Highlights:

  • Q3 2019 organic growth: -2.5%
  • Q3 2019 underlying EBITA: € 298m
  • Q3 2019 EBITA margin: 5.0%
  • Topline in Europe stabilizing, US slightly easing, both impacted by macro uncertainty; robust growth in Rest of the world. 
  • Gross margin 20.1%, up 30bp YoY; continued management focus on pricing, supported by digital tools.
  • Q3 2019 EBITA margin down 10bp YoY to 5.0%; selective investments in growth areas continue.
  • Ongoing market share gains in several countries, fueled by digital strategy.
  • Q3 FCF more than doubling YoY to € 468m
  • September organic sales growth in line with Q3; volumes in early October indicate a continuation of the trend.

"Our strong gross margin and balanced cost management were able to offset slightly negative organic revenue growth in Q3 2019, while generating record high quarterly free cash flow," says CEO Jacques van den Broek. "We continue to gain market share in several countries, in part driven by the successful progression of our digital strategy across the world. We experienced ongoing weakness in industrial-related sectors, while still identifying ample growth opportunities globally. This means that we continue to balance selective investments for the longer term, while managing more challenging markets. Meanwhile, our free cash flow more than doubled year-on-year in Q3 2019. This underpins the counter cyclical nature of our working capital requirements, and hence the resilience of our free cash flow generation through the cycle."

"Finally, I’m very happy with the proposal to nominate René Steenvoorden as Chief Digital Officer to our Executive Board. This appointment will further strengthen the new setup of our executive team, in which countries, regions, clients and the digital transformation are now all directly represented. With this team, I’m convinced we’ll be able to further accelerate the execution of our Tech & Touch strategy."