KBA Reports Jump in Press Orders
In the print media industry KBA is considered an engine of innovation and technological advances. Cost-cutting initiatives notwithstanding, last year investment in research and development exceeded 4 percent of total group sales. At the end of the year the Wall Street Journal’s Patent Scorecard™ for heavy industrial equipment in the USA ranked KBA 24th among the top 50.
Export level nudges 90 percent – Asia and the Pacific overtake Europe
Although domestic sales started to revive, KBA’s export level hit a historic high of 88.5 percent (2009: 84.5 percent). But with economies in southern Europe and other parts of the EU continuing to struggle, the proportion of group sales generated in Europe (excluding Germany) dropped to 28.5 percent, well below the historic average of 50 percent-plus.
For the first time in KBA’s 194-year history, sales to the rest of Europe, traditionally the group’s biggest market, were surpassed by sales to Asia and the Pacific, which accounted for 29.4 percent of the total. Brisk demand in China for sheetfed presses was a major contributory factor. This shift in demand towards the Far East is seen throughout the German engineering industry.
Despite a perceptible lift in sales of batch-produced presses in North America, slack demand for newspaper web presses caused the proportion of the group total generated in this region to slide from 13.9 percent to 10 percent. However, sales to the threshold markets of Latin America and Africa soared, pushing up the regional total from 12.1 percent in 2009 to 20.6 percent.
Market-driven payroll adjustments
At the end of the year the Group workforce totalled 6,419, down 550 from the same time the previous year and 1,700 fewer than before the crisis. The payroll cuts necessitated by diminishing market and sales volumes were implemented in a socially responsible manner to minimise the impact on employees. When consolidation is complete the group payroll will be approximately 25 percent smaller than before. Even so, the group continues to invest heavily in staff training and qualifications. The training ratio rose from 5.8 percent in 2009 to 6.5 percent.