The Vision Care segment of Carl Zeiss recorded a slight sales decline to €841 million for the financial year ended last Sept. 30, down from €860 million in the prior year. Without providing any details, the group indicated that was a satisfactory development in view of a difficult market environment and the discontinuation of businesses that were offering less attractive margins. On the other hand, Zeiss pointed out that this business unit, which it now owns 100 percent, reported a clear increase in earnings.

The restructuring and modernization of the production and distribution network initiated in previous years for the division has led it to make a “substantial” contribution to the earnings and cash flow of the whole Zeiss group in the past year, the company said in a press release.

The press release pointed out that the Zeiss group as a whole managed to post a new record in terms of turnover, which grew to €4,190 million from €4,163 million in the previous financial year.

Zeiss reported particularly strong growth of 11 percent in rapidly developing economies such as China, India and Latin America. Sales rose by 6 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, by 5 percent in the Americas and by 2 percent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Germany represented only 15 percent of the total turnover.

The group continued to make big investments. It invested €245 million in property, plant and equipment and €411 million in research and development. R&D spending represented 10 percent of revenues, up from 9 percent the year before. A total of 2,685 employees, or 11 percent of the whole staff, are involved in R&D.

The high investments and currency effect had an impact on operating earnings (Ebit), which declined to €335 million in the past year from €420 million in 2011/12. The consolidated net profit fell to €193 million from €250 million. However, for the fourth consecutive year, Zeiss is giving a share of profits to all employees under a collectively agreed scheme. Each of them received a bonus of more than €1.000 pre-tax based on the results for the business year ended on Sept. 30. 

The management predicts a slight improvement in revenues and profits for the current fiscal year, thanks in part to the investments under its Agenda 2016 strategic program to make Zeiss “more modern, global and dynamic.”

As part of this program, the company opened a few days ago a Zeiss Vision Science Laboratory at the nearby University of Tübingen to take advantage of the local competence cluster of neurology, medicine and ophthalmic optics in the region. The lab's ultimate goal is to gain an understanding of the development of vision, the interaction of light with the eye and the eyeglass lens, and the processing of the image in the brand in many different, dynamic situations.

The lab will also invesztigate the development of pathological changes in visual perception to enable their diagnosis by using suitable measuring methods at an early stage. For the patients, this could result in personalized solutions for enhanced vision.