The Zeiss Group said that its Consumer Markets segment, comprising the strategic Vision Care and Consumer Products business units, enjoyed above-market growth for the financial year ended on Sept. 30. It added that it outpaced the competition in all regions, especially in emerging markets, reaching for the first time a level of more than one billion euros.

Five years earlier, when the group was still breaking down the division’s sales, its revenues from Vision Care were only €761 million. In the past fiscal year, the overall revenues of Zeiss’ Consumer Markets segment, which also includes camera lenses and other products, jumped by 9 percent to €1,211 million, rising by 8 percent on a currency-neutral basis.

According to the management, the growth of the vision care market remained stable globally, with the main growth drivers being the increased purchasing power in emerging economies, the global rise in demand for vision care from an aging population and developments such as the significant increase in myopia. However, the global market for eyeglass lenses continued to face price pressure and ongoing consolidation activities among competitors.

In all the regions, Zeiss precision eyeglass lenses performed well. The EMEA region reported a significant increase in revenues. The business developed positively in the rapidly developing economies, in particular in Asia, as well as in the larger markets of Central Europe. The U.S., the largest market for vision care, continued to be a challenge, Zeiss said, mainly due to intense competition among independent eyecare professionals and increasing market entry barriers. As of 30 Sept. 2019, the segment employed 10,760 employees worldwide, up from 10,544 for the prior year.

Across the group, revenues rose by 11 percent to €6,428 million, with an increase of 9 percent in local currencies. All the segments and all the regions contributed to the growth, led by Industrial Quality & Research and medical technology. On a comparable, currency-neutral basis, they rose by 8 percent, driven primarily by the Asia-Pacific. In the EMEA and the Americas, the company recorded a growth of 8 percent and 2 percent respectively – both on a comparable basis. As before, more than 90 percent of Zeiss’ sales came from outside Germany.

At €1,063 million euros, the group’s operating profit (Ebit) was well above the €772 million recorded in the previous year, and the Ebit margin reached 17 percent, up from 13 percent in the previous year, in spite of a 10 percent increase in R&D expenditures to €705 million.

Orders went up by 9 percent, which led the management to say that the goal for the current fiscal year is to once again increase revenues and continue to achieve a high Ebit margin of over 10 percent. However, it added that this is a challenging goal in light of the economic downturn and the need to maintain significant R&D expenditures.

Among other things, the company said in its annual report for the past year that further progress can be made in the area of free-form technology.

In the area of sustainability, Zeiss has decided to switch to carbon-neutral energy supplies at its German operations by 2022.