No matter what we are doing, what we are thinking of doing, what we are planning to change: We always have the interests of our customers in mind. We always ask ourselves: How will this benefit them? The aim is to develop new solutions and products for precisely those situations in which our customers are still lacking an ideal solution. Changes make sense, and are necessary, if they make our customers’ day-to-day work easier. That is why we focus on understanding our customers’ everyday working lives, and working with them to find out what they really need. It is easy to get distracted. In our complex world, where more and more opportunities seem to be arising at an ever faster pace, it is extremely difficult to recognize what is essential: And the same goes for our tradespeople. If they are able to confirm, without hesitation, that “Würth is unbeatable in terms of service and quality”, if they are absolutely convinced that Würth is the “W”ay forward, then that means that we have achieved what we set out to do and have created added value as a result of the changes that we have implemented.
In 2019, the Würth Group generated sales of EUR 14.3 billion and achieved an operating result of EUR 770 million with its 78,686 employees worldwide. This puts us in an ideal position to address the big issues that are on all of our agendas: By 2050, the aim is for Europe to be the first climate-neutral corner of the globe. The tense global trade situation is putting pressure on economic and, as a result, on growth expectations. The shortage of skilled workers is quite rightly calling on us to look beyond our own borders and think in terms of open societies in an open world. At the same time, the threat posed by the coronavirus has yet again shown that we need to be flexible and fast in our response to new developments. Although situations like these present us with particular challenges, I am sure that the experience gleaned from the financial crisis of 2009, for example, will help us continue to successfully shape the future of the Würth Group.
The Advisory Board of the Würth Group held four extensive meetings in 2019. These meetings were all based on the reports from the Central Managing Board members covering the business situation, projections, and opportunity and risk management. All transactions subject to approval pursuant to the company statutes were submitted to the Advisory Board for approval in good time and considered at length; in urgent cases, resolutions were passed by means of a circular procedure.
In 2019, the work of the Advisory Board was characterized to a considerable degree by the global political uncertainty and the economic implications that it was already starting to unfold. The Advisory Board was on hand to provide the Central Managing Board with advice on such matters. One of the four meetings was a separate strategy meeting for the Advisory Board together with the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group. The Advisory Board also addressed issues related to digitalization in detail and conducted its sixth efficiency assessment in December 2019 to evaluate the effectiveness of its own work.
The Advisory Board continuously monitored the work of the Central Managing Board and provided it with support in its management duties, in the strategic further development of the company, and with regard to key individual issues. In addition, the Chairwoman of the Advisory Board was provided with regular information on current developments and relevant events within the company outside of board meetings in reports by members of the Central Managing Board.
Each of the Advisory Board’s three committees (Personnel, Audit and Investment Committee) met three times in 2019. These meetings serve to increase the efficiency of the Advisory 25 Board, carrying out preparatory work on complex issues. The committee chairs each report regularly and in depth to the Advisory Board as a whole on the work of the committees.
On 21 April 2020, the Advisory Board’s Audit Committee took an extensive look at the 2019 consolidated financial statements, including the Group management report, as well as the audit report prepared by Ernst & Young, in which an unqualified opinion was issued. The Audit Committee examined these documents and approved them. The Audit Committee’s work in 2019 also focused on the compliance and risk management systems and the impact of legal developments on future audits of the annual financial statements.
The Advisory Board’s Investment Committee assessed the investment projects that are subject to approval and classified them according to urgency and significance. In addition, the Committee dealt in greater depth with investment controlling, in particular with a review of major investments made and selected acquisitions. The Würth Group will remain true to its investment culture as a prerequisite for the company’s growth. The Advisory Board approved the investment and financial plan of the Würth Group for the 2020 fiscal year at its meeting on 13 December 2019 based on the proposal submitted by the Investment Committee.
The Advisory Board’s Personnel Committee dealt with all personnel measures falling within the Advisory Board’s area of responsibility at its meetings. The Committee focused on HR development and succession planning for managers, as well as on the structure of the company’s incentive and remuneration systems. The Personnel Committee has the power to pass resolutions regarding employment contracts and management remuneration.
The Advisory Board of the Würth Group would like to thank the Central Managing Board and the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group’s Family Trusts for the good working relationship, especially Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group’s Family Trusts. For the Würth Group, the 2019 fiscal year was characterized by global uncertainties. For this reason, we would particularly like to thank all employees for their strong commitment and drive, as well as all our customers and business partners for their loyalty to the Würth Group.
Chairwoman of the Advisory Board of the Würth Group