At the presentation of this year's annual financial statements, the Weidmüller Board appeared satisfied with the outcome of the outgoing year: “Over the last twelve months, we once again achieved higher growth than the industry average thanks to our focus on topical trends such as Industry 4.0 and energy efficiency,” sums up the CEO of the Weidmüller Group, Dr. Peter Köhler. The electrical engineering specialist also scored highly with customers for its automation solutions: “We received very positive feedback throughout November's SPS automation trade fair in Nuremberg,” said Köhler. “Weidmüller announced its return to automation.” According to the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association (ZVEI), the market for the year as a whole will close 2.1 percentage points up on the year before. “We managed to exceed our previous year's result for the fourth year in a row,” added Chief Financial Officer Harald Vogelsang. As in past years, Weidmüller will present its final annual results at the Hannover Messe tradeshow next April.
The Executive Board of the Weidmüller Group (left to right): Elke Eckstein (Chief Operating Officer), Volpert Briel (Chief Marketing & Sales Officer), Dr. Peter Köhler (Chairman) and Harald Vogelsang (Chief Financial Officer).
Growth markets and future industries achieve good results
The Asian market performed particularly well over the last twelve months in spite of numerous adverse currency effects. China and Japan, in particular, proved to be the engines for growth in this region: “We were able to more than double our sales in Japan,” Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Volpert Briel was happy to announce. “This outstanding result is due to our innovative products for photovoltaics.” The Group also recorded growth in Europe: “The markets in Hungary, the UK and Sweden, for example, performed disproportionately well,” said Briel. “In Germany too, we are entirely on track.” The company also recorded a significant market recovery in Portugal and Spain. In addition, the Eastern European market performed well: “A very good first half of the year was followed by a slump due to the tense political situation in Russia and Ukraine, and a sharp devaluation in the currency,” said Briel.
Worldwide production network expands
Weidmüller maintained its healthy market position in 2014 and set the course for further growth. In addition to the investments for modernising the production facilities in Germany, expansion of the production network abroad is also in full swing: “In Romania, we have laid the foundation stone for the expansion of our production facility,” said Eckstein, Chief Operating Officer. “In Brazil we have already purchased a new modern production facility, and in Slovenia our joint venture with our partner Iskra has already begun production.” Logistics are also being restructured: “The reorganisation will make our logistics fit for future growth,” explains Eckstein. Around five million euros will be invested in Detmold for this purpose.
Targeted employee development
Weidmüller currently employs around 4,900 men and women around the world, of which just under 1,900 are based at the headquarters in Detmold. “In recent years, we have created some 300 new jobs in Detmold,” said Köhler. In 2014, a total of 45 young people began their training at Weidmüller. Of the 21 trainees who graduated this year, three were honoured amongst the year's best by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Lippe Detmold, as was the case last year. “Awards like this make us proud and demonstrate the high quality of our training, and not least of our instructors,” said Köhler. “During the current period of demographic change, there have been fewer graduates, which exacerbates the skills shortage and makes high-quality education increasingly important and a flagship for companies.”
“We are aware of our responsibility towards people”
In addition to promoting young talent, the electrical engineering specialist is also involved in a number of initiatives at a regional level. The company attaches great importance to its participation in various committees such as the ‘it's OWL’ leading-edge cluster, the CIIT or promoting the regional economy, such as through its involvement in the Chance Lippe vocational training association, the ‘Standortsicherung’ educational and cultural foundation and Family Support Lippe (FABEL), as well as cooperation with numerous schools in the region: “We are a globally-oriented Group and at home in the world's markets,” said Köhler. “However, as a family business, we are also fully aware of our responsibility towards people and take an active part in social activities.”
Topical themes should also ensure further growth in 2015
Industry 4.0, energy efficiency and sustainability have been the dominant industry topics over the past twelve months. “In this regard, we offer our customers innovative components to create appropriate solutions, and also use them in our own company,” says Weidmüller CFO Harald Vogelsang. “In 2014, we received, amongst other things, the prestigious ‘GreenTec Award’ for our implementation of measures for designing energy-efficient production processes.” As part of a special trainee project, ‘energy scouts’ at Weidmüller are on the look-out for cases of unnecessary energy consumption: “The efforts of our trainees were rewarded with second place in the ‘OWL Energy Scouts’ competition organised by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce,” explains Vogelsang.
Making a forecast for the coming year is difficult. Many economic institutions are in the process of marking down their figures, while political uncertainties and crises provide for a generally unstable situation on the world's markets: “It is very difficult at the moment to estimate how things will develop. The ZVEI expects growth of three percent in Germany,” said Köhler. “What is certain is that we are well-positioned with regard to the key themes of Industry 4.0, energy efficiency and sustainability.” For this reason, the Executive Board expects Weidmüller to achieve sales growth in mid-single digits in 2015.
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