Neova Group 1 January–31 December 2021 Interim report and full-year financial statements
- Group turnover in September–December 2021 was EUR 144.6 million (EUR 162.1 million in September–December 2020)
- Group turnover for continuing operations was EUR 144.6 million (EUR 128.8 million).
- The operating margin (EBITDA) was EUR 11.6 million (EUR -4.5 million), or 8.1% of turnover
- Comparable EBITDA excluding non-recurring items and divested businesses was EUR 13.2 million (EUR 8.3 million). EBITDA for the comparison period includes non-recurring items related to the divestment of the heat and power business and the closure of energy peat production sites in the amount of EUR -1.6 million (EUR -12.8 million)
- The operating result (EBIT) was EUR -16.5 million (EUR -121.4 million)
- Comparable EBIT excluding non-recurring items and divested businesses was EUR 3.4 million (EUR -1.4 million). In addition to the aforementioned items, EBIT includes non-recurring items related to write-downs of energy peat assets totalling EUR -19.9 million (EUR -120 million)
- Free cash flow before taxes was EUR -4.2 million (EUR -9.7 million)
- Investments amounted to EUR 18.9 million (EUR 33.2 million)
- Group turnover in January–December 2021 was EUR 514.6 million (EUR 544.9 million in January–December 2020)
- Group turnover for continuing operations was EUR 502.6 million (EUR 451.7 million).
- Energy peat accounted for EUR 71.6 million (EUR 86.9 million) of consolidated turnover, and operations in Finland accounted for EUR 220.3 million (EUR 268.0 million) of consolidated turnover.
- Operating margin (EBITDA) was EUR 562.8 million, or 109.4% of turnover (EUR 53.8 million, 9.9%). EBITDA includes non-recurring income, mainly relating to the divestment of the heat and power business, in the amount of EUR 510.8 million (EUR 1.1 million).
- Comparable EBITDA excluding non-recurring items and divested businesses was EUR 52.0 million (EUR 52.7 million).
- The operating result (EBIT) was EUR 511.2 million (EUR -95.3 million) In addition to the aforementioned items, EBIT includes non-recurring items related to write-downs of energy peat assets totalling EUR 488.4 million (EUR -116.2 million)
- Comparable EBIT excluding non-recurring items and divested businesses was EUR 22.8 million (EUR 20.9 million).
- Earnings per share were EUR 16,638 (EUR -3,712)
- The pre-tax return on invested capital (pre-tax ROIC) was 72.8% (-14.0%)
- Free cash flow before taxes was EUR 434.0 million (EUR 39.6 million)
- Investments amounted to EUR 84.6 million (EUR 76.6 million)
- The equity ratio on 31 December 2021 was 55.2% (27.9%)
- Interest-bearing net debt on 31 December 2021 was EUR 11.2 million (EUR 327.7 million)
- The ratio of interest-bearing net debt to operating margin (net debt/EBITDA) on 31 December 2021 was 0.0 (6.1)
|The financial year in figures:||1 January–31 December 2021||1 January–31 December 2020||1 January–31 December 2019|
|Turnover, EUR million||514.6||544.9||533.7|
|Operating margin/EBITDA, EUR million||562.8||53.8||78.9|
|Operating result/EBIT, EUR million)||511.2||-95.3||-11.2|
|*) comparable operating profit excluding one-off items and the effect of divested businesses, EUR million||22.8||20.9||20.9|
|Profit/loss for the period, EUR million||501.5||-108.1||-19.3|
|Earnings per share||16,638||-3,712||-667|
|Pre-tax return on invested capital, %||73.1||-14.0||-1.7|
|Free cash flow before taxes, EUR million||434.0||39.6||17.1|
|Equity ratio %||55.2||27.9||42.9|
|Interest-bearing net debt/operating margin||0.0||6.1||4.0|
|Energy peat deliveries (TWh)||5.5||7.0||9.1|
|Wood fuel deliveries (TWh)||3.6||3.2||3.6|
* Accident frequency = number of accidents requiring a visit to occupational health services/million working hours
CEO’s review Vesa Tempakka
The revised strategy works
Three years ago, Vapo was an energy company that derived most of its turnover and profit from fuels and the production of heat and electricity. At the time, the Group’s future strategic focus areas were defined as seeking growth in the international growing media market and the development and marketing of new, high added-value products based on natural materials.
The new strategy announced in 2018 has proved to be highly effective in the rapidly changing operating environment. Very good progress was made in the execution of the strategy in 2021. At the beginning of 2021, we sold Nevel Oy, which specialises in the production of heat and electricity, started the commissioning of our first activated carbon production facility, and our subsidiary Kekkilä-BVB continued to outgrow the market in our main business segments, namely products and services targeted at professional growers, home gardeners and landscapers.
The change has been very rapid. Kekkilä Group’s turnover has grown from just over EUR 100 million in 2018 to nearly EUR 340 million in 2021. The rate of organic growth in 2021 exceeded 10 per cent, although part of it was attributable to higher costs that led to price increases. Kekkilä-BVB is a leading European player in its field with a market share of roughly 10 per cent in Europe. The company’s market is not limited to Europe, however. Its products are exported to, and used in, about 130 countries around the world. We established subsidiaries in China and the United States in 2021 and, right at the end of the year, we strengthened our position through acquisitions in Germany and Italy. We now operate in 12 countries.
The share of the energy business in our Group will continue to decrease, as we made the decision in the autumn to phase out the production of milled energy peat. In December 2021, we announced a transaction that will see us consolidate our fuel wood business with Biowatti Oy, a company owned by Lassila & Tikanoja. We will own 45 per cent of the joint venture. The transaction is pending approval by the competition authorities.
In May 2021, we changed the company name to Neova Oy. Approximately two-thirds of the Group’s turnover comes from the international growing media company Kekkilä-BVB. In addition, we are building business around activated carbon, which is used for the purification of air and water, for example. The company’s previous name was closely associated with our history as a Finnish energy company. For this reason, we decided to redesign our company image and we have been known as Neova Oy since 6 May 2021. Vapo is still used by the Group as a brand for selling biofuels, amongst other things.
Sustainability is a high priority
Sustainability is an integral part of our business and it develops in response to changes in our business environment and stakeholder expectations. Last year, we updated our sustainability strategy and sharpened our sustainability themes and medium-term (2025) and long-term (2030) sustainability targets. Our goal is to create sustainable green growth in all of our business areas. In practice, this means that the added value created by our products and services for our customers and society as a whole always outweighs the environmental impact of their production. We call this net positivity. We want to give more to the world than we take.
Environmental responsibility is a key consideration for us. Our target is to halve the CO2 emissions of our own operations by 2025, and we are on schedule to achieve this goal. Sustainable peat production is a precondition for our operations. We only establish peat production sites at previously ditched peatlands. We comply with the requirements of the RPP (Responsibly Produced Peat) standard in all of our production countries and we promote biodiversity by restoring our production sites after use or by planting trees to create forests that sequester carbon.
The demand for growing media is growing rapidly in the global market. There is still a need for horticultural peat, both now and in the future, but new materials that supplement horticultural peat in growing media will increase in importance. Going forward, this will be one of Neova Group’s most important areas of product development.
As regards social responsibility, our key priorities include promoting occupational safety, creating an excellent workplace, looking after employee well-being and ensuring the sustainability of sourcing.
From the perspective of personnel, a significant step was Neova being awarded Great Place to Work® certification in three of our operating countries in recognition of our excellent employee experience, trust-based corporate culture and commitment to creating a good workplace. In Finland, the Great Place to Work® certificate is awarded to companies whose Trust Index is at least 65 per cent. In addition to Finland, Neova has been awarded the certificate in Sweden and Estonia.
We are very serious about improving occupational safety in all of our operating countries. We have made good progress, and we had no accidents last year in Finland and Estonia, for example. We still have room for improvement at the Group level, as even one accident is too many.
Sustainability is part of our day-to-day work and we want it to be reflected in all of our teams and in everything we do. Engaging the commitment and participation of employees is vital. With this in mind, we have incorporated sustainability into the incentive system for all of Neova Group’s personnel.
The third pillar of our sustainability strategy is economic responsibility. Our goal is to be a profitable company and to bear our economic responsibility as a successful company and a good corporate citizen.
Good financial results in a challenging operating environment
A gain of approximately half a billion euros was recognised in the Group’s result from the sale of Nevel Oy. We used the proceeds from the sale to distribute a dividend of EUR 250 million to our owners and we also reduced our net debt. We are now practically free of net debt.
Operationally, the year can be characterised as unpredictable. The Grow&Care division had strong sales across all of its business units. However, the costs of shipping and packaging materials, for example, increased very rapidly starting from the spring, and we were not able to pass these cost increases to customer prices quickly enough, which had a negative effect on our relative profitability. In absolute terms, the division’s operating margin and operating margin were on a par with the previous year.
The demand for energy peat continued to decline at a rate of over 20 per cent but, at the same time, income from wood pellets and energy chips developed favourably. Income from land sales also increased. The results of our projects aimed at improving operational efficiency and streamline costs exceeded our expectations and had a positive effect on the Group’s operating profit.
Focus on growth, development, costs and Brussels
In the new year, the focus areas of product development include increasing the value of land assets by developing more wind power and solar power farms on land owned by the Group. We announced two projects in 2021 and the future looks bright in this area.
In product development, priority will be given to projects that support the Grow&Care division. The development of biostimulants produced from organic wetland biomass continued in 2021. Cultivation tests in Central Europe have produced promising results and, next summer, cultivation tests will be continued and expanded. In greenhouse cultivation and open field cultivation, biostimulants promote plant well-being and increase their drought tolerance, for example.
Rising inflation and increasing regulation create pressure on operational planning in the new year. The Group has prepared for inflation by, for example, building stockpiles of critical raw materials and by focusing on pricing and the monitoring of costs. The most important thing to keep an eye on in 2022 is to advocate for the interests of our industry in the sphere of the finance taxonomy and the EU’s Fit for 55 legislative reform package.
We want to continue to play a role in enabling the production of healthy local food, especially in the growing European markets.
Neova in brief
Neova is an international conglomerate whose businesses promote clean, local and water-conserving food production and supply local fuels. Neova Group also develops new products for the purification of contaminated environments, prepares wind power projects and creates well-being by providing jobs, recycling and by creating comfortable living environments.
Neova Group also includes the subgroup Kekkilä-BVB, which is the European market leader in growing media products. The company produces growing media, mulches and fertilisers for professional growers, consumers and landscapers in Finland under the Kekkilä brand, in Sweden under the Hasselfors Garden brand and in the Netherlands under the BVB Substrates brand.
Neova is also a leading bioenergy company in Finland, Sweden and Estonia. The product and service selection developed for Neova’s energy customers consists of local fuels, such as pellets, forest fuels and energy peat. Neova is an important part of the local energy infrastructure in all of its markets.
For the duration of January 2021, Neova also owned Nevel, a subsidiary that focused on the heat and power business. The sale of Nevel was finalised on 28 January 2021.
Neova Group’s New Businesses division works together with customers and industry ecosystems to develop new business solutions to facilitate food production and ensure healthy living environments. The Group’s latest higher added value business is Activated Carbon, which aims to enter the growing international market for technical carbons. The new higher added value businesses currently in development by the Group also include Ventures, which focuses on the development of new raw materials and the separation of other useful materials from biomasses before their use in growing media and activated carbon products.
Neova Group had an average of 922 employees during the financial year. The company also employs hundreds of local contractors in its production and supply chains.
Board of Directors’ report 1 January–31 December 2021
Predicting the changes in the operating environment in 2021 was challenging. A number of cost items that influence the Group’s operations increased to an exceptional degree. The Group’s shipping costs increased by approximately EUR 15 million. This was particularly due to container freight costs rising to a level that was many times higher than in the previous year. At the same time, the prices of many raw materials, especially packaging plastic, increased by as much as tens of per cent compared to the previous year.
The price of emission rights increased by nearly 300 per cent in 2021, which contributed to the price of electricity on the electricity exchange rising to a record-high level. The increased price of emission rights drastically reduced the demand for milled fuel peat used in heating. Neova’s sales of milled fuel peat declined by approximately a quarter compared to the previous year. The steep increase in natural gas and coal prices towards the end of the year improved the market competitiveness of pellets.
Ireland did not produce any horticultural peat for the export market in 2021. This enabled a higher volume of horticultural peat exports from Finland.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Neova Group’s operations were restricted successfully in 2021. The Group used a safety-oriented work model throughout the year. Visits to production plants by outside parties were minimised and remote work and hybrid work models were successfully implemented for those jobs that allowed it. These measures made it possible to maintain normal production operations at all of the Group’s production plants throughout the year.
The pandemic that began in 2020 substantially increased the demand for products aimed at amateur gardeners. This demand remained at the previous year’s level in 2021. COVID-19 has increased the demand for locally produced food, which was reflected in higher demand for products aimed at professional growers in several markets. At the same time, the pandemic has delayed a large number of new professional cultivation projects, creating growth challenges particularly in export markets.
The prices of emission rights and electricity reached record-high levels
Emissions trading is aimed at shifting energy production from fossil fuels to renewables. In district heating production, all heating plants in excess of 20 MW have to buy emission rights in the market if they burn non-renewable fuels. In 2021, the prices of emission rights increased from EUR 30 per tonne of carbon to as high as EUR 90 in December. In district heating production this meant that, at the end of the year, for each MWh produced from energy peat, a company producing district heat from energy peat had to pay EUR 6 in energy tax and approximately EUR 30 in emission rights in addition to the cost of the fuel. District heat produced from wood chips is not subject to energy tax or emission rights charges. For these reasons, the competitiveness of wood chips and commercial timber improved significantly compared to energy peat during the year. Energy wood prices only increased by approximately five per cent during the year. The decline of the demand for energy peat accelerated further and, in autumn 2021, Neova decided to discontinue the production of energy peat.
Electricity prices in Central Europe and the Nordic region rose to record-high levels during the year. In Finland, the price of electricity on the electricity exchange exceeded EUR 1,000/MWh in December. There are several reasons for the increase in electricity prices. The price of natural gas has risen sharply due to reduced deliveries from Russia to Central Europe. Gas inventories were low as autumn arrived, and LNG deliveries were directed more to Asia instead of Europe compared to previous years. At the end of the year, the price of natural gas was many times higher than at the start of the year. The shortage of gas has shifted demand in European condensing power production towards coal, which has led to higher demand and increased prices for emission rights.
The price of electricity in the Nordic countries has also been influenced by the exceptionally poor hydrological conditions in Norway and Sweden and the fact that transmission lines between Finland and Sweden as well as between Finland and Russia were at full capacity on occasion. In addition, transmission lines opened from Norway to Central Europe and the UK have increased the price of electricity in the Nordic countries.
Shipping and raw material costs increased sharply
The cost of road shipping increased by nearly 10 per cent during the year, mainly due to higher fuel prices. Neova had hedged the prices of bulk sea shipping by means of annual agreements, which kept prices stable in 2021. This turned out to be highly advantageous, as the sea shipping volumes of horticultural peat to Europe grew considerably.
The year was very challenging with regard to container cargo. Container shipping rates in North America and South America increased from USD 2,000 in the previous year to levels as high as over USD 10,000, while in Asia and Australia, prices rose from USD 1,000 to approximately USD 2,500. Neova’s overall sea shipping costs doubled. Shipping costs increased by approximately EUR 15 million for Neova Group as a whole.
The prices of packaging materials have also increased significantly. The price of packaging plastic, for example, doubled during the year in certain cases. Based on a cautious estimate, this created EUR 5 million in additional costs compared to the previous year. The higher costs of shipping and raw materials, with the combined increase exceeding EUR 20 million, could not yet be fully passed to the prices of products.
In August 2021, the EU started a project on expanding the finance taxonomy to potentially apply to peat production and the use of peat for purposes such as growing media and animal bedding. If all uses of peat were to be classified as non-sustainable, it would complicate the availability of financing for the industry as a whole and lead to higher financing costs. Decisions on expanding the scope of the taxonomy are expected in 2022. Neova Group is making every effort to inform the parliaments of various EU countries and EU officials with the aim of having the future of peat as growing media, animal bedding and as raw material for new high value-added products classified as sustainable going forward. The justification for this view is that the advantages of peat – in enabling food production, for example – are significantly greater than its disadvantages.
The Group’s profit for the financial year 1 January–31 December 2021 improved substantially year-on-year and amounted to EUR 501.5 million. The profit for the financial year was significantly improved by a non-recurring gain of approximately EUR 507 million from the sale of Nevel. At the same time, the profit for the financial year was weakened by write-downs of fixed assets amounting to approximately EUR -18 million, mainly in relation to the discontinuation of energy peat production in Finland.
The Group’s reported turnover decreased by approximately six per cent year-on-year and amounted to EUR 514.6 million (EUR 544.9 million). The decrease in turnover was attributable to the divestment of the heat and power business in January 2021, as all of the Group’s continuing operations, except the energy peat business, grew compared to the previous year. The strongest growth was seen in the Grow&Care division at approximately 13 per cent.
The Group’s operating result was EUR 511.2 million. The comparable operating result, however, remained almost on a par with the previous year at EUR 22.8 million. The previous year’s comparable operating result, excluding the heat and power business and non-recurring items, was EUR 20.9 million. The comparable result remaining on a par with the previous year was attributable to the strong demand for Kekkilä-BVB products and the continued efficiency improvement measures taken throughout the Group. Factors that had a negative effect on the result included the higher costs of shipping and materials as well as the continued sharp decline in the demand for energy peat, which led to the decision to discontinue Neova’s production of milled energy peat in Finland.
Operating cash flow (free cash flow before financial items and taxes) amounted to EUR 434.0 million (EUR 39.6 million) for the financial year. Cash flow was significantly affected by the sale of the heat and power business as well as investments in the activated carbon production plant in Ilomantsi and the expansion of Kekkilä-BVB’s production.
The Group’s equity ratio stood at 55.2 per cent (27.9%) at the end of the financial year, while the ratio of net debt to operating margin was 0.0 (6.1).
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the Group’s divisions in very different ways. The pandemic had barely any direct effects on the Energy division. It merely delayed pending or planned new customer projects due to visits to Vapo’s own plants and customer plants being restricted.
In the Grow&Care division, the pandemic delayed new professional grower projects in several countries and the availability of sea shipping. At the same time, the pandemic continued to have a favourable effect on the amateur gardener segment, as recreational gardening activity remained high due to people working remotely.
The pandemic delayed and, to some degree, complicated the supervision and construction of the activated carbon production facility in Ilomantsi. A large number of workers from different countries worked construction and installation jobs at the site. Preventing infections required various special arrangements and the precautionary quarantine measures delayed construction to some extent. In addition, our main equipment supplier has had significant delays in deliveries, which have delayed the schedule of the project as a whole. In our product development activities, the most significant negative impact of the pandemic was having slow down the operations of our product development laboratories in Central Europe when the pandemic was at its worst.
In response to the uncontrollable decline in the demand for energy peat, Neova continued the cost saving programme announced a year ago for the period 2021–2022 and successfully implemented efficiency improvement measures amounting to approximately EUR 25 million in 2021. The Group also recognised write-downs of approximately EUR 16 million on the remaining energy peat assets in Finland.
The rapid decline in the demand for energy peat also forced Neova to assess its business strategy in light of the changed circumstances. To ensure its ability to respond to the balance sheet challenges created by write-downs and continue to execute its chosen growth strategy in the international growing media markets and new businesses, Vapo Group sold Nevel – a subsidiary that focuses mainly on energy infrastructure and operates in Finland, Sweden and Estonia – to Ardian in January 2021. The sale of the heat and power business enabled the Group to pay dividends totalling EUR 250 million to its owners in June 2021. After the dividend payment and loan repayments, the Group is nearly free of net debt and its equity ratio exceeded 50 per cent at the end of the year.
The decline in the demand for energy peat continued in 2021, with energy peat sales decreasing by over one-fifth from the previous year. Consequently, Neova announced in autumn 2021 that it would no longer produce energy peat going forward.
Neova Group’s Grow&Care division had a strong year in terms of sales. The division’s turnover totalled EUR 339 million, representing year-on-year growth of 13 per cent. Most of the growth was derived from products aimed at professional growers and the sale of horticultural peat in the European market.
While the division’s operating margin improved, its relative profitability decreased year-on-year. The costs of sea shipping and packaging plastic doubled from the previous year. In spite of price increases, these higher costs could not be fully passed on to end product prices.
Right at the end of the year, Kekkilä-BVB acquired the German companies Brill Substrate and Brill Papenburg Logistics. The acquisition strengthens Kekkilä-BVB’s market position in the major European markets of Germany, Italy and France. The turnover of the acquired businesses is approximately EUR 25 million. The acquisition included a company-owned port and terminal area in Papenburg, Germany. The strategically significant acquisition strengthens Kekkilä-BVB’s position as a leading player in its industry in Europe.
In December 2021, Neova announced another strategic transaction, which will see its fuel wood business consolidated with Lassila & Tikanoja’s Biowatti Oy. The new company’s turnover will be approximately EUR 100 million. Approximately EUR 50 million in turnover and about 40 people will be transferred to the company from Neova. Neova will own 45 per cent of the new company, with Lassila & Tikanoja owning 55 per cent. The transaction is subject to approval by the competition authorities. The transaction is expected to be completed in 2022.
In new businesses, 2021 was supposed to be the start of a new era. Novactor’s activated carbon production plant was completed in Ilomantsi and test production began in June. However, during test production, damage was detected in the structures of the activation furnace that forced a shutdown of the plant. In practice, the blast furnace at the plant needs to be rebuilt, which means that the start of industrial production will be delayed until early 2023. This is very unfortunate, as there is strong demand in the market for activated carbon, and customer feedback indicated that the activated carbon produced by the plant was of good quality.
In addition to activated carbon, Neova has researched the production of biostimulants from peat for several years now. Biostimulants enhance the nutrient absorption of plants grown in greenhouses and fields. They also help plants adapt to changing conditions related to climate change. Neova’s biostimulants have been tested in cultivation tests in Central Europe, and testing activities will continue next summer. The aim is to make a decision on the industrial production of biostimulants by the end of 2022.
Developments by business segment
The reporting segments comprise the Group’s divisions in accordance with Neova’s management model. Neova Group’s reporting segments are Energy, Grow&Care, New Businesses and other activities.
The Energy division is responsible for the energy and fuel solutions provided by Neova Group in Finland, Sweden and Estonia. The division provides energy producers with peat, wood and pellet fuels. The division serves pellet customers through its own sales service as well as an online store. Approximately half of the division’s turnover is derived from renewable biofuels. The Energy division’s current business units correspond to three types of fuel: Pellets, Wood and Energy peat.
The sale of the Group’s heat and power businesses organised under the subsidiary Nevel to Ardian was completed in the first third of the financial year, in January 2021. Nevel is consolidated into the Energy division’s figures until January 2021 when control was transferred to the new owner. Nevel’s turnover for the corresponding period in the comparison year was EUR 42.1 and its operating result was EUR 9 million. Turnover in 2020 totalled EUR 93.3 million and the operating result was EUR 18.4 million.
Turnover in the final third of the financial year (September–December) was EUR 58.6 million (EUR 85.6 million). The operating margin for the reporting period was EUR 10.2 million (EUR 28.0 million) and the operating profit was EUR -9.4 million (EUR -103.1 million). Gross investments were EUR -5.1 million (EUR 8.0 million).
Turnover for the full financial year was EUR 174.9 million (EUR 245.9 million). The operating margin for the full financial year was EUR 31.5 million (EUR 35.1 million) and the operating profit was EUR 3.5 million (EUR -90.6 million). The operating result includes non-recurring items in the amount of EUR -17.8 million (EUR -111.9 million). The significant non-recurring items mainly consisted of write-downs of energy peat production areas and expenses recognised in relation to the continued environmental obligations associated with those areas.
The profitability of the division’s fuel business decreased year-on-year due to a significant decline in the demand for energy peat. The high price of emission rights and tax increases have contributed to lower demand for energy peat and, in spite of growth in the sales of biofuels, overall fuel deliveries were 16 per cent lower than in the corresponding period last year.
On 26 November 2021, Neova announced the discontinuation of energy peat production in Finland a write-down of EUR 16.2 million on balance sheet items related to energy peat production. In December, Neova announced it will consolidate its wood fuel business in Finland with Biowatti Oy, a subsidiary of Lassila & Tikanoja plc. The business combination is expected to be completed in 2022.
|Turnover (EUR million)||58.6||85.6||-31.5%||174.9||245.9||-28.9%||289.5|
|Operating margin (EUR million)||10.2||28.0||-63.5%||31.5||35.1||-10.2%||60.1|
|Operating profit (EUR million)||-9.4||-103.1||90.9%||3.5||-90.6||103.9%||-12.0|
|Investments (EUR million)||-5.1||8.0||-163.8%||30.9||21.1||46.4%||56.8|
|Number of employees||225||362||-37.8%||244||371||-34.2%||364|
|Energy sales, peat (GWh)||1,872||2,170||-13.7%||5,515||6,992||-21.1%||9,058|
|Energy sales, other fuels (GWh)||1,417||1,200||18.1%||3,606||3,161||14.3%||3,600|
The Grow&Care division’s Kekkilä-BVB is Europe’s leading and most versatile growing media operator in the professional grower, landscaping and consumer segments. Kekkilä-BVB specialises in the sustainable development, production and marketing of high-quality growing media, mulches and fertilisers for landscapers, professional growers, distributors and home gardeners. Peat is also supplied as bedding peat to horse farms, cattle farms, pig farms and poultry producers and for use as raw material in further processing.
The division’s well-known brands, Kekkilä Garden and Hasselfors Garden, offer products to home gardeners and landscapers in the Nordic countries and the Baltic countries. In Central European markets, our business includes private label products as well as the Jardino and Florentus brands, for example. In the professional growing media business, the BVB Substrates and Kekkilä Professional brands serve not only on the home markets but also the global markets with exports to more than 100 countries.
Turnover in the final third of the financial year (September–December) was EUR 86.2 million (EUR 77.0 million). The operating margin was EUR 3.8 million (EUR 1.9 million) and the operating profit was EUR -3.8 million (EUR -6.0 million). Gross investments were EUR 20.0 million (EUR 10.8 million).
Turnover for the full financial year was EUR 338.9 million (EUR 299.9 million). The operating margin was EUR 32.2 million (EUR 32.3 million) and the operating profit was EUR 11.0 million (EUR 14.0 million). The operating result includes non-recurring items in the amount of EUR -0.9 million (EUR -1.6 million). Gross investments were EUR 37.5 million (EUR 25.4 million).
The Grow&Care division’s full-year turnover increased from the previous year. In particular, the professional grower business and the sales of peat raw material used in growing media grew faster than expected. The exceptional demand in the consumer business, which was initially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, continued in the financial year 2021. The exceptional circumstances have continued, forcing people to stay home, giving them more time and opportunities to focus on gardening. The year-on-year decline in the division’s relative profitability is partly due to a substantial increase in material and logistics costs. The increased demand for materials has increased prices and reduced availability while, at the same time, the global imbalance in shipping containers has resulted in longer delivery times and pushed shipping costs to an exceptionally high level. Measures to pass the higher costs to customer prices began during the financial year 2021.
The outlook for 2022 is positive in spite of the higher costs. The timing of the peak sales season in the consumer business depends on the weather. This can cause significant fluctuations between the different thirds of the year, but the effect balances out over the full year. The long-term growth trend in the professional grower business is expected to continue. We have ensured adequate inventories of horticultural peat in the division before the new production season, although there are indications of low supply in the raw material market before the upcoming peat production season, as was the case last year.
Brill Substrate and Brill Papenburg Logistics, which were acquired after the end of the financial year, will be fully consolidated into the Grow&Care division’s figures for the financial year 2022.
|Turnover (EUR million)||86.2||77.0||11.9%||338.9||299.9||13.0%||250.2|
|Operating margin (EUR million)||3.8||1.9||96.9%||32.2||32.3||-0.1%||22.4|
|Operating profit (EUR million)||-3.8||-6.0||36.2%||11.0||14.0||-21.6%||7.0|
|Investments (EUR million)||20.0||10.8||85.0%||37.5||25.4||47.6%||14.0|
|Number of employees||565||540||4.7%||569||545||4.2%||559|
The New Businesses division works together with customers and ecosystems to develop solutions to global challenges that secure the world’s food production, promote healthy living environments and promote the purification of air and water. The aim is to refine organic wetland biomass and other organic natural materials into high-added-value products for the international markets.
The area in which the most progress has been made consists of biostimulants isolated from organic wetland biomass. They are used in greenhouse and outdoor cultivation to improve plants’ nutrient absorption and the efficiency of nutrient use. Biostimulants also help plants adapt to changing conditions related to climate change. In accordance with the Neova Refinery concept, raw materials and side stream products are comprehensively utilised in adherence to the circular economy principle while minimising energy consumption and emissions.
In the Activated Carbon business, construction began in spring 2019 on a strategically significant production facility in Ilomantsi to process activated carbon. The production facility was mechanically completed in May 2021. However, test production in autumn 2021 revealed mechanical issues with construction materials, resulting in the need to rebuild the blast furnace. This is expected to take until the latter part of 2022. Production output during the deployment phase has been delivered to end customers and the feedback has been very positive. The employment effect of the construction stage is more than 100 person-years and the constant employment effect of the first stage of the facility, including the supply and production chain, is roughly 50 persons. Neova’s activated carbon products will be sold under the Novactor brand.
The operating loss for the final third of the financial year (September–December) was EUR -1.7 million (EUR -1.6 million). Gross investments were EUR 1.2 million (EUR 14.4 million). The operating loss for the full financial year was EUR -5.1 million (EUR -3.3 million). The result for the financial year includes non-recurring items of EUR -0.1 million (EUR 0.0 million). Gross investments were EUR 10.4 million (EUR 28.0 million). Until the sales of the Ilomantsi plant’s own production output begin, the turnover of the New Businesses division consists mainly of the sale of activated carbon raw material in the value chain.
|New Businesses||9–12/2021||9–12/2020||Change||1/2021–12/2021||1/2020–12/2020||Change||1/2019– 12/2019|
|Turnover (EUR million)||1.1||0.8||30.1%||3.0||2.4||24.5%||1.8|
|Operating margin (EUR million)||-1.5||-1.2||-20.7%||-4.5||-2.9||-55.5%||-1.9|
|Operating profit (EUR million)||-1.7||-1.6||-10.1%||-5.1||-3.3||-53.5%||-2.0|
|Investments (EUR million)||1.2||14.4||-91.8%||10.4||28.0||-62.9%||9.4|
|Number of employees||29||29||-1.7%||28||26||11.5%||18|
The Other activities segment consists of costs that are not allocated to the Neova Group’s business units. These costs are related to the Group’s administrative and strategic activities as well as support functions.
The other activities segment’s effect on the operating profit for the final third of the financial year (September–December) was EUR -1.5 million (EUR -10.9 million). The other activities segment’s effect on the operating result for the full financial year was EUR 501.6 million (EUR -15.0 million). The figure for the reporting period is significantly affected by the non-recurring recognition of income related to the sale of the subsidiary Nevel, which had an effect of EUR +507.9 million. Most of the costs associated with the transaction were presented in the financial statements for the final third of 2020.
|Other activities||9–12/2021||9–12/2020||Change||1/2021–12/2021||1/2020–12/2020||Change||1/2019– 12/2019|
|Turnover (EUR million)||0.0||0.0||-32.3%||1.1||0.1||1,071.1%||0.1|
|Operating profit (EUR million)||-1.5||-10.9||86.2%||501.6||-15.0||3,433.6%||-12.1|
|Number of employees||77||87||-11.7%||81||90||-7.1%||113|
Cash flow, investments and financing
The Group’s free cash flow before taxes for the period 1 January–31 December 2021 amounted to EUR 434.0 million (EUR 39.6 million). The sale of Nevel Oy’s shares in early 2021 had a significant positive effect on the Group’s cash flow. The change in working capital affected cash flow by EUR -50.2 million (EUR 46.3 million).
Gross investments in the financial year were EUR 84.6 million (EUR 76.6 million), or 239.9 per cent of the amount of depreciation (162.3%). The most significant investments during the financial year were allocated to the start-up of the Activated Carbons business. Investments were also allocated to Kekkilä-BVB’s capacity expansion and energy efficiency investments, as well as environmental protection and field maintenance in peat production. Net investments (gross investments – asset sales) totalled EUR 77.7 million (EUR 59.1 million).
The Group’s liquidity is strong. The aim of liquidity management is to maintain the Group’s liquidity so that the Group can finance its normal business operations while taking into account maturing debt and other short-term payment and financing obligations (<12 months). Liquidity risk is managed by maintaining sufficient cash assets, short-term investments and available credit commitments. At the end of 2021, the Group’s liquidity reserves consisted of cash assets, short-term investments in fixed income funds and commercial papers totalling EUR 219 million as well as a revolving credit facility of EUR 50 million, which is currently fully unused and will mature in late 2022.
To manage refinancing risk, the Group diversifies the maturity of long-term loans to a sufficient degree over the years to come. Long-term interest-bearing loans maturing over the next 12 months amount to EUR 14.1 million, with lease liabilities representing EUR 8.6 million of that total. Thereafter, the next significant loans will fall due in 2024 (EUR 110 million).
Interest-bearing net debt at the end of the financial year amounted to EUR 11.2 million (EUR 327.7 million). The ratio of interest-bearing net debt to operating margin (net debt/EBITDA) on 31 December 2021 was 0.0 (6.1).
Short-term interest-bearing debt amounted to EUR 19.4 million (EUR 58.1 million). The equity ratio at the end of the financial year was 55.2 per cent (27.9%). On the financial statements date, Neova met the covenants and other terms and conditions related to its financing agreements. The average interest rate of interest-bearing long-term loans was 2.6 per cent (2.5%), excluding lease liabilities recognised in the balance sheet.
The consolidated balance sheet total was EUR 780.9 million (EUR 758.5 million). The Group’s net financing items were EUR -7.2 million (EUR -12.5 million). Net financing items were -1.4 (-2.3) per cent of turnover. Net gearing was 2.6% (158.0%).
Natural seasonal fluctuation in activities
The Grow&Care division’s growing media business is also sensitive to seasonal fluctuations, with demand peaking at the start of the cultivation season, from late spring to early summer. In September–December, sales are mostly focused on year-round sales to professional growers, while the retail channels play a larger role in the spring and summer season. Growing media raw material sales are more stable throughout the year.
The Group’s Energy division is cyclical to a significant extent due to seasonal variation in the demand for heating. During the financial year under review, temperatures were relatively cold during the cold months, which had a substantial positive effect on fuel sales in the early part of the year and especially in December. The final third of the year, from September to December, is usually a significant heating season in our operating countries.
Notable risks and uncertainty factors
Risks related to horticultural peat
With respect to horticultural peat, there are signs of political moves in Europe towards tighter regulation. The most significant threats to the horticultural peat business include restrictions on the use of peat, unexpected changes in legislation concerning peat and more negative attitudes towards the use of peat in the retail sector.
To manage these risks, it is essential to provide transparent information on the environmental impacts of the use of peat and for the industry to actively produce and share objective information and emphasise peat’s role in greenhouse farming and global food production. The active promotion of recycling solutions and responsible peat production methods as well as the restoration of peat production areas play a very important role in the general acceptability of the use of peat.
The most important thing to keep an eye on in 2022 is to advocate for the interests of our industry in the sphere of the finance taxonomy and the EU’s Fit for 55 legislative reform package.
The total consumption of energy peat in Finland amounted to 15,640 TWh in 2019. The Government Programme sets out a goal of halving the use of energy peat by 2030. Based on a demand forecast collected by Neova Oy from its customers, this halving will happen as soon as 2022. In 2025, energy peat consumption is estimated to be only 4.0 TWh, which would put peat consumption at only about 25 per cent of the volume seen in 2019.
Neova’s energy peat sales totalled approximately EUR 70 million in 2021. The year-on-year decline was approximately 20 per cent for the third consecutive year. The most significant reason behind this decline is the nearly threefold increase in the price of emission rights, which reached approximately EUR 90 per tonne of carbon at the end of the year.
Energy peat has been primarily replaced by wood. Unfortunately, the wood it has been replaced by is increasingly imported wood chips, which are transported to Finland from Russia and on ships from further away. At the current tax levels and prevailing prices of emission rights, energy peat is a substantially more expensive fuel for customers than wood chips, pulp wood and roundwood.
Risks in the activated carbon business
The most significant risk related to the activated carbon business concerns the successful commissioning of the first production facility in Ilomantsi by the end of the year. This involves a mechanical functional risk as well as end product quality risk. The functional risk was partially realised in autumn 2021, as quality defects were detected in the construction materials, making it necessary to practically rebuild the furnace in 2022.
Neova’s peat-based raw material for activated carbon, sold under the Novactor brand, also involves an approval risk related to the non-fossil requirement. However, the production facility in Ilomantsi is designed to have the capacity to use other raw materials for the production of activated carbon, if necessary.
Neova’s businesses are subject to significant market risks related to end product demand as well as the prices and availability of raw materials.
The demand for wood-based raw materials has grown significantly in the international markets as customers seek environmentally friendly alternatives. Imports of wood-based raw materials from outside of Europe have also increased. As the market grows, the availability of appropriately priced raw material in relation to the price of the end product plays a key role in ensuring competitiveness. The escalation of the situation in Ukraine have impacts in the form of not only higher energy prices and the availability of energy but also the availability of wood-based and peat-based raw materials. The crisis could also have a significant impact on sea shipping in terms of both availability and cost. International trade sanctions will have an impact and possible impact of the new international trade sanctions will be monitored as part of risk management process.
Weather is a risk that has extensive effects on Neova’s business. In winter, the temperature affects the customers’ fuel requirements. In spring, the weather conditions also determine the timing of the peak season in the gardening trade, which affects the profit performance for the full year. During summer, the effects of weather concern the production volumes and quality of wood fuels and environmental products.
In summer 2021, peat production went as planned in Finland, Sweden and Estonia.
Damage risks include occupational safety risk, property risk, interruption risk and environmental risk. Vapo aims to prevent damage risks through proactive risk management measures and by reacting quickly to any observed hazards. Risks that cannot be managed by the company’s own actions are insured where possible. The goal is to continuously promote a positive culture of occupational safety and asset protection throughout the organisation. Extensive investments in changing the organisation’s safety culture are already being reflected in a reduced number of accidents and lower accident frequency as well as an increase in safety observations and related improvement measures throughout Neova Group.
Financing and commodity risks
The company manages its financing risk and maintains liquidity by balancing the proportional share of short-term and long-term loans and the repayment schedules of long-term loans. In addition, the risk related to the availability and price of financing is managed by diversifying fundraising between different banks and financial instruments.
The company’s main financial risks are currency risk, interest rate risk and liquidity risk. The Group treasury, guided by the financial policy ratified by the Board of Directors, is responsible for identifying and managing financial risks. The Group’s risk management tools include currency derivatives, currency swaps, foreign currency loans and commodity derivatives.
Research and development
The Group’s research and development investments during the financial year 1 January–31 December 2021 amounted to EUR 16.3 million (EUR 27.2 million), which corresponds to 3.2 per cent of turnover (5.0%). Research and development activities were focused on supporting the company’s strategic renewal in all of the Neova Group companies.
New Businesses – The New Businesses division works together with customers and ecosystems to develop solutions to global challenges that secure the world’s food production, promote healthy living environments and promote the purification of air and water. The aim is to refine organic wetland biomass and other organic natural materials into high-added-value products for the international markets.
Under the Neova Refinery concept, raw materials and side streams are comprehensively utilised in accordance with the circular economy principle. High value-added products made of biomass and side streams carry enormous future potential because of the worldwide need for new ways to promote sustainable food production and water and air purification as well as to replace harmful chemicals, oil-based products and plastics.
The Group’s innovation and IPR strategy is geared towards the Group’s goal of developing its existing businesses and creating new business. The strategy also governs the management and protection of tangible and intellectual property developed by the Group. The key measures include developing the competence of the personnel, fostering a culture of innovation and taking proactive measures to protect intellectual property.
Neova Group is committed to continuously improving its operations and developing its environmental efforts. We want to be recognised as a responsible and sustainable company wherever we operate. We updated our sustainability strategy and set new targets for 2022–2025 with regard to environmental responsibility and social responsibility.
Our environmental targets are focused on greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, the circular economy and water. As part of our efforts in this area, we have also created the Green Factory concept and defined our 2025 targets and performance indicators for our growing media, peat, moss, pellet, wood and activated carbon businesses. Each function has an environmental responsibility programme for 2022, setting out the most significant annual improvement targets on the path towards the Green Factory concept. We also started the specification of our Green Office concept and will continue setting concrete targets related to it.
In 2021, we focused on external and internal communications concerning our environmental actions, reducing emissions into waterways and the climate, actions to promote biodiversity at cutaway peatlands, increasing the recyclability of packaging materials and reducing waste.
Responsibly Produced Peat (RPP) certification was expanded in Neova Group (Finland, Sweden, Estonia) from 1,078 hectares (areas covered by environmental permits) to 4,195 hectares in response to the needs of Kekkilä-BVB’s customers.
Neova Group’s active peat production areas (Finland, Sweden, Estonia) in summer 2021 totalled approximately 21,162 (29,200) hectares, with Finland accounting for 14,654 (20,550) hectares of the total, including stacking areas. A total of 296 (374) hectares of new peatlands became ready for production in Finland and 4,696 (6,240) hectares were released from production by the end of the financial year. A total of 9 (204) hectares were released from production in Sweden and 1,284 (170) hectares in Estonia.
We continued to adapt energy peat production capacity in Finland, and the closure of production areas at peatlands was one of the key projects in the Group’s peat operations in 2021. The closure of peatlands means ending peat production at the area in question and transitioning to the aftercare stage of the production area’s life-cycle and the process of voiding the environmental permit. During the financial year, the post-production aftercare stage began at approximately 50 peat production areas in Finland. Environmental permits for peat production include aftercare obligations, which is why it is important for aftercare to be carried out responsibly and in line with the provisions of the environmental permit. Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres) conducted altogether 140 on-site inspections at Neova’s peat production areas in 2021. Of these, 41 were decommissioning inspections, 93 were regular inspections in accordance with the monitoring plan and six were other inspections.
A total of 4,185 (1,156) hectares of areas owned by Vapo Group were transferred to other land use methods from peat production operations in Finland during the financial year. A total of 3,559 (754) hectares were assigned for forestation and 626 (402) hectares for building wetlands. In addition, a significant amount of land was sold, with the new owner deciding on the subsequent use. A total of 2,062 (3,836) hectares of land was returned to land owners. The company prepares for the subsequent maintenance of cutaway areas by means of an environmental provision that covers the costs associated with post-production obligations. Neova returned approximately 3,105 hectares of peatlands in various regions of Finland to Metsähallitus, consisting mostly of virgin natural mires. The areas had been previously leased for peat production purposes but they had not yet been commissioned for peat production.
In accordance with its environmental permit application principles, the Group only applies for new production permits for ditched peatlands. Neova Group’s (Finland, Sweden, Estonia) environmental investments in peat production areas in 2021 amounted to EUR 0.9 million (EUR 0.3 million) and were primarily related to improving and building water treatment structures at peat production sites. Excluding Neova’s own personnel’s input, environmental protection costs for the financial year amounted to EUR 14.3 million (EUR 14.4 million). The costs primarily consisted of the maintenance of water treatment structures in peat production and impact monitoring.
The Annual General Meeting of Neova Oy was held on 30 March 2021. The AGM adopted the financial statements and consolidated financial statements for the financial year 1 January 2020–31 December 2020 and discharged the Supervisory Board, the Board of Directors and the CEO from liability. The AGM resolved not to pay a dividend for the financial year that ended on 31 December 2020.
The AGM confirmed the number of members of the Supervisory Board as ten. Juha Sipilä was re-elected as Chairman, with Heikki Miilumäki as Vice Chairman. Antti Häkkänen, Eero Kubin, Esko Kurvinen, Tommi Lunttila, Mauri Peltokangas, Jenni Pitko, Piritta Rantanen and Tiina Snicker were re-elected as members.
The AGM confirmed the number of members of the Board of Directors as seven. Jan Lång continues as Chairman, with Markus Tykkyläinen as Vice Chairman. Stefan Damlin, Tuomas Hyyryläinen, Vesa Hätilä, Kirsi Puntila and Maija Strandberg were re-elected to the Board of Directors.
The audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Oy was elected as auditor, with APA Panu Vänskä as its principal auditor.
Neova Oy’s Extraordinary General Meeting held on 29 April 2021 resolved to amend the Articles of Association, according to which the new name of the company is Neova Oy and its domicile is the City of Jyväskylä. The amendment took effect on 6 May 2021 when it was entered in the Trade Register.
The Extraordinary General Meeting of Neova Oy held on 30 June 2021 approved the financial statements for the interim financial period 1 January–30 April 2021 and decided that a dividend of EUR 8,333.33 per share, corresponding to a total of EUR 250 million, be distributed for the interim financial period. The General Meeting further decided that the number of members of Neova Oy’s Board of Directors is eight and elected Panu Routila as a new member of the Board.
Number of employees
The Group employed an average of 896 (1,018) persons in the final third of the financial year. The average number of employees for the full financial year was 922 (1,031).
Employees by segment, average
The codetermination committees of Neova Oy and Kekkilä Oy met twice, as planned, during the financial year to discuss current topics. Employees are also represented on Neova’s Supervisory Board. The Supervisory Board met three times during the financial year.
Neova Group’s safety team manages and develops our “safety first!” culture to prevent safety deviations and accidents through effective risk reduction, training and the provision of support to the business functions.
In 2021, the Group’s accident frequency (LTA1f: lost-time accidents per million working hours) increased slightly compared to the previous year and was 7.2 (7.2 and 6.4 excluding Nevel). We achieved our zero accidents target for all of our operations in Finland. Accident frequency increased particularly in Kekkilä-BVB’s operations in the Netherlands, where the accident frequency was on a par with 2019. Most of our accidents – and serious accidents in particular – took place in production operations. During the past three years, 14 per cent of the incidents were classified as serious accidents or serious near misses: 12 incidents out of 87. However, none of these came close to a fatal accident, and 54 per cent (54%) of the total number of accidents did not lead to lost time.
To improve and harmonise our safety culture, we focused on safety training in 2021, especially in the Netherlands, where approximately 150 production employees participated in safety training. In addition, the personnel of the maintenance unit completed a VCA certificate (occupational safety, occupational health and the environment in the construction industry). We paid special attention to fire and chemical safety in 2021. We conducted a total of 72 fire and chemical risk assessments at peat production areas. The number of fires in peat production decreased by 49 per cent compared to the previous year.
We also monitor accidents involving contractors in our operations and conduct accident investigations in cooperation with them. Due to the travel restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of safety observations decreased by 8 per cent from the previous year. The number of safety observations was 2,963 (3,986, or 3,363 excluding Nevel).
Neova Group has zero tolerance for inappropriate conduct and discrimination, and all 13 incidents reported during the year were reviewed without delay. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 103 infections have been reported in Neova Group: 83 in 2021 and 20 in 2020.
Neova Group participated in the Great Place to Work personnel survey for the third time in 2021. The results indicate that our journey towards being a better place of work has continued well. The management team has reviewed the results of the survey and open answers and selected corresponding new common development goals. Teams also come up with development measures on their own. According to the survey, our employee experience improved by two percentage points as our Trust Index measuring the employee experience this year was 70 per cent, compared to 68 per cent last year. Based on the results of the survey, Neova Group was awarded the Great Place to Work certificate in three countries: Finland, Sweden and Estonia.
Changes in organisational structure
Nevel Oy, including its subsidiaries and associates, was sold on 28 January 2021.
Board of Directors’ proposal for the distribution of profits
In line with its dividend policy, Neova Oy distributes as dividends, on average, 50 per cent of the annual profit shown in the financial statements. The Board of Directors proposes to the General Meeting to be convened on 29 March 2022 that the result for the financial year, EUR 514,829,390 , be entered as a change in retained earnings, after which the distributable funds available to the General Meeting amount to EUR 280,568,189.
The Extraordinary General Meeting held on 30 June 2021 distributed dividends totalling EUR 250 million for the interim financial period 1 January–30 April 2021. There have been no substantial changes in the company’s financial position after the end of the financial year on 31 December 2021. The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting that a dividend of EUR 2,000 per share, totalling EUR 60 million, be distributed for the financial year 1 January–31 December 2021.
Events after the review period
On 3 January 2022, Kekkilä-BVB completed the acquisition of the German companies Brill Substrate and Brill Papenburg Logistics.
On 10 February 2022, Neova announced it had signed an agreement concerning the sale of its associated company Scandbio AB. Scandbio AB is a Swedish pellet producer in which Neova holds a 50 per cent stake. The buyer is the Swedish company Lantmännen ek.
On 21 February 2022, Neova announced it had signed an agreement concerning the acquisition of 30 per cent minority stake in Kekkilä-BVB Oy from Nielson Belegging en Beheer B.V. The transaction requires the approval of the competition authorities. As a result of the change, Chief Executive Officer of Kekkilä-BVB and a member of Neova Group’s Management team Juha Mäkinen decided to leave the company. Kekkilä-BVB appointed Vesa Tempakka, Chief Executive Officer of Neova Group and a chairman of Kekkilä-BVB as Chief Executive Officer of Kekkilä-BVB. At the same time, Peter Jan Kuiper, COO of Kekkilä-BVB has appointed as a member of the Neova Groups’ Management Team. All appointments took effect immediately.
Neova Group is one of the world’s largest producers of peat for growing media.The funds obtained from the sale of the heat and power company Nevel give Neova the opportunity to continue its strong transformation from a former conglomerate and energy company into Europe’s leading producer of growing media through Kekkilä-BVB and a facilitator of cleaner water and air through the Novactor activated carbon business.
In the new financial year, the Kekkilä-BVB subgroup will again invest in developing its product selection and the profitable growth of its international sales in the professional, consumer grower and landscaping businesses. The Group intends to expand its distribution network into new markets in line with its strategy while increasing its cooperation with its existing comprehensive network of customers in its home markets in Europe.
Neova will continue to implement measures in line with its strategy to increase the competence of its personnel and achieve market-leading customer service. At the same time, the company will continue to increase the efficiency of its business processes in order to improve profitability. The demand for energy peat as a fuel is expected to continue to decline, while the demand for bioenergy is expected to see strong growth.
Neova will continue the commercialisation of new business operations in the Activated Carbon business as well as the researching of further new business initiatives in Ventures. Work on rebuilding the furnace at Activated Carbons’ first production facility for manufacturing technical carbons is progressing as planned in Ilomantsi and the facility is expected to become operational by the end of 2022. Ventures has a strong focus on cooperation with other industry participants to promote its project as effectively as possible in collaboration with interested partners.
During the past two financial years, Neova has also been successful in the development of its own wind power projects. Further progress will be made in 2022 on selected projects.
Consolidated key figures
|Operating profit (EBIT)||-16.5||-121.4||511.2||-95.3|
|% of turnover||-11.4||-74.9||99.3||-17.5|
|Operating profit (EBIT) before impairment||-0.1||-18.6||527.6||7.4|
|% of turnover||-0.1||-11.5||102.5||1.4|
|Profit/loss for the period||-21.0||-121.5||501.5||-108.1|
|Operating margin (EBITDA)||11.6||-4.5||562.8||53.8|
|+/- Change in working capital||0.4||21.2||-51.1||44.8|
|– Net investments||-16.2||-26.3||-77.7||-59.1|
|Free cash flow before taxes||-4.2||-9.7||434.0||39.6|
|Return on invested capital % *||73.1||-14.0|
|Return on invested capital % before impairment*||75.4||1.1|
|Return on equity % *||98.7||-34.9|
|Balance sheet total||780.9||758.5|
|Interest-bearing net debt||11.2||327.7|
|Equity ratio %**||55.2||27.9|
|Interest-bearing net debt/operating margin||0.0||6.1|
|Average number of employees||922||1,031|
|*) Previous 12 months|
|**) In calculating the equity ratio, the capital loan on the balance sheet was calculated as shareholders’ equity|
Vesa Tempakka, CEO, Neova, tel. +358 400 726 727
Jarmo Santala, CFO, Neova, tel. +358 40 801 9191
Ahti Martikainen, Director, Communications and Public Affairs, Neova, tel. +358 40 680 4723