As promised, bpost delivers a strong end of year driven by successful end-of-year peak execution in Belgium and in North America.Thursday 24 February 2022
Fourth quarter 2021 highlights
- Group operating income at 1,299.7 mEUR, +8.8% compared with the same period last year.
- Group adjusted EBIT at 88.1 mEUR (margin of 6.8%) increased by 27.6 mEUR compared to prior year (up +45.7%). Group reported EBIT at 84.9 mEUR.
- Mail & Retail
- Total operating income at 521.5 mEUR (-0.9%) driven by positive mail price impact offsetting underlying volume decline of -8.9%, higher revenues in Retail and VAS and offset by lower volume driven intersegment income. Estimated 8 mEUR support from one-off COVID communication.
- Slightly lower operating expenses driven by (i) lower costs from successful end of year peak execution, offset by (ii) salary index and CLA 2021-2022 impacts.
- Adjusted EBIT at 31.3 m EUR (6.0% margin) and reported EBIT at 30.9 mEUR.
- Parcels & Logistics Europe & Asia
- Total operating income at 286.7 mEUR (-9.4%) against high comps driven by the ongoing pressure on Asian cross-border volumes and Parcels B2X volume decline of -7.5% (against November 2020 lockdown) and reflecting Amazon insourcing. Continued e-commerce logistics expansion of Radial Europe and Active Ants (+12.3%).
- Adjusted EBIT at 22.2 mEUR (7.7% margin), stable year over year (-0.3 mEUR or -1.2%) driven by (i) successful end of year peak execution with higher operational leverage in Parcels, offset by (ii) Asian cross-border volume impacts and (iii) e-commerce logistics’ expansion operating expenses. Reported EBIT at 21.4 mEUR.
- Parcels & Logistics North America
- Total operating income excluding International mail at 547.5 mEUR (+28.3% at constant exchange rate), reflecting the contribution of Radial’s new customers.
- Adjusted EBIT at 46.0 mEUR (8.4% margin), up by +32.0 mEUR. Operationally adjusted EBIT up +65.0% when excluding impacts of ransomware attack and one-time concessions from vendor.
- In line with the dividend policy, the Board of Directors will propose a total dividend per share of EUR 0.49 gross – based upon 40% IFRS net profit pay-out ratio as there’s no significant non-cash impact in 2021. Dividend will be payable in May 2022 after approval of the General Shareholders’ meeting.
Dirk Tirez, CEO of bpost group: “With the strong results of the 4th quarter, bpost has delivered on its promise with a full-year EBIT of 349.3 mEUR and strong end of year peak results, both financially and operationally. I would like to thank all my colleagues for their efforts during 2021 and during our successful end of year peak in particular.
Even though we will face strong headwinds, these solid results also give me confidence that we are taking the right actions in 2022 - transform in Belgium, build a leading e-commerce logistics position in Europe, scale-up e-commerce logistics in the US and evolve into a more customer centric and sustainable organization. We have gathered a strong leadership team that together will execute on our plans and ambitions.“
Status on Management priorities 2021
Executed in line with plan
The 2021 priorities as announced throughout the year achieved as planned.
Successful end of year peak in Belgium
- Steep margin improvement and almost doubled EBIT at Parcels B2X
- Nearly double-digit improvement on D+1 quality; backlog on average at 1/3rd or lower compared to 2020 peak
- Reduced 2nd wave by 80%; 40% reduction of subcontractors use during key peak weeks despite COVID absenteeism
- Effective use of buffer sites and pro-active regional deviations to avoid truck refusal on high volume days
- #biggestteamofBelgium with more than 650 central staff gaining valuable experience in field operations
Strong end of year peak in complex market conditions in the US
- Radial US adjusted EBIT at 39 mUSD, almost doubling compared to 4Q20 excluding cyber attack effects
- Single maximum shipping day, new client revenues and new client units shipped all increased by more than 20%
- Time in transit to customers was 20% faster with backlog down 9.4% year-over-year
- Recruited and trained 24,000 temporary workers during peak season to successfully meet our clients’ peak volumes
- Record peak at Landmark Global and Apple Express in terms of volume, revenue and EBIT
Active portfolio management - divesting non-core assets
- Sale of The Mail Group and of Ubiway Retail (closing expected in late February)
- Transfer of the 50% shares held by bpost in bpost bank to BNP Paribas Fortis and entry into force of new seven-year commercial partnership
Stabilized overhead in Belgium by capitalizing on natural attrition
Strengthening the top executive leadership team at bpost
- A strong group executive team has been built, welcoming a new Belgium CEO, North-America CEO, as well as a new CTO and CSTO. Philippe Dartienne has been appointed as Group CFO and Anette Böhm has been appointed as Group CHRO.
- More information via this link
Management priorities 2022
Improve operational efficiency within Belgian organization and initiate transformation into long-term sustainable business
- Increase operational productivity through work reorganization of 120 distribution offices along sorting, distribution and transport and improvements to asset utilization e.g. number and type of vehicles used, control of consumption
- Grow Belgian e-commerce top line through dedicated hunting teams as well as specific key service improvements to increase volume from major clients
- Launch Omega pilots for the new distribution model in 2nd half 2022 and prepare for implementation in 2023
Build E-Logistics Eurasia
- Grow Radial and Active Ants as planned, exceeding market growth through new customer contracts
- Open new fully automated Active Ants site in UK, new automated Radial site in NL (replacing and expanding the existing 2) and extend Radial PL site incl. highly automated section, cumulating to 13 sites (8 Radial EU, 5 Active Ants)
- Invest in automation for Radial NL and PL, to service volume growth at competitive pricing and service levels. Implement remediation plans for less performing sites
- Expand the cross-border business in EU and the UK, supported by additional hubs and a new warehouse in the UK
- Mitigate inflation through indexation of contracts, passing on transport and delivery cost increases and active cost containment
Accelerate growth of E-Logistics North-America
- Launch Radial accelerated growth plan with continued commercial development and dedicated approach toward medium client segment leading to increased ACV in 2022 (211 mUSD ACV signed in 2021)
- Open 2 new fulfillment centers plus 2 new client centers managed by Radial, on top of 25 existing sites of which 4 are client centers managed by Radial
- Further expand capacity at Landmark Global and Apple Express, relocating three sites to larger facilities maintaining a total footprint of 15 sites including 2 shared with Radial
- Shift in labor sourcing approach for increased availability, productivity and cost containment in high-inflation environment
- Implement remediation plans for less performing sites (including continuous improvement and automation) and peak readiness
Reduce overhead and headquarters costs
- Launch end-to-end shared service center to centralize, remove overlap and enable streamlining and automation
- Regroup Sales & Marketing and reporting teams within new Belgium business unit
- Improve internal mobility and maximize use of natural attrition by implementing internal control mechanism
Move from a product delivery to a customer centric organisation
- Develop, pilot and execute roadmap for transformation to customer centric organization at bpost by implementing agile at scale
- Identify pools of value and opportunities for bpost to create significant and profitable business growth
- Drive the digital transformation, modernization and simplification of bpost tech landscape
- Strengthen data-centricity at bpost, notably to leverage data to drive performance improvement and decision making
- Conduct cultural transformation and leadership program to progress towards a more caring and innovative culture and servant leadership approach
Continue to embed ESG in our business strategy to strengthen our position as a leading sustainable and socially-responsible organization
- Embed ESG in bpost business strategy to reach bpost group ambition to become one of the greenest e commerce logistics providers in the countries where we operate by 2030:
- Decrease of scope 1 and 2 emissions with 55% by 2030 against 2019, bringing bpost in line with a ‘ 1.5 °C’ under SBTi
- Decrease of scope 3 emissions with 14% by 2030 against 2019, bringing bpost in line with a ‘2 °C’ under SBTi
- Be the employer of choice in logistics, by installing a new social contract with bpost employees and society
- Integrate ESG metrics in core decision-making processes (capex, opex) and incentivization plans to align objectives
- Investments to accelerate this transition are captured within the existing capex envelope
Outlook for 2022
bpost expects the group adjusted EBIT to range between 280-310 mEUR. bpost will continuously invest in the group transformation while mitigating headwinds from wage pressure and inflation by cost reduction initiatives, productivity gains and further growth in omni-commerce activities. This outlook is bpost’s best estimate as of now which could be impacted by macro and geopolitical risks materializing.
The group’s total operating income for 2022 is expected to increase by a mid- to high single-digit percentage compared to 2021.
For the business units, bpost group expects:
- Stable1 total operating income to result from:
- Mail: an underlying Domestic mail volume decline expected between -8% and -10%, an approved mail pricing of +4.7%.
- Parcels: stable volumes reflecting Amazon insourcing and post-COVID normalization
- Additional revenues at Value added services and Retail
- 8-10% adjusted EBIT margin reflecting higher wage costs and inflationary pressure partially mitigated by cost reduction initiatives and productivity gains.
- The unknowns within our guidance are inflation, especially in Belgium but to some extent in North America, and parcels volume growth. We expect to grow at least in line with the Belgian market but the overall balance is anticipated to lead to a flat volume development in 2022 due to Amazon insourcing. Depending on the consumer sentiment, market normalization and on how quickly Amazon will move forward with their insourcing, parcels volume growth may develop differently this year.
- Low to mid- teens percentage growth in total operating income driven by growth plan of Radial Europe and Active Ants, and growing Cross-border commercial activities in Europe partially offset by expected limited recovery in Asian Cross-border volumes versus the volumes noted in the second half of 2021.
- 6-8% adjusted EBIT margin including scale-up costs in Radial Europe and Active Ants.
E-Logistics North America:
- Low to mid- teens percentage growth1 in total operating income driven by Radial’s accelerated growth plan and contribution from new customers wins.
- 4-6% adjusted EBIT margin including ongoing wage rate increase and higher real estate costs, mitigated by labor management and productivity initiatives.
Group EBIT will include operating expenses at Corporate level to support our transformation.
Gross capex is expected to be around 250 mEUR. This capex envelope is geared towards the strategy to grow omni-commerce logistics.
The dividend relative to the results of the year 2022 will be in the range of 30-50% of IFRS net profit, and will be payable in May 2023 after the General Shareholders’ Meeting, in accordance with the new dividend policy.
1excluding deconsolidation of Ubiway Retail revenues (around 140 mEUR in 2021) at Belgium level and The Mail Group revenues (around 40 mEUR in 2021) at E-Logistics North America level
Link to the full press release