Annual Report 2016
In 2016 we focused once again on further development and direction-setting for the company to ensure that the success story of Eppendorf continues. With Group sales of € 651.5 million and sales growth of 4.8% when adjusted for currency effects, we once again ended the fiscal year on a positive note, achieving growth in line with the average industry rate of 4-5%. Thanks to a growth rate in the high single digits, the Asian market contributed significantly to this good result and was able to partially compensate for weaker growth in Europe and the United States. Furthermore, our service segment epServices and our OEM and customized solutions business also developed very positively in 2016.
At the 2016 Annual General Meeting, Klaus Fink stepped down after more than five years as Chairman of the Supervisory Board. Prior to this, he made a significant contribution to Eppendorf during his 22-year-tenure as the company's Chief Executive Officer, paving the way for its ongoing growth and current success. On its own behalf as well as that of the shareholding families, the Management Board would like to thank Klaus Fink very sincerely for his many years of service to the company and his legacy at Eppendorf. In early June, 2016, Philipp von Loeper was elected as Chairman of the Supervisory Board and Hans Hinz as Vice Chairman. On December 31, Hans Hinz left the Supervisory Board after serving it for 39 years. We thank him for his extraordinary long-term commitment to this Board and are very pleased that his son, Prof. Dr. Elmar Hinz, has been a new member of the Supervisory Board of Eppendorf AG since January 1, 2017. William A. Linton, Chairman and CEO of Promega Corporation, USA, was appointed to the Supervisory Board at the beginning of fiscal year 2017 as well. Sincere thanks for many years of valuable work also go to former board member Dr. Ralf Hermann, who left the Management Board of Eppendorf AG at the end of October.
In 2016, we once again worked on further extending our global presence. As part of our efforts to strategically expand our service business in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Eppendorf acquired Calibration Technology Ltd on November 1, 2016. After many years of close partnership, the company is now being managed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Eppendorf AG. In addition to improving our service and sales presence, we can also profit from Calibration Technology's good access to major industrial customers. Since early March, our colleagues from Eppendorf India Limited have been working at a new site in Chennai, India. The new premises include a show room, a state-of-the-art laboratory, training rooms, a calibration station and a pipette workshop. A warehouse with an adjoining private bond store enables the employees to send out goods to our customers even more quickly.
Other focal points this year were the ongoing expansion and further development of our product portfolio: With the successful launch of our Multipette®/Repeater® E3/E3x, we were able to offer our customers a new and innovative product in 2016 that was very well received by the market. Our Centrifuge 5920 R for the four-liter segment also got off t o a smooth start. Together with the Rotor S-4×Universal-Large that was introduced in October, it enables our customers to centrifuge tubes and plates together ─ a significant advantage in terms of efficiency and enhanced performance in the laboratory. With our Eppendorf Storage Boxes and Eppendorf Tube Racks, we have expanded our system products in the area of sample handling and storage by adding suitable accessories for every need. Our Eppendorf Tubes® 5.0 mL system was extended with the introduction of a new screw cap tube. The new single-use bioreactors BioBLU® 3c and BioBLU 3f round off our portfolio for microbiological processes in the lab, thus strengthening our position as one of the leading bioprocess providers.
Beyond our product innovations, last year we also focused on communication as a way of creating added value for our customers' optimized daily work routines. One example is the online platform Eppendorf Handling Solutions, which provides scientific background reports, workflow solutions and application tips in the areas of liquid handling and cell handling. Sample handling will be added in 2017 to structurally complete the platform.
In past years as well, we have reported on the organizational changes we are making to optimize our structures and processes. These changes represent a continuous process that we will describe more closely in the first part of this Annual Report. Starting with our experience in the development and production of laboratory products, we will explain how we plan to drive forward the further development of our company together with our employees, and explore what will contribute to Eppendorf's future growth. Digitalization plays a big role here ─ not just in terms of our products, but also in the way customers can contact us. For instance, sales generated via eProcurement solutions almost doubled compared with last year.
Now more than ever, our customers' needs are the focal point of everything we do. It's our objective to respond uncompromisingly to these needs with first-class products, excellent service and a sound instinct for the requirements of tomorrow, and this objective provides us with orientation in times of change.
Due to extensive investments, we estimate that our operating profit in 2017 will remain at the same level as last year, with our sales growth slightly above the industry average. Our goal is to position Eppendorf to ensure profitable growth in the future, too. To reach this goal, we are investing in strategic projects that focus on research and development and on refining and extending our marketing strategies. We want to better tap and implement the opportunities offered by the market and drive forward innovation ─ together with our employees, whom we would like to thank for their commitment and dedication.
We also thank our customers for their trust in our company.