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Wednesday 25 March, 2009

Takkt AG

TAKKT Group bears up well in 2008 - dividend re...





Cost and capacity measures needed following weak start to 2009

Stuttgart, Germany, 25 March 2009. The TAKKT Group achieved organic
growth in turnover of 0.7 percent in 2008, in spite of the difficult
economic situation around the world. The Group's EBITDA margin
increased again from last year's high level to 14.6 (2007: 14.4)
percent. "The fact that TAKKT was so profitable in such a difficult
market environment, in particular in the fourth quarter, can be
attributed to two factors: our focus on our core business and our
stringent cost management," said CEO Georg Gayer on the Group's
financial result at today's financial statements press conference.

2008 Highlights

  * KAISER + KRAFT EUROPA pronounced "Mail Order Company of the Year"
  * Hubert successfully launched in Germany
  * 2008 dividend remains stable at EUR 0.80 per share

In the 2008 financial year, good development in the first nine months
was followed by a decline in revenue in the fourth quarter. In all,
TAKKT generated 5.5 percent less turnover year on year, at EUR 932.1
(986.2) million. However, adjusted for currency effects and revenue
from the deconsolidation of the US subsidiary Conney Safety Products
LLC (Conney), which was sold in 2007, the group actually achieved
growth in turnover of 0.7 percent. "As a B2B supplier, we are bound
to feel the effects when our business customers around the world
start to feel the pinch of the financial and economic crisis," said
Gayer. "We once again increased our profitability, in spite of the
difficult environment. This proves that our success in the past few
years is not only due to the good economic climate, but also to the
systematic implementation of our business model."

In spite of the difficult environment, TAKKT was able to increase its
gross profit margin from 41.3 to 41.4 percent. "Considering the
increase in commodity prices, especially in the first half of 2008,
even such a small year-on-year improvement is worthy of note,"
explained CFO Dr Florian Funck. "We generally revise our catalogues
three times a year and are therefore able to adapt our prices to the
market environment at short notice." The increase can primarily be
attributed to structural effects and to further improvements in
purchasing conditions, especially in North America.

The increases in the other key profitability figures are based on the
positive development of the gross profit margin. The operating result
(EBITDA - earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
amortisation) actually fell in absolute terms, to EUR 136.0 (142.3)
million due to the lower sales volume. But the EBITDA margin
increased once again, in spite of start-up losses incurred by the
newly founded companies - Gaerner in Spain and Hubert in Germany -
and achieved 14.6 (14.4) percent, the upper end  of the Group's own
long-term target corridor of twelve to 15 percent.

At EUR 113.9 (116.1) million, profit before tax was down only
marginally year on year in absolute terms and the profit margin
increased from 11.8 to 12.2 percent. A number of factors contributed
to the better development of profit before tax in comparison to
EBITDA. Depreciation was down year on year due, among other things,
to currency effects. At the same time, finance expenses were markedly
lower than the previous year, based on reduced indebtedness and the
weakness of the US dollar.

KAISER + KRAFT EUROPA enjoys sound development
The development of KAISER + KRAFT EUROPA, which is the largest and
most profitable division of the TAKKT Group, took two forms in 2008.
After a very good start in the first half-year, its growth rate
tailed off for the rest of the year on the back of the overall
economic downturn. Thanks to a higher number of orders and a higher
average order value, the division was able to increase its turnover
by 3.8 percent to EUR 539.3 (519.8) million, meaning it fared better
than the other divisions. It did not experience uniform development
in all markets, however. For example, while the companies in Germany
and in the majority of other countries posted satisfactory increases
in 2008, the sales companies in the UK and the Netherlands were
already recording minus figures. The EBITDA margin remained very
high, at 20.7 (20.9) percent. In absolute terms, the operating result
rose to EUR 111.5 (108.4) million.

The above-average service, innovativeness and quality of KAISER +
KRAFT EUROPA were recognised throughout the industry in 2008 and the
division was consequently pronounced "Mail Order Company of the Year"
by the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association
(bvh).

Topdeq: stable profitability margin in spite of slump in turnover
The Topdeq division, which addresses both the European and the US
market with its range of quality office equipment, suffered from the
effects of the economic uncertainties right from the beginning of the
year. In the year under review, its turnover fell to EUR 82.7 (91.2)
million. Adjusted for currency effects, this equates to a drop of 8.8
percent. Its operating result slid to EUR 6.3 (7.0) million, while
the EBITDA margin remained unchanged, at 7.6 (7.6) percent. This can
be attributed to the positive effects of the Topdeq's repositioning
in tandem with a highly-disciplined cost management. Further positive
news came in the development of the relatively new companies in
Austria and Belgium, where Topdeq bucked the trend and posted
increases.

K + K America struggles with weak economy
As was the case in previous years, the three K + K America groups
each developed differently in 2008. The Specialties Group, comprising
the Hubert companies in the USA, Canada and Germany, and the Office
Equipment Group (NBF Group) both matched or slightly improved on
their respective turnover figures for the previous year, while the
companies in the Plant Equipment Group suffered declines in turnover.
This was primarily due to the economic downturn in the manufacturing
sector and to the discontinuation of two unprofitable catalogues.

Due to the economic situation and the Conney sale at the end of
September 2007, the turnover of K + K America fell by 11.3 percent to
USD 454.9 (513.0) million. Adjusting for the Conney sale, the decline
only announced to 1.5 percent. The weak US dollar exchange rate
further exacerbated the decline when it was translated into the
reporting currency of euros - from EUR 375.6 to 310.9 million.

In addition to currency and divestment effects, the anticipated
start-up losses from the roll-out of the US subsidiary Hubert in
Germany also affected the operating result. EBITDA fell from EUR 36.1
to 26.6 million in the year under review, pegging the EBITDA margin
at 8.6 (9.6) percent. The drop in the profit margin is also due to
lower capacity utilisation within the Plant Equipment Group's mail
order infrastructure.

Special dividend proposed once again
TAKKT AG naturally wishes to share its good results and high cash
flow in 2008 with its shareholders. The Management and Supervisory
Boards therefore propose an unchanged regular dividend of 32 cents
per share and, once again, a special dividend of 48 cents per share
at the Annual General Meeting for the 2008 financial year on 6 May
2009. "This means we are maintaining our ongoing and reliable
dividend policy in the reporting period," Funck explained. Including
the special dividend, approximately 70 percent of the equity share of
the 2008 profit will be distributed.

TAKKT plans to share a large degree of the Group's results and cash
flow directly with its shareholders in the future too, provided that
no major investment or acquisitions are made.

Outlook for 2009: double-figure profitability remains target despite
declining turnover
The Group companies have recorded significant slumps in customer
orders since the fourth quarter of the 2008 financial year and this
negative development has also continued into the first few months of
2009. While in the past, the Group's geographic diversification has
helped to alleviate the effects of economic fluctuations, the current
downturn is proving to be unique in the history of TAKKT - not only
in its intensity, but also in its equal distribution throughout the
world.

At the current point in time, the Management Board of TAKKT AG
envisages a cyclical, organic drop in turnover of between ten and 25
percent in the 2009 financial year. The development of the Group's
operating profitability very much depends on how steep the drop in
turnover ultimately proves to be. If this decline is 15 percent or
less, the Group's EBITDA margin will still remain within the target
corridor of twelve to 15 percent in the crisis-hit year of 2009 - but
it will be down year on year. With an organic decline in turnover of
15 to 20 percent, the EBITDA margin for 2009 will still be in double
figures, but will then be below the target corridor. Should the
economic crisis continue to worsen in 2009, taking the organic
decline in turnover above 20 percent for the whole of the year, the
EBITDA margin would consequently fall to below ten percent.

"In years gone by, we have never simply relied on economic stimuli,
but have instead set the course for growth ourselves. With our sound
balance sheet structure and our strong cash flow, we have the
necessary leeway to press on with our strategy of expansion, even in
times of crisis," said Gayer. "I am convinced that TAKKT can grow its
market position in the course of the economic crisis and will be in a
better position than ever before once the crisis has been overcome."

Change at the top of TAKKT AG's Management Board
At the end of January, the CEO of TAKKT AG, Georg Gayer (born 1946),
announced his retirement as CEO and member of the Management Board
with effect from 31 May 2009, citing personal reasons. Gayer will
continue to act as a consultant to TAKKT AG.

The Supervisory Board has essentially already laid the foundations to
secure the long-term management of TAKKT with the personnel decisions
and contract renewals it effected in 2008. In addition, at its
meeting on 20 March 2009, the Supervisory Board has appointed Dr
Felix A. Zimmermann as Gayer's successor. Zimmermann has many years
of experience in the TAKKT Group, and acted as its CFO between 1999
and 2004. Since May 2008, he has been the deputy chairman responsible
for the K + K America division.

Company calendar
The figures for the first quarter of 2009 are due to be published on
30 April 2009. The Annual General Meeting will be held in Ludwigsburg
Forum on 6 May 2009.


IFRS figures for the TAKKT Group for the financial year 2008
(in EUR million)


+-------------------------------------------------------------------+
|                                 |          |          | Change    |
|                                 | 2008     | 2007     |  in %     |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| TAKKT Group                     | 932.1    | 986.2    | -5.5      |
| turnover                        |          |          |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Organic growth                  |          |          | 0.7       |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
|    KAISER + KRAFT               | 539.3    | 519.8    | 3.8       |
|    EUROPA                       |          |          |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
|    Topdeq                       | 82.7     | 91.2     | -9.3      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
|    K + K America (ยค)            | 310.9    | 375.6    | -17.2     |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
|    K + K America ($)            | 454.9    | 513.0    | -11.3     |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| EBITDA                          | 136.0    | 142.3    | -4.4      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| EBITDA margin                   | 14.6     | 14.4     |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| EBIT                            | 120.2    | 125.0    | -3.8      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| EBIT margin                     | 12.9     | 12.7     |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Profit before tax               | 113.9    | 116.1    | -1.9      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Pre-tax profit margin           | 12.2     | 11.8     |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Cash flow                       | 100.0    | 101.2    | -1.2      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Cash flow margin                | 10.7     | 10.3     |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
|                                 |          |          |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Capital expenditure (incl.      |          |          |           |
| acquisitions    and     finance | 27.9     | 47.4     | -41.1     |
| leases)                         |          |          |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Cash flow per share in Euro     | 1.37     | 1.39     | -1.4      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Earnings per share in Euro      | 1.04     | 1.07     | -2.8      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Dividend per share in Euro      | 0.80*    | 0.80*    |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Non-current assets              | 352.0    | 333.4    | 5.6       |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| in % of total assets            | 63.7     | 60.0     |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Shareholders' equity            | 340.5    | 321.9    | 5.8       |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| in % of total assets            | 61.7     | 58.6     |           |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Net borrowings                  | 79.9     | 81.6     | -2.1      |
|---------------------------------+----------+----------+-----------|
| Employees (full-time basis)     | 1,960    | 1,971    | -0.6      |
| as of 31.12.                    |          |          |           |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------+


* thereof EUR 0.32 ordinary dividend and EUR 0.48 special dividend


Short profile of TAKKT AG
TAKKT is the leading B2B mail order company for office, business and
warehouse equipment in Europe and North America. The Group is
represented with its brands in more than 25 countries. The product
range of the TAKKT subsidiaries comprises over 145,000 items for the
areas business and warehouse equipment, classical and design-oriented
office furniture and accessories, as well as sales promotion items
for retailers, the food service industry and the hotel market.

The TAKKT Group employs some 2,000 staff, has 3 million customers
worldwide and distributes more than 60 million catalogues and
mailings per year.

TAKKT AG is listed on the SDAX and was admitted to Deutsche Boerse's
Prime Standard on 1 January 2003.



Contacts:
Georg Gayer, CEO          Tel. +49 711 34658-201
Dr Florian Funck, CFO     Tel. +49 711 34658-207


Email: [email protected]


This announcement was originally distributed by Hugin. The issuer is 
solely responsible for the content of this announcement.




                                                                

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