The Würth Group’s Business Year 2008: Sales record and second-best operating result in corporate history

  • Consolidated global sales volume rises by 3.9 percent to EUR 8.82 billion in 2008; the German Würth Group grows disproportionately by 6.2 percent to EUR 3.66 billion.
  • Second-highest operating result in corporate history: EUR 545 million (2007: EUR 640 million).
  • Over 62,000 employees worldwide at the end of the year.

Künzelsau. The multinational Würth Group attained another sales record and a high operating result in the business year 2008 despite the dawning economic crisis, creating a key financial foundation to cope with the economic situation, which is proving difficult worldwide.

Robert Friedmann, Chairman of the Central Managing Board: “Especially in the past business year, we have fought a good fight, especially when looking at the global upheavals in the final quarter of 2008. We, too, are expecting a marked sales decline for the current year. However, we remain ambitious and still aim to generate a positive operating result. To achieve this goal, we are intensively developing our worldwide markets while at the same time cutting costs in a lasting manner, thereby actively combating the crisis."

In an environment which proved difficult especially in the second half of the year, the Würth Group generated EUR 8.82 billion in 2008. Compared with the previous year, this corresponds to a sales growth of 3.9 percent or 5.1 percent adjusted for currency effects.

Up to the end of the third quarter 2008, the Würth Group was able to maintain a high growth speed. Until the end of September 2008, the Group’s sales growth stood at 6.3 percent (7.8 percent currency-adjusted) compared with the same period last year.

In the last three months of the year, business was affected all over the world by the massive deterioration of the global economic climate. Due to the sales decline of 3.5 percent in the final quarter, the growth of the annual sales volume was also slowed down considerably. “The sales decline in the final quarter of 2008 was mostly quantity-related,” Mr. Friedmann said.

The development of the German Würth Group was positive. With a sales rise by 6.2 percent in 2008 (total sales in Germany: EUR 3.66 billion), it made a sizeable contribution to the success of the overall Group. Up to and including September, an almost double-digit sales increase could be generated in Germany.

Outside of Germany, the Würth Group was able to attain a sales growth of 2.3 percent in 2008 (total sales volume outside of Germany: EUR 5.16 billion). The growth, which was lower than in the German group, is mostly due to the difficult situation in the core markets in the U.S., Spain and the U.K. as well as the unfavorable dollar exchange rate in the past business year. Adjusted for currency effects, the sales growth of the international Würth Group amounted to 4.1 percent.

Continuously high equity ratio

The worldwide leading trading business in the field of connecting and assembly technology also achieved the second-best operating result after 2007 in corporate history, coming up to EUR 545 million (2007: EUR 640 million).

In 2008, equity capital of the Würth Group went up by EUR 115 million to EUR 2.52 billion. The Würth Group thus still has an impressive equity ratio of 41.2 percent (preceding year: 42.3 percent), which still puts the company far above the average of European trading companies. “Our high equity ratio lays the foundations for a very solid financial standing, thus constituting a key strength in the currently difficult situation. It also helps us to strengthen our customers’ and suppliers’ trust in the Group,” said Mr. Friedmann. The “A” assessment by the leading rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings is further evidence of this solid financial foundation, with this rating having been awarded to the Würth Group consistently since 2003.

Worldwide capital expenditure of EUR 453 million

In the 2008 financial year, the Würth Group invested EUR 453 million. As in past years, the capital expenditure could be covered from the cash flow in its entirety.

The focus for capital expenditure was on expanding warehouse capacities and the branch office network in the Group’s sales companies and on technical equipment and plant and machinery in the production companies.

In Germany, the single most important market, the Würth Group invested EUR 240 million, corresponding to a hike by EUR 13 million compared with 2007.

Sales is the company’s heart and soul

In 2008, the number of employees in the Würth Group continued its decline by 1.4 percent to a total of 62,811 compared to the previous year.

At the end of 2008, the Würth Group employed 46,011 people outside of Germany (at the end of 2007: 47,139). In 2008, 240 new jobs were created in Germany within the Würth Group, stepping up the number of employees to 16,800 as of the end of the year.

The sales force is still the company’s heart and soul. As of 31 December 2008, the Würth Group had 30,831 employees in the sales force, thus remaining the world’s largest employer of permanently employed sales representatives.