The Group's strategy in relation to the Covid-19 emergency

Since 23 February 2020, the Group has taken immediate action both to implement all the preventive measures necessary to protect the health of employees and collaborators, in accordance with the provisions of the Ministry of Health and in collaboration with the competent medical officer, to limit the impact of the health emergency on operations and the performance of business areas.
These interventions have been integrated with a continuous activity of monitoring and communication of the developments of the situation, also in order to guarantee the entire company population real-time access to information essential for the safe performance of work activities.
In particular, the Mondadori Group:

  • has set up a cross-functional Crisis Committee including workers’ representatives, which has been given the task of proposing the necessary urgent measures and coordinating interventions taking into account the specificity of the individual company areas;
  • has promptly allowed the use of smart working, enabling almost all workers to carry out their work remotely and leaving only those in charge of supervising them in the offices;
  • has published and made available to the entire company population a Company Protocol, containing the principles and rules adopted and to be adopted;
  • has equipped itself with the necessary individual and company protection devices and has provided for the distribution to the company population of masks and disinfectant gel and installed spray dispensers inside the offices. It has provided for sanitation interventions in the workplace in coordination with the competent medical officier, the relevant authorities, Safety Managers and Workers’ Trade Union Representatives;
  • has launched a new intranet platform accessible from all devices, which has allowed employees and collaborators a continuous contact with the company even from a distance;
  • carried out, through workshops and online webinars, training on how to behave safely and remotely;
  • introduced new services for employees and collaborators, including a website always accessible with all the necessary information, a dedicated email to ask specific questions and requests and psychological counseling online and at the company;
  • offered employees the opportunity to take advantage, during the period of social distancing, of a series of initiatives carried out by the Group’s publishing houses, bookshops and brands, including a year’s free digital subscription to the Group’s periodicals and a temporary service that allows employees to purchase books from home at the same conditions applied by the company bookstore;
  • assessed the adequacy of the measures adopted and their compliance with the principles of privacy regulations.

The Group has started an analysis of the organization models and processes to enhance current experiences and make them functional to achieve permanent benefits in terms of efficiency of some adopted and planned solutions (e.g. digitization, computerization and smart working activities first of all).
In addition to the actions indicated, the Group has implemented a series of interventions aimed at containing the impacts on its results deriving from the health emergency (and its containment interventions) and at safeguarding its economic-financial profile:

  • has started an action to contain and reduce operating costs also through the renegotiation of contracts and the revision of tariffs, with an overall saving estimated, for the entire year, at 13 million Euro;
  • implemented an action to reduce labour costs, estimated, for the entire year, at approximately 15 million Euro, through the use of past vacations and social shock absorbers, as well as deciding on the reduction of the management’s variable remuneration for 2020;
  • has placed a targeted and timely attention to the optimization of the Group’s working capital (with specific actions on customers and suppliers);
  • has implemented a policy of deferred payments in favour of book chains, independent bookshops and franchised bookshops in the Retail area aimed at preserving the vitality of the distribution channels and supporting the sector in which the Group operates.

In addition, with respect to the various business activities:

  • in the Trade area, a reshaping of the editorial programs was carried out, with a plan to eliminate “minor” titles;
  • in the Education area, the necessary actions were taken to contain or eliminate the costs relating to the blocking and cancellation of museum and archaeological park activities;
  • in the Media area, a careful policy of reduction of production costs has been activated.

Outlook

The Group’s financial situation and medium-term prospects, despite the significant stress to which the entire world economic system is exposed in this specific historical juncture, make it possible to maintain a positive attitude towards future developments, even if in an economic framework partially and inevitably influenced by the health emergency resulting from the Covid-19 epidemic.

The forecasts that the Group is able to express reflect the inevitable caution induced by the uncertain epidemic picture, which does not allow to fully factor in the encouraging messages that the market offers, especially in some segments.

  • Revenues
    The evolution of revenues – expected to decrease between 16% and 18% in the current year compared to 2019 – is expected to reflect the following dynamics at the level of the individual Business Units:
    Trade Books: in a market in strong post-lockdown growth, the quality of the Group’s publishing plan is expected to outperform the market;
    School Books: this is the business unit least affected by the health crisis and therefore revenues are expected to be substantially in line with those of 2019;
    Museum activities: the persistence of containment measures and the total drying up of tourist flows do not allow any revenue recovery to be expected; however, the small size of the business (about 10% of revenues in the Books Area) limits the impact on the Group’s consolidated economic profile;
    Retail: the recovery of the publishing market is expected to favour a recovery of part of the revenues lost in the two months of lockdown. The over-representation of the Group (in terms of percentage share of revenues) leads to moderate optimism about the recovery of part of the revenues lost in the lockdown phase;
    Media (magazines + digital): a relatively contained contraction in circulation revenues is expected and more substantial than advertising revenues;
  • EBITDA
    The expectation is that the Group will continue to present a solidly double-digit (adjusted) EBITDA margin (equal to approximately 11-12%) which is the result of the following trends that are expected to characterize the Business Units:
    Trade books: percentage profitability substantially stable;
    School Books: percentage profitability substantially stable;
    Museum activities: the business model and cost cutting interventions make it possible to aim for a substantial break even, despite the drastic contraction in revenues;
    Retail: the new Levi Law (reduction of discounts from 15% to 5%) is expected to encourage a recovery in profitability;
    Media: positive profitability, although decreasing.
  • Cash Flow
    Positive cash generation, although down from the past;
  • Net financial position
    The Group’s financial indebtedness at the end of the period will depend on the amount of restructuring costs that will be financed from ordinary cash flow. In any case, the Group’s financial indebtedness will not exceed that at 31 December 2019.

Digital evolution

Closely related to the transformation of business models, the issue of digital evolution has steered the strategic path undertaken by the Mondadori Group, especially in the magazines business and, obviously, for the range of content and services offered on the web.

A noteworthy project in this field is uARe, a new tool for augmented reality content creation. The platform was developed thanks to funding from Google’s Digital News Initiative’s Innovation Fund, awarded to the monthly magazine Focus and developed in association with technology partner Magma; the solution is built on a platform for the development and page layout of AR content in the cloud and a customizable mobile application where each customer can enjoy interactive and immersive experiences. The platform innovates the augmented reality market and lends itself for use in various fields, from publishing to education, and from retail to communication and events.

Strategic repositioning 2013 - 2019

2013 – 2014: The change of pace 
GUIDELINESACTIONSRESULTS
Securing the Group

  • 3 business in loss
  • negative net result
  • financial net debt at -363 € mn

Simplification of internal structure and processes

 

Relaunch of magazines portfolio in an integrated paper-digital perspective

  • €100 mn costs reduction plan
  • Disposal of advertising activities to Mediamond
  • Closing of the gaming business
  • Disposal of the Milan megastore
  • Start of the concentration of the offices st the HQ
  • Adj. EBITDA from 51 to 64 € mn
  • Net result from -185.4 to +0.6 € mn
  • Start of net debt reduction from – 363 to -292 € mn
2015 – 2016: Transformational deals
GUIDELINESACTIONSRESULTS
Continuation of the operational improvement and of the efficiency recovery

 

Trasformational deals aiming at:

  • strengthening of the books core business
  • digitalisation of the magazines area
  • Rizzoli Libri acquisition
  • Banzai Media acquisition
  • Radio business disposal
  • Roma offices disposal
  • Divestment of other non strategic activities
  • Adj. EBITDA from 64 to 100 € mn
  • Net results at 23 € mn
  • Net debt from – 292 to -264 € mn, incl. about €130 mn for acquisitions
2017 – 2019: Strategic repositioning
GUIDELINESACTIONSRESULTS
Economic and financial stabilisation:

  • Books area margins in increase
  • Magazines area margins stable

 

Finalisation of the second phase of strategic repositioning

  • Achievement of synergies from integration
  • Development of digital activities
  • Mondadori France disposal
  • Disposal of 6 Italian magazines
  • Inthera disposal
  • Logistic outsourcing
  • Disposal of the Verona building
  • Renegotiation of the printing agreement
  • Adj. EBITDA from 6.8% to 10.7%
  • Net result at €30.5 mn
  • Net debt from -264 to -55 € mn, incl. about €80 mn for disposals