Bobst CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst has hailed the firm’s 2020 results as “a major achievement” in light of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Overall we are very proud that despite the fact that Bobst lost 16% of turnover – almost CHF300m – we were able to post a positive end result. This is a major achievement.”
The Swiss group’s sales were CHF1.372bn (£1.1bn), with an operating profit of CHF44m and net result of CHF17m compared with CHF53m in 2019. The results were also affected by unfavourable exchange rates.
“On top of that we were able to create €160m cash instead of €55m in 2019, so you can see that Bobst Group has a very robust balance sheet and a very strong business overall, despite a major crisis,” he added.
The group also confirmed that, as with an increasing number of other manufacturers, it would need to increase prices to mitigate spiralling input costs.
Bobst was speaking as the business updated on the plans it announced last year to create a connected packaging supply chain spanning brand owners, converters and retailers.
Bobst said that its top level principles of connectivity, digitalisation, automation and sustainability were being transformed into a reality for customers.
“Every project we are leading in the company has to answer a minimum of one of these strategies,” he said.
Digital connectivity platform Bobst Connect is intended to help customers deploy Industry 4.0 ‘smart factory’ ways of working.
Connect is set to benefit from a new cloud-based platform to allow customers to monitor and manage performance, with integration on the way for job management, tooling management and maintenance management.
“2021 is a major year for us and our customers as we release our brand new cloud-based platform,” explained head of group technology Léonard Badet.
The first version will include a dashboard for key metrics and production stats, the second will involve detailed analysis and insights regarding equipment performance and productivity.
Badet said it would be rolled out on all new equipment by mid-2022, and the firm “would not stop there”.
Other new products announced included the fast changeover Expertfold 110 A3 version folder-gluer and Novafoil 106 hot foil stamper featuring a cross-foiling section and redesigned platen and gripper bar advance system – both targeted at folding cartons.
Bobst also highlighted the “completely unique” Mastercut 1.65 which can handle carton board, corrugated board and litho-laminate.
In flexible packaging, the group is working with partners to develop the OneBarrier range of sustainable substrates.
The firm said that by “maximising the amount of PE, we provide a packaging structure that is recyclable and economical while ensuring exceptional barrier performances”.
It is also working on future “mono material” plastic options as well as new paper-based packaging material solutions.
Bobst has also teamed up with ink maker Siegwerk on low-VOC ink formulas for gravure printing.