Letter to Shareholders
The Zur Rose Group continued to rigorously pursue the growth strategy in 2021 – in particular seizing the opportunities arising from electronic prescriptions in Germany and internationalisation. The successful launch of the DocMorris healthcare app in 2021 created a central, easily accessible portfolio of healthcare services and laid the technical foundations for recording and forwarding e-prescription information. In France the Group extended the product range with a strategic partner by including OTC medications, giving customers easy and secure access to a broad range of health-related products and pharmaceutical advice. In this dynamic environment the Zur Rose Group raised CHF 188.5 million in a capital increase at the end of 2021, which was intended to be mainly used for e-prescriptions when they were launched nationally in Germany; however, this was unexpectedly deferred at the end of the year.
Result in line with expectations
External revenue 1 rose 15.5 per cent to CHF 2,034.0 million, meaning the Zur Rose Group met forecasts in the second year of the pandemic. Growth continued in all market segments: Switzerland, Germany and Europe. The number of active customers rose by more than 18 per cent year on year in 2021 to 12.4 million 2. To support the growth strategy, the Zur Rose Group is investing heavily in electronic prescriptions and high-margin future areas: the healthcare eco-system, telemedicine and PaaS (Platform as a Service). As the European umbrella brand for the ecosystem and with a view to the mandatory launch of e-prescriptions originally set for the start of 2022, in February 2021 DocMorris started a large-scale marketing campaign in Germany on the theme “Das neue Gesund”. In total, expenses for these activities were up roughly CHF 60 million year on year. The OTC market stagnated because of the pandemic, so growth costs were higher, which had an impact on the margin and the marketing ratio. One-off expenses also affected the result, mainly in connection with acquisitions and restructurings. EBITDA adjusted for one-off effects came to minus CHF 128.9 million, putting it in line with expectations. The operating result (EBITDA) was minus CHF 142.6 million.
1 External revenue consists of the consolidated revenue of the Zur Rose Group plus online revenues of pharmacies supplied by the Zur Rose Group, less the consolidated revenue from supplying them.
2 Customers supplied by the Zur Rose Group in 2021, either directly or through its partners.
Starting basis laid for the launch of electronic prescriptions in Germany
The Zur Rose Group is technically and logistically ready for the national launch of electronic prescriptions in Germany, which is still expected to take place this year despite the delay. DocMorris used 2021 to focus its healthcare app even more closely on customer needs. This has now been downloaded more than 1.3 million times, making it one of the fastest growing healthcare apps. It provides direct access to physical doctors and the telemedical offering, seamless and personalised customer journeys, adherence solutions, same day delivery options and marketplace offerings. A handy scan function for having e-prescriptions dispensed makes it possible to transmit digital prescription information to the desired pharmacy quickly and securely. As part of the test phase, more than 200 e-prescriptions have already been successfully dispensed by DocMorris and partner pharmacies in the Germany segment. The logistics extension in Heerlen will go into operation in the second quarter of 2022 to handle the volumes expected. The state-of-the-art technology will raise the level of automation to 70 per cent and more than double the site’s capacity.
Recognition of the DocMorris umbrella brand increases
The Zur Rose Group launched a national multimedia campaign for the DocMorris brand in 2021 on the theme of “Das neue Gesund” to convey the new brand values following the extensive rebranding. The new campaign showcased the brand as an approachable and reliable partner and makes the digital services on the healthcare platform come alive. DocMorris won numerous awards for the new branding. By the end of the year, supported brand recognition had risen to over 70 per cent.
Healthcare management at a single click
With an eye to the intended European digital healthcare ecosystem, Zur Rose is pursuing the vision of creating a world where people can manage their health in one click. The collaboration with global healthcare company Novo Nordisk agreed in January 2021 is another major step towards the ecosystem. The aim is to enter into further cooperations with best-in-class healthcare services linked to the core business of the Zur Rose Group.
Strategic partnerships for innovative health journeys
The Zur Rose Group continued to expand the European healthcare ecosystem under the DocMorris umbrella brand. This is being gradually anchored in all business units and segments. Telemedicine, marketplace and pharmacy services are already available in the DocMorris app. The Zur Rose Group also entered into two ecosystem partnerships in 2021. In collaboration with Novo Nordisk, it launched the first customer-centric health journey for people living with obesity. The offering helps those affected find their way to the best possible treatment. Initially, the focus is on Germany. Another partnership, with Roche Diabetes, brings together both companies’ healthcare products with solutions and high-quality services from third parties to make life easier for people with diabetes.
Continuing the transformation into a tech company
The Zur Rose Group further drove ahead the transformation into a technology company in 2021. Interdisciplinary teams in the three tech hubs in Barcelona, Winterthur and Berlin are working at a European level to make customer journeys more intuitive, user-focused and seamless. The Group is also focused on further developing and building up platform technologies and offers platform as a service and marketplace as a service models to partners from the beauty and personal care sector in particular. The benefit for these companies lies not only in gaining visibility, traffic and reach, but also in establishing a new sales channel. A multi-channel strategy allows them to both strengthen their own brand and provide optimal and seamless customer service. The Zur Rose Group also contributed its technology expertise to the healthcare app launched by Swiss healthcare platform Well in late summer 2021.
apo-rot merged with DocMorris
apo-rot B.V. merged with DocMorris N.V. as at 30 June 2021. All employees were taken over and integrated into the existing structures at the Heerlen site. The Zur Rose Group has there-fore completed the next step of the integration towards achieving efficiency improvements.
Changes to the Board of Directors
As announced, CEO Walter Oberhänsli will be put forward for election as Chairman at the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on 28 April 2022. Chairman Prof. Stefan Feuerstein will take on the role of Vice Chairman. Dr. Thomas Schneider, Vice Chairman, and Prof. Dr. Volker Amelung will not be standing for re-election. On 10 January 2022, the Zur Rose Group announced the nomination of Rongrong Hu as a new director. In the event that all proposed persons are elected, the Board of Directors will shrink from its current seven members to six and one-third of these will be female. This means the Board’s target of achieving at least 30 per cent female members by 2023, announced in the 2020 Annual Report, will be reached a year ahead of schedule.
Matthias Peuckert to be Head Germany
Following the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders Matthias Peuckert, who since 2018 has been CEO of Windeln.de, a Munich-based online retailer of baby and children’s articles, will become Head Germany and CEO of DocMorris. He will be stepping into the shoes of Walter Hess, who will succeed Walter Oberhänsli as CEO of the Zur Rose Group after the General Meeting. Matthias Peuckert will share considerable responsibility for driving ahead growth in the core German market and provide major impetus for further expanding the European healthcare ecosystem. The 48-year old German citizen is a proven expert in e-commerce with broad experience at listed companies, including internationally. He can look back on 14 years at Amazon, where he was most recently Group Director for Core Consumables Germany and Amazon Pantry Europe with responsibility for revenue in the low single-digit billions and several key strategic projects.
First sustainability report lays the basis for further improvements
Today the Zur Rose Group published is first sustainability report. The main pillars of the sustainability strategy have been defined as healthy people, healthy planet, healthy company and healthy relationships. On this basis, the Group has set seven sustainable development goals (SDGs), which match those of the United Nations. In 2022 Zur Rose will set specific targets for the areas defined as the basis for further improvements.
Focus for 2022: e-prescriptions and leveraging synergies
The first focus for 2022 is electronic prescriptions in Germany. With around 11 million active customers, DocMorris is the best known pharmacy brand and one of the most successful healthcare apps in the German market; this gives the Zur Rose Group an excellent starting position to convince customers of its service offering and win them over to e-prescriptions. The Group is also keen to leverage efficiencies through synergies. The emphasis is on creating cross-border shared service functions, pooling expertise and using a common platform for technology, products, logistics, services and brands. This will lay solid foundations for further expansion and sustainable profitability at the Zur Rose Group.
Management is confident that the business with prescription medications on the basis of electronic prescriptions (eRx) in Germany will get under way this year. However, since the timing is not confirmed, the Zur Rose Group is excluding the influence of eRx for 2022. The objective for the core DocMorris brand is double-digit growth in non-prescription products. At the Group level, the focus in the short term is on operational leverage and profitability, so external revenue is likely to remain flat year on year. For 2022, management is aiming for adjusted EBITDA between minus CHF 75 million and minus CHF 95 million driven by continued investment in technology and maintaining eRx readiness. As a result of the delay in eRx, break even at the EBITDA level is expected in 2024. The Group confirms the medium-term EBITDA margin target of around 8 per cent.
We feel it is very important to express our warmest thanks to all who supported us last year: our customers, for their confidence in our services; our staff, for their impressive commitment to the good of the company and the great motivation with which they carry out their daily responsibilities; and you our shareholders, for your loyalty to our company.
Prof. Stefan Feuerstein
Chairman of the Board
Executive Director and CEO