Austrian Post reported very good results in the 2011 financial year in spite of a very difficult market environment. This confirms our strategic positioning and shows that we are also making good progress in the operational implementation of our development plans. Thus, we have succeeded once again in creating value for the benefit of our stakeholders.
In particular, the employees who are behind us on this path and who I would like to sincerely thank for their hard work and commitment are the ones who are responsible for our achievements. Supporting, appreciative and performance-oriented – this comprises our value package for employees. With this in mind, we pressed ahead intensively with developing our corporate principles in 2011 as part of a process initiated in 2010. Accordingly, we developed guidelines on leadership quality and a leadership culture together with our executives.
The revenue figures can only turn out to be favourable if the customers are satisfied with our offering and services. For this reason, our corporate principles say, “Everything we do revolves around our customers.” We also did this in 2011. We expanded our network of postal service points, designed simpler and size-based letter mail products and introduced new online services to our offering, to name just a few of our activities. It goes without saying that we will continue to maintain our high delivery quality.
Hand in hand with the earnings improvement, we are also able to offer a higher dividend on behalf of our shareholders – provided that the General Meeting agrees to our proposal. Thus, once more Austrian Post has proven itself to be an attractive investment – reliable, predictable and solid.
„... EVEN MORE
AND CONVENIENCE ...“
INTERVIEW WITH THE MANAGEMENT BOARD
From left to right: Walter Hitziger, Georg Pölzl, Peter Umundum, Rudolf Jettmar
Mr. Pölzl, how satisfied are you with the development of the Austrian Post Group in 2011?
Pölzl: Austrian Post developed very well. We made progress in successfully implementing many of the initiatives we undertook. We managed to exceed our expectations in several areas, and in some areas we had to initiate measures designed to further improve our performance. Our market environment and the technologies available to us are continually changing. We are monitoring this very carefully and will also further develop our business on an ongoing basis.
Thus, Austrian Post once again created significant value in 2011 ...
Pölzl: Indeed, the strategic path we are pursuing is the right one. And on an operating level we know precisely where we can make further improvements. Our good level of profitability comprises a very solid basis for the long-term creation of value. Our domestic and international shareholders have confidence in what we are doing, and we are committed to maintaining their trust.
A very impressive overall picture. And what is the situation in the individual divisions?
Hitziger: As the new name already indicates, there were a number of new developments in the Mail & Branch Network Division in 2011. An important milestone was the integration of the Mail and Branch Network divisions entailing numerous synergy effects. Parallel to this reorganisation, we expanded our network of postal partner offices to 1,258 postal partners, and put our cooperation with BAWAG P.S.K. on a new footing. The fact that all this was very well received by customers demonstrates that we are moving in the right direction. We also took decisive steps to further develop our letter mail business in 2011. For example, we introduced a completely new product portfolio, which is not primarily based on the weight of mail items but on size and delivery speed. Since February 2012, we have also been delivering direct mail items throughout the country in the collective advertising envelope called KUVERT. At the same time, we are also offering our business customers the opportunity to individualise addressed direct mail items more strongly than in the past. Thus, we will be able to offer an even more diverse and customer-oriented range of services. We will decisively continue on this path.
Umundum: The development of our parcels business in Austria also proceeded very satisfactorily. We succeeded in consolidating or expanding our market position according to plan, and establishing new services for both private and business customers. We increased our market share in the business customer segment to about 18% in line with our strategy. The next interim goal we have defined is increasing our market share to 20%. We launched a performance enhancement programme for our subsidiary trans-o-flex focusing on revenue and costs, which should help the company to achieve the targeted margin improvement. In addition to the issues of growth and profitability, we worked on developing new services for customers. Pilot operations for the drop-off and receiving boxes developed very well. The Austriawide rollout will begin in 2012.
What role do your new corporate principles play in all these initiatives?
Pölzl: For me it is extremely important to actively develop the issue
of ensuring a corporate and leadership culture. This is the foundation
for our employees to experience the basic values of support,
appreciation and performance-orientation in their everyday professional
life and also to breathe life into these values themselves. In
particular, our employees deserve to benefit from the modern and
future-oriented value framework we have created as well as a uniform
leadership culture based on esteem, which in turn serves as the
foundation for ensuring our mutual success also in the future.
Speaking of the future, what do you expect Austrian Post’s dividend policy will be in the years to come?
Jettmar: We continue to pursue our dividend policy of distributing at least 75% of the Group net profit to our shareholders. This means that dividends should develop positively in line with our business development. By the way, this is also the case this year. We are proposing a dividend of EUR 1.70 per share for the 2011 financial year. This corresponds to a dividend yield of 7.3% on the basis of the share price of EUR 23.30 at the end of December 2011.
Mr. Jettmar, how is this satisfaction reflected in the company’s performance figures?
Jettmar: Even in what is by no means an easy macroeconomic environment, we succeeded in raising Group revenue by 4.2% on a comparable basis and, on this foundation, we increased earnings by 7.3%. We were also able to materially improve the structure of operational costs. On balance, we achieved the second best results in company history.
And how is the company doing in CEE?
Umundum: We are very satisfied with the parcels business in the South East and Eastern Europe region, and the performance of our subsidiaries is consistently in line with our expectations. On balance, the parcel subsidiaries of Austrian Post generated revenue of EUR 67.3m in South East and Eastern Europe in 2011.
Hitziger: We now have four subsidiaries in the CEE region for advertising mail and letter mail delivery – for the most part in countries with high growth potential in these areas. Our newest subsidiary joined us in 2011. I am talking here about Romania, where we managed a so-called “soft entry” into the domestic market by acquiring a 26% stake in PostMaster s.r.l., one of the country’s leading alternative postal service providers. If business develops favourably, we intend to intensify our business operations in this segment.
How are things going to continue? What improvements or expansion plans do you have in the pipeline?
Pölzl: The development of our business in the past two years has demonstrated that we are on the right path. This is based on two cornerstones. On the one hand, the focus is on safeguarding our core business and continually optimising operations on the basis of efficiency-enhancing measures. On the other hand, we must and want to take advantage of growth opportunities and further press ahead with our customer- and service-oriented approach. We aim to continue in pursuing both strategic thrusts at a high intensity in the future. Many projects have already been initiated, in order to meet the demand for “24/7” or round-the-clock availability and service and make it a reality on all levels of our business. The aim here is to provide even more customer benefits and greater convenience.
Hitziger: Our aim is to remain the number one provider on the Austrian market in the letter mail and direct mail segments. This means we have to permanently work on ourselves. Above all, we are striving future-oriented value framework we have created as well as a uniform leadership culture based on esteem, which in turn serves as the foundation for ensuring our mutual success also in the future.
And how do you expect business in the 2012 financial year to develop?
Pölzl: The market environment will certainly continue to be difficult in many customer segments due to economic uncertainties. Nevertheless, thanks to strict cost discipline and massive efforts to develop and market customer-oriented services, we should manage to maintain Group revenue at a stable level and also achieve an EBITDA margin in the targeted range of 10% to 12%.
Thank you for the Interview.