Reporting 2021

Report on Economic Position

Macroeconomic conditions

Recovery of the global economy

The coronavirus pandemic continued to have a noticeable impact on the global economy in financial year 2021. However, the waves of infection were less synchronous from country to country.

While severe contact restrictions were still in place in many places at the beginning of 2021, a marked upturn in the economy, global trade and private consumption set in from the spring/summer. Although here, too, there were regional differences. The global economy stalled again in the summer as a result of a spike in infection rates in the Asian countries. The impact on production in the United States and Europe was for the most part limited. In general, countries with high vaccination rates were also increasingly able to tolerate higher incidences without taking containment measures to curb economic activity.

From the third quarter onward, economic activity weakened as a result of the increasing rates of infection, also caused by the Omicron variant. Furthermore, persistent supply bottlenecks for components for industrial production and other goods, as well as increased inflationary pressure, clouded the overall situation. Prices in particular for crude oil and energy also skyrocketed. Central banks remained cautious in 2021 and initially continued to support the economy with low interest rates.

In this environment, the global automotive industry in particular suffered increasingly from supply bottlenecks, for example for semiconductor chips. Global auto production had already fallen by around 30 percent by the fall, which had a significant impact on overall economic output.

By the end of the year, uncertainty regarding the broader economic outlook increased significantly due to the emergence of the rapid-fire omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic, while the shortage of components in industry eased somewhat.

Sources for this section:
Deutsche Bundesbank, Monthly Report, January and February 2022 IfW Kiel, Kiel Institute Economic Outlook, No. 85 (2021|Q4) IMK, IMK Report No. 171, September 2021

German GDP up by around 2.8 percent in 2021

Change in real GDP compared to previous years

Year-on-year comparison of change in real GDP

The situation in Germany was similar to that described for the global economy. Here, too, economic activity and private consumption bounced back strongly, particularly in the summer half of 2021, only to decline again slightly in the final quarter. Contact-intensive services sectors in particular were hit again by the omicron wave at the end of the year. The automotive industry, an important driver of Germany’s economy, was also impacted by the global supply bottlenecks in the manufacturing sector, particularly in the second half of the year, as well as by weak demand in general. The construction industry was also temporarily hit by material bottlenecks, which slowed production.

Overall, gross domestic product (GDP) increased in this environment by around 2.8 percent. Thanks to measures to safeguard employment, the knock-on effect for the German labor market in 2021 was limited and the labor market developed comparatively favorably. The unemployment rate was below 6 percent. Consumer prices, on the other hand, also rose significantly in Germany in 2021 and at the end of the year inflation had climbed to a record high.

Sources for this section:
Deutsche Bundesbank, Monthly Report, January and February 2021 IfW Kiel, Kiel Institute Economic Outlook, No. 86 (2021|Q4) IMK, IMK Report No. 172, December 2021

Situation in the logistics sector

One of the key takeaways of 2021 was the realization of how important the logistics industry is, impressively cementing the systemic relevance of ports, road and rail. The logistics industry is a crucial link between producers, retailers and consumers. It also provides many additional production-related services. In addition to traditional freight forwarding business, its strengths include the provision of logistics services in connection with the supply, production and distribution of goods.

The demands on logistics are changing at an ever-increasing pace. These changes are being driven by ongoing globalization, shorter product life cycles, digitalization and urbanization. As a result, the sector continues to benefit from the increasing demand for logistics services, which is amplified by the growth in e-commerce business and reverse logistics processing in the business-to-consumer segment. Challenges concern in particular continued pressure on margins, demographic trends and growing competition in the search for specialists, managers and young talents. Other factors are the importance of online retailing, which has once again been amplified during the coronavirus pandemic, increasing customer requirements with regard to speed, flexibility and the quality of supply, and raised environmental awareness among the population. The sector is currently experiencing staff shortages particularly in the areas of warehouse workers, vehicle drivers, engine drivers and IT managers.

In addition, logistics companies are expected to be very willing to invest and highly innovative in the area of outsourcing activities. A key focus here is to invest in transshipment, distribution and order-picking centers in conveniently situated locations. Because contracts with customers often have terms of only a few years, space and handling equipment are often rented or leased. This avoids tying up capital in the long-term and significantly increases the flexibility of the logistics service provider.

Increasing customer demand has led to a significantly greater use of consistent information and communication technology along the process chains. Logistics service providers must increasingly adapt business models to changes such as the increasing influence of the ongoing digitalization of process chains.

In line with German and global economic activity, the SCI Logistics Barometer (business climate) recovered significantly from spring 2021 and was at a high level at the end of the year. Despite ongoing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, a substantial hike in energy prices and disruptions to global supply chains, a majority rated the current business situation as “normal” (33 percent) or “good” (56 percent) in December 2021. On the other hand, however, businesses were strongly affected by staff shortages, including the shortfall of tens of thousands of drivers.

The German Logistics Association (BVL) Logistics Indicator also initially rose steeply in the spring of 2021, although it was considerably deflated in the fourth quarter. The business outlook deteriorated further towards the end of the year. The business situation was widely perceived favorably, but less frequently than in the recent past. Skepticism concerning the business outlook spread, particularly as a result of the prolonged supply shortages in industry and the retail sector. Inventories also remained at too low a level in some sectors.

Around 90 percent of global goods flows are transported by container ship. These suffered considerable disruptions in the 2021 financial year. The reasons for this are manifold. The coronavirus pandemic and related, constantly changing restrictions in the individual ports made it difficult to rotate ship crews. Furthermore, ships were queueing up outside the major ports in China and off the West coast of the US. In China, coronavirus infections among dockworkers repeatedly led to ports having to be completely or partially shut down. Due to a shortage of truck drivers, there were also hold-ups in hinterland transports. All of this meant that transport boxes were often not where they were needed for reloading due to delays in the schedules. Delivery bottlenecks and delays are expected to drag on well into 2022.

The logistics industry in Germany provides jobs for a large number of people. This is attributable to the fact that the logistics location Germany generates a large part of its economic output in industry and the retail sector. Other reasons include the traditionally high export share, its central position in Europe and the resulting hub function that it fulfills. The quality of its transport infrastructure and its significant logistics expertise also contribute to making Germany highly attractive as a logistics location.

Sources for this section:
BVL Logistics Indicator, 4th Quarter 2021, December 13, 2021 including commentary
SCI Verkehr, SCI Logistics Barometer, December 2021
Zeit.de dated January 3, 2022 “Wann entspannt sich der Containerverkehr?”, retrieved on February 7, 2022, 9:50 am

Board of Management’s overall assessment of the business environment

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic – in particular the global lockdown – severely impacted our business. We closed the 2020 financial year with a significant loss of EUR 116 million.

In 2021, the coronavirus pandemic continued to affect our business activities. However, despite the adverse market conditions, we were able to close 2021 with a good result and impressively achieved our original forecast from last year of a “substantial improvement” in earnings before taxes (EBT). This was helped by the fact that we have diversified our business more and more in recent years and have established a broad customer base.

Although volumes in the AUTOMOBILE Division had risen slightly again in the first half of 2021, the lack of parts availability made itself strongly felt in the second half of the year. Not only was there a shortage of chips, but lacking paints, windows and airbags also prevented vehicles from rolling off the assembly line. This not only led to a decrease in throughput, but also in the downstream services we provide.

The measures taken at the locations to deal with the pandemic situation additionally weakened earnings due to the negative impact of the necessary hygiene and distancing measures on productivity and the cost situation. These are nevertheless important because the health of our employees is our top priority.

Despite of the pandemic, we were able to chalk up a number of successes in the AUTOMOBILE Division. For example, we completed another multi-story car park in Kelheim, Bavaria, on schedule, enabling us to further reinforce our long-standing relationship with a key customer.

A major contract was signed at the end of 2021, marking an important milestone for the Bremerhaven site. Hyundai Glovis, one of the world’s largest shipping companies, will use Bremerhaven as a European hub for transports between Asia and Europe within the scope of a joint venture.

BLG LOGISTICS is continuing to improve its carbon footprint by championing rail transport. BLG AutoRail can transport more than 200 cars per train, and operates in the German and Austrian rail network using green electricity every kilometer of the way.

The problem of parts availability also impacted our CONTRACT Division in 2021. This particularly affected industrial logistics locations where we work for customers in the automotive industry.

Nevertheless, the overall performance of the CONTRACT Division for 2021 was positive. Demand was particularly high for consumer goods and e-commerce services.

In Geiselwind, Franconia, we opened a new, highly automated logistics center for our customer. The laying of the foundation stone for the C3 Bremen logistics center marked the start of construction of our next lighthouse project. Here, from fall 2022, we will consolidate our logistics activities for a leading vehicle manufacturer. Besides the best possible processes for the customer, we are also placing great value on sustainability – among other things with Germany’s largest continuous roof-mounted photovoltaic system – and an excellent working atmosphere for our employees.

In the CONTAINER Division, one consequence of the coronavirus pandemic was that shipping companies’ schedules were thrown completely out of sync as a result of catch-up effects triggered by at least temporary changes in consumer behavior and congestion at the ports. As a consequence of this, there is currently not enough freight capacity on the world’s oceans. This meant that many more containers than usual were stored at the terminals for longer periods of time, leading to significantly higher income from storage fees than planned.

In particular the Wilhelmshaven location developed positively in 2021. Up to 2025, EUROGATE is investing around EUR 150 million in Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven (CTW). Container handling activities at the terminal are being incrementally converted from manual operations to an automated system. Automated operation of the first ship berth is planned for as early as 2024.

In the 2021 financial year, we received EUR 53 million in coronavirus funding from the City of Bremen. The aim of this measure was to increase the equity ratio, which had fallen to 5 percent. The conformity of such a recapitalization under EU state aid law was examined in advance. Thanks to this aid and our good earnings result for 2021 with EBT of EUR  52,226,000, our equity ratio has risen significantly and, at 12.8 percent, is again in double digits.

In addition, again in 2021 BLG LOGISTICS managed to keep moving. We opened new locations, expanded existing ones and focused intensively on the topic of climate protection. We aim to become climate-neutral by 2030. We are also consistently pursuing our digitalization and innovation strategy and in this context are addressing topics such as artificial intelligence.

Although 2022 will be characterized by challenging conditions and question marks due to the war between Russia and Ukraine and because of the coronavirus pandemic, we are nevertheless working intensively to constantly improve BLG LOGISTICS’ overall financial situation and, despite these uncertain times, believe we are well positioned for the future. This assessment is based on the results of the consolidated financial statements for 2021 and takes into account the business performance up to the time the group management report was prepared in 2022. The business development at the beginning of 2022 in January was slightly above expectations overall, but has been influenced by the uncertainty surrounding the war from February onwards.

Business performance

Financial performance

Revenue development (in EUR thousand)

Revenue development (in EUR thousand)

Revenue by segment
EUR thousand
2021 2020 Absolute
change
Percentage
change
AUTOMOBILE 517,975 521,377 -3,402 -0.7
CONTRACT 542.799 552,621 -9,822 -1.8
CONTAINER 305,955 263,522 42,433 16.1
Reconciliation -316,291 -272,285 -44,006 -16.2
Group total 1,050,438 1,065,235 -14,797 -1.4

In the 2021 financial year, Group revenue decreased by EUR 14,797,000 year on year to EUR 1,050,438,000. This decrease is attributable with EUR 3,402,000 to the AUTOMOBILE Division, and is mainly due to lower volumes as a result of shortages of components and production interruptions at our customers. The decrease in the CONTRACT business unit amounts to EUR 9,822,000. This is due in particular to the sale of the international forwarding activities effective April 1, 2021.

In the CONTAINER Division, the handling volumes (in TEUs) increased by 13.1 percent overall. This was mainly due to catch-up effects resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, disruptions in the global supply chains and the shipping companies’ diverging schedules resulted in a significant temporary increase in storage fees, so that revenue in the financial year rose by EUR 42,433,000 to EUR 305,955,000.

Since the EUROGATE Group, which represents the CONTAINER Division, is included in the consolidated financial statements using the equity method, this revenue is not included in the reported Group revenue. Earnings increased significantly compared to the previous year. In addition to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the previous year’s earnings were impacted in particular by high impairment losses on non-current financial assets and restructuring expenses (provisions) for the individual entities. The latter were partially reversed in the reporting year. Consequently, companies accounted for using the equity method reported a substantial net profit for the period of EUR 62,302,000. For more information, please refer to the notes below relating to the CONTAINER Division.

Indicators relating to financial performance
EUR thousand
2021 2020 Absolute change Percentage change
Revenue 1,050,438 1,065,235 -14,797 -1.4
Other income 55,199 46,190 9,009 19.5
Net income (net loss) of companies accounted for using the equity method 62,302 -61,705 124,007 201.0
Cost of materials -423,763 -454,905 31,142 6.8
Personnel expenses -479,303 -455,476 -23,827 -5.2
Other expenses -122,541 -131,577 9,036 6.9
Depreciation and amortization expense, impairment losses -80,825 -115,432 34,607 30.0
EBIT 61,507 -107,670 169,176 157.1
Net financial income/net finance loss -9,281 -8,457 -824 -9.7
EBT 52,226 -116,127 168,353 145.0
EBT margin (in %) 5.0 -10.9 15.9 145.9
Consolidated net profit/net loss for the period 50,566 -120,174 170,740 142.1
EBT by segment
EUR thousand
2021 2020 Absolute change Percentage change
AUTOMOBILE -1,076 -8,998 7,922 88.0
CONTRACT 8,717 -13,891 22,608 162.8
CONTAINER 69,825 -67,274 137,099 203.8
Reconciliation -25,240 -25,964 724 2.8
Group total 52,226 -116,127 168,353 145.0

With -6.8 percent, the cost of materials fell more sharply than revenue (-1.4 percent). This is due in particular to the fact that the sale of the international forwarding activities as of April 1, 2021 eliminated the need to buy in the associated subcontractor services. Compensation through other business in our AUTOMOBILE, CONTRACT and CONTAINER Divisions generally require fewer purchased services.

The rise in other income (EUR 9,009,000) year on year is attributable with EUR 7,116,000 to higher income from disposals of property, plant and equipment and here in particular to the sale of the high-bay warehouse facility at the Bremen location (retail logistics business area).

Personnel expenses rose in the reporting year to EUR 479,303,000 (previous year: EUR 455,476,000). This corresponds to the increase in the number of employees (excluding the CONTAINER Division) by 379 due to business expansion and new business. The hiring of employees from the Association of German Seaport Operators (Gesamthafenbetriebsverein – GHBG) at the Bremerhaven site in the previous year led to an additional increase in the company’s own personnel expenses. Furthermore, temporary short-time work in financial year 2021 resulted in lower reimbursements.

Depreciation amortization and impairment losses decreased by EUR 34,607,000 in the 2021 financial year. This decline is partly due to impairments amounting to EUR 26,000,000 incurred in the previous year, in particular for impaired goodwill (EUR 19,549,000) and other assets. Depreciation and amortization decreased by EUR 8,606,000. This is attributable to various individual factors. A major contributor was the sale of the high-bay warehouse facility at the Bremen location (retail logistics business area) effected in the reporting year – coupled with a renewal of the operating contract.

Net financial income/net finance costs decreased by comparison with the previous year by EUR 824,000 to EUR -9,281,000. This was attributable with EUR 366,000 to higher expenses for unwinding the discount on provisions and liabilities and with EUR 625,000 to higher interest expenses for non-current loans and other financial liabilities.

Against the background of the described conditions, earnings before taxes (EBT) increased very significantly by EUR 168,353,000 to EUR 52,226,000 in large part due to the sharp rise in investment income in the CONTAINER Division. Accordingly, the EBT margin also improved markedly and stood at 5.0 percent (previous year: -10.9 percent).

Income taxes in the reporting year were EUR 1,660,000 (previous year: EUR 4,047,000). Current taxes decreased accordingly by EUR 1,721,000. Furthermore, in particular the positive change in deferred taxes (EUR 666,000) also had an effect.

As a result of the developments described, consolidated net profit for the period improved significantly by EUR 170,740,000 to EUR 50,566,000.

AUTOMOBILE Division

We handled, transported or technically processed 4.8 million vehicles in 2021
EUR thousand 2021 2020
Revenue 517,975 521,377
EBT -1,076 -8,998
EBT margin (in %) -0.2 -1.7

The AUTOMOBILE Division is the leading technical and logistics service provider for the international automotive industry. In this business area, the company offers multimodal transport concepts with global logistics reach and dovetails customized and innovative technical service packages.

Vehicle handling in millions

Vehicles handled (in millions)

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic led to the biggest crisis in the automotive sector since the Second World War, resulting in a sharp contraction in the 2020 financial year. On top of the already challenging transition from combustion engines to the new era of alternative drives and connectivity, automotive manufacturers’ 2021 production was hit massively by a lack of components. After volumes rose slightly in the first half of 2021, shortages of semiconductors and, later in the year, other required parts (paints, windows, airbags, etc.) severely limited production, although the economy as a whole was bouncing back. Demand for new vehicles was also restrained during the coronavirus pandemic. This again had a direct effect on the volumes of all business areas in the AUTOMOBILE Division. In this challenging environment, we nevertheless succeeded in maintaining the overall volume of vehicles in the division’s network at the previous year’s level, handling 4.8 million vehicles in the 2021 financial year.

Seaport terminals business area

In the seaport terminals business area, the volume of cars handled remained by and large at the previous year’s low level. At our largest transshipment facility, AutoTerminal Bremerhaven, around 1.7 million vehicles were handled in 2021, which was down on the previous year. Handling volumes also declined at our car terminal in Cuxhaven.

Due to the above-mentioned problems, volumes overall were significantly below our expectations. Furthermore, special expenses attributable to the COVID pandemic and a high sickness rate weighed on earnings.

In the financial year 2021, the high & heavy segment developed positively, achieving a handling volume significantly above plan (1.4 million metric tons, previous year: 1.1 million metric tons). It also benefited from the global shortage of containers and increased rolling cargo (RoRo). Furthermore, high value added exceeding expectations was achieved.

The Neustädter Hafen site in Bremen also achieved high tonnages (especially for forest products) and a correspondingly high staffing level. A high rate of sick leave, the need to hire additional external staff and the social distancing and hygiene measures had a counteractive effect on productivity, resulting in an increase in tonnage (ship-side handling) from 1.2 million metric tons to 1.3 million metric tons.

As vehicle throughput and storage levels were generally below expectations, the business area closed the year with a clear overall loss.

Inland terminals business area

In the inland terminals business area, vehicle handling (transshipment, terminal handling, technical processing) was also at the previous year’s level, but overall was below plan. Reduced volumes of key account customers and the collapsed rental business were mitigated by short-time work, ad hoc and new business. Despite the adverse circumstances, the Kelheim and Dodendorf sites performed stably and strongly in the 2021 financial year, shoring up the overall positive result of the business area, which was in line with expectations.

AutoTransport and AutoRail business areas

In the transport sector of our AutoTransport and AutoRail business areas, the units transported were below expectations due to the problems in the automotive industry described above. Nevertheless, despite the negative impacts, they closed the financial year 2021 with positive net earnings. Productivity was also impacted by staff shortages (truck drivers/engine drivers), a high level of sick leave, road construction sites and route closures, and the flood disaster in Germany. Isolated one-off effects such as the sale of end-of-life trucks and a track price subsidy benefited the overall result.

The CarShipping business, which includes car transport by special inland waterway vessels, fell short of expectations in the 2021 financial year, in particular as a result of reduced production volumes in the second half of the year due to a lack of components.

Southern/Eastern Europe business area

The above-mentioned production interruptions on the part of manufacturers and low demand from end customers, as well as high fuel costs, also affected the Southern/Eastern Europe business area. Additional business boosted earnings within the scope of possibilities, so that overall the business area was able to achieve a slight profit that exceeded expectations. In our Russian company in particular, an increased share of international transports led to a noticeable rise in revenue.

Due to the developments described above, with volumes significantly below expectations, particularly in the seaport terminals business area, EBT in the AUTOMOBILE Division increased from EUR -8,998,000 to EUR -1,076,000 compared to the previous year, but is still in negative territory.

CONTRACT Division

EUR thousand 2021 2020
Revenue 542,799 552,621
EBT 8,717 -13,891
EBT margin (in %) 1.6 -2.5

The CONTRACT Division manages complex projects and offers its customers reliable logistics solutions. We work at our logistics centers and our customers’ production facilities and plants at over 40 locations in Europe and overseas.

Industrial logistics (Europe) business area

The increased pace of recovery in industry in the 2021 financial year also had a positive knock-on effect for our industrial logistics (Europe) business area. The order situation and volume situation were good in many places and overall earnings were slightly above expectations. At our largest location in Bremen, very high volumes were achieved, particularly in export business.

At the locations where we work for customers in the automotive industry, manufacturers’ curtailed production due to lack of parts availability also impacted our volumes and processes. It was possible to mitigate the effects of this through countermeasures such as cost reductions and process improvements.

Industrial logistics (overseas) business area

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, government lockdowns were again imposed at some of our sites in the industrial logistics (overseas) business area. This particularly affected our site in Malaysia, where transport volumes increased again at the end of the year. Thanks to the good development of new business and high volumes at our sites in the US, South Africa and India, the business area ended the year slightly ahead of expectations overall.

Retail logistics business area

The retail logistics business area developed positively during 2021 and was able to close the financial year in line with original projections.

The sale of the high-bay warehouse at our Bremen site to the customer, combined with a new operating contract, resulted in a positive one-off contribution. At individual locations, the lack of parts availability in production and disrupted supply chains had a counteractive effect. At the Ochtrup site, there were also operational challenges to be overcome that were still persisting from the lockdown in the textile sector.

The young Schlüchtern location in particular contributed to the positive development through high volumes. Thanks to unplanned non-recurring business and a new anchor customer, the restructuring of the Sports & Fashion segment was also successfully implemented.

Freight forwarding business area

In the first quarter of the 2021 financial year, gross forwarding revenue in this business segment was below expectations.

BLG LOGISTICS has decided to adjust strategically to changed market conditions and place a focus on national and international business in the AUTOMOBILE, CONTRACT and CONTAINER Divisions going forward. Therefore, with effect from April 1, 2021, the international freight forwarding activities of BLG International Forwarding GmbH & Co. KG were taken over by Rhenus Air & Ocean.

Not affected by the takeover is the Bremen freight forwarding location, which concentrates on overland transport, heavy goods transports, project business and sea freight. These operations were integrated into the existing seaport terminals and industrial logistics (Europe) business areas, and the freight forwarding business area was dissolved in the process.

As a result of the positive development described above, EBT in the CONTRACT Division increased significantly overall year on year by EUR 22,608,000 to EUR 8,717,000.

CONTAINER Division

EUR thousand 2021 2020
Revenue 305,955 263,522
EBT 69,825 -67,274
EBT margin (in %) 22.8 -25.5

The CONTAINER Division of BLG LOGISTICS is represented by half of the company shares in the joint venture EUROGATE GmbH & Co. KGaA, KG. This company operates – in some cases with partners – container terminals in Bremerhaven, Hamburg and Wilhelmshaven (Germany), at the Italian locations La Spezia, Ravenna and Salerno, in Limassol (Cyprus), as well as in Tangier (Morocco) and Ust-Luga (Russia). The EUROGATE Group also has holdings in several inland terminals and railroad transport companies.

The CONTAINER Division’s business mainly involves container handling. Intermodal services, such as the carriage of sea containers to and from the terminals, repairs, depot storage and trading of containers, cargomodal services and technical services are also offered as secondary services.

The 2021 financial year was characterized by high growth in handling volumes, particularly in the first half of the year, which was attributable to catch-up effects in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. This resulted in a significant increase in the time containers spent at our terminals, due in particular to the non-adherence of shipping companies to schedules, accompanied by extended delays. This, in turn, put a strain on capacity utilization with corresponding constraints on operating efficiency. In addition, temporary events, such as the blockage of the Suez Canal in the spring and the temporary partial closure of individual ports worldwide, had a significant impact on global logistics chains.

On the back of an increase in handling and transport volumes of the fully consolidated companies in Germany with the locations in Bremerhaven, Hamburg and Wilhelmshaven, the EUROGATE Group saw a significant revenue rise of 16.1 percent. In addition to the positive development of transshipment volumes, a significant increase in average revenue due to additional and unexpectedly high storage fee and reefer revenue, coupled with the first positive transformation effects, were reflected in the earnings development.

In addition, extraordinary income in connection with the partial reversal of provisions recognized in the previous year for the restructuring of individual Group entities had a positive effect on the Group result in 2021. Consequently, at EUR 61,879,000, the share of earnings from the equity-accounted entities, along with the EBT of the EUROGATE Group, was significantly higher than the previous year’s figure of EUR -60,740,000.


EARNINGS FOR 2021

52.2 million
EBT

1,050 million
Revenue

5.0 %
EBT margin


Comparison of results of operations in 2021 with the forecast for the 2021 financial year

  Forecast 2021 Actual 2021
EBT Significant improvement Significant improvement
Revenue At previous year’s level Slightly below the previous year’s level
EBT margin Significant improvement Significant improvement

At the time of preparing the previous year’s report for the 2020 financial year, we were in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and were unable to make any reliable forecasts as to the extent to which 2021 would be characterized by difficult underlying conditions. After the 2020 financial year was strongly impacted by the effects of COVID with a substantially negative result, we assumed that we would be able to significantly improve EBT and the EBT margin and maintain revenue at approximately the previous year’s level. We had forecast a year-end result for financial year 2021 at around the break-even mark. Our forecasts were based on assumptions that deviated in part from the conditions that occurred in the 2021 financial year.

As a result of the difficult situation in the automotive industry described above, volumes, revenue and earnings in the AUTOMOBILE Division were below our expectations for the 2021 financial year. The business area was hit hard in particular by the production interruptions at manufacturers due to shortages of components, as well as by general consumer reticence. With total handling volumes at the previous year’s level, good results for high & heavy handling and individual strong locations, earnings (EBT) nevertheless improved by EUR 7,922,000 to EUR -1,076,000.

Successfully launched new business and strong demand for e-commerce services and consumer goods ensured that the CONTRACT Division closed the 2021 financial year above expectations. The order situation was also good overall in the industrial logistics business area, which was affected by a shortage of components in our customers’ production facilities at some locations. The division improved its earnings (EBT) significantly year on year by EUR 22,608,000 to EUR 8,717,000.

The CONTAINER Division benefited from catch-up effects from the coronavirus pandemic and significantly increased container throughput. On the back of the turbulence in the shipping companies’ global logistics chains and schedules, the division also received a boost from temporarily high storage fees in the reporting year due to the longer average length of time containers spent at the terminals. This resulted in significantly improved EBT of EUR 69,825,000 for the CONTAINER Division, which is EUR 137,099,000 higher than in the previous year.

Overall, the EBT of the BLG Group showed a marked improvement of EUR 168,353,000, bringing it to EUR 52,226,000, and commensurate with this the EBT margin also rose sharply from -10.9 percent to 5.0 percent. At EUR 1,050,438,000, revenue was only slightly down on the previous year’s level of EUR 1,065,235,000.

Financial position

Balance sheet structure
Indicators relating to financial position
EUR thousand
2021 2020 Absolute change Percentage change
Total assets 1,218,177 1,194,093 24,085 2.0
Capitalization ratio (in %) 46.7 50.5 -3.7 -7.3
Working capital ratio (in %) 83.3 73.5 9.8 13.3
Equity 156,289 59,741 96,549 161.6
Equity ratio (in %) 12.8 5.0 7.8 156.4
Net debt 578,105 676,904 -98,798 -14.6

Structure of the statement of financial position

In the reporting year, total assets amounted to EUR 1,218,177,000 and were therefore at a similar level to the previous year’s figure of EUR 1,194,093,000. Significant changes occurred in property, plant and equipment, among other items. As a result of current depreciation and amortization and the sale of our high-bay warehouse facility at the Bremen retail logistics location, land, land rights and buildings, including buildings on third-party land, decreased by EUR 46,675,000 year on year.

In total, investments in non-current intangible assets and property, plant and equipment in the 2021 financial year amounted to EUR 119,904,000 (of which EUR 51,360,000 non-cash). This compares to divestments of EUR 74,547,000 and depreciation, amortization and impairment losses in the amount of EUR 80,825,000, which was EUR 34,607,000 lower (above all due to high impairments recognized in the previous year). The capitalization ratio decreased by 3.8 percentage points to 46.7 percent compared to December 31, 2020.

Investments in companies accounted for using the equity method increased by EUR 63,687,000 compared to the previous year. This is attributable in particular to the net income of the CONTAINER Division described above. Non-current financial receivables increased by EUR 19,898,000 mainly due to the increase in lease receivables.

Accordingly, non-current assets increased by EUR 48,960,000 in total to EUR 952,161,000.

As a result of factoring agreements, trade receivables decreased by EUR 19.4 million. Cash increased accordingly.

A detailed breakdown of the fair values of financial assets and liabilities and disclosures on hedging instruments can be found in note 32 to the consolidated financial statements.

As already described above, the equity ratio as of December 31, 2021 increased from 5.0 percent in the previous year to the current level of 12.8 percent. This was mainly made possible by the good annual results and the coronavirus funding in the amount of EUR 53 million that we received in the reporting year from the City of Bremen.

The Group’s net debt significantly decreased in the 2021 financial year to EUR 578,105,000 (previous year: EUR 676,904,000). This is mainly due to the reduction in financial liability obligations. In particular, sufficient liquidity was available, so that as of the reporting date utilization of short-term credit facilities was low. In respect of non-current bank loans, repayments in the 2021 financial year were EUR 9,049,000 higher than new borrowings.

EUR thousand Carrying amount 12/31/2021 Carrying amount 12/31/2020 Absolute change Percentage change
Non-current loans 158,387 167,436 -9,049 -5.4
Finance lease liabilities 526,979 536,420 -9,441 -1.8
Total 685,366 703,856 -18,490 -2.6
Net debt
EUR thousand
2021 2020 Absolute change Percentage change
Non-current loans 136,689 146,387 -9,698 -6.6
Other non-current financial liabilities 529,479 513,305 16,174 3.2
Current financial liabilities 162,574 228,298 -65,724 -28.8
Financial liabilities 828,742 887,990 -59,247 -6.7
Non-current finance receivables 217,627 197,729 19,898 10.1
Cash and cash equivalents 33,010 13,357 19,653 147.1
Net debt 578,105 676,904 -98,798 -14.6

Cash flows

Indicators relating to cash flows
EUR thousand
2021 2020 Absolute change Percentage change
Cash inflow from operating activities 67,565 27,264 40,301 147.8
Cash in-/outflow from investing activities 34,515 -32,889 67,404 204.9
Free Cashflow 102,080 -5,625 107,705 1,914.8
Cash in-/outflow from financing activities -26,150 -14,706 -11,444 -77.8
Net cash change in cash and cash equivalents 75,930 -20,331 96,261 473.5
Effect of exchange rate movements on cash and cash equivalents -549 -2,024 1,475 72.9
Cash and cash equivalents at start of financial year -63,941 -41,586 -22,355 -53.8
Cash and cash equivalents at end of financial year 11,440 -63,941 75,382 117.9
Composition of cash and cash equivalents        
Cash 33,010 13,357 19,653 147.1
Current liabilities to banks -21,570 -77,298 55,728 72.1
Cash and cash equivalents at end of financial year 11,440 -63,941 75,381 117.9

Based on the earnings before taxes of EUR 52,226,000 achieved in 2021, cash flows of EUR 67,565,000 were generated from operating activities (previous year: EUR 27,264,000). The free cash flow of EUR 102,080,000 was in clearly positive territory and EUR 107,705,000 higher than the previous year’s figure of EUR -5,625,000.

Cash flows from operating activities improved in particular as a result of the significantly higher earnings before taxes described under financial performance (change EUR 168,353,000). Due to the indirect method of calculation, the lower impairments (see remarks above) as well as the very positive net earnings of companies accounted for using the equity method (EUR 62,302,000) had a contrary effect.

Cash flows from investing activities changed by EUR 67,404,000 to EUR 34,515,000 in the reporting year. This is attributable mainly to the sale of the high-bay warehouse facility at the Bremen location. This resulted in higher proceeds from disposals of property, plant and equipment (EUR 82,260,000) compared with the previous year. Proceeds from dividends received were EUR 11,114,000 lower, and had an opposite effect.

Cash flows from financing activities decreased by EUR 11,444,000 to EUR -26,150,000 in the reporting year. The equity boost by the shareholder in the amount of EUR 53,000,000 compares to EUR 18,468,000 higher cash payments for the repayment of financial loans and EUR 66,367,000 lower proceeds from financing loans taken up.

In total, cash and cash equivalents increased by EUR 75,381,000 to EUR 11,440,000 in the financial year.

Outstanding investments are financed taking into account the operating cash flows generated in the segments, and, subject to the capital market situation, from long-term loans and through leasing.

As of the reporting date, credit facilities to the value of EUR 98.9 million had been agreed but not utilized. Under existing factoring contracts, a volume of EUR 55.6 million was unused as of December 31, 2021.

A detailed statement of cash flows can be found in the Consolidated financial statements. Disclosures on the statement of cash flows can also be found in note 37 to the consolidated financial statements.