2021 was a year marked by great uncertainty. A year that could be defined, without any shadow of a doubt, as the year of the bounce-back. A year in which, despite the complex situation, the Novellini Group posted economic and financial results which are higher than the pre-pandemic period. We can proudly say that our proven experience in facing and dealing with challenging issues and the robustness of our Business Plan, as well as our business model, have ensured that the crisis caused by the pandemic did not find us unprepared.
With regard to the accounts, we closed the financial year having performed well. We consolidated our competitive position and confirmed our strong ability to execute, the validity of our strategy and the sustainability of our business. Achieving these 2021 results has not been taken for granted. And, above all else, it was not done to surpass pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible.
In terms of strategic initiatives, 2021 saw our competitive position strengthen in all key markets. Growth was supported by the quality of our catalogue to which was added the important SPA OUTDOOR segment.
Despite difficulties due to the impossibility to procure raw materials and semi-finished products, which featured throughout 2021, our supply chain succeeded in respecting all the commitments assumed and allowed us to seize all the opportunities presented by the strong increase in demand in 2021 and the beginning of 2022.
Excellent results were also achieved by our aluminium business unit in 2021. It recorded an increase in revenue from third parties of 146% over 2020. But talking today of the 2021 results is something of an anachronism and it is very regrettable to have to put such a positive year for Novellini into the background because we are facing a scenario in 2022 which is dramatic and whose consequences will be devastating. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has required us to review our economic and financial outlook for 2022, forcing us to confront an extremely risky situation; one which we would never have thought applicable to our companies.
The projects for this year, 2022, are quite different: the economic situation is evolving on a daily basis, with extreme, speculative situations that will have an incredibly heavy impact both in terms of production and the economic and financial situation. We have, however, reflected - clearly and calmly - on the times in which we are living. In this climate of huge uncertainty, what we do know with utmost clarity, is that our future depends on the far-sightedness of the decisions we take today and tomorrow and the speed with which we take them. Despite such a complicated situation, we will not stop planning to build a better future because, if it is true that numbers are important, it is equally true that their value is bound to the way in which they are achieved. Creating continuous, long-lasting value is one of the main objectives in our company strategy - even in difficult circumstances. Consolidating the foundations of the Group allows us to face the greatest challenges and to continue to satisfy the people who contribute to our growth in an increasingly global, innovative and sustainable way.
None of this would be possible without the commitment, passion, professionalism and the huge sense of responsibility from the management team, the company’s directors, and each and every employee, contractor and partner: everyone who plays an integral part in the Group’s growth and who is the driving force of the development strategies. A company is also based on the relationship of trust it has with its customers, who we would like to thank. If 2021 was an extraordinary year and if we manage to deal with the pitfalls lurking in 2022, it is, above all, thanks to them. And, strengthened by this trust, and despite huge uncertainties, we look forward to the future with renewed enthusiasm and optimism.
In 2021, the Novellini Group benefited from the economic recovery in the plumbing and heating sector which was mainly a result of the “rebound” linked to the significant reduction (compared to 2020) in the Covid-19 pandemic emergency. The Group saw excellent growth in revenue but also in the main expense items, when compared to the previous year, also due to the closure of the production plants which happened between March and May 2020.
In this extremely volatile context, the Group also had to face, and especially in the second half of 2021, a strong increase in the cost of raw materials and energy, partially mitigated by long-term agreements for certain types of specific supply.
It should be emphasised that the professional market is the distribution channel which is taking on increasing importance, both in terms of the revenue achieved and in terms of the profitability associated with the sector. Large-scale distribution continued its decline in 2021 and is currently worth about 6% of the Novellini Group.
The main economic indicators which characterised 2021 are given below, compared with the figures from previous years.
In Europe, Novellini confirmed its position as the market leader in the “shower” sector by recording an increase in revenue of approximately 13.8% compared to 2020 (+0.6% vs 2019). This increase can be attributed, mainly, to the already-mentioned rebound in 2021 following the lockdowns relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the Wellness sector, both the bathtub sector and the other product families (shower trays, shower columns, integral shower cabinets) recorded a notable increase of +27.6% (+15.9% vs 2019), thus obtaining better growth than the total core business (+19.2% vs 2020, +7.0% vs 2019).
In 2021, the average price of almost every commodity underwent an increase as a result of two main factors:
1) Economic recovery as a result of vaccination programmes and the gradual relaxation of restrictions;
2) Ultra-expansive economic policies:
a. From financial stability to social stability, redistribution;
b. Environmental protection, decarbonising economies.
At the beginning of 2022, analysts expected a gradual decline in inflationary pressure which should then have filtered onto the markets in the second half of the year. The war in Ukraine, combined with China’s “zero policy” for Covid-19, has, however, flipped this outlook on its head. The impact is being felt across every commodity and in energy costs, causing the prices of raw materials, gas, oil and electricity to soar. To counter the macroeconomic situation described above, the Group has had to implement extraordinary price increases of 18% starting from May 2022. In the January-May 2022 period, orders taken for the core business exceeded the value of those taken in the previous year by over 5%, signalling, on the demand side, the market’s good performance.