With a new business structure in place, Fagerhult makes adjustments amid pandemic (UPDATED)

April 21, 2020
The Swedish lighting company has reorganized along brand lines in place of geographies. Meanwhile, it withdraws a dividend and puts off its annual meeting until late June with coronavirus about.

All set to roll with a recent corporate restructuring of its many lighting brands, Sweden’s Fagerhult Group is adjusting to business amid the coronavirus pandemic, withdrawing a previously announced 2019 dividend and pushing back its annual meeting, but moving forward its next quarterly result report.

“Due to the current uncertainties arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the board of directors of AB Fagerhult has decided to withdraw the current dividend proposal of SEK 1.50 ($0.15) communicated in the fourth quarter 2019 report and in the annual report 2019,” the company said in a press release. “The board proposes that the annual general meeting resolve that no dividend will be paid.”

The chance for the AGM to make that decision will have to wait until June 23, which is the day that Fagerhult has now decided to hold the meeting. The company had originally scheduled it for May 5, then pushed it back in deference to the health situation.

Habo-based Fagerhult is not ruling out reinstating the dividend.

“When the market has stabilized and the situation becomes clearer, it is the board’s intention to re-evaluate the situation and possibly, if deemed by the board to be justified, call for an extraordinary general meeting and to such meeting propose a dividend for the financial year 2019,” the company stated.

“Fagerhult has a solid balance sheet and, as earlier announced, prompt actions have been implemented across the group to mitigate future financial impact from the Covid-19-pandemic,” it said. “However, in the view of the increased economic uncertainty and as a precautionary measure the board believes that it is justified to withdraw its dividend proposal.”

The SEK 7.84 billion ($784 million) Swedish lighting group will provide a more detailed look at its finances sooner than expected, as it has now moved its first quarter 2020 report to this Friday, April 24. Fagerhult typically releases first quarter numbers on the same day as its annual meeting, but having pushed back the AGM to June, it decided to bring out the quarterlies earlier. The quarter ended on March 31.

“There was no reason to wait,” Fagerhult CEO Bodil Sonesson told LEDs Magazine.

Sonesson, who took the helm at Fagerhult a year and a half ago, has also not waited long to oversee a corporate restructuring. The company began looking into realignment soon after she arrived, and recently announced that it has grouped its 13 brands into four different business areas: Collection, Premium, Professional, and Infrastructure. Previously, Fagerhult organized its financial reporting along geographical lines split between Northern Europe/UK/Ireland, Western and Southern Africa, and Asia and the Pacific.

Under the redrawn alignment, each brand belongs to only one group. Collection houses the company’s architectural and design brands for both indoor and outdoor use globally. Premium has more of a European slant and includes chiefly indoor products for specifiers, partners, and bespoke installations. Professional focuses on indoor applications in markets local to the brand and also involves specifiers and bespoke. Infrastructure targets environments where durability and robustness is key. (See below for details of each brand).

Connected Internet of Things (IoT) lighting is a key driver for Fagerhult under Sonesson, who has a strong IoT background, and who is spreading the IoT function across the four business areas under Geert van der Meer, who is now acting head of connectivity. The company’s IoT stable includes Organic Response controls technology, which Fagerhult has sometimes implemented in partnership with Finnish wireless mesh protocol provider Wirepas. The two worked together with security firm Securitas, for example, to outfit lighting with security features at a medical park in Lund, Sweden.

Van der Meer has been running digital functions since joining Fagerhult from his former digital role at Osram in 2017. With the restructuring, he is now head of the infrastructure group. He will continue heading connectivity until Fagerhult finds a permanent replacement, a process that is on hold at the moment with the coronavirus situation, Sonesson told LEDs.

Likewise, Sonesson is acting head of the Collection area until Fagerhult recruits a permanent boss. Frank Augustsson heads the Premium unit and Anders Fransson heads Professional. Augustsson had been head of northern Europe, and Fransson was head of the Fagerhult brand.

The four are part of a new nine-person Fagerhult Group Management team that also includes chief financial officer Michael Wood, human resources director Jenny Evelius, and chief strategy and communication officer Michael Bruer. The new heads of Collection and Connectivity will also join once they are hired.

With the new organization, Fagerhult said it intends to now “use the ‘Fagerhult Group’ name more clearly to show the connection between our brands in our different markets.”

The new setup and their brands are Collection, with ateljé Lyktan, iGuzzini, LED Linear, and WE-EF; Premium, with Fagerhult and LTS and also with the Organic Response operation that provides IoT technology internally to the Fagerhult companies; Professional, with Arlight, Eagle Lighting, Lighting Innovations, and Whitecroft; and Infrastructure, with Designplan Lighting, i-Valo, and Veko.

The most recent addition to Fagerhult is iGuzzini, which the company acquired a year ago for €375.9 million (US$421.6M). The acquisition has come with an IT glitch, which Fagerhult says is now resolved.

“As previously communicated, there has been challenges regarding implementation of a new ERP-system at our recently acquired iGuzzini business in Italy,” Fagerhult said in a Mar. 13 press release. “The challenges have been dealt with and closed out, and this is regarded as an isolated and now corrected event. The situation did, to some extent, affect our earnings in the period.”

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

*Updated Apr. 21, 2020 4:30 PM for additional management details.

About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.