During the reporting year, global action against the coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on the business performance of the HARTMANN GROUP. As a leading European provider of system solutions for the medical and healthcare sectors, HARTMANN was directly affected by the impact of the pandemic on the national health system.
The sales performance in 2020 reflected an increased demand overall as compared to normal business years. It was shaped by two competing factors. On the one hand, the infection prevention measures led to a clear increase in demand for disinfectants and personal protective equipment. On the other, the demand for customized surgical kits and wound treatment products fell due to the reduction in elective surgeries and the reduced frequency of doctors' visits.
In order to manage the growth in sales revenues and for the purpose of transparent communication, HARTMANN uses organic sales growth as its central performance metric. Across the Group, organic sales growth stood at 14.6 %. This equated to strong growth in sales, as a result of which the HARTMANN GROUP exceeded the expectation of moderate sales growth.
Including all business segments, the HARTMANN GROUP reported Group sales of EUR 2,433.0 million in 2020. This equates to an increase of 11.3 %. During the reporting period, exchange rate effects, at 0.7 percentage points, had a slight negative impact on the overall growth of the HARTMANN GROUP. For the currencies relevant to sales, the depreciation of the Russian ruble and the South African rand was essentially counterbalanced by the appreciation of the Swiss franc. Furthermore, the effects of acquisitions/divestments are at -2.6 %.
Since the 2020 financial year, adjusted EBITDA has become the key metric for the HARTMANN GROUP's earnings performance. This valuation metric has the advantage of not being burdened by special effects. It provides a reasonable and precise portrayal of business performance in the context of the strategic transformation program that began in 2019, and is linked to significant investment. The adjusted EBITDA shows EBIT before depreciation of tangible assets, amortization of intangible assets, impairments/recoveries, and adjustments to operating results. In 2020, the HARTMANN GROUP's EBITDA stood at EUR 308.9 million compared to EUR 210.4 million the previous year. During the 2020 financial year, HARTMANN made multiple adjustments in relation to its operational results. Restructuring costs of EUR 2.8 million were incurred in the course of this strategic focusing process, along with losses of EUR 1.9 million from disinvestments in connection with the sale of the SANIMED Group. These costs contrasted with revenues from one-off adjustments of EUR 21.2 million that were generated almost exclusively from one-off sales due to the increased demand for masks during the pandemic.
Adjusted EBITDA in 2020 therefore amounted to EUR 292.4 million compared with EUR 211.9 million the previous year. The forecast for 2020 published in the 2019 annual report was therefore exceeded. For the reporting year, there is an adjusted EBITDA return of 12.0 % compared to 9.7 % the previous year. In 2020, the HARTMANN GROUP's net financial loss stood at EUR -3.4 million compared to EUR -6.3 million the previous year. The improvement is largely attributable to the lower interest rate on the assessment of pension liabilities. Income tax liabilities during the financial year came to EUR 46.9 million, as compared to EUR 35.1 million in 2019. The 6.5-percentage-point lower tax ratio largely results from the non-tax-effective depreciations during the 2019 financial year in connection with the valuation of the SANIMED Group under IFRS 5. Consolidated net income improved by EUR 50.0 million from the previous year to EUR 112.9 million.