Künzelsau, Germany - The business year 2012 has been very turbulent for the Würth Group. The company just missed its sales target of EUR 10 billion, yet achieved a sales record with a reported total of EUR 9.98 billion. "We get to feel the worldwide volatile economic situation and the clearly dramatic drop in prices in photovoltaics. An icy wind is blowing from the southern European countries into our faces as well. We could increase our sales in all regions except for Southern Europe. At the same time, we used the upward wind in Scandinavia and North America as we generated sales records in Canada and the USA. The global presence is our advantage, now as before. Challenges really spur us on: seizing opportunities wherever growth is looming and showing composure where risks get incalculable", commented Robert Friedmann, Chairman of the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group, on the business year 2012 at the Press Conference on Financial Statements on 7 May in Schwäbisch Hall.
Sales increase in almost all business areasIn its core business, the trade in assembly and fastening material for the craft and industry sector, the Würth Group grew by 3.7 percent to a total of EUR 5.5 billion in 2012. The industry sector, recording a plus of 12.3 percent, clearly contrasts with the rest. In March 2013, Würth parted with the remaining sales activities of its subsidiary Würth Solar, selling large parts of the solar business to the company BayWa.
Germany remains most important single marketOver 44 percent of the overall sales of the Würth Group were generated in Germany: here, EUR 4.45 billion were obtained in 2012. This corresponds to a growth of 0.7 percent. The fall season, which normally stands for strong sales, did not result in the expected sales volume due to the economic situation. As to the number of employees, Germany takes the first place: 19,605 employees worked in the German Würth group in 2012. The parent company Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG remains the most successful company of the Group. With a total of EUR 1.2 billion, which equals a growth of 1.3 percent, the company generated the highest sales volume ever. The operating result, too, turned out a new record. The German production companies also reported clear sales increases.
Decline in the number of employeesIn 2012, the number of employees worldwide went down by 1.4 percent to 65,169. Whereas the number of employees at the international companies of the Würth Group decreased to 45,564, the number of Würth Group employees in Germany increased by 2.5 percent to 19,605.
Growth of operating result behind expectationsThe low sales growth in the business year 2012 is also reflected by the development of the operating result: Although it went up by 5.1 percent to a total of EUR 415 million (2011: EUR 395 million), it is behind expectations. The companies outside of Germany had a decisive influence on this development as with a total of EUR 205 million they did not quite manage to achieve the result level of the year 2011 (2011: EUR 218 million). The Group was above all lacking the profitability of its companies in Southern Europe, and here above all in Spain, Italy, Greece, as well as Belgium. Also in fields like fittings and renewable energies (wind power and solar energy) the results achieved did not come up to our expectations.
More market shares through acquisitionsThrough its subsidiaries the Würth Group carries successful marketing concepts into new markets. Targeted acquisitions complement the Group's organic growth. In January 2013, the Würth Group acquired the chemical company Chemofast Anchoring GmbH based in German town Willich. Chemofast develops and produces chemical mortars, so-called chemical anchors, and sells them successfully to customers in the construction industry and to trading companies. The acquisition underpins the strategic orientation of the Group in the growth market of chemical products and completes our activities in the field of anchor technology.
New opportunities through e-commerceThe customer has many different possibilities to get in touch with Würth. Würth is extending its marketing activities over various sales channels. In addition to the classical sales model of direct selling the field of e-commerce is gaining in importance. Since 2010 already, customers have had access to product information and could make orders via the Würth App. This way, Würth supports the change in the customers' purchase behavior which becomes possible through the use of internet and smartphones.
Branch offices continuously on success courseAnother pillar is the expansion of the network of branch offices. Würth customers can cover their immediate demand in about 400 branch offices in Germany and 1,500 branch offices worldwide. On 6 May 2013, a new logistics center was opened in Künzelsau. With its operation, the processing capacity can be improved by over 50 percent, which means that the customers get their orders even faster.
Sound financial situation enables further growthThe equity ratio grew to 41.9 percent. In total, the equity capital amounts to EUR 3.2 billion (2011: EUR 3.0 billion). The financial situation of the Würth Group was again assessed by the rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings in 2012. Fitch Ratings conducted a reclassification, which resulted in a "BBB+ / outlook stable" rating, and Standard & Poor’s reconfirmed the Würth Group's "A / outlook stable" rating. In 2012, the Würth Group again succeeded in financing all investments from its operative cash flow. With EUR 618 million in 2012, the company's cash flow exceeded the value that was attained in the previous year (2011: EUR 540 million). Mainly due to the repayment of two bonds, the liquid funds of the Würth Group reduced by EUR 296 million to EUR 572 million (2011: EUR 868 million).