The Otto Group was also able to weather the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain its strong market position in all business segments. The revenue of the Hamburg-based retail and services Group increased by double digits in the past 2021/22 financial year and profitability remained at a high level. The Group is well prepared for the current macroeconomic challenges.
The Otto Group was able to increase its Group revenue worldwide to around EUR 16.1 billion in the past 2021/22 financial year (28 February). That equates to growth of 12.9 percent on a comparable basis (reported: 2.7 percent).* The Group was able to seamlessly pick up on the substantial growth in the previous year and exceed its own forecast. Global revenues in e-commerce rose by double digits yet again on a comparable basis and climbed to around EUR 12.1 billion worldwide and EUR 8 billion in Germany.
The Group’s profitability remained at a very high level. Despite a rise in costs in the supply chains and higher risk provisions, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were EUR 677.4 million and stayed on roughly the level of the very strong earnings in the previous year. Earnings before taxes (EBT) actually rose from EUR 1.104 billion to EUR 1.863 billion on account of structural changes. The net profit for the year increased commensurately, by 842.3 million, to EUR 1.814 billion. The equity ratio nearly doubled from 20.8 to a very impressive 40.1 percent.
“We are quite proud to have seamlessly continued the tremendous success from the previous year despite the considerable challenges from the pandemic and lockdowns and achieved one of the best financial years in the company’s history,” says Alexander Birken, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of the Otto Group, with pleasure, explicitly thanking all employees “who have performed admirably under still difficult conditions.”
Targeted growth strategy: good performance in all business segments
The basis of the success is the targeted growth strategy that we have been pursuing for more than five years, with high investments in technology, platforms and logistics as well as a change in the corporate culture. All segments grew revenue in the past financial year on a comparable basis. They are now reported in the financial statements more transparently and with a better breakdown thanks to the new segmenting in Platforms, Brand Concepts, Retailers, Services and Financial Services.
In the Platforms segment, OTTO and About You, the two companies in focus, achieved major success. For example, the individual company OTTO, together with Baumarkt, was again able to directly increase revenue by double digits, namely by 13.2 percent, to EUR 5.12 billion. Over 11.5 million active customers went shopping at the e-commerce company over the past twelve months and ensured that the Hamburg-based e-commerce retailer was able to expand its leading position in market segments such as “Home & Living”. The platform business at otto.de has also continued to enjoy dynamic development with more than 3,500 brands and partners in the meantime and a continuously growing range of sustainable products. About You, the Otto Group’s publicly listed fashion and technology company since June 2021, is one of the fastest growing fashion and lifestyle platforms in Europe and has continued to perform exceptionally well. The number of active customers in 26 countries rose to 11.4 million in the past financial year (an increase of 34.8 percent). They can now choose from a range of more than 500,000 articles from over 3,500 brands. That generate revenue of around EUR 1.73 billion in the 2021/22 financial year (an increase of 48.5 percent). The company is again fully consolidated in the consolidated financial statements of the Otto Group due to the governance structure that was created as part of the IPO.
The Brand Concepts segment also paints a very positive picture. Bonprix, the fashion provider operating in 30 countries, profited from the recovery in consumption last year in the area of fashion, with shirts and denim articles in particular seeing above-average growth. As a result, after a weaker previous year, revenues rose by just under ten percent to around EUR 1.94 billion. The Crate and Barrel furnishings and lifestyle Group, which operates in the USA and Canada, saw revenue grow even more strongly. The company with its traditionally high number of brick-and-mortar stores was able to grow both sales channels – online and offline. Revenue rose by around 29 percent to EUR 2.31 billion. The internationally operating Witt Group was also able to increase sales substantially again. The omnichannel retailer specializing in the 50-plus customer group saw revenue climb by 12.8 percent to around EUR 1.23 billion.
In the Retailers segment, the Mytoys Group was able to maintain the high level of the previous year and generated revenue of EUR 905 million, an increase of 1.2 percent. The affiliated Shopping Community Limango grew disproportionately by a solid 13 percent.
The Services segment in the Otto Group continues to profit from the increasing importance of e-commerce, which is largely defined by the Group companies under the Hermes umbrella brand. On a comparable basis, the revenue of the Hermes Group rose by an impressive 40.9 percent. Advent International’s acquisition of shares in Hermes Germany and Hermes Parcelnet in the UK and the sale of Mondial Relay in France mean that the reported key figures can only be compared to a limited extent with those in the previous year.
The core of the Financial Services segment is the internationally operating
EOS Group. Despite the ongoing limitations in the operating business, the still very high-income financial services group grew by 3.1 percent to EUR 790 million on a comparable basis in the past financial year.
Group activities still focused on sustainability
Maintaining a balance between economic success and protecting people and nature has been the Otto Group’s declared goal for decades. This commitment also drives the company, undeterred, in politically unstable times such as these. The 2021/22 financial year marked the first year of the new CR Strategy for the Otto Group and therefore a fresh start on familiar terrain. Our goal: The Hamburg-based Group wants to achieve climate neutrality at its own locations, in transport, employee mobility and in our external data centers and cloud services by 2030. We primarily aim to achieve our goal by systematically avoiding and reducing emissions directly produced. Wherever we are unable to do so today, we offset some emissions in climate protection projects that adhere to the most rigorous standards. Furthermore, a science-based climate target will be developed in the next two years to align us with the Paris Climate Agreement and the 1.5 degree target adopted in it.
Strategic investments continue to be made
Through targeted strategic investments in establishing and developing new and existing business models, the Otto Group is setting its sights firmly on the future in these volatile times. Significant investments were made in the Platforms segment for future technologies and the IT infrastructure as well as the development of the company’s own payment service provider to offer customers and marketplace partners at otto.de payment services from a single source in the future. Furthermore, major investments in the Warehousing area were made in the Services segment. The Otto Group invested a total in the mid-three-digit millions (euros) in the digital transformation of the Group companies and in the logistics infrastructure during the past financial year.
Digital health field of innovation
By acquiring a majority stake in the Swiss Medgate Holding, the Otto Group achieved the planned entry into the lucrative and rapidly growing market of digital health services at the beginning of the current 2022/23 financial year. This is an explosively growing market, not just in Germany. The Otto Group contributes decades of experience with the development of digital business models and access to millions of people to serve this attractive market with colleagues from Medgate and its subsidiary BetterDoc and to successfully expand in the future.
Until the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the Otto Group had again planned highly profitable, double-digit revenue growth in this financial year. The war in Ukraine has had a substantial adverse effect on the predictability of future development. The consequences of the war and the still present pandemic on macroeconomic development, the consumer climate and the prices and availability of goods and raw materials in various sales and procurement markets of the Group are beginning to become a little clearer. That is why the Otto Group also cannot make any reliable forecasts for the future development of business.
“We are optimistic despite the very challenging environment and believe that we will again be able to increase our total revenue in the current financial year – but profitability will fall quite a bit,” emphasizes Alexander Birken. One reason for the chairman’s optimism is the systematic, targeted transformation of the business model, the tremendous potential for active customer contacts and the stable financial basis of the Group. “We hoisted the sails strategically, technically and culturally at an early stage in the Otto Group to keep the Group on a successful course in the event of now clearly increasing macroeconomic headwinds.”
*Revenue development adjusted for exchange rate effects and for effects from changes in the corporate portfolio, which mainly result from the deconsolidation of the parcel logistics activities of the Hermes Group in Germany and the United Kingdom (financial year 2020/21), the complete sale of Mondial Relay in France (financial year 2021/22) and the full consolidation of About You (also in financial year 2021/22).
Founded in Germany in 1949, today the Otto Group is a globally active retail and services group with around 41,000 employees in 30 major company groups primarily active in the economic regions of Germany, the rest of Europe, and the USA. Its business activities span the Platforms, Brand Concepts, Retailers, Services and Financial Services segments. In the 2022/23 financial year (to 28 February) the Otto Group generated revenues of 16.2 billion euros. With online revenues of approximately 12 billion euros, the Otto Group is one of the world’s largest online retailers. The Group’s particular strength is the broad market presence of its differentiated product assortments and service offers to diverse customer target groups in the world’s relevant economic regions. Numerous strategic partnerships and joint ventures provide the Otto Group with excellent opportunities to transfer know-how and leverage areas of synergy potential. Group companies demonstrate a high degree of corporate responsibility and willingness to collaborate with one another; at the same time this guarantees flexibility, customer proximity and optimal target-group appeal in their respective national markets.