For ten consecutive years, ZEISS has continued to grow. On top of that, we have exceeded a new record: our sales rose by 11 percent to EUR 6.4 billion (previous year: EUR 5.8 billion). The ZEISS Group's EBIT also reached a new high of EUR 1.1 billion (previous year: EUR 772 million).
In the context of an uncertain economic climate and major structural changes in various industries, ZEISS's development is particularly remarkable. ZEISS was prepared for these scenarios and, with its ZEISS Agenda 2020 corporate strategy, has positioned itself to be both future-proof and resilient. With our well-balanced portfolio and focus on future markets, we were able to grow faster than the market in all four segments in addition to generating outstanding sales and returns on a sustainable basis.
This continuing success also reflects the long-standing trust of our customers and partners. On behalf of the Executive Board, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this confidence. Our thanks also go to our dedicated employees who work hard to earn this trust on a daily basis.
This year's results in detail
All four ZEISS segments demonstrated outstanding development over the past fiscal year. In particular, the Medical Technology and Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segments delivered above-average growth, as did the Consumer Markets segment. The Industrial Quality & Research segment felt the economic headwind in some areas, but was also able to make good contributions to growth.
This past fiscal year, we again increased investments for our research and development activities, which accounted for 11 percent of total sales. ZEISS has a long tradition of similarly high expenditures for research and development which also represent our insurance for the future. Only through such investment can we maintain and enhance our reputation as a global technology leader.
Compared to its competitors, ZEISS also succeeded in the field of digitalization, which is now an important consideration for all companies. For example, our innovative ZEISS VISUFIT 1000 system offers opticians an expandable platform for digital facial and centering data acquisition. The customer-oriented system maps the entire process: from measuring the eye to selecting the frame. I would also like to mention the ZEISS ARTEVO 800, the first fully digital microscope for ophthalmic surgeons, with which we are heralding a new era in ergonomic surgery.
Our targeted investments in growth markets are now paying off. We have grown organically with our own highly innovative products and have strategically developed our portfolio with targeted acquisitions. The acquisition of IanTECH, Reno (USA), which was completed last year, added new solutions for minimally invasive cataract surgery to our portfolio and thus further strengthened our position as an innovation leader in ophthalmology. In April 2019 we acquired GOM, a leading provider of hardware and software for automated 3D coordinate metrology headquartered in Braunschweig, Germany. With GOM, we aim to significantly expand our offer in the field of industrial measurement technology and quality assurance with leading solutions for surface measurement and digitalization.
We have also continued to consistently invest in our employees. Education and training don’t just play a key role when it comes to ensuring our competitiveness. As a foundation-owned company, we also bear a special responsibility for training our employees. Over the past fiscal year, we met this responsibility through a large number of activities and initiatives. We are now establishing the company's future-oriented e-learning platform ZEISS CurioZ in order to promote the expansion of expertise, knowledge and skills in a targeted way using innovative formats and offerings. In the past fiscal year, 454 trainees and university students were trained at ZEISS in Germany – 59 more than the previous year.
ZEISS continues to focus on continuity and growth
The economic uncertainties of recent times have once again prompted us to make sure the company becomes significantly more productive, more adaptable and more resilient. The programs already launched in this area are having an impact, but we will continue to pursue them intensively and implement them consistently. ZEISS intends to continue its growth course in the 2019/20 fiscal year through the clear strategic orientation provided by the ZEISS Agenda 2020 and the sound positioning of our segments in relation to future markets. The company and the ZEISS brand are in very good shape and we have the skills and the strength for agile change.
As a foundation-owned company, we have a clear mandate to ensure that responsibility and accountability are integrated in our organization. For this reason, we are making sustainability a fundamental component in our segments' business activities. To this end, we have defined specific goals and measures that will have an immediate effect to be implemented by 2022.
Shaping the future
We are looking to the future with confidence. As a modern and innovative foundation-owned company, we have all the prerequisites required as well as the strength and courage, to identify our customers' needs at an early stage and to enable them to find success with our solutions. This allows us to shape the future.
We see digitalization as an opportunity because we can use it to create customer benefits. Sustainability is one of our responsibilities and we see becoming a climate-neutral company as a matter of course. We are making a real difference by taking concrete measures to reduce CO2 emissions and protect the climate. This strategic optimism is summed up in "Seeing beyond". We are tackling the challenges of the future today – with self-confidence and honesty.
I would like to personally thank all our customers, employees, colleagues and the Supervisory Board for their support. When ZEISS presents its next year-end results in fall 2020, I will already have handed over the baton to my fellow Executive Board member Dr. Karl Lamprecht. This change at the head of the company will help us focus on continuity and the continuation of sustainable growth.
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Prof. Dr. Michael Kaschke
President and Chief Executive Officer
Prof. Dr. Michael Kaschke
President and Chief Executive Officer