How Valora became a focused convenience and food service provider

2017
Further growth through acquisitions and investments

Further growth through acquisitions and investments

Following the completion of the transformation process in 2016 to become a focused convenience and food service provider, Valora implements its announced growth initiative in 2017. The acquisition of the franchise business BackWerk turns Valora at a stroke into the leading vertically integrated snack food provider in Germany. As a result, Valora has a much greater inner-city presence and enters the Dutch market. In the B2B business, significant developments include the acquisition of the up-and-coming pretzel producer Pretzel Baron in the US and the replacement of a production line at the Ditsch pretzel bakery in Germany.

Following the successful capital increase by CHF 166 million in autumn 2017, a bonded loan for EUR 170 million is placed on the market with attractive conditions in January 2018. This is a significant step by Valora towards the implementation of its long-term financing strategy.

In addition to various growth and investment activities, Valora continues to expand its offering of products and services. This includes new launches in the area of e-smoke and other tobacco alternatives, the introduction of the award-winning k kiosk app focusing on promotions and loyalty offers, the consolidation of the digital financial offers through the bob Finance brand, and the modernisation of Caffè Spettacolo and the avec sales outlets. Valora also plays an active role in digitisation topics as a partner of Digital Day 2017 in Switzerland and exploits new technological opportunities to improve its internal processes. In addition, Valora concludes a new Collective Labour Agreement with the Swiss Association of Commercial Employees stipulating higher minimum salaries for employees and other improvements in working conditions.

Valora makes operationally and strategically significant progress in 2017 and is on a growth path. The international expansion of Valora continues to progress and the company is even better positioned in a market shaped by a growing trend towards “foodvenience”.

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2016
Transformation successfully concluded – new growth strategy

Transformation successfully concluded – new growth strategy

With the sale of Naville Distribution and the sale of the Naville property in Geneva, Valora successfully concludes the transformation of the Group into a focused convenience and food service provider. The further optimisation of the sales point network in Switzerland and Germany and the expansion of the Ditsch/Brezelkönig retail formats remain a priority.

At the same time, we expand the integrated value chain with our own brands ok.– in Germany, Caffè Spettacolo in Switzerland and Germany as well as the increasing use of Ditsch bakery products in our own convenience stores. We also push ahead with the expansion of production capacities for pretzel and bakery products for third-party customers.

The selection of food and beverages on offer is also expanded across the entire kiosk and convenience business. For example, around 100 sales outlets in Switzerland receive Starbucks coffee machines and approximately 650 Caffè Spettacolo machines.

At the same time, various new digital offers are launched, including the Caffè Spettacolo app that allows customers to place orders while on the move and to pay via the app, the scan&go pilot project aimed at increasing transaction speeds during rush hour periods, and the establishment of a Retail Analytics team. The objective is to tailor new offers better to customer needs with simple and practical digital solutions and to increasingly position Valora as a service partner.

These numerous initiatives lay a good foundation for our medium to long-term growth plans. The strategy provides a clear focus: growth and expansion, efficiency, a performance-driven culture and innovation.

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2015
Focus and efficiency

Focus and efficiency

Significant strategic milestones are achieved in 2015 and operational efficiency is improved throughout the company.

The sale of the Trade division and the outsourcing of warehouse logistics in Switzerland are the last major steps of the focusing strategy. This involves Valora concentrating on the convenience and food service business with a major stake in pretzel production.

Moreover, the already large network in Switzerland is successfully expanded through Naville. Operating efficiency is improved across all core processes in Retail Switzerland and Group management as part of the Naville integration.

In Retail Germany, we succeed in strengthening the organisation and laying the foundation for future growth. The founding of the fintech company bob Finance AG is another milestone. The Valora Lab is another new creation – a digital innovation team developing digital products and services, such as the Caffè Spettacolo app.

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2014
Transformation process

Transformation process

Valora undergoes a comprehensive transformation process. The aim is to become the leading small-scale retailer at high-frequency locations and a specialist in ready-to-eat foods.

The press wholesale operation was sold last year and the Valora Trade division classified as a disposal group. These are two important milestones in the transformation. The acquisition of the small-scale retailer Naville in French-speaking Switzerland is an important step within this process. It enlarges the location network, which now covers the whole of Switzerland. This opens up exciting new opportunities for Valora.

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2013
Initial successes – good prospects for further development

Initial successes – good prospects for further development

2013 is an important year for Valora in terms of strategic measures. The focus remains on the core small-outlet retail business. The transformation of the Swiss kiosk network makes good progress. The 111 sites which were either newly built or re-designed perform well. A key attribute of these transformed outlets is their clear emphasis on food and beverages for immediate consumption. The Ditsch/Brezelkönig business continues its successful expansion and enjoys excellent growth prospects.

At Valora Services, key decisions are taken to pave the way for handing over control of the business. The division also expands its logistics services. Valora Trade begins to reap its first rewards from the initiatives taken to improve its profitability.

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2012
Having successfully completed some major acquisitions, valora now focuses on its core competencies

Having successfully completed some major acquisitions, valora now focuses on its core competencies

The acquisition of 1,300 Lekkerland subsidiary Convenience Concept retail outlets in Germany in January 2012 is a major milestone. In early 2012, Valora also purchases the outlet network operated by Schmelzer-Bettenhausen, Austria’s largest railway-station bookseller. In the autumn of 2012, Valora acquires the Ditsch/Brezelkönig group of companies, further expanding its portfolio of retail formats. The focused product range and the expansion of the location portfolio ideally complement Valora’s existing retail formats in Germany and Switzerland.

These activities enable Valora to further enhance its leading position in Europe’s German-speaking markets, establishing the Group as a leading retailer with more than 3,000 outlets in four countries. The “Valora 4 Growth” strategy programme is successfully concluded. In the future, the primary objective of the “Valora for a fast moving world” programme will be to achieve a sustained increase in profitability by focusing on Valora’s core areas of retail expertise and exploiting the Valora Group’s outstanding potential.

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2011
“Valora 4 Growth” pursued consistently

“Valora 4 Growth” pursued consistently

The integration of the German outlets acquired in 2010 into the k kiosk format continues apace and the number of k kiosk units in Switzerland adopting the agency business model also grows rapidly. By acquiring the distributors EMH in Norway and ScanCo in Sweden, the Trade division is able to add two attractive cosmetics companies to its portfolio. In addition, the purchase of niche distributor Salty Snacks Delicatessen in Germany enables it to expand into the profitable savoury baked goods category.

2010
“Valora 4 Success” developed further

“Valora 4 Success” developed further

A number of major milestones are reached and some 80 percent of the measures under the strategic programme have now been accomplished. The next phase, the “Valora 4 Growth” strategy, is initiated in November 2010. It is based on organic margin and turnover growth in all areas and acquisition-led expansion in Retail/Services and Trade.

2009
Valora implements comprehensive strategy programme

Valora implements comprehensive strategy programme

The programme “Valora 4 Success” has four core initiatives: focus on the core business, growth for the convenience sector, improvement of efficiency and the strengthening of our corporate culture.

2008
Valora employs over 6,000 staff

Valora employs over 6,000 staff

Valora operates 1,404 of its own retail outlets in three European countries and supplies approximately 60,000 wholesale customers in ten countries.

2006/2007

Restructuring of kiosk business in switzerland and sale of fotolabo

Valora now has three components to its business model: small-scale retail, press & book wholesale, distribution of branded goods. It also restructures its kiosk business in Switzerland and hives off Fotolabo.

2004
Focus on core business – restructuring

Focus on core business – restructuring

The degree of complexity in its corporate structures prompts Valora to dispose of business areas which are no longer core activities – including the traditional Merkur coffee and specialty store businesses. New k kiosk styling introduced.

2001

Sale of mattress business and expansion

Kiosk and press wholesale is expanded, initially to Germany, then Luxembourg and Austria.

2000/1999
Press distribution strengthened / Caffè Spettacolo launched

Press distribution strengthened / Caffè Spettacolo launched

Strengthening of press distribution: Valora acquires Melisa in Ticino, thus expanding its press distribution activities. Purchase of Fotolabo: Valora acquires Europe’s leading mail order film developer. The Italian coffee bar concept Caffè Spettacolo is launched in Switzerland.

1997

Focus

From five to three divisions – Kiosk, Alimarca, Slumberland. Selecta is sold.

1996

New name

On 1 July 1996, Merkur Holding AG becomes Valora Holding AG. The diversification strategy aims to reduce overall exposure to market volatility and the risks borne by investors. Companies with weak profitability are replaced with higher margin firms.

1991

Entry into consumer goods business

The Swiss firm Alimarca AG is acquired, followed by further trading company purchases. The acquisition of the Scandinavian Consiva group in 2001 makes Valora Europe’s leading distributor of fast-moving consumer goods.

1990

Entry into kiosk and press wholesale markets

The Group acquires Schmidt Agence and Kiosk AG, whose combined Swiss outlets number 1,500.

1988

Start of non-food activities

Merkur acquires Bico, Switzerland’s leading mattress manufacturer.

1985
Merkur’s growth phase

Merkur’s growth phase

Merkur acquires the Selecta Group, whose activities attain a European dimension over the next four years, with operations established in Germany, Sweden and France.

1934
Kiosk AG

Kiosk AG

Foundation of Kiosk AG.

1920

Diversification

Numerous acquisitions in and outside Switzerland transform the face of the Group over subsequent decades.

1906-1919

Rapid early development

Merkur AG expands it network to 130 outlets and acquires “Schweizerische Kaffeeröstereien”, a coffee roasting company.

1905

Foundation

A group of innovative entrepreneurs in Olten establish the “Schweizer Chocoladen & Colonialhaus”, the parent company of Merkur AG and the precursor of today’s Valora.