Letter from the CEO
In 2022, we have once again positioned ourselves as a technology leader with numerous innovations. This is the foundation for the coming years.”
Sebastian Wolf, CEO
In this difficult environment, we initiated measures to cut costs and boost efficiency at all relevant production sites at an early stage. For example, at our headquarters in Leonding, we used short-time working for parts of the production in order to get back in sync with the supply chains, some of which had been interrupted. In the summer, we began building a limited number of largely standardized stock vehicles in Europe that can only be configured to a limited extent. This approach was very well received by our customers and we were able to sell almost all of these vehicles while they were still in production. This meant that we met the most urgent needs of the fire departments at short notice but also realized important progress in terms of standardization.
Despite the adverse circumstances, we presented our product innovations at the industry’s leading trade show Interschutz, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, and clearly presented ourselves as the industry’s technology leader. With our product developments, we laid the foundation for the coming years and answered the open questions of electric mobility for fire departments. The trade show also gave us the opportunity to get in touch with our customers in person again after two years of social distancing.
There are many reasons to look to the future with confidence. Our incoming orders reached a new record level in a weaker environment.
Sebastian Wolf, CEO
In addition to the internal measures, we raised our bid prices for new tenders in two steps in the reporting year, passing on the increased costs for starting products, raw materials and energy. Together with the price increases in 2021, these will be reflected primarily in the results for 2023 and 2024. More generally, I am convinced that the firefighting industry, like other sectors, will have to move toward dynamic pricing, for example in the form of indexing, due to the long lead times and high degree of individualization, which integrates such drastic changes in the environment as in the previous year and enables risk to be shared between clients and contractors.
There are many reasons to look to the future with confidence after the exceptional year of 2022. Above all, our products and services continue to enjoy strong demand. In a weaker economic environment and despite multiple price increases, incoming orders reached a new record level of € 1,230.0 million in the reporting year. All sales areas and segments, but in particular the NOMA area, the MENA area and Preventive Fire Protection, achieved significant growth. Over 95% of our customers come from the public sector, which did not cancel any orders even during the COVID-19 pandemic and actually invested counter-cyclically in many cases. Our order backlog at the end of the year amounted to € 1,469.7 million, also representing a historic high.
In the previous year, we seized the opportunity to acquire the half share in our American business held by our two longstanding partners and take over the US subgroup in full. This purchase offer gave us the strategic opportunity to integrate the American business more closely into the Group structures and expand its volume. Geographically, we see further growth potential in the major cities on the East and West Coasts with their vehicle fleets, as well as in components, equipment and service. With an annual procurement volume of over 6,000 vehicles and a uniform standards landscape, the US is the world’s largest single homogeneous market.
Revenues at the end of 2022 reached € 972.2 million, on par with the previous year. EBIT was negative at € -10.6 million following a recovery process in the fourth quarter, impacted by one-time effects such as the Interschutz trade show and the restructuring that has been initiated. In line with our dividend policy, which is based on the economic success of the company, we will therefore propose to the Annual General Meeting together with the Supervisory Board that no dividend be paid for 2022. However, this also means that in the current year we will once again intensify our management focus on operational excellence and give absolute priority to cash flow and earnings over revenues.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to our employees, who once again demonstrated their commitment and loyalty in the past year. I would like to thank you, our shareholders, for your understanding of our decision, and I look forward to continuing to rely on your trust in the coming months.
Sebastian Wolf, CEO