bpost CEO: We have some important challenges ahead

bpost CEO:  We have some important challenges ahead
bpostgroup has announced its results for the fourth quarter and full year 2023, Group operating income down €84.4 million compared to last year.

Fourth quarter 2023 highlights

  • Group operating income at 1,217.2 mEUR, a decrease of -84.4 mEUR (-6.5%) compared to last year.
  • Group adjusted EBIT at 74.1 mEUR (margin of 6.1%) down by -3.7% compared to last year. Operationally flat year-over-year when excluding repricing services to the Belgian State1Group reported EBIT at 70.9 mEUR, in line with last year.
  • Belgium
    • Total operating income at 603.0 mEUR up by +3.0%.
    • Underlying mail volume decline of -8.1%, offset by positive mail price/mix impact.
    • Parcels volumes increased by +3.4% and price/mix impact of +3.2%.
    • Opex increase (+3.5%), mainly driven by salary indexations.
    • Adjusted EBIT at 36.7mEUR (6.1% margin) and reported EBIT at 36.6 mEUR, both including -2.5 mEUR impact of repricing services to the Belgian State.
  • E-Logistics Eurasia
    • Total operating income at 187.5 mEUR (+8.2%) driven by continued expansion of Radial EU and Active Ants (+12.7%) and higher Cross-Border sales reflecting growth from existing and recent customer wins in Asia.
    • Opex increase (+2.8%) from higher transport costs in line with volume development and mix, partially offset by lower payroll and interim costs.
    • Adjusted EBIT at 13.3 mEUR (7.1% margin) and reported EBIT at 12.4 mEUR.
  • E-Logistics North America
    • Total operating income at 459.5 mEUR, -18.4% (-14.2% at constant exchange rate), reflecting lower volumes at Radial and Landmark US.
    • Lower Opex (-15.5% excluding exchange rate impact) from lower variable costs including continued strong labor management and productivity gains during peak.
    • Adjusted EBIT at 34.4 mEUR (7.5% margin) and reported EBIT at 32.2 mEUR.
  • For the full year 2023, group adjusted EBIT of 248.5 mEUR is in line with both initial and reinstated guidance. bpostgroup delivers annual results driven by parcel volume development, pricing levers and enhance productivity, despite North American market headwinds and compliance reviews impacts.
  • In line with the dividend policy, the Board of Directors will propose a total dividend per share of EUR 0.13 gross – based upon 40% IFRS net profit pay-out ratio. Dividend will be payable in May 2024 after approval of the General Shareholders’ meeting.

CEO quote

Chris Peeters, CEO of bpostgroup: “I am proud of the dedication and commitment of our teams across the globe, which led to the successful execution of the end-of-year peak. Our collective effort and resilience enabled us to achieve both our initial and reinstated financial guidance, despite encountering various obstacles along the way.

​We are ready to embrace the future with optimism. We have some important challenges ahead, as achieving agreements with the governmental services on last year’s compliance audits and working towards a positive outcome for the future of press distribution in Belgium together with the Belgian editors.

​In the meantime, I also want to focus on the things we fully control: increasing our quality, our customer centricity and speeding up the digitization and innovation within the group. A major transformation is necessary to strengthen our company for the future and that is our priority in the next months and years.

CEO first observations and Strategic initiatives

Initial observations underpin the need for a large-scale transformation of the company in order to address the challenges posed by managing a declining historic business which is currently insufficiently compensated by recent diversification efforts.

The ambition is to become a regional leader in the parcel-size logistics market, in Belgium leading the B2C and parcel-sized B2B logistics, and internationally as a leading Third-Party Logistics (3PL) player, focused on defendable high value market segments, while managing the historical business for profit.

This ambition will be further developed in the coming months. The vision for bpostgroup and the strategy to be pursued will be validated with the Board of Directors in the coming months and communicated by year-end.

In the meantime, the Management continues to execute on existing priorities and has also already activated selected key strategic initiatives in light of the vision that is emerging for the group:

At Group level

  • Portfolio restructuring, including M&A ambitions, to reallocate resources towards logistics activities of higher value and enabling higher synergies.
  • Complete and reinforce bpostgroup leadership team (including the commercial and digital functions that have been created recently).
  • Implement a leadership model across the group to support the transformation agenda.

At Belgium level

  • Develop commercial offers for future press distribution.
  • Clarify the future operating model (network design, organizational and social models) in view of latest volume projections.
  • Defend mail through registered mail enhanced experience
  • Develop PUDO and parcel lockers strategy.
  • Pilot the B2B parcel-logistic market and explore new business opportunities.
  • Develop an E2E total quality management program to build a truly distinctive service experience for customers and further shift quality culture across the company.

At E-Logistics Eurasia and North America level

  • Continue the topline growth for Radial and Active Ants in Europe.
  • Radial US: differentiate the positioning and offering (click-to-door) with a focus on mid-sized growing brands, to mitigate overcapacity in the market.
  • Cross border: pursue activities expansion by developing new lanes and building strategic partnerships.

Outlook for 2024

Pending operational and financial outcomes of ongoing commercial discussions with the involved press stakeholders, bpostgroup is not in a position today to guide on a group EBIT guidance for the year 2024. In the meantime the following divisional guidance is provided.

Excluding Press revenues, the group’s total operating income for 20242,3 is expected to remain stable compared to 2023.

Belgium

  • Slightly higher total operating income, excluding press revenues1, notably driven by:
    • Mail (excluding Press): an underlying volume decline of 6 to 8% mitigated by a price / mix impact of 4 to 5%
    • Parcels: a high single digit percentage volume growth and low single digit percentage price/mix impact
  • 6 to 8% adjusted EBIT margin prior to any Press impact. Margin range to be confirmed once further clarity is obtained on future press distribution. EBIT margin will reflect higher costs due to salary indexation and cost inflation, partly offset by continued ambition in productivity gains and cost reduction initiatives.

E-Logistics Eurasia

  • Low double digit percentage growth in total operating income, driven by:
    • Continued growth of Radial Europe and Active Ants, and
    • Continued growth of Cross-Border Commercial activities including development of new lanes
  • 5 to 7% adjusted EBIT margin reflecting strong productivity gains at Radial Europe and Active Ants, mitigating negative mix effect at Cross-Border, higher FTEs and cost inflation.

E-Logistics North America

  • High single digit percentage decline in total operating income2, reflecting:
    • Radial US net volume loss from client churn and client concessions in the context of adverse market conditions
    • New Cross-Border lanes and customer wins at Landmark Global
  • 4 to 6% adjusted EBIT margin, with topline pressure mitigated by continued Variable Contribution Margin (VCM) rate improvements and substantial efforts to further reduce SG&A and other costs.

Group EBIT will include a decline in EBIT at Corporate level from discontinuation of building sales and higher opex from compliance and strategic initiatives.

Group capex is expected to be around 180 mEUR.

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