Strong growth driven by a clear strategy
Relais Group’s business grew very strongly during the financial year 2020. We achieved net sales of EUR 128.9 million, representing a year-on-year increase of 30 percent. EBITA grew by 44 percent. Growth was particularly strong during the second half of the year.
Relais has a very clear and sharp strategy and we continued its purposeful and uncompromising execution in 2020. Our strategy’s cornerstones are growth at a rate that exceeds the market’s average growth by leveraging acquisition-related synergies, active and targeted acquisitions and creating added value for our customers through our comprehensive product range and digital service solutions.
In summer 2019 we set a strategic target to double the turnover of the company in 5 years. As it is now very probable that we will reach the target substantially earlier, the company intends to redefine the target at a later stage this year.
The effectiveness and resilience of our strategy was particularly highlighted during the market instability caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our business developed favorably despite the wide-ranging restrictions in society, especially during the second half of the year. We were able to look after the safety of our employees and stakeholders and serve our customers without disruptions in circumstances that were at times highly challenging. Our personnel demonstrated outstanding commitment and flexibility, and I want to take this opportunity to express my warmest thanks to them.
Growth in all of the Group’s main markets
We further strengthened our position as a forerunner in the vehicle life cycle enhancement business in the Nordic region. Especially in Sweden, our organic growth was strong throughout the year. The financial year 2020 was the first full year of ABR and Huzells, which we acquired in 2019, being reported as part of Relais Group. We were able to effectively leverage synergies, particularly by expanding the distribution of our Group’s own lighting products in the Swedish market.
The Finnish market was weighed down in the first half of the year by the exceptionally warm winter and especially the shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the second quarter. However, in the second half of the year, we were able to increase our sales substantially faster than the market’s average growth rate.
Highly targeted and successful acquisitions
We carried out three targeted strategic acquisitions in 2020. In January, we created a bridgehead in the Danish vehicle lighting market by acquiring a majority stake in the Danish company SEC Scandinavia AS. In February, we strengthened our position in heavy duty vehicle spare parts and equipment, which is an important market segment for us, by acquiring a majority stake in the Swedish company TD Tunga Delar AB. In December 2020, we announced the acquisition of Strands Group AB, a Swedish company that exports vehicle lighting products globally, which further strengthened our position as one of the most significant players in the European vehicle lighting aftermarket.
Our agile and efficient integration process ensures that synergies from acquisitions are fully leveraged – for example, by consolidating purchasing volumes and coordinating product ranges between the Group companies. At the same time, our companies maintain a strong local identity and ownership of customer accounts.
Commercial vehicles and lighting solutions as increasingly important pillars for the Group’s business
The commercial vehicle segment has become an increasingly important pillar for Relais and we see further opportunities in the development of related business operations at the Nordic level. At the time of writing this review, we have just completed the acquisition of Raskone, a nationwide multi-brand maintenance and repair workshop chain in Finland. The commercial vehicle maintenance and repair business supports our growth and brings us one step closer to end customers in the commercial vehicle segment. Having an in-depth understanding of our customers’ needs makes it possible for us to develop even better service concepts in the future.
The vehicle lighting solutions market represents global potential for us. We have an extensive range of lighting products, mostly under our own brands, and our goal is to further develop our selection in response to customer needs. With Strands having joined our family, we are in an even stronger position in this market and the share of the Group’s total sales represented by our own brands will grow significantly.
Digital solutions and sustainability are at the core of what we do
The digital transformation is one of the key drivers of our growth. In 2020, we continued to develop the functionality of our digital product catalogs to benefit our customers and ensure even smoother customer service. For example, having precise and clear search criteria for spare parts reduces unnecessary product returns and the associated adverse environmental impacts. Our goal is to continue to exceed customer expectations and take full advantage of the business development opportunities presented by the digital transformation.
Sustainability is an integral aspect of our day-to-day work. We take good care of our employees, customers and partners, and we set clear sustainability criteria for our suppliers. A substantial proportion of the spare parts we deliver to the market are part of the circular economy and our efficient recycling system ensures that refurbishable parts return to new use after they are factory refurbished.
I want to take this opportunity to extend my warmest thanks to our customers, partners and shareholders for the past year. A great deal of credit for our success goes to our personnel, who demonstrated excellent flexibility, commitment and team spirit during the exceptional year.
Good position for the year 2021
We enter 2021 with confidence. Relais is a high-growth company, and we will continue the purposeful execution of our strategy through organic growth as well as targeted acquisitions. Based on our strong and stable financial performance and the high cash conversion inherent to the Group’s business, the Board feels confident to propose a substantially increased dividend of 0.30 EUR per share to the Annual General Meeting.
Chief Executive Officer