2020 has brought about an unprecedented level of uncertainty, with a raging global pandemic that also worsened the already challenging economic environment. People, societies and companies were required to re-invent the way they live and do business – GF was no exception. While the COVID-19 pandemic is still disrupting daily life across the world, GF can count on its strategic positioning, financial stability and innovation focus to overcome the crisis.
Against this rapidly shifting backdrop, the commitment and determination of our employees has been a key success factor. They showed perseverance, dedication, teamwork, as well as a willingness to be there for our customers even in difficult times. All our employees – whether in production, logistics or in their offices – have quickly adapted to the new situation. With great agility, they adjusted to more challenging working conditions and new digital tools. This deserves our utmost gratitude and recognition. Our thanks also go to our customers, who are breaking new ground in the way they interact and communicate, together with us.
GF reported a clearly stronger performance in the second half of 2020, compared with the first half and in spite of the fact that some of the challenges of the previous year persisted. Among these were the trade tensions between the US and China and more political turmoil, including in the US and Europe, as well as the ongoing transformation of the automotive industry. GF reacted quickly to the new risk landscape, diversifying activities and further increasing its resilience.
GF sales in 2020 amounted to CHF 3'184 million (2019: CHF 3'720 million). The difference when compared with the previous year mostly reflects the impact of the continued tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in many countries around the world. Organically, sales decreased by 8.4%, despite a resilient piping market and the recovery of the global automotive market in the second half of the year. Negative currency effects weighed heavily on sales, with an impact of more than CHF 170 million. GF Piping Systems was mostly affected (CHF 103 million).
The operating result (EBIT) before one-off items amounted to CHF 185 million (2019: CHF 281 million) and the reported EBIT was CHF 166 million (2019: CHF 235 million). The corresponding EBIT margins were 5.8% (2019: 7.6%) and 5.2% (2019: 6.3%). The one-off items in 2020 of CHF 19 million (2019: CHF 46 million) are exclusively related to the partial relocation of a foundry in Werdohl (Germany), which is mostly finished at year-end. In 2020, the EBIT before one-off items and the reported EBIT included the gain from the sale of a building by GF Machining Solutions of CHF 10 million.