The electro technology company Weidmüller generated sales of EUR 621 million in the 2012 financial year. Reporting a small increase of one per cent, the specialist for electronic components and solutions based in Detmold beat the average sector growth as reported by ZVEI (-3 %) for the third year in a row. "Considering the difficult market environment, we are happy with this result", stated Chief Executive Officer Peter Köhler during a press conference at the Hannover Fair. "We even managed to improve our record earnings of the prior year by a small amount".
From a sales perspective, the markets in the Asia/Pacific region (plus 7.5 %) and the Central and Eastern European region (plus 9.4 %) once again turned out to be especially interesting in 2012. China (plus 10.4 %) and Russia (plus 9.4 %) again showed the strongest growth in 2012. These markets helped to compensate the, in some cases hefty, decreasing sales in the Southern European regional market (minus 10 %), which also had a negative impact on sales performance in Germany (minus 4 %). In divisional terms, most of these sales were reported in Electronics and Electrical Connectivity, as well as the Application-specific Solutions department.
It is difficult to make forecasts for the current financial year, but Köhler feels that Weidmüller is on a strong footing. "As part of our strategy, we have made targeted investments in two joint ventures and three additional distribution offices in growth markets", the CEO explained. A contract has been signed with the Slovenian experts in surge protection, Iskra Zaščite in Ljubljana, to manufacture components and solutions in their area of expertise. Starting in summer 2013, Weidmüller will also be producing relays and relay assemblies in Wenzhou, China, as part of another joint venture. "We project sales growth in the mid-single digits in 2013", stated Köhler. The company also invested in the structure of distribution last year. "With additional company-owned foreign sales companies in Hong Kong, Finland and Denmark, we will now be closer to the customer in distinct growth regions", explained Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Volpert Briel.
At the end of 2012, Weidmüller had 4,400 employees, keeping the headcount steady from the prior year. Once again, CEO Köhler is pleased by the great number of apprentices who have chosen Weidmüller to launch their careers. "Two hundred young men and women went through training at Weidmüller in 2012", stated Köhler. As a family-owned company, Weidmüller takes its responsibility as a training organisation extremely seriously. "Weidmüller has offered training for 60 years now; for the last decade, we have maintained our own training academy at the headquarter in Detmold, with a second one in Shanghai for the last two years". Over the last 60 years, around 1,500 people around the world have completed their training in technical or commercial fields here at Weidmüller.
The topic of energy efficiency continues to be highly relevant to the electronics industry. "For starters, the trick is to offer customers the components and solutions they need for the efficient operation of their systems and machinery", explained Chief Financial Officer Harald Vogelsang on the matter. Process monitoring is a critical part of this subject. "It's the only way to spot unnecessarily high consumption and avoid it in the future", added Vogelsang. In this respect, Weidmüller is setting some great examples.
"Some of our production facilities work like passive houses. For example, we use the heat from the machinery to warm the rooms", reported Vogelsang. For this and numerous other measures Weidmüller has taken to increase energy efficiency, it was awardes an exemplary advocate of climate protection by Germany's Minister of Economics Dr. Philipp Rösler in March. "We see it as both an honour and an incentive", explained Vogelsang. Weidmüller is also expecting additional market stimulus from the so-called "Fourth Industrial Revolution" or Industry 4.0. By fusing the virtual world and classic production, the efficiency of production processes is improved. "A topic which is currently occupying the entire field of automation", Köhler noted. "The steps on the way to Industry 4.0 are primarily being promoted by German small and medium-sized companies, who lead the world in the area of automation". Köhler sees this field as an enormous growth market, both in the supply of communication-ready components and Ethernet solutions for the development of Industry 4.0 and their application in production itself. "Weidmüller already has a self-adjusting machine up and running, and two other systems are in the development stage".
Looking at Russia, the nation being honoured at the Hannover Messe this year, Weidmüller is happy with what it sees: business in Russia has been growing steadily since 2010. Between 2007 and 2012 it has grown by 40%. With seven distribution offices in Russia, Weidmüller has a solid footing there; two more should follow in the near future. Weidmüller's Russian business is focused on the energy sector, the process industry and the transport and infrastructure sector. Altogether, Weidmüller generated sales of EUR 12 million in Russia in 2012, representing a market share of nearly 8%. "Our goal for the medium term is to reach a market share of 10%", explained Weidmüller's Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Volpert Briel.
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