The completion of Lyyra and Grand Hansa by 2023 confirmed, Ylva’s net sales halved during the pandemic
The effects of two years of the COVID-19 pandemic showed particularly in Ylva’s restaurant business. Due to the new restrictions, UniCafe restaurants could not be opened as planned and distance teaching reduced campus visitor rates. Progress on the Lyyra and Grand Hansa projects significantly raised the estimated real estate market value, amounting to EUR 425.9 million at the end of the year.
In 2021, the net sales of Ylva, owned by the student union of the University of Helsinki, decreased by 13 per cent to EUR 19.9 million (2020: EUR 20.8 million). The decrease was mainly due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the restaurant business. The net sales of the restaurant business were EUR 3.7 million, and the profits are clearly negative when the one-time corporate allowances in 2021 are not included.
The net sales of the real estate business decreased by 4 per cent to EUR 16.0 million (2020: EUR 16.6 million). The decrease was partly due to the ongoing renewal project in the city centre properties and the low usage rates of the facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic and renovation projects. The estimated market value of the properties grew significantly from the previous year, by a total of EUR 52.3 million, amounting to EUR 425.9 million at the end of the year (2020: EUR 373.5 million).
“Our net sales have been practically halved during the two years of the pandemic. However, our sights are set firmly on the future: we will implement our plans by investing EUR 150 million over the coming years in our spearhead projects, Grand Hansa and Lyyra, which are set to be completed in 2023. Progress in the projects already shows as significant growth in the market value of our real estate portfolio, which is proof that our selected strategy works,” says Ylva’s CEO, Leea Tolvas.
In 2021, allocation changes from shares to interests were made in Ylva’s investment portfolio. Despite moving the emphasis to the less volatile interests, the investment portfolio’s profits exceeded the comparability index.
In connection with the approval of the annual account, Ylva Board of Directors’ proposition on profit distribution of EUR 1.4 million was approved (2020: EUR 2.80 million). Due to the investments and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ylva’s ability to distribute profits to its owners will be reduced until at least 2024. Following the next few years, which are projected to be challenging, the completion of the Lyyra and Grand Hansa projects is expected to have a positive impact on Ylva’s profits, enabling the implementation of the student union’s goal of no membership fees in 2025.
The food crisis also affects Ylva’s business
Russia’s attack in Ukraine has not had a direct impact on Ylva’s operations, which are focused around Helsinki. Should the war in Europe be prolonged, it would create uncertainty especially with regard to the availability and prices of energy and raw materials. Such developments would further add to the cost pressure of the restaurant business.
“The unprecedented increases in raw material prices make it extremely challenging to restore the restaurant business in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022. We will not be able to balance out the situation by raising the prices in the same way as other lunch restaurants. We need government-based decisions with regard to raising the maximum price of subsidised student lunches and the continuation of take away sales in order to make it possible to keep student restaurants afloat. Our committed employees want to get back to work, providing affordable, nutritious and tasty meals for its environment-conscious customers. We do not make value compromises, even during these hard times,” Tolvas says.
In 2021, Ylva sold over 665,000 meals (2020: 944,000) but fell slightly short of its goal of selling over half of the meals as vegan or vegetarian options. During the year under review, Ylva had an average of 96 of the group’s 138 employees at work (2020: 107 persons).
Read Ylva’s financial statements and Board of Directors’ report 2021 at ylva.fi/en/investments (scroll down for publications)
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