood; and all the floorings are EMICODE EC1 Plus-classified, have been emissions-tested and carry the «Blauer Engel» (in English, «Blue Angel») quality seal.