Waiblingen, 9/19/2017 | Company press release
The STIHL Group’s revenue in the current year increased by 11.9 percent to 2.7 billion euros in the period from January to August. If foreign exchange rates had remained unchanged, growth would have been 10.7 percent. “We are accelerating our growth course with this double-digit increase. We have achieved a disproportionately strong increase in unit sales for cordless products in particular,” explained STIHL Executive Board Chairman Dr. Bertram Kandziora at the company’s fall press conference in Waiblingen. He emphasized: “We have the strength to continue growing strongly and want to expand our technological leadership.” STIHL is currently not only researching and developing intensively in the areas of cordless technology and connected products, but also wants to set new standards in gasoline-driven products. “At present we are working on the world’s first chainsaw with electronically controlled fuel injection,” reported the Executive Board Chairman. Further world firsts from the corporate group include the STIHL TS 440 cut-off machine with integrated QuickStop cutting wheel brake and the intelligently networked VIKING iMow TeaM robotic mower.
The US market and Western Europe were the main growth engines for the STIHL Group in the first eight months of this year. This can be attributed primarily to the strong demand for cordless products – from domestic as well as professional users. “The growth in unit sales in the cordless segment has been disproportionately high and is in the triple-digit range,” commented Dr. Kandziora. “However, we are also still strong in the gasoline-powered business. We are seeing double-digit percentage growth in sales here.” The Russian market has stabilized, and there has been a substantial rise in unit sales. A considerable increase in revenue has also been achieved in Asia. The STIHL Executive Board Chairman summarized: “Following the record revenue last year, we started the new season with confidence. Our expectations were actually exceeded and we have gained market share worldwide.” The increase in revenue led to more employees. The number of employees in the group rose by 3.6 percent to 15,222.
The market in Germany also continued on its growth course. Unit sales of STIHL and VIKING products grew significantly. “We are pleased to see the revival in the chainsaw market. Business with cordless power tools and VIKING iMow robotic mowers showed particularly dynamic development. Looking to fall 2017, we are confident that we will continue our growth with new products, attractive campaigns and the continuation of the ‘Super Saw Weeks’ in November,” explained Dr. Kandziora.
The revenue of German parent company, ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG, rose by 13.4 percent year-on-year to 760.56 million euros. The number of employees climbed 7.8 percent to 4,583. As at August 31, the workforce was 3,526 in Waiblingen, 304 in Ludwigsburg, 686 in Prüm-Weinsheim and 67 in Wiechs am Randen. Owing to the company’s strong growth, 81 temporary employees have been given permanent contracts of employment in the current year. “We expect that our need for skilled staff will increase in the course of digitalization and with the development of new products and business models,” said the Executive Board Chairman. For example, around 170 vacancies in the areas of batteries, electronics, IT and connected products alone are to be filled at the parent company in the near future.
“To make use of the opportunities offered to us by digitalization, we are reorganizing our structure. As well as a completely new Digitalization department, we have, for example, considerably enlarged the Development team, created positions for ‘smart solutions’ in project management and formed agile teams – all with the aim of developing products and services that offer our customers tangible added value,” said Dr. Kandziora.
VIKING develops connected products and presented a world first at the demopark trade fair in June: The iMow TeaM. This swarm concept makes it possible for up to ten MI 632 M robotic mowers to be interconnected and controlled with a single app. “Intelligent software connects the robotic mowers via a cloud system to form an iMow TeaM. For the first time ever this enables users to mow large areas of grass such as football pitches, golf courses, parks and outdoor pool areas, using several robotic mowers at the same time,” explained Dr. Kandziora. The smart robotic mowers automatically return to a docking station if it rains or the battery level is low.
In addition, STIHL is participating in the ACTIVATR startup program. In this program, experienced startup founders work in small teams with innovative staff at STIHL to develop new digital business ideas. “This new form of collaboration is already bearing fruit: Freiheit GmbH was founded in June,” reported Dr Kandziora. The startup aims to offer teams that are often out in the field a straightforward means of collaboration and documentation. The software solution developed will be commercially available at the end of October and will make it easier for trade businesses in particular to store operational information in a secure and well-structured way in a central location. This makes it possible for important information to be retrieved quickly and on a targeted basis, even while on the move.
In addition, STIHL is investing in the expansion of networks and expertise. In May, it invested in High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), which is the largest seed fund for financing young technology companies in Germany. The fund is broad-based in terms of the sectors it covers – from robotics and the Internet of Things to energy issues, medical technology to biotechnology, chemistry to software and e-commerce platforms. “Our investment means that we gain an overview of developments and trends in the startup scene and can support young, innovative companies. What’s more, it means we have the opportunity to enter into collaboration with startups,” explained the Executive Board Chairman.
From 2019 onward, the entire VIKING product range will be distributed under the STIHL brand. Dr. Kandziora: “If we look at the broad product portfolio and the quantity of individual components and spare parts, it quickly becomes clear that the rebranding is a mammoth task. We will therefore complete the brand changeover one step at a time and gradually convert the product range to STIHL.” It starts with the VIKING cordless lawn mower range, which will be fully available under the STIHL brand right from the 2018 season. “The batteries in the lawn mowers are compatible with products in the STIHL COMPACT and PRO cordless power systems. This means that the brand changeover is accelerating our overall growth in cordless products,” explained the Executive Board Chairman.
The company expects the brand changeover to produce a considerable increase in unit sales and revenue which will also further strengthen the VIKING Langkampfen plant in Austria. “Langkampfen will continue to be a constituent part of the STIHL worldwide production network and play an important role as an assembly facility,” stressed the STIHL Executive Board Chairman. As a center of excellence for ground-guided garden power tools, the plant will manufacture and develop products together with the parent company. Dr. Kandziora: “We are already charting the way forward for more growth and will therefore expand the Langkampfen site.” The groundbreaking ceremony for the building extension in Austria will take place on September 29.
Other new STIHL and VIKING products for domestic and professional users
The World Championship of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® series returns to Lillehammer: The international season finale of the premier class in lumberjack sports will take place in Håkons Hall on November 3 and 4. More than 100 athletes from over 20 countries will be there to compete in the team and individual events, hoping to be crowned the best of the best. The reigning world champion in the individual events is the exceptional New Zealand athlete Jason Wynyard, while the “Chopperoos” from Australia will be defending their title in the team events. Germany will be represented in the individual competition by Robert Ebner from Baden-Württemberg.