The preliminary figures for the year to 31 March 2013 were described as a “key milestone” on the route back to sustainable profitability by chief executive Gerold Linzbach.

Sales at the group rose 5% to €2.7bn (£2.3bn), while operating profit prior to special items jumped from €3m to €28m.

Costs of €65m associated with its Focus 2012 restructuring programme, together with other as-yet-unspecified charges, put the manufacturer’s preliminary loss for the year at €110m. In the prior year Heidelberg lost more than double that, at €230m.

The group’s fourth quarter results for the three months to the end of March also showed a marked improvement, with sales rising 5.7% to €830m and operating profits prior to exceptionals increasing from €22m to €60m.

Linzbach said that in meeting its forecast for the year, Heidelberg had reached “a key milestone on our way to profitability”.

“Focus 2012 lays the foundation for us to start making a profit again from financial year 2013/2014 onwards,” he stated.

During the period Heidelberg “intensified” a number of Focus 2012 measures to secure its profitability targets.

Spokesman Thomas Fichtl explained that this included additional actions such as rationalising the sales and service operation in its home market. “In the process of executing the programme we saw other opportunities. For example, in Germany the number of sales regions has gone from five to three, making it more efficient and flexible,” he said.

Year-on-year Heidelberg reduced its workforce by a further 1,200 positions, to 14,215.

Heidelberg’s share price had risen to a 52-week high of €2.22 in February (low: €0.94). The shares have subsequently slipped back, and were at €1.80 at the time of writing.

Heidelberg will publish its full results on 13 June.