An interview with Adrian Ineichen
Mr Ineichen, you have been working at V-ZUG for 15 years now. What has been the best moment for you so far?
There have of course been many great moments. However, a highlight for me was the opening of V-ZUG Studio in Shanghai in November 2014. I have great memories of that day. Not that long ago, we also enjoyed an event that stirred up a lot of emotions for us: the IPO in June 2020, which was an extremely significant day for the future of the V-ZUG Group.
The IPO was very successful, which was partly down to you. How would you like to contribute to V-ZUG’s further success as Chief Financial Officer?
I see finance as a service area that provides support to the whole company. This means that I see it as my responsibility to provide managers with transparent information needed for decision-making, to influence decisions with regard to commercial relevance, but also to analyse decisions retrospectively so that we can learn from any mistakes that might have been made. I think we need to continually re-evaluate whether our decisions and measures are taking us in the right direction. Many see the Financial Division as number crunchers, but I see it as much more than that: ultimately, the results of every single decision end up on our balance sheet. And that’s where it becomes explicitly clear whether we have made the right decisions or not.
You talk passionately about your job. Have you always loved numbers?
Yes, you could say that. My enthusiasm for numbers began when I was a child. My godfather was head of finance at a large company, something I found fascinating – and that was what triggered my interest in numbers. When I was a child, I compiled rankings and statistics for everything. At the age of 13, I was an guest on a radio programme about pocket money. I always knew that I’d gain qualifications of some kind in the field of finance. The fact that I’ve enjoyed working in this profession so much, and continue to do so, is something I feel truly grateful for.
How would your best friend describe you?
Reliable, honest, down-to-earth – someone who likes to have fun. I think it’s very important for us to be able to laugh every day. Whether we’re at home or at work, it’s great to have a good laugh with others.
The IPO in June 2020 was a big moment - did that also make you smile?
Absolutely! On that day, we were there at the Swiss Stock Exchange in Zurich for the opening of trading. When the share price lit up on the board, it was a very special and memorable moment.
As much as 2020 was a great year for us as a company with the IPO, for many it remains one of the most difficult years of our time. How did the COVID year affect business at V-ZUG?
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t have a major negative impact on the V ZUG Group’s performance in 2020. In the Swiss domestic market, we benefited from overall stable market conditions and strong demand that reflected this. This was due in particular to the sustained level of activity in the construction sector despite the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, implementing suitable protection strategies early on and safeguarding our production capacity exactly when we needed to enabled us to fully maintain our ability to deliver our products in 2020 and meet the increased demand we faced. We also achieved substantial cost savings due to pandemic-related restrictions in market activities.
In your opinion, what are the challenges facing our company now and in the future?
Our biggest challenges are also our biggest opportunities. We are in competition with much larger companies that have very different resources at their disposal. However, our modest size also works to our advantage: we are more streamlined and less complicated, which allows us to react quicker. In order to remain successful in the long term, it is important for us to pursue actions such as increasing the share of sales in our international markets.
What challenges are you focusing on most at the moment?
Over the past two months, the annual financial statement has been the main item on our agenda. This is a period in the new year when we review the past before focusing once again on the future. This year’s annual financial statement has been a challenge for us, especially given that this is the first time we have published an annual report as an independent, listed company.
The annual report has now been published, so the focus is once again on the future. What do you see ahead?
The pandemic will continue to have a big impact on us over the next few months, if not the whole year. I am really proud of the fact that we managed to react swiftly to the crisis last year and I am sure that we will continue to do so this year. Nevertheless, we must not forget that we are still in a far-reaching transformation phase. The development of the site in Zug, the relocation of our refrigerator plant from Arbon to Sulgen, further growth in Switzerland and overseas and, of course, advancing the digitalisation of our processes and products are all major challenges. In this context, it is important to focus on the essentials. We can’t afford to get left behind – we have to keep an eye on trends. As a medium-sized company, however, we don’t have the means to ride every wave. It’s important for us to identify which waves are relevant for both us and our customers.
How do you see things developing if we manage to catch the right waves?
If we do that, then V-ZUG will still be a great company in ten years’ time: a market leader in Switzerland with a significant share of international turnover. We have bedded in our new production processes and are maintaining or even increasing job numbers. For me, the biggest motivating factor in my work today and in the future is ensuring that we can offer our employees secure jobs with a company that has a strong focus on sustainability.
About Adrian Ineichen
Adrian Ineichen is a Swiss federally certified expert in accounting and controlling, and holds a federal professional certificate in finance and accounting from the KV Business School in Zurich. Since 2015, Adrian Ineichen has been a member of the V-ZUG Group senior management as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and has been in charge of the Property segment since June 2020. His career at V-ZUG started back in 2005 when he headed up the Finance and Accounting Department. From 2014 to 2015, he was also Head of Finance & Controlling at V -ZUG (Shanghai) Domestic Appliance Co. Ltd in Shanghai. Before working at V-ZUG, Adrian Ineichen was employed in various positions as a controller at Panalpina in Basel and Hong Kong. Prior to that, he held various management and controller roles at Collano Adhesive in Sempach.