With the backing of its new shareholders, the Rodenstock Group has decided to invest €20 million in the expansion of its lens production facilities in 2016 and 2017, or about 50 percent more than normal, and to hire 500 more employees at its production sites around the world, in response to rising demand from major customers for its products. The company says that it also plans to invest in its eyewear divison, focusing on its core strengths in the segment, to make its products more competitive.
The investments follow a highly profitable year in which Rodenstock's overall sales increased for the sixth time in a row, driven by a flourishing lens business. It was also the fifth year in which Rodenstock expanded its global staff of 4,500 people, raising the headcount by 50 employees.
Despite the weak economy in emerging markets, which affected its business in countries like Brazil and China, Rodenstock announced an increase in its global sales of 2.2 percent to €417 million in 2015. Its relatively small eyewear segment saw its turnover drop by 3.6 percent, due to “problematic market conditions,” especially in emerging markets where its position was strong, but an official of the company said it was more or less stable on a currency-neutral basis.
Sales of prescription lenses, which represent about 80 percent of Rodenstock's business, grew by 3 percent globally. They rose by 6 percent in the company's domestic German market and by 7 percent in other European countries, exceeding the company's expectations.
Rodenstock recently launched various new technologies and products including a high-precision measurement system, DNEye, its customized Impression FreeSign progressive lenses and the Solitaire coating system.
The group's operating income before amortization and special expenses, or adjusted Ebitda, reached €83.6 million, slightly up from €81.9 million in 2014 and equal to a comfortable Ebitda margin of 20 percent. The company says that its net profit was clearly positive. This is in spite of a high debt load, which the media have estimated at around €390 million.
Taking an investment of €3.5 million for restructuring measures in China into account, the actual operating result was reduced to €80.1 million. Rodenstock says that significant changes in the conditions on the Chinese market forced it to take swift action to clear up parts of its business in the country at the end of last year. In particular, the company decided to reorganize its lens business there, focusing on branded products and stopping sales of stock lenses.
The company continues to be run by Oliver Kastalio. As reported, Compass Partners joined Rodenstock as new shareholder last December, acquiring some of Bridgepoint's shares in the company. Bridgepoint, which had been the controlling shareholder since 2006 with a stake of 90 percent, is still a shareholder, but we could not determine who has the control now. A German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, said at the time that Bridgepoint wanted to sell a majority stake. Rodenstock's management has a stake of around 10 percent in the company like before.