The positivity surrounding the celebrations of Finland’s centenary of independence was also reflected in economic growth and stronger demand. Consumer confidence in the economy is at a record high. We also saw positive development in our operations in 2017. We have expanded our operations not only in Finland, but also in the Baltic countries and Sweden, and we have harmonized the Group-level management of our international structure.
The Group’s result for 2017 was on a par with the good level achieved in the previous year. Our Swedish operations recorded a good result for the year in spite of the challenging weather conditions, which affected our agricultural business.
Mergers between international cosmetics companies had an impact on us. Our principal relationships with several international brands ended following the merger of the cosmetics businesses of Coty and Procter & Gamble. Nevertheless, our outlook for 2018 is substantially more positive with new brand representations.
Operational integration and new acquisitions
We were again active in making acquisitions and integrating our new operations during the year. In late 2016, we acquired the business operations of Ordior Ltd, a company specializing in the sales and import of laboratory equipment in Finland and Estonia, which was previously part of the University Pharmacy Group. The Ordior acquisition has reinforced our market position in the field of professional laboratory solutions.
In late 2017, we acquired the business operations of Make-Trade Ltd, a Finnish importer and distributor of consumer goods. The acquisition strengthens our position as an importer and marketer of well-known brands of consumer goods. BIC, which was recently added to the portfolio of brands we represent, is a particularly good example of a global brand that is available all over the world in over four million retail outlets. Our strong ambition is to continue growing and developing our own brands and the brands we represent.
A new beginning in a new office
The renewal of working methods and workplace culture was our most important strategic project last year. As part of the project, we moved to new premises. In June, we left our old head office by the sea at Eteläranta 4 and moved to a new multipurpose office in Helsinki’s Herttoniemi district.
The aim of the new premises is to improve employee satisfaction while strengthening our shared operating models and the Berner identity. The renewal of operating methods and business premises will support greater efficiency, which we expect will have a positive impact on the Group’s result. The employee surveys conducted thus far have indicated that our employees are very satisfied with the changes.
Strengthening domestic production and our product and supply chain
At 135 years of age, Berner Ltd is an international operator with deep roots in Finland. Our goal is to strengthen our diverse production operations in Finland through new innovations, product development and investments. Responsible, safe and Finnish product and service solutions are also a source of competitive advantage in achieving our export targets.
In the coming years we will focus on several customer oriented development projects. We are currently developing a new enterprise resource planning system that will enhance the management of our product and supply chain and enable the best service for our customers. We will continue this rapid rate of development to ensure our continued sustainable growth for the next century and beyond!