Benefited from strong demand in the electrical and electronics industry
SFS’ customers in the electrical and electronics industry are located primarily in Asia. Business activity in this area was the first to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the decision by Chinese officials to keep factories closed after the Chinese New Year celebrations. Continued strong demand for electronic products allowed for quick recovery of lost production. In the second half of the year, SFS profited from successful launches of customer products in the areas of lifestyle electronics and smartphones, and from the ability to ramp up production quickly and efficiently. Sales in local currencies showed significant growth of 6.7% and the share of total Group sales rose to 20.9% (previous year: 18.8%).
Growth in medical device business continued
Throughout the year, SFS’ medical device business supported the overall sales development of the SFS Group. Restrictions related to COVID-19 such as the postponement of elective surgical interventions, were offset by general market growth and the launch of new products. Sales in the medical device market rose to 7.7% (previous year: 7.5%) of Group sales.
Automotive business characterized by major shifts
The weak demand from the automotive industry witnessed in the previous year continued into the reporting year 2020, and the first global wave of the COVID-19 pandemic depressed demand even further. Production plant closures at key customers during the lockdown led to a massive decline in demand across the supply chain during the months of April and May. The collapse in the end market led to a 58% decline in second-quarter sales compared with the previous year period. Demand improved in the summer and business gained further momentum during the course of the second half of the year. However, the recovery in the second half of the year did not compensate for the steep drop in sales during the first six months. Compared with the previous year, sales to customers in the automotive industry fell by CHF 66.6 million or –15.3%, resulting in 21.6% of total Group sales (previous year: 24.4%)
Slow recovery in niche markets in second half of year
The various niche markets were affected to differing degrees by the weak demand caused by COVID-19. After the sharp decline in demand in some areas during the second quarter, the situation in several markets stabilised from the middle of the year. Nevertheless, sales and operating results at the end of the year were only slightly better compared with the first half.
In Aircraft, sales were sharply lower compared with the privious year. The future business development is likely to remain challenging as projected demand for passenger air transportation has been revised sharply downwards and capacity has been reduced across the entire supply chain.