“We have successfully overcome one of the biggest crises in our company's history, the corona pandemic. At the same time, in the 100th year of our existence, the greatest opportunity for the further development of the Group has evolved – the acquisition of a majority stake in Ceratizit,” said Karlheinz Wex, Spokesman of the Plansee Group Executive Board at the annual press conference in Reutte.
While the Plansee Group held a 50 percent stake in the hard metal company Ceratizit until February 28, it now has full responsibility with the acquisition of the majority. “We have responded to this by reorganizing the entire Group. Duplicate structures are being cleaned up, and decision-making paths are now much clearer. The employees are following the path with great commitment. We expect this will result in greater market penetration and increasing market shares,” explained Wex.
The economic upturn since the beginning of the year also gives cause for optimism after a fiscal year that was anything but easy. While industries such as automotive, mechanical engineering and aviation declined due to the economic situation, Plansee recorded increasing demand from the semiconductor industry, consumer electronics and medical technology. Sales volumes did fall by 9 percent. However, due to the higher-value product mix, average selling prices increased compared to the previous year. This led to an overall decline in sales of six percent – from 1.38 billion euros to 1.29 billion euros.
Innovation as the key to success
The share of new products rose to 36 percent – an increase of 5 percentage points compared to the previous year. “In this difficult market environment, established products have come under price pressure due to weak demand. This has been countered by new and innovative products with many unique selling points and increasing demand,” says Executive Board member Dr. Wolfgang Köck. To this end, the Plansee Group invested 61 million euros in research & development last year. In the long term, the Plansee Group's target is to achieve a new product share of at least 30 percent of total sales. This figure measures sales of products that are less than 5 years old.
Plansee is also continuing to invest: A new logistics center is currently being built in Kempten, as well as a new production facility for hard metals and a new sintering plant for refractory metals in Breitenwang. The plant and machinery in Shanghai for consumer electronics products was significantly expanded. "In the past fiscal year, we again stuck to our key investments," says Dr. Wolfgang Köck. The Plansee Group spent a total of 153 million euros on buildings, infrastructure, equipment and mergers & acquisitions. The equity ratio remains rock solid. It rose from 61 to 63 percent, reaching a new high.
Well equipped for the future
The acquisition of a majority stake in Ceratizit announced in February has now been approved by the antitrust authorities. This means that the Plansee Group can now consolidate all Ceratizit sales on its balance sheet. Additional tailwind is coming from the market: In the first months of the new fiscal year, the Plansee Group recorded a significant increase in new orders.
The industrial portfolio
The Plansee Group's industrial portfolio includes all holdings of more than 20 percent. Sales in the portfolio declined last year. The portfolio companies achieved sales of 2.55 billion euros in fiscal year 2020/21. The number of employees remained almost constant. Worldwide, the Plansee Group employed 13,436 people as of February 28, 2021, with 2,356 employees in Austria.
A look back at the company's history
"Company founder Paul Schwarzkopf started in Reutte with a handful of products for the lighting industry and 15 employees," Karlheinz Wex recalled the beginnings of the Plansee Group. Those few products have grown into more than 75,000 products over the past 100 years. "And the 15 pioneers of powder metallurgy here in the Außerfern region have become 13,500 employees around the world," Wex said. "100 years ago, the Plansee Group was successful with tungsten wires for light bulbs; today, our biggest success driver is the semiconductor industry, which we support in the production of unimaginably powerful microchips," says Karlheinz Wex. Although markets and applications have changed, sometimes significantly, over the decades, the focus of the Plansee Group has always remained the same: the powder metallurgical processing of the materials molybdenum and tungsten. The history of the Plansee Group with all its ups and downs is told in a commemorative publication, which is available at www.plansee.com/100. A 20-minute film can also be viewed there, which looks back at the history of the Group in a mix of historical and feature film.