At its Annual General Meeting, KION Group reflected on a financial year in which the Group managed to navigate the coronavirus pandemic in robust shape: “The KION Group has remained on course even through choppy waters. Our structure is resilient and we operate with a focus on the future,” said Gordon Riske, Chief Executive Officer of KION Group AG, in his report to shareholders. The encouraging results for the first quarter of 2021, published by the Group at the end of April, provide very solid foundations for the current year.
“Our KION 2027 strategy, our resilient financial position, and our flexibility in capitalizing on market potential are paying off,” emphasised Riske. “We are now better positioned than ever and remain on-track for growth.”
The CEO paid tribute to the hard work of the Group’s more than 36,000 employees in the last financial year: “The pandemic has also brought tremendous personal challenges and stresses for our employees. I am therefore all the more impressed by the extraordinary commitment of our teams. In a situation unlike anything that anyone of us had ever experienced, we all pulled together.”
Riske added that it had been an enormous challenge to keep the Group’s supply chains going in order to ensure that it was ultimately able to deliver to its customers. “And sometimes, we are still having to operate in difficult circumstances when we provide services to our customers, and when we install new systems and bring them on line,” Riske pointed out.
The Company always regards the health and safety of every single employee as its number one priority. In early March 2020, the KION Group developed and implemented a package of health and safety measures. Riske explained that these measures were adapted continuously to reflect changes in the course of the pandemic and new scientific findings.
Growing demand for material handling technologies
2020 also created opportunities for the KION Group: The boom in e-commerce coupled with automation technology in warehouse logistics boosted growth in the Supply Chain Solutions segment. Software-driven solutions for global supply chains proved to be an important stabilising factor. The Group’s structure with two strong operating segments, Industrial Trucks & Services and Supply Chain Solutions, has proven its worth.
“The challenges were – and still are – immense,” said Riske. “And yet we still managed to increase the value of our order intake by 3.6% year-on-year to around €9.4 billion in 2020. That is a new record for the KION Group. And our employees are rightly very proud of that!” Despite the pandemic, the Group continued to invest in bringing new products to market, expanding global production capacity, and developing the sales and service network, in order to ensure that the business is well positioned for the future.
Key trends: digitalisation and automation
In his report to shareholders, Gordon Riske also emphasised the significance of industry trends in the fields of automation, digitalisation, and energy. “We all see it, every day: The digital transformation and the increasing degree of automation are game changers in intralogistics. The acquisitions of Dematic in 2016 and the software company DAI last year have thus been tremendous additions to our business.” Riske expects that the trend toward fully automated warehouses will gather further pace. He explains that rapid, reliable, and efficient supply chains are the backbone of the web economy.
New energy systems were also a particular focus of research and development in the KION Group. From internal combustion engines to various types of electric drive systems and fuel cells – the products of the brand companies Linde Material Handling, STILL, Baoli, Fenwick, and OM, along with Dematic’s material handling solutions, offer customers the full range of drive technologies: “Our intelligent trucks, our data management, and our automated storage systems keep supply chains running smoothly all over the world – which is particularly important at the current time as we continue to live with the pandemic,” said Riske.
Sustainability is an integral element
Aspects of sustainability are having a growing influence on the way in which businesses are operated. In his report, Riske highlighted their importance: “We are taking responsibility.” The KION Group further developed its strategy in the past financial year with a focus on people, products, and processes, as set out in the recently published sustainability report.” We aim to be an employer where people feel motivated and recognised,” said Riske.
“Health and safety in the workplace is absolutely fundamental for us.” The KION Group’s products and solutions are highly efficient and could thus improve not only the environmental footprint of customers but also their safety. And last but not least, the Group’s processes have been designed in a way that limits their impact on the climate as much as possible.