Annual press conference: Despite turbulence, further stable growth in 2016
New commercial leadership at KIRCHHOFF Automotive
16. October 2017
FAUN acquires PB Environnement
16. October 2017

This year’s political and economic turbulence inevitably had an effect on turnover. However, the Kirchhoff Group has come through these troubled times in the world with continued stable growth.

This year, the KIRCHHOFF Group, with its four business segments Automotive, Ecotec, Mobility and WITTE Tools, will achieve a turnover of nearly 2 billion euros, which is 8% more than the previous year. The KIRCHHOFF Group currently employs approximately 11,500 people in 51 plants across 18 countries.

Thanks to the healthy global economy and the stable sales figures in the automobile industry,KIRCHHOFF Automotive expects to achieve a 7% increase in turnover to reach 1.45 billion euros. KIRCHHOFF Automotive employs nearly 9,000 people worldwide.

At the start of December, the internationally active automotive components supplier from South Westphalia also took over the remaining shares of the Canadian company Van Rob Inc. from its company founder and co-shareholder, Peter van Schalk. This completed KIRCHHOFF Automotive’s integration into the global corporate network, which had started in 2011 (further information on this is available in a separate press release).

In this context, a new worldwide management structure was implemented, in order to pool global competencies effectively and efficiently.

KIRCHHOFF Automotive achieved a growth of approximately 8% in Europe and thus stands above the growth rate for passenger car sales of 7% in Western Europe. In the NAFTA region, the sales figures remain static at the level of the previous year. The Chinese automobile market is continuing to see double digit growth at 20%, which is also reflected in the expansions to our locations in China. In October, nearly 263,000 new passenger cars were registered in Germany, making a total of 2.8 million cars since the start of the year. This is an increase of nearly 5% compared to the same period in the previous year. In the commercial vehicle sector, light-weight vehicles are particularly in demand (vans) – sales in this sector have grown by 10% in Germany. In contrast, we are experiencing a fall in demand for heavy-duty vehicles over 6 tonnes, sales of which stand at +4%. Overall, the total global production of passenger cars and commercial vehicles has shown a positive balance in 2016. Forecasts for 2017 are also positive.

As a result of this development the company invested in new highly automated production technologies at many of its locations. In the American plants this means that a range of new product lines can be implemented in the context of large customer orders. In China, the world’s biggest automobile market, demand continues to grow for lightweight solutions made of aluminium to produce body parts. This is also reflected in the large number of new orders which the Chinese plant in Suzhou has received, particularly from its customer Chery Jaguar Land Rover. In the autumn, the second pressing plant in China went into operation in northern Shenyang, and this will produce components for BMW in the future. With the new sales office in Seoul, Korea, the company plans to continue to intensify contacts with its customers Hyundai, Kia and also GM Korea.

The situation in the European plants is also proving to be highly satisfactory. In Poland, a new plant is starting up in Gniezno, which, as a JIT plant, supplies the VW plant that has recently been opened in Wrzesnia, where the VW Crafter is assembled. In addition, the fifth press hardening line in Gliwice in Poland has gone into operation, while the plant for assembling large machines has been expanded in Mielec. In Esztergom in Hungary, a new logistics centre has been set up and the infrastructure has been improved.

KIRCHHOFF Automotive’s locations in Iserlohn and Attendorn in Germany are also continuing to achieve increasing levels of turnover. Employing 800 people, of whom 37 are apprentices, the plant in Attendorn will achieve a turnover of 144 million euros. That is an increase of 15% compared to the previous year. The locations in Iserlohn and Hagen, where 670 people are employed, including 35 apprentices, will achieve a turnover of 150 million euros in total in 2016. A new welding process is being used in Iserlohn to produce the cross member framework for the Daimler Actros; this makes it possible to achieve an economically efficient welding speed and maintain the highest quality. Investment has been made in a new welding system and the related peripheral equipment for another customer project starting in January 2017. In Attendorn, wheel well strengthening units are being produced for the Audi A4 and A5 on a new speed welding cell. A range of new projects have been successfully set up, for VW, Porsche and Daimler among other companies, but in particular for the VW Tiguan and Touran models, and these are producing high volumes, despite the VW diesel crisis. We are particularly proud of a series of accolades from major car manufacturers. These include the Volvo Group Purchasing Supplier Award for outstanding service and consistent improvement presented to the KIRCHHOFF Automotive plant in Iserlohn. General Motors and Ford have also certified several plants for providing high quality service as suppliers.

Geopolitical circumstances and the economic situation are becoming increasingly complex and volatile on a global scale. It is therefore all the more important to recognise current trends at an early stage and to create a high level of flexibility and diversification in both our customer and product portfolios. This is a strength that the KIRCHHOFF Group has been demonstrating for centuries. For a long time, the Research and Development departments have been focusing on issues such as the following: Electric mobility, autonomous driving, networking, lightweight construction and the reduction of CO2 emissions. “These issues will have a decisive influence on our cars of the future and therefore also on our products and the way they are manufactured. This is a challenge that we are happy to accept,” the Managing Partner J. Wolfgang Kirchhoff said at the press briefing.

Added technological value through vision and innovation

KIRCHHOFF Ecotechas managed to increase its turnover by 10% this year. This included the FAUN Group’s acquisition of Provence Bennes (PB) Environnement, a superstructure manufacturer from Lambesc in the South of France. PB Environnement specialises in the production of light-weight refuse disposal vehicles made of aluminium. By integrating PB Environnement into the group, FAUN is expanding its product range and strengthening its international service network.

The brands ZOELLER, FAUN and HIDRO-MAK presented new products at IFAT, the leading trade fair for the industry. For the German suppliers, the focus was on the new side loader version. They presented a new system for removing below-ground containers using side loaders or also the space-saving waste disposal of stationary 3.2 m³ containers using side loader systems, as deployed in Spain and South America. ZOELLER has expanded its range of lifters with the Delta 2316 Premium model and, with CLEAN OPTION, offers a piece of equipment for rear loaders, which significantly reduces the loading personnel’s exposure to dust, germs and odours. The Turkish company HIDRO-MAK, for the first time as part of the KIRCHHOFF Group, presented a new rear loader. As a result of the continuing unsettled geopolitical situation, the company is focusing on opening up new markets, such as those in South America or Australia. In the sweeper segment, FAUN has developed a superstructure sweeper, with its VIAJET 4 model, which is intended for the American market to supplement the larger 6 m³ version. This vehicle is deployed in the suburbs in particular. The service network has been further developed in all companies, in order to meet the customers’ requirements for perfect service and prompt supply of replacement parts. The ZOELLER Gruppe has opened a new assembly plant for lifting systems in the Czech Republic.

Under the catch phrase Industry 4.0, FAUN, ZOELLER and HIDRO-MAK are addressing the question of what waste logistics will be like in the future. The challenge here is to break away from the companies’ current product-based ideas and to comprehend the needs of the future in the field of waste logistics. Saving time, increased comfort and personal freedom are key requirements in the private domain, and technological and logistics solutions are required in the commercial sector. It is possible to imagine scenarios where refuse collection vehicles play new roles in the future, waste containers report themselves as full and waste disposal vehicles only call at a property when needed. “We must continue to develop further, to digitalise the process of waste logistics and to create the trends of the future in conjunction with our customers. “For if we recognise the trends too late, we and our customers will lose business,” said Dr. Johannes F. Kirchhoff, Managing Partner of the KIRCHHOFF Group regarding the challenges of the future.

KIRCHHOFF Mobilityhas developed further over the past year. The new locations have been particularly well integrated. As a result of the difficulties in recruiting personnel in Southern Germany, the Mobility division separated from the Kirchdorf location. Now there are 10 locations operating in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, plus a cooperation facility in Dresden.

At the end of the year, REHA Group Automotive GmbH & Co. KG and Jelschen GmbH will merge with KIRCHHOFF Mobility GmbH & Co. KG, and Pruckner GmbH in Tresdorf near Vienna will be renamed KIRCHHOFF Mobility GmbH. The division will then emerge jointly under the umbrella of KIRCHHOFF Mobility and the individual locations will be more easily recognisable for all customers. At the same time the Mobility division network will be leaner and stronger.

Through the extension of the product range, e.g. with the new VW T6 Colorado, which has a floor set 130 mm lower, or the Ford Tourneo Connect with its weightless flexible ramp (SLF ramp), interesting vehicles were presented that meet the needs of drivers or passengers, as well as families, or are suitable for use as taxis. In addition, we have been able to consolidate our cooperation with the vehicle manufacturers through premium and other preferential partnerships.

WITTE Tools presented itself at the Cologne International Hardware Fair with its new brand image and the addition of pliers to its product range. In addition, two product lines were relaunched and further new lines were launched onto the market for our OEM customers. Investments were made in production, including a new processing centre and a laser printing plant.

To make progress in the industry, it is now a question of implementing the infrastructural prerequisites for digitalisation, mobility, trade and financing, said Arndt G. Kirchhoff, Managing Partner and CEO of KIRCHHOFF Holding. “Our company and social partners have the joint task of explaining the transition to people, to our employees in the workplace. We must see change as an opportunity and use it as such. We believe that we will only succeed in all of this if our approach is based on the strong values of democracy, human rights and freedom of speech.”

Values and tradition are also fundamental to the KIRCHHOFF Group. The shareholders of the Kirchhoff entrepreneurial family look to the coming year with optimism and continue to envisage good prospects for all business areas. The KIRCHHOFF Group expects a growth in turnover of approximately 5% to achieve a total of 2.1 million euros in 2017.


PDF press report: Pressrelease_stable_growth_in_2016_V1.0