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Innovation and Internationalization Driving Röchling's Growth

  • Increase in Sales to a Record EUR 1.2 Billion
  • Largest Investment Program in Röchling’s History
  • Financial Position Remains Solid
  • Expansion of Medical Technology through the Acquisition of Advent Tool & Mold, USA
  • Acquisition of MAYWO Kunststoff in Bad Grönenbach-Thal, Germany

Mannheim, Germany, June 12, 2013... In a challenging economic environment, the Röchling Group got off to an encouraging start in the 2013 fiscal year. Sales reached EUR 305.7 million, exactly the same level as in the first quarter of 2012. Incoming orders of EUR 316.0 million were slightly higher. At the end of the first quarter of 2013, the Röchling Group had 7,305 employees. “We are emphatically pursuing internationalization,” said Georg Duffner, CEO of the Röchling Group. “This applies to the USA as well as to China, Brazil, and India. In Japan, we also see good opportunities to strengthen our market position.”

2012 was not an easy fiscal year for the Röchling Group. Economic conditions in the Eurozone deteriorated progressively as the down-turn in economically weaker countries increasingly spread to the core countries. In Germany, the gross domestic product grew by 0.7 percent, less than in the two previous years. Business with other European countries declined. Robust exports to Asia and particularly the USA were not able to compensate for this completely.

Nevertheless, the Röchling Group increased sales by 5.2 percent to EUR 1,192.8 million, surpassing the previous record of EUR 1,133.5 million in 2011. Incoming orders rose by 5.9 percent to EUR 1,195.7 million.

2012 was again characterized by robust investments in future growth. With an investment volume of EUR 140.8 million, the Röchling Group exceeded the previous record of 2011. “Despite very high investment programs in the last two years, the financial position at Röchling remains very solid,” emphasized Marc Trube, CFO of the Röchling Group.

The number of employees at the Röchling Group rose in the 2012 fiscal year – driven primarily by acquisitions – by 9.2 percent from 6,559 to 7,165.

High-Performance Plastics: Incoming Orders Increase by 5.6 Percent

Sales in the High-Performance Plastics division increased in the previous year by 2.7 percent to EUR 593.7 million. Incoming orders rose by 5.6 percent to EUR 601.1 million. The number of employees grew by 14 percent or 388 to 3,159.

Investments amounted to EUR 78.4 million. The focus was on acquiring new companies: With the acquisition of the injection molding company Advent Tool & Mold Inc., Rochester, NY (USA), in May 2012, Röchling is consistently pursuing its strategy of further expansion in the area of plastics products for medical technology. Röchling Advent Tool & Mold is a full-service specialist in the manufacturing of injection-molded precision plastic parts for medical technology and electronic components, with particular expertise in mold construction for unconventional product solutions.

In September 2012, Röchling acquired the southern German plastics processor MAYWO Kunststoff GmbH in Bad Grönenbach-Thal. Using an extrusion process, MAYWO manufactures plastic sheets and films made from the materials acrylonitrile butadiene styrene copolymers (ABS) and polystyrene (PS) for the thermoforming industry.

Emphasis was also placed on the expansion of production at several sites, particularly with new extruders and presses: At the new plant in Itupeva São Paulo (Brazil), the first sheet extruder was put into operation after an eleven-month preparatory period. In Vadodara (India), Röchling acquired a property and began to construct a new plant there for thermoplastics.

In Troisdorf (Germany), a new logistics center ensures even more efficient turnover of goods. It leverages synergies between the Haren and Troisdorf sites and creates room for new production equipment.

At the site in Lützen (Germany), a new administrative building with an area of 580 square meters and a storage facility with 1,250 square meters were commissioned.

“Plastics are the material of the 21st century,” said Ludger Bartels, COO of the Röchling Group. “In the coming decades, technical plastics with customized material properties will take over new application areas and replace traditional materials in many places.”

The ever-growing range of extraordinary application areas and innovations demonstrates the potential of the Röchling Group. For example, Röchling technology is involved in saving Venice. Sliding sheets made from Polystone® M support the history-making “MOSE” project, whose 78 enormous flood gates are intended to protect the endangered world heritage site from destruction by flooding in the future.

For the feeder wagons of an Australian feed producer, Röchling developed a special two-layer sheet made from Polystone® P copolymer natural and Polystone® P copolymer grey, which satisfies the requirements for contact with food on the inside and is particularly resistant to intensive solar radiation on the outside.

In conveyor and automation technology, two new high-performance materials LubX® C and LubX® S with outstanding dry running properties ensure higher process stability, lower energy consumption for equipment, and almost completely smooth movement of the conveyor belts.

Trafoboard® accommodates the wishes of many transformer manufacturers for large-scale components. Since 2012, it has been possible to produce rings made from a single piece of high-voltage insulation material with diameters up to 3,100 millimeters in accordance with the design preferences of customers.

Automotive Plastics: Sales Rise by 7.9 Percent to EUR 600 Million

In the Automotive Plastics division, the Röchling Group recorded a 7.9 percent increase in sales, which reached EUR 599.2 million. Incoming orders rose by 6.2 percent to EUR 594.7 million. The Group recorded a significant increase in investments, which rose by 40.4 percent to EUR 61.9 million. In particular, plants in Worms and Wackersdorf (Germany), Pitesti (Romania), and Suzhou (China) benefited from this development. Another portion of investments flowed into the expansion of the plant in Akron (USA). On June 20, 2012, Röchling Automotive opened a new plant in the Chinese city of Chengdu. The 13,000-square meter site manufactures controlled shutter systems, intake manifolds, and compression-molded parts for underbodies and engine compartments. The number of employees in the Automotive Plastics division rose by 6 percent to 3,974. The expansion of staff was concentrated primarily in the growth markets of North America and Asia.

Among the most important events in the 2012 fiscal year was the expansion of the Brazilian plant in Itupeva with three large orders for VW Brazil. For the new production in Akron, Ohio, the Group closed a supply agreement with General Motors for annually equipping 480,000 Chevrolet Equinox, Captiva, and GMC Terrain model vehicles with underbody packages. In addition, there are 1.6 million air flaps for the Chevrolet, Opel, Buick, Holden, and GMC brands. Of that amount, 400,000 are manufactured in Akron and 1.2 million in Suzhou. Röchling Automotive received additional large orders from Nissan for the Qashqai, Altima hybrid, and Murano models as well as for all Renault models based on the same platform.

Additional successes are several large Volkswagen orders and the first serial order for the Audi A8 and another order for the Q5. In addition, there are water-cooled degas bottles for the A4, A5, Q7, VW Touareg, and Porsche Cayenne models. In the future, Röchling will produce engine undershields, underbody panels, and rear diffusors for the Ford S-Max and Galaxy models. In its luxury-class models, Volvo uses air flaps and degas bottles from Röchling Automotive. BMW and Mercedes also placed other large orders with Röchling.

Participation in the development of the first Fiat Panda running on natural gas and hydrogen confirms the innovative strength of the Röchling Group. New glass and plastic fiber materials suppress noises and provide insulation, especially against heat and cold.

The Company received two coveted prizes for outstanding products: Ford bestowed an air flap system with the “New Consumer – Focused Technology” award. The Society of Plastic Engineers awarded prizes for two Röchling products in the powertrain category: first place for a VW intake manifold and second place for an Audi return charge-air tube.

At the eCarTec trade fair in Munich, the Group demonstrated its expertise in the development of applications and system solutions for electric and hybrid vehicles. The focus of attention was on acoustics, lightweight construction, thermal management, and cooperation in research projects with Audi and Daimler, among others.

New Products for New Markets

For the current 2013 fiscal year, Duffner sees a good chance that the Eurozone will benefit from an increase in worldwide demand in the second half of the year. “We are proceeding full speed ahead on our internationalization course and boosting our independence from regional market developments,” he stated in explaining the strategy of the Röchling Group. “At the same time, we are promoting growth with new products for new markets.”