Annual Report 2019

Chemical Specialties – FoamPartner and 
Schmid Rhyner

Polyurethane foams and print finishing.

The Chemical Specialties segment generated net revenue of CHF 346.6 million in 2019 (previous year: CHF 382.9 million). On a comparable basis, i.e., at stable exchange rates, revenue declined by 7.9%. The operating result amounted to CHF 14.2 million (CHF 5.8 million), yielding an EBIT margin of 4.2% (1.5%). In a generally weaker market environment characterized by across-the-board inventory downsizing by customers and disruptive changes in the automotive sector towards electro-mobility, specific challenges such as the partial realignment of the business in America and competitive pressure in China had an additional negative impact. Accordingly, net revenue declined in all regions and market segments. Thanks to significantly lower raw material costs and internal profitability improvements in the FoamPartner business unit, which was responsible for 86% of the segment’s revenue, the EBIT margin increased despite the decline in revenue. Against this, raw material costs in the Schmid Rhyner business unit were higher than in the previous year, which, coupled with an unfavorable trend in the product mix, impacted its operating result.

In the FoamPartner business unit, work continued steadily on the implementation of the multi-layered measures to realize the medium-term margin potential, with some of those measures having already been defined in 2017 and 2018 following the takeover of Otto Bock Kunststoff and the streamlining of the joint venture structures in Asia and America. The measures include optimization of business processes, modernization of management systems and the investment program to improve production infrastructures in Europe. At the Duderstadt site in Germany, construction work began on a new processing center, which will be opened during the first half of 2020. This will allow parts of production to be relocated, resulting in increased efficiency, and will also enable the planned closure of the Stadtallendorf plant by the middle of 2020. On the product front, considerable efforts were made to enhance profile by means of customized “Best in foam” solutions. Such efforts included the widespread launch of OBoSky® products in the largest market segment, “Mobility”. These products combine high-quality surfaces for vehicle roof lining with the lowest emission levels. The efforts also included the development of new acoustically effective and thermo-insulating solutions for electro-mobility, usually in direct collaboration with renowned automobile manufacturers. Progress was also made with innovative projects in the “Living & Care” and “Specialties” market segments. For example, “Tecciō.science” was introduced, a patented solution which digitally monitors and improves sleep by dynamically controlling mattress firmness. Further product launches included new foam solutions for toner rolls in laser printers and cryogenic insulating solutions for gas liquefaction systems.

Overview FoamPartner

Head: Michael Riedel

Presence: worldwide sales network in 58 countries; 14 production, processing and sales locations in Europe, Asia/Pacific and America

Schmid Rhyner

Head: Jakob Rohner

Presence: worldwide sales network in over 100 countries; 1 production site in Adliswil (Switzerland); 2 subsidiaries in Adliswil (Switzerland) and New Jersey (USA)

Net revenue


Work was also carried out to develop the range of innovative products in the “Coatings” market segment of Schmid Rhyner. For example, suitable “low migration” digital UV coatings were developed and made ready for market, and an environmentally compatible coating was developed as a substitute for film-laminated cardboard, and new tactile effects were introduced to replace “Cast & Cure”. The assessment of options for realizing value potential more quickly, which was announced by the Group in August 2019, quickly led in Schmid Rhyner’s case due to the lack of a critical mass to an evaluation of suitable buyers. A binding agreement for a sale was entered into at the end of December 2019 with the German specialty chemicals’ group Altana, subject to regulatory approval. Altana enjoys far better global market access and will be able to proceed with commercializing the technologies available at Schmid Rhyner significantly more quickly and with greater prospects of success. In FoamPartner’s case as well, the review of options to accelerate the development of the existing potentials revealed value-enhancing opportunities from the expected consolidation of the market. These will be assessed during the course of 2020 with a view to a sale.

1 Excluding capital gain of CHF 8.8 million.
Segment Outdoor Segment Sheet Metal Processing

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