Business Development of Lab Products & Services
- Solid sales growth within expectations
- Strong demand especially for laboratory consumables
- Expansion of direct sales with key accounts and e-business
|€ in millions||2015||2014||Δ in %|
as a % of sales
1) In constant currencies
2) As of Dec. 31
Products for Laboratories in Quality Assurance and Research
Laboratory balances for reliable and convenient weighing processes
The lightest and smallest electronic pipette on the market
Single-use-based filter system for sample preparation
Lab water systems with single-use bagtank technology for storage of purified water
Innovative membrane transfer and agar system for microbiological testing
Membrane filter system for sterility testing of parenterals
In the reporting year, sales revenue of the Lab Products & Services Division rose 10.9% in constant currencies from €275.5 million to €305.5 million. The currency-adjusted increase of 5.0% was at the upper end of the forecast communicated at the beginning of the year. We reported strong demand especially for laboratory consumables, such as lab filters and microbiological tests.
Sales Revenue and Order Intake
|€ in millions||2015||2014||in %|
All rates of change shown in the following for regional development are in constant currencies, unless otherwise specified.
In EMEA, the region contributing the highest share of sales revenue of slightly more than 50%, the division achieved a 2.9% gain, despite moderate economic growth in the reporting year, to €155.9 million (reported +2.9% relative to €151.5 million). The Asia | Pacific region, which accounts for around 29% of business for the Lab Products & Services Division, showed the highest growth dynamics, with sales increasing 11.4% to €88.4 million (reported +22.2% relative to €72.4 million). The launch of new products, among other factors, had a positive effect on the development in this region. In the Americas, the region accounting for around 20% of revenue, sales edged up slightly by 1.8% to €61.2 million (reported +18.5% relative to €51.7 million) against high comparables in the prior year.
In the reporting period, the Lab Products & Services Division substantially increased its earnings. Underlying EBITDA thus surged 18.4% from €41.2 million to €48.8 million. The division’s underlying EBITDA margin improved due to economies of scale as forecasted at the beginning of the year. This margin, including currency effects that had a positive effect of about 0.5 of a percentage point, rose from 15.0% to 16.0%.
Lab Products & Services: Underlying EBITDA and EBITDA margin
|Underlying EBITDA in € millions||48.8||41.2|
|Underlying EBITDA margin in %||16.0||15.0|
In the reporting year, extraordinary items amounted to €4.5 million (2014: - €2.4 million).
Products and Sales
The Lab Products & Services Division concentrates on research and quality assurance laboratories in both industrial and academic settings. It offers these customers laboratory instruments such as balances, lab water systems, and a wide array of consumables that include laboratory filters, pipette tips, and microbiological tests. Extensive services round out the portfolio.
The division sells its products through three channels: laboratory dealers, direct sales and e-business. Dealer sales and distribution are already well established; direct sales and e-business activities are being expanded continually.
New Products Support Work Efficiency
During the reporting year, the division launched new generations of several product lines – balances, moisture analyzers, pipettes and lab water systems, for instance. Moreover, it extended its spectrum of products for sample preparation and microbiological tests.
Demands for efficiency, safety and precision in laboratory work are increasing all the time. For this reason, new devices are typically equipped with intuitive user guidance and assistance systems that make operation more efficient and less susceptible to errors. For example, the semi-micro balances we introduced during fiscal 2015 have a Start Assistant that makes it unnecessary for the user to study the handbook before working with the balance. And since customers from the pharmaceutical industry must comply with an increasing number of regulatory demands, Sartorius has equipped its series of premium laboratory balances with special software and hardware. The new module offers automated data management, guides the user through weighing processes, and levels, calibrates and adjusts the balance automatically.
Broad Range of Services
Sartorius offers a wide range of services covering the entire life cycle of its products, from device installation and commissioning to verification and calibration, to regular maintenance and repair. Our services are not limited to Sartorius instruments; they are offered for devices from other manufacturers as well. This extensive range enables our customers to minimize the number of service providers they use and reduce complexity and costs.
During the reporting year, Sartorius opened a new application laboratory in the USA at which customers can test all our products, even with their own samples, and take training courses.
Expanding Direct Sales and E-Business
Sartorius enjoys a strong presence in the global lab equipment market, but for historical reasons its market share still varies by product group and region. This situation offers significant potential for growth with the existing portfolio, and the division has accordingly launched several multi-year initiatives to expand sales even further.
We have adjusted our sales structures in order to target our resources more closely to customer potential: for instance, field sales staff members have been relieved of a number of administrative duties, enabling them to focus more closely on contact with customers. Our channel management system is developing special international programs with large laboratory distributors. In addition, account management was introduced for biopharmaceutical customers and large research institutes with high sales potential. When dealing with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, the lab division also profits from the close customer relationships and established contacts developed by the Bioprocess Solutions Division. In this context, the global CRM system was implemented in Europe for the lab division as well, and will be introduced in the USA and Asia in 2016.
The expansion of our e-business is intended to help us reach customers not directly served by our sales operations, and support our lab distributors logistically. Beyond merely boosting electronic sales, these measures enhance the quantity and quality of the product information available through electronic channels. Moreover, the lab division increasingly uses digital communication channels such as social media and apps that support dialog with customers. One example is the new marketing campaign #passionforscience. The web-based product information system we introduced at the beginning of the year serves as a new platform for our e-business activities.
Research and Development
This division's core areas of technical expertise include weighing technology, mechatronics and software development for laboratory instrument manufacturing as well as membrane technology and injection molding processes for consumables. Other complementary expertise in technologies such as liquid handling has come aboard in recent years as a result of acquisitions. Most of the division's R&D team is centrally located at the Goettingen site, but the R&D activities of acquired companies have largely been kept at their original sites.
In the ongoing development of its products, Sartorius pursues the goal of helping laboratories work more efficiently and ensure regulatory compliance. Product development priorities for Sartorius therefore include data management and process automation. For example, special software already guides laboratory employees through work processes and transfers the data to laboratory management systems. Yet this division also focuses on other factors that make laboratory work easier, such as intuitive user interfaces or the ergonomic design of laboratory instruments.
Sartorius collaborates closely with industrial and academic technology partners in addition to pursuing its own R&D. As a member of the SmartLab working group, for example, Sartorius was involved in the design of the laboratory of the future presented at the lab technology trade fair LABVOLUTION 2015. The division also increasingly participates in scientific conferences as well as issuing invitations to its own events. One example of this is the first European Lab Technology Forum, which Sartorius hosted in the fall in Goettingen.
Sartorius invested €13,1 million in R&D in the Lab Products & Services Division during the reporting year (2014: €11,1 million). The ratio of R&D costs to sales revenue was 4.3%, compared with 4.0% the previous year.
Production and Supply Chain Management
The Lab Products & Services Division operates plants in Germany, China, Finland, the U.K. and the U.S. The plants also serve as centers of competence and tend to focus on one product group or a small set of product groups. Laboratory balances are manufactured in Goettingen and Beijing, for example, while pipettes are made at our Helsinki and Souzhou sites. Kits for microbiological tests are produced in Stonehouse, and most membrane-based products are manufactured in Goettingen.
Construction Project Begun
During the reporting year, Sartorius invested in two new production facilities:
The new construction of a laboratory instrument production facility in Goettingen is continuing on schedule. In October, work began on the interior of the building. As part of the Sartorius Campus project, two plants from separate sites are being combined in this new building. A calibration center, prototype manufacturing unit and a training workshop will also be integrated.
In the U.K., capacities in Stonehouse are being expanded in response to the rising demand for laboratory consumables. Construction work on a new production building began there in February. Sartorius produces single-use systems at this location for use, for instance, in laboratory-scale cell cultivation, as well as single-use funnels for microbiological and analytical quality assurance.