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2017 Sustainability Report
published 2018/08/01

Increase in sales with environmentally friendly products

Economic growth balanced with human well-being and the natural world: We are delighted to be able to show that a company can engage in environmentally and socially responsible business yet still be successful. We want to give our employees the chance to participate in this success: they can share in the company in the form of profit participation certificates so that working together, we can strengthen the financial independence of VAUDE.

Sustainable business is worthwhile

Our business figures show that our economic activity is sustainable.


Our revenues are growing at above-average rates

Sales performance for the 2016 fiscal year grew at 7.0% (2015: 3.5%, 2014: 1.7%, 2013: 7.3%) of gross sales revenue compared to the previous year.
The sales performance for the 2017 fiscal year grew at 6.3 percent (2016: 8.4 percent, 2015: 3.1 percent) of gross sales revenue compared to the previous year.
Our absolute economic performance amounts to a turnover of over 100 million euros.

VAUDE Growth Rates

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Graphic comment: VAUDE's domestic and international growth rates (not including outlet stores and manual billing)

This shows that VAUDE is experiencing above average growth in a stagnating market. This can also be seen in direct comparisons with the European outdoor market based on growth rates of the European Outdoor Group (EOG).


EOG growth rates compared to VAUDE (EOG countries only)

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European champion for sustainable business

In May 2017 VAUDE was awarded the European Business Award in "Environmental & Corporate Sustainability" and recognized as one of the eleven best European companies. This honor is another milestone on our path to becoming Europe’s most sustainable outdoor outfitter.


»The EBA has reaffirmed that our sustainability philosophy is an economic success factor. I am really pleased that we were distinguished among this large international group of applicants. The award goes to the team for its tremendous achievement because sustainability is teamwork and there are just so many people involved throughout the company.«

Antje von Dewitz, CEO

Concrete expenditures on sustainability

In the annual planning of environmental goals and the budget, we earmark the necessary funds for CSR measures. This process has been established within the company. The planning and review of all sustainability-related expenditures through the VAUDE budget process is a sensible strategy that has been proven effective.

Expenditure on sustainability in thousand €

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Graphic comment: Compared to the previous year, distribution of costs didn't change significantly in 2016

CSR measures are integrated into VAUDE segment budgets. In addition, VAUDE makes funds available for the implementation of comprehensive CSR policies in a CSR Budget. These include:


  • Certification such as EMAS
  • Creation of a carbon footprint
  • Compensation of emissions that arise at the VAUDE company headquarters
  • Mobility management
  • Biodiversity management
  • Membership contributions to environmental organizations and initiatives such as bluesign® system
  • Development and implementation of new CSR projects
  • Further training of the CSR team
  • Technical literature


In addition to the CSR expenditures listed above, we employ three personnel who work on the ground in Asia with the Fair Wear Foundation and supervise the Environmental Stewardship Program in the supply chain. These employees are not included in this reporting as they are related to a subsidiary of VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co in China as well as a representative office in Vietnam


Many non-quantifiable activities as well

Nevertheless, it remains difficult to express the value of all CSR activities at VAUDE monetarily. In the positions mentioned above, all non-quantifiable activities are missing but they also play an important role.

These primarily include additional costs of materials with a higher level of sustainability in product development, which leads to lower margins, lower profits and cannot be separately identified. Also included are presentations and lectures held by Antje von Dewitz and her team on CSR issues, the many ongoing efforts of employees who are not permanent members of the CSR team concerning the ecological optimization of their working operations.

Growth relative to the base year

Sustainable management also means that resource consumption does not grow to the same extent as the company. This is called “decoupling”.

How far we have come in decoupling our energy consumption is described here
In order to put increased consumption or emissions in relation to sales development, we are reporting sales growth not only compared to the previous year, but also to various base years. Our most important base years for sustainability reporting are:
2011: Base year for the VAUDE Carbon Footprint
2013: Base year for sustainability report according to GRI standard
2015: Base year for the VAUDE mobility goals


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Our inventory turnover rate has increased

In the past few years we have also achieved good sales and were able to maintain our cost structure. Our inventory turnover rate increased steadily. At 4.5 in 2017, it remained just below the previous year's level (2016: 4.6).


Cost Structure 2017

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Compared to the previous year, distribution of costs didn't change significantly in 2017

Share of purchased products/services in total purchasing volume

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All covenants maintained

Banks are key stakeholders for VAUDE. The company’s financing options are determined based on their ratings. As part of our bank financing, we undertake to comply with covenant requirements. These include figures such as the equity ratio and debt ratio. In 2017, we were able to maintain all requirements.

Thomas Kind, Director, Head of the Corporate Finance Center Department for Sparkassen, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg:


»As a Sparkasse Finance Group, we have been accompanying VAUDE on their road to success for decades. In our eyes, VAUDE is an outstanding example of how, as a family-owned company, you can successfully and symbiotically harmonize both environmental and social values with business objectives. This is balanced sustainability.«

The equity ratio and the proportion of liabilities have improved

VAUDE uses mezzanine funds to strengthen its equity capital, among other things from the promotional loan from the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, the silent participation of Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft Baden Württemberg MBG and the profit participation certificates.
Our economic equity ratio was 52.1 % on 31.12.2017. (2016: 47.5 %, 2015: 47.7 %, 2014: 39.2 %). The share of liabilities on the balance sheet was 64.4 % on 31.12.2017. (2016: 66.5 %, 2015: 67.1 %; 2014: 69.2 %).
This enabled us to improve both with the increase in our economic equity ratio and with the reduced proportion of liabilities.

VAUDE issues profit participation certificates for employees

We want our employees to share in the success of the company and work together to strengthen VAUDE's financial independence. This gave rise to the idea of issuing securities in the form of profit participation certificates. A concept for this was developed in 2016.

VAUDE offers its employees a total annual tranche of € 100,000 in the form of profit participation certificates with a fixed interest rate of 2 % and a profit participation of 2 %. Loss participation was excluded. The term of each non-voting equity security is 5 years. This can then be used tax-free by the employees up to an annual amount of 360, - € as a salary conversion, for example by converting 30, - € per month in the salary conversion. In addition, employees also have the option of investing higher amounts in order to take advantage of the interest / profit sharing - all together up to an annual maximum of € 100,000. Since the participation certificates have a subordination clause, VAUDE strengthens its equity capital and at the same time offers employees the opportunity to participate in the company as shareholders at attractive conditions.


When we began to implement the plan at the beginning of 2017, great interest was shown and the first tranche were already completely awarded. A further tranche is to be issued annually in the future.

Common Good-aligned borrowing

VAUDE strives for a broadly diversified and sustainable corporate financing.

VAUDE's partner banks include Sparkasse Bodensee, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, DZ Bank, Volksbank Allgäu-West, Commerzbank Friedrichshafen, Südwestbank and Sparkasse Esslingen. All of these institutions are addressing ecological and social issues and have already published sustainability reports. Savings banks and cooperative banks have a municipal mandate and are committed to the public interest.

The decisions of the bank consortium are taken by a majority of the lenders. The lender majority consists of those lenders whose shares in the credit lines together reach or exceed 66 % of the credit lines.

VAUDE is supported by KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) through promotional loans to finance and implement social and environmental protection projects.
MBG (Mittelständische Beteiligungsgesellschaft Baden- Württemberg) contributes with dormant participation in the external financing. 


As part of the "Green Financing" project, VAUDE plans to add further banks with an explicitly sustainable orientation to its bank portfolio. VAUDE does not engage in speculative transactions with futures and options. Due to international business activities, currency swaps are only used to reduce the risk of exchange rate fluctuations. Loans are financed exclusively in euros and not in foreign currencies.

Solidarity and Common Good-orientated use of funds

VAUDE has hardly any reserves or financial assets that are invested.

Most profits are invested directly in the company's sustainable corporate strategy. VAUDE creates approx. 30 % reserves from the surplus funds. The remaining 70 % are distributed to the shareholders, members of the founding family of Dewitz. Withdrawal from shareholder accounts is possible with 12 % of the respective annual net income.


Our principle in the use of funds is to finance our corporate strategy geared towards the common good within the profits generated and to further increase the equity ratio.

We have concluded syndicated financing with a term of 5 years (until the end of 2018) and a volume of EUR 40 million for strategic investments in order to achieve our goals. The continuation of syndicated financing is currently being negotiated with our partner banks.


Grants

VAUDE receives the following grants:


Our commitment to sustainability motivates us

We at VAUDE recognize a special responsibility towards human well-being and the natural world. Our focus is on the goal of keeping the company as sustainable as possible while creating secure and attractive jobs for our employees at the same time. Our goal is to maintain the VAUDE company over generations. This sustainable approach is not inconsistent with economic growth, but rather, it motivates us. There are several reasons and goals:

1. Financial independence: 

The intergenerational preservation of the family business is our ultimate goal. Financial independence gives us flexibility for our business practices and ensures the future of the company over the long term.


2. International competitiveness:

Competition in the outdoor industry is extremely dynamic, international and has been determined by acquisitions and debt capital for the past few years. The size of the company and its associated brand strength are relevant to be successful in this competition. Our goal is to be internationally competitive as a strong, sustainable, European brand.

 
3. Efficient economics:

We are striving for healthy growth in order to efficiently do business in the three main business areas of our corporate structure. At the same time, we want to optimize production resources and capacities and benefit from economies of scale.

 
4. Increased influence for greater sustainability:
Economic growth also helps us to increase our influence on production and material suppliers, which we can use to implement further sustainability measures.

Isabel Stiefenhofer, Controlling at VAUDE:

»We believe that sustainable business pays off in the long term. Economic, ecological and social aspects must be equally considered.«

Our values are not geared purely to maximizing profits. We're convinced: Sustainable management pays off in the long term.


We are also willing to invest in this concept: In 2017, we invested 669,651 euros (2016: 762,157 euros, 2015: 615,672 euros, 2014: 578,791 euros) - See also CSR Team as a Driving Force for Sustainability.


In addition we are committed to the development of other sustainable business models. These include upcycling projects, repair services and the development of a gear rental program.


Objective system and budget planning at VAUDE

The implementation of a management approach has provided substantial support in our conversion to sustainable business activity. At VAUDE, the company is guided by a system of objectives and budget planning process.

The objective system is arranged according to the perspectives of the "Balanced Scorecard". Measures and indicators are defined for each goal.
In a multi-step process, the achievement of objectives and status of the budget and economics planning is monitored. This process includes the following steps: 


1. Senior Management executive session in January:
Management analyzes economic performance in the product areas, analyzes risks within and outside the company as well as the competition, checks the validity of the objectives set and sets strategic guidelines for the next three years.


2. Division manager committee executive session in February:
The Division Managers define measures for the objectives set for the following year and check the previous achievement levels.


3. Distribution of the goals:
Goals, measures and indicators are broken down by departments.


4. Ongoing controls:
Goal achievement levels are checked several times a year. The review indicators for some key figures only take place at the end of the year.


5. Close connections for budget planning:
The budget planning process is closely connected with the corporate management and runs parallel to the goal process. Budget planning takes place in the first half year, including the budget for the following year’s objectives. In several rounds of voting, plans are adapted to the possibilities.


6. Finalization of goals and budgets:
In a two-day meeting in September, both the objectives for the following year and the budget are finalized by department heads.


7. Budget approval:
The final, 100 percent approval of the budget in each case comes into effect only after ascertaining the previous year’s results and the winter preorders. If the planned annual results are unlikely to be met on this basis, those responsible can only have 80% of their budget.


8. Ongoing controls, for budgets as well:
Similar to our reviews of the goal achievement status, budget compliance is verified during the year.


Sales are also carefully planned and consolidated at the top level. In addition, we regularly collect financial figures which are used to operationally guide the company. The most important figures are reconciled, evaluated and analyzed for deviations from the planned system on a monthly basis by management and controlling division. This is a requisite for the management to identify trends and developments and, when necessary, guide measures to offset adverse developments and reinforce positive trends.


GRI:   201-1
Direct economic value generated and distributed
GRI:   103
Management Approach
GRI:   102-7
Scale of the organization
GRI:   102-10
Significant changes to the organization and its supply chain
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