Renewed sales growth despite tougher market conditions
The Höchst-based hardware specialist Blum can once again look back on an exceptionally good fiscal year, closing the 2021/22 fiscal year as of June 30, 2022, with an 11.2 percent increase in sales and group sales of 2,643.65 million euros. This corresponds to an increase in sales of 266 million compared to the previous year.
Philipp Blum, Managing Director of Julius Blum GmbH, emphasized during today’s press conference that global demand for kitchens and furniture remains at a high level despite the tense economic situation. “The homing trend, living and furnishing, was again high on consumers’ minds last year. We see a really long-term, resilient trend of willingness to invest in a high-quality furnished home,” says Philipp Blum
Despite all the economic adversity with the Corona pandemic – which again played a major role -, problematic material availability, permanently rising material prices and, most recently, Russia’s declaration of war on Ukraine, Blum managed to increase sales in almost all markets. “In Europe, the German, Italian and UK markets did very well,” reports Philipp Blum. “Despite ongoing, very restrictive lockdowns in China, the Asia-Pacific region grew as a sales market for us. We are feeling a slowdown in Eastern Europe, not least because we have stopped deliveries to Russia, even though we have our own subsidiary there – and yet sales in Eastern Europe increased overall. The South American markets are suffering from more difficult transport conditions with a lack of containers and ships, increased logistics costs and the like, and yet we had growth there as well.”
Blum is currently benefiting from the fact that strategic investments are regularly made worldwide. “Wherever a market allows, we will produce regionally on a fully integrated basis. At the same time, this makes us a bit independent of general logistics problems and rising prices.” In the past fiscal year, 339 million euros were invested in the expansion of production facilities, as well as regional exhibitions at the 33 subsidiaries, improved logistics producers and the like. The Vorarlberg-based family business made 66 percent of its investments in its home region, and 34 percent internationally. Poland is a good example: The location developed in the past from a logistics hub to production, in the fall of 2023, another production expansion should be completed and also in China, despite all the challenges, a new plant with 60,000 square meters could “go online” this spring.
Another investment focus for Blum is decoupling from fossil fuels. “This will not happen overnight, and in many places fundamental technical developments are still lacking,” affirms co-managing director Martin Blum. “And yet we want to set a good example and are giving thought to many areas, currently especially how and where we can make ourselves completely independent of Russian gas.” Activities in renewable energies on the part of Blum are diverse and range from a continuous conversion of the 13 internal shuttle trucks to bio-gas, the use of solar energy and hydropower as well as heat recovery in the plants. “In Vorarlberg, Plants 7 and 8 are already operating completely independently of fossil fuels,” says Martin Blum.
Despite all the economic difficulties, Blum is happy to think in terms of innovative products. “As a company, we have to have resilience, be flexible and score points with creativity – the last few months have shown that again,” Philipp Blum reports. “It was great to see how many places our new products were installed in trendy kitchens at ‘Eurocucina’. This shows us that we are still on the right track with our developments. That we must not only think about the problems, but still think about storage space and outstanding design.”
The “Revego” pocket system offers new design options for rooms and was strongly represented among Blum’s customers in Milan. The hardware manufacturer is confident about the marketing of this new product. Also that of its latest box system “Merivobox” – with just a few components, this platform enables a wide range of pull-out variants with consistent processing and assembly. In the area of flap systems, both the new “Aventos top” family with numerous new functions and the integrated hardware solution “Aventos HKi” for design-oriented furniture are about to be launched. The “Onyx Black” color for conventional fittings is also running very successfully, virtually merging with the other materials to form a single unit, especially with the trend towards dark surfaces. The Vorarlberg-based family business also sees great potential for innovative hardware solutions in the future: “We are working on ways to intelligently electrify drawers. To be able to covertly charge cell phones, for example, or to play with light in this area.”
Worldwide, 9,422 employees are already committed to being a reliable partner to international Blum customers. 6,981 of them work in Austria, and 644 were recently added worldwide. “It is pleasing to note that in recent months, thanks to the expansion of our manufacturing capacities and the additional employees, we have succeeded in significantly shortening delivery times again for many product groups,” informs Philipp Blum.
It is precisely the high inflation and the ongoing price increases in everyday life that the Vorarlberg family business is observing with concern “People are currently thinking carefully about what they spend their money on. The fragile situation of international supply chains and transport logistics as well as the strongly fluctuating raw material prices also remain a challenge,” says Philipp Blum. The company is satisfied with the order situation and, despite everything, remains cautiously optimistic about further developments.