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The Annual General Meeting of SEB S.A. was held on 14 May at the Palais Brongniart in Paris. The meeting was chaired by Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise, Chairman and CEO, and Jean-Pierre Lac, Senior Executive Vice-President, Finance. The Annual General Meeting represents a special opportunity for expressing and exchanging information with the Group’s shareholders. This year’s event was an occasion to look back over our business activity in 2012, to assess the situation for 2013 and to review the shareholder structure and governance of SEB S.A. The Annual General Meeting is also the place where shareholders can exercise their decision-making power by voting on resolutions.

An honourable 2012 performance in the context of a global crisis

2012 was marked by a rather generalised slowdown in consumer spending and an increase in the power of e-commerce – two phenomena that resulted in a decrease in footfall in shops. Added to this were major stock reduction operations by retailers, increased promotional activity and considerable pressure on prices.



Sales -2%


In France, developments in the small domestic equipment market varied enormously from one product category to another and physical distribution suffered from a drop in consumer spending and competition from internet sales.In this context, Groupe sales dropped by 2%. However, the market remains very responsive to innovations and the Group had a number of major successes with vacuum cleaners, Soup & Co, Cookeo, the Freemove cordless iron and kitchen machines. The Group gained market share in cookware, in particularly thanks to the vitality of the Ingenio range and the launch of a ceramic range. 


Sales -2%


The Chinese small domestic equipment market was down in 2012. China was affected by the global crisis, which led to a drop in exports, a loss of consumer confidence (slowdown in consumer spending and increased savings) and a decreasing footfall in shops.Although sales were down in small domestic equipment, they remained brisk in cookware and the Group gained market share across all categories.The global 2% drop in Supor’s business activity can be explained by the absence of deliveries for the Chinese New Year, for which stocks had been increased in December 2011.


Sales +13 %

Russia is the Group’s 5th largest market and it has recorded strong growth. The Group has leading positions in this market – no. 1 in cookware and no. 2 in small domestic equipment. It has boosted its relations with specialised distribution networks and is developing its internet sales.It has also started to open a network of Home & Cook shops in popular shopping centres. Three of these shops were open by the end of 2012.

Within this strained context and considering its strong history, the Group managed to maintain an honourable performance with a slight increase in the published sales figure (+2.4%), taking us over the symbolic €4 billion mark, as well as the near stability of our sales at constant scope of consolidation and exchange rates (like-for-like), following two years of record organic growth (+9.6% in 2010, +6.9% in 2011). Our operating result from activity was down by 8.7% to €415 million. In spite of wide variations in performance according to country, the Group managed to globaly maintain its market share.
Europe in particular came under pressure, with the gradual extension of the crisis that had struck southern Europe, whilst Asia Pacific was hit by the slowdown in China. Conversely, business was brisk in North America, Russia and in South America, which saw an upturn at the end of they year.
In mature countries, Group sales were down by 2% in 2012, whilst emerging countries saw growth of 1%.        



Following on from the historic high of 2011 (€455 million reprocessed according to IAS19), which was a challenging basis of comparison, the operating result from activity amounted to €415 million (-8.7% compared with 2011). Weighing heavily on our business operations, the crisis brought about a negative volume effect. Added to this was a punishing currency effect resulting from the highly negative impact on purchases of the appreciation of the Dollar and the Yuan against the Euro. These factors could not be completely compensated for by significant reductions in costs elsewhere.
Operating profit amounted to €368 million, down 8.6% in relation to the reprocessed figure for 2011. This was mainly due to an increase in profit-sharing (€48 million versus €44 million in 2011) linked to the impact of the higher “forfait social” tax in France and the Group’s matching payments under last autumn’s employee shareholder plan.
The financial result amounted to a net expense of €63 million, including an increase in the financial costs of debt (-€30 million) and an impairment charge on the shares in the company Maharaja Whiteline (-€25 million) .
Net profit amounted to €194 million, compared with €236 million in 2011.

Balance sheet

The Group’s balance sheet is healthy and well-structured. With shareholders’ equity reaching €1.4 billion and net debt of €556 million, down by €117 million compared with 31/12/2012, the Group’s financial situation is sound.

1st quarter and outlook for 2013

During the first quarter of 2013, there were no major changes to business activity compared with the end of 2012. The environment has, however, become more strained in France and has remained sluggish throughout the rest of Europe. On the other hand, continuing beyond the impact of Chinese New Year in January, a gradual revival has been recorded in China and North America is also showing positive signs. In mature countries, sales were down by 2%, whilst growth of 8% was recorded in emerging markets. Operating result from activity recorded a drop of 6%, mainly due to an unfavourable geographic mix.
The key word for 2013 is still prudence. However, the Group will pursue its long-term strategy through an active product policy, targeted investments in advertising, the development of loyalty programmes with some retailers and the development of its network of own stores. The Group will also strive to boost its industrial efficiency and competitiveness, whilst maintaining tight control over costs, with a view to maintaining operating result from activity at the same level as for 2012.

See a video of the entire Annual General Meeting here.