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Bertschi posts gains in difficult market
ertschi Group grew again in the 2019 financial year. But, a
challenging market environment saw the rate of growth
for the Swiss chemical logistics company slow considerably.
Sales rose to CHF985 million, with the earnings position remaining
just about stable. Efforts focused on digitalisation and targeted
expansion of services. The family-owned business plans to continue
these efforts vigorously in 2020.
The second half of the year was shaped by economic headwinds.
After a strong start, the world economy, and in particular the
automotive industry, which is so important to the chemicals industry,
lost momentum over the course of 2019. Bertschi was not immune
to this trend and towards the end of the year was faced with weak
transport demand, particularly in its European business units.
In the reporting year, Bertschi saw group revenues rise by 1.3
percent to CHF985 million. The workforce grew by 3 percent to
3,100. Adjusted for negative currency effects, revenue gains of 3.6
percent in local currency terms were posted. In addition to the
economic downswing, the strength of the Swiss Franc also had a
negative impact. In spite of the difficult economic environment, cost
management enabled Bertschi to maintain earnings just about
consistent with the previous year’s figures.
Worldwide activities were the primary growth drivers in 2019, the
company reported, while Bertschi’s European business was
increasingly tepid as the year progressed. The early-cyclical company
was beset by significant economic headwinds toward the end of the
year in Germany, in particular.
Bertschi was successful in its implementation of complex supply
chain solutions in 2019. In this area, the company offers concepts
encompassing order management, transport, storage, product
handling and goods distribution. Such concepts are also increasingly
used in global logistics chains. In-house hubs, such as the logistics
centre in Singapore, play an important role in the storage, filling and
distribution of liquid chemical products in South-East Asia.
Digitalisation pay off
Bertschi made significant investment in its future in 2019. In
addition to expansion of its container fleet by 7 percent to 36,800
units, substantial facility expansion in Duisburg and Schwarzheide
(Germany) boosted local capacity for modal shift from road to rail
and for product storage, respectively.
Last year also saw the completion of the expansion of the
headquarters in Dürrenäsch, Switzerland, and commencement of
operations in the new facilities. With the new, modern office space,
staff restaurant and outdoor relaxation areas, the company offers
employees an outstanding working environment.
A focus of the company’s digital transformation efforts in 2019
was the roll-out of the Bertschi TruckTracer app.
“Our drivers and all company partners receive their order data
through the app and then record every step of the transport chain
on it. This data flows into the Group’s transport planning system
and from there on to customers through various interfaces. This
real-time data is used to optimise internal transport planning, while
customers benefit from visibility and more planning security in their
delivery chains,” said Michael Baechler, group COO. By the end of
Sustainable intermodal transport – Bertschi’s intermodal terminal in Rotterdam-Botlek
the year, Bertschi had been able to implement this transparency tool
in 95 percent of all European transports.
Solutions for the future
Looking ahead to 2020, group CEO Jan Arnet is cautious: “Last year
we saw a notable and steady cooling-off of the economy, and in
Europe in particular important industry sectors have slid into
recession. We expect this trend to continue in 2020, with
corresponding effects on transport demand. I expect that our global
orientation will allow us to offset regional sales declines to some
extent. But we will continue to have a strong focus on cost
developments in 2020 as well.”
In this challenging environment, the ongoing digitalisation strategy
will be continued in full force. The objective of the digital
transformation is to enable efficiency gains in business processes
while simultaneously generating added value for customers.
One component of this is the SmartTainer project, which will go
into an initial implementation phase in 2020 following pilot testing
last year. GPS and sensor technology in about 1,600 tank containers
will enable parameters, such as the position of the container and
the temperature of the loaded product, to be recorded and
monitored in real time. This will enable the company to set new
standards in terms of customer service, safety and efficiency,
particularly in intermodal transport chains, such as rail and inland
In terms of sustainability, Bertschi says it has has played a
pioneering role in this field for years. With this approach, CO2
emissions have reduced by more than 60 percent compared with
road transport. In Europe, Bertschi conducts 90 percent of all
overland transport by intermodal rail and will continue to expand
this service in 2020. Sustainable concepts are also being
implemented in other areas, such as the development of completely
recyclable transport aids for loose plastics (the GreenLiner) and the
campaign to replace non-recyclable flexitanks and barrels with tank
containers in the transport of liquid chemical products.
The highlight of the traditional annual employees meeting on 18
January was the ceremony to honour long-serving staff. A new
record was set with 142 employees receiving the thanks of group
executive chairman Hans-Jörg Bertschi for 10, 20, 30 and even 40
years of service to the company. More than 60 of those honoured
were celebrating their 20th anniversary of service with the company.
“The millennium year that began in 2000 was evidently a very
special class with exceptional company loyalty,” said Hans-Jörg
In addition to eight people celebrating 30 years of service, Bruno
Steiner and Roman Fessler – both in leadership positions at the
Birrfeld rail terminal – accepted congratulations on their 40th
anniversary with the company.
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For more information: E-mail: [email protected] and web: www.tws-gmbh.de
Digitalisation - Bertschi driver using the TruckTracer app