2016 was a special year - Fazer’s 125th anniversary. 125 years ago a young, brave, determined and inventive man called Karl Fazer opened a French-Russian café on Kluuvikatu Street in Helsinki.

In fact, 2016 marked a twin anniversary for Fazer – we celebrated 150 years from the birth of Karl Fazer and 125 years from the establishment of his business. Today, we are a modern Group operating in eight countries and exporting to over 40 countries worldwide.

2016 was a year of celebration and remembering our history, but also one of building and planning for the future.

Fazer invited all its employees to celebrate the anniversary and shared it with consumers through products, campaigns and events. We opened Fazer Experience, our new visitor centre in Vantaa, Finland, where everyone can learn about Fazer’s operations, our wide range of products, long history, corporate responsibility and innovations. These interesting themes are intertwined with the unique architecture, making the visitor experience fresh and different. Fazer Experience has started well – tours are fully booked and we receive excellent feedback from visitors.

Good development despite a challenging operating environment

We have been operating in a tough and unpredictable environment. The economic situation in many of Fazer’s main markets continues to be challenging. The Finnish economy seems to be slowly recovering after several years of decline, but the Russian economy is still weak. In Sweden, however, the outlook is better.

All our business areas delivered in 2016, despite the challenging environment.

Fazer Bakery improved its market position in Finland, Russia and Estonia. The growing health and well-being trend is an opportunity for us to develop products that exceed expectations, not only in taste but in nutritional value as well.

Our confectionery sales in 2016 were clearly above the prior year in nearly all markets and we grew our market share with all key customers in Finland. Fazer Confectionery’s renewed portfolio strategy has a strong focus on chocolate.

Fazer Food Services continued its profitable growth in 2016. We were able to retain important customers while winning a number of new contracts, securing top line growth in key sectors. Fazer Culinary Team Finland made history: participating for the first time, they took gold in the catering series of the 2016 Culinary Olympics held in Erfurt, Germany. Fazer Culinary Team Sweden, defending their gold medal from 2012, took home a gold medal of their own, finishing in second place behind the Finnish team in the final evaluation.

For Fazer Mills, 2016 was a success in many ways. Major investments were made, the business developed well and net sales grew, despite declining grain prices.

Fazer Cafés was able to increase comparable sales and improved profitability, primarily due to a refreshed portfolio and improvements in efficiency.

Developing Fazer’s business

We are in the process of renewing and developing Fazer’s businesses into even more efficient, world-class operations in order to grow and enable international expansion. This efficiency boost is driven by the High Performance Culture, built around Fazer behaviours – engaging, developing and performing.

With an enhanced focus on the quality of products and services, the environmental impact of our operations and the health and safety of our personnel, we also keep improving Fazer’s operational excellence. We continuously focus on developing our product portfolio. Recognising rising trends is only the first step; research and renewal are needed to develop new products and services that spark consumers’ interest. One example in this field is the international Fazer Brainfood Hack, held in October 2016, which brought together teams of scientists, developers and designers to find ways to improve cognitive performance with methods relating to eating habits.

Focus on profitable growth

In 2016, we continued to execute our growth strategy. Fazer purchased the Domino, Jaffa and Fanipala brands, strengthening our share in the biscuit market in Finland. Fazer also continued investing in oats by acquiring the Frebaco mill in Sweden. With the acquisition, we doubled our oat capacity and became a significant player in the global export of oat.

In June, Fazer bought the Keisari artisanal bakery in Finland. With the acquisition, Fazer tripled the number of its artisanal bakery shops in the Helsinki area. We also signed an agreement with the Government of St Petersburg in June, and declared our intention to build a new production plant in the area.

Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017. Fazer has seen the entire journey of Finland as an independent country, and Fazer is one of the main partners of Finland’s centenary celebration Finland100. We are happy to celebrate Finland’s anniversary. We also see it as a business opportunity and a way to strengthen Fazer’s image as a successful and responsible company. We want to increase our cooperation with relevant stakeholders and tell our story through our products, services and concrete actions. We will also celebrate Finland with our neighbours and friends internationally.

In closing, I’d like to thank all our stakeholders for accompanying us on Fazer’s journey in 2016 and for all the hard work and support in delivering a successful year.

Christoph Vitzthum
President & CEO
Fazer Group