SWEDEN: Refrigeration wholesaler Beijer Ref achieved a net sales increase of 13.9% to SEK14.817bn (€1.4bn) in 2019, despite reporting a reduction in refrigerant demand and prices.
With organic growth at 4.4% and a 13.3% increase in operating profit, Beijer Ref CEO Per Bertland confirmed yet another strong year for the group. “The operating margin was 8.3%, which is in line with previous years, despite the fact that both prices and volume of the refrigerants have gradually fallen during the year,” he said.
The figures for the year follow a strong fourth quarter in which net sales increased by 4.3% amounting to SEK3.435bn (€323m). Organic growth amounted to 0.9%.
The fall in refrigerant prices and demand is said to have been offset by an increase in demand for HVAC products and Beijer Ref’s own OEM products.
“Commercial cooling, apart from refrigerants, is stable and together with HVAC and OEM more than well compensates for the negative development of refrigerants,” Bertland said. “Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that refrigerant prices will be at a historically high level until 2030 when the phasing-out of F-gases under EU regulations will be completed.”
The announcement this week of the intended purchase of Australian distributor ACD Trade could signal further acquisitions this year.
“Acquisitions are always high on our list of priorities,” Bertland commented. “2018 was an acquisition-intensive year and 2019 was largely devoted to consolidating the new companies into our group structure. It therefore feels good to start the new year with the acquisition of ACD Trade in Australia.”