Size and power—these were two key aspects in the public eye in 2019. Who is the biggest, the fastest, the first? The worldwide battle against the coronavirus has made it more than clear that none of us can cross the finish line first in this global race.
Europe has become smaller, while trade conflicts have become larger. In the political arena, debates about particular individuals seem to have replaced the true purpose behind politics: namely developing ideas and solutions to tackle the most pressing challenges of our time. Our planet does not adopt a “German” perspective or think in terms of economic regions. Nature knows no boundaries and does not respect ownership claims either. Our planet belongs to nobody, meaning that it belongs to all of us. This means that globalization has presented us with a common task: making sure that our planet offers quality of life for the coming generations.
Let us find sensible, sustainable answers to the process of transformation that is manifesting in the new social, global and environmental policy issues facing us. Let us make use of all the technical and digital possibilities that our era has bestowed upon us in order to do so! Never before have we had so much choice. Let us pursue new avenues. Here at Würth, we want to talk about innovative and forward-looking solutions. And we want to turn them into a reality.
It is the conviction that we can achieve and change something that gives us a sense of purpose and answers the question of “why?”. It is precisely in today’s affluent society, in which we know that we actually have everything that we need, that the question of purpose is coming to the fore again. Simply owning things is no recipe for fulfillment. Growth and innovative power cannot be unleashed under pressure. Being part of something, sharing common values, becoming involved, making a contribution to something bigger, helping to shape change: This is how we motivate people and convince our employees to set out with us on new avenues towards a sustainable future.
Würth will be making changes to its ORSY® packaging in 2020. The decision to do away with the little plastic window will allow us to save 22.7 metric tons of plastic film throughout the Group every year and to recycle the empty boxes as waste paper, something that was not possible in the past due to the mix of materials used. This is a small, but deliberate contribution to the current debate surrounding moves to avoid plastic and save resources.
You might wonder what options are left to improve on a screw that was first conceived 75 years ago? In 2020, Würth will be launching the fourth generation of the ASSY® high-performance screw on the market. Inspired by our quest to always offer our customers the best solution, we asked them: “What would make the ASSY even better?” Graduate engineers, wood science and technology graduates, and mechanical engineers came together to tackle this very question and developed the ASSY®4, which does an even better job of delivering what tradespeople need in their day-to-day work with its patented RW drive, improved bit locking, more precise countersinking, and optimal tightening capabilities. This means that this innovation will contribute to both our economic success and to that of our customers.
...like Museum Würth 2, which will complete the Carmen Würth Forum with the second phase of the building. This adds a museum to the ensemble of buildings designed, and now extended, by David Chipperfield Architects, making key pieces of art from the Würth Collection available to the general public. Our cultural and social activities in particular bear testimony to our conviction that companies can contribute to creating a sense of purpose in the long term, offering guidance in our globalized world, which is growing together at an ever faster pace.
While some of the steps that we have taken might appear to be small ones, such as doing away with a plastic film or optimizing a screw, others stand out as great strides forward: a new museum. We have been taking what are sometimes very small steps day in and day out for 75 years now, together with our current workforce of more than 78,000 people and our more than 3.7 million customers across the globe, in the firm conviction that, by working together, we can make tremendous advancements even in very short periods of time.
Sales rose by 4.8 percent to EUR 14.3 billion in 2019, or by 4.2 percent after adjustments to reflect exchange rate effects. The Group’s operating result was down by 11.5 percent year-on-year to total EUR 770 million due to factors that left their mark on a large number of companies. Commodity prices played a key role in price developments, and we were unable to pass on the increases to our customers in full. The process of structural change in the automotive industry is also leaving its mark. As a supplier, this is a trend that is impacting us, too.
Particularly in these times that are very challenging for each and every one of us, in which we have to look after each other, regardless of the country or continent where we live, it is clear that nobody can shape the future alone. Rather, we all need to join forces. On this note, the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group would like to thank all of the company’s customers, each and every employee, the Councils of Confidence and Works Councils, the members of the Customer Advisory Boards, the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group’s Family Trusts, the Advisory Board, the Würth family, and especially Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth and Bettina Würth for the many steps we have taken together in this trusting relationship.
For the Central Managing Board
Chairman of the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group