Waiblingen, 9/18/2018 | Company press release

The STIHL Group: Slight increase in unit sales and new digital business sectors

  • Strong euro and unfavorable weather conditions dampen revenue
  • Newly launched STIHL cordless lawn mowers exceed unit sales expectations
  • Intelligent solutions for smart forests, smart gardens and smart landscaping

“Despite unfavorable weather conditions and the strong euro, the STIHL Group’s unit sales were slightly higher than in the same period last year,” reported STIHL Executive Board Chairman Dr. Bertram Kandziora at the company’s press conference on September 18. Gasoline-powered products in particular made a positive contribution to this. “It is therefore clear that our traditional products with a gasoline engine are an important mainstay and will remain so in the long term,” emphasized Dr. Kandziora. But garden power tools, especially cordless lawn mowers, also recorded above-average growth. The company achieved revenue of 2.65 billion euros in the period from January to August 2018, corresponding to a slight decrease of 1.7 percent. If foreign exchange rates had remained unchanged, sales would have shown a 4.1 percent revenue increase compared to the same period in the previous year. However, the conversion of currencies in major STIHL world markets – primarily the US but also Brazil – resulted in lower revenue due to the relatively strong euro. In addition, short growing seasons due to the long, cold winter and very hot summer, especially in Western and Central Europe and North America, slowed growth.

Newly launched STIHL cordless lawn mowers exceed unit sales expectations

Compared to the same period in the previous year, the STIHL Group increased its total unit sales slightly in the past eight months. “With the exception of North America, almost all key markets are now above the previous year’s level,” explained the STIHL Executive Board Chairman. In Western Europe, unit sales have risen significantly after a long winter. This growth has been driven by strong demand for STIHL cordless products in particular. The company has recorded a double-digit increase in sales in Asia and Africa.
In Western Europe, there was greater demand for STIHL chainsaws and STIHL cordless lawn mowers, which were launched at the start of this year as part of the brand changeover. Unit sales for STIHL cordless lawn mowers have more than doubled. The Chairman of the STIHL Executive Board emphasized: “Our unit sales expectations for cordless mowers were significantly exceeded. The favorable response from our customers shows that we are pursuing the right strategy by switching the green VIKING product line to the STIHL brand name that is well known worldwide. We expect the brand changeover to significantly boost unit sales in 2019.”
The number of employees in the STIHL Group has increased again. As at August 31, 2018, the worldwide workforce totaled 16,928, corresponding to an increase of 11 percent.

Revenue in German market higher than last year despite drought

STIHL had a good start to 2018 in the German market. Positive development for unit sales of gasoline-powered chainsaws, cordless products and robotic mowers. The initially spring-like and then summery temperatures from April onwards encouraged this development. “The prolonged drought in many German regions then began to have an effect. The situation was similar to that of the summer of 2003,” said Dr. Kandziora. Despite the extreme weather we achieved revenue above the previous year’s level. “For the fall, we are confident that we will be able to pick up momentum again from the beginning of the year, provided that the weather is more favorable. We have prepared strong campaigns such as the Super Saw Weeks with this in mind,” said the STIHL Executive Board Chairman.

Revenue and personnel growth at the German head office

The revenue of German parent company, ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG, increased by 6 percent to 804 million euros in the first eight months. The headcount also increased. “We were able to fill many vacancies that we had advertised, mainly in the areas of cordless products, electronics, connected products and IT,” said Dr. Kandziora. 4,957 employees worked at the head office as at 31 August 2018, corresponding to an increase in staff numbers of 8 percent. Of that total, 3,885 work in Waiblingen, 265 in Ludwigsburg, 737 in Prüm-Weinsheim and 70 in Wiechs am Randen. In addition, 168 temporary staff were given permanent contracts of employment between the start of the year and the end of August.
The company is also investing heavily in training its own skilled staff. STIHL is increasing the number of new apprenticeships from 75 in 2018, to 104 for the 2019 training year. In the previous year the company had already increased the number of new 2018 apprentices from 60 to 75. That corresponds to an overall increase of 73 percent within two years. In addition, STIHL is offering a new IT specialist apprenticeship. “Our highly committed staff are foundational to our business success. Our training efforts and investments in our own skilled workers give us the strength to continue growing in the future,” emphasized the STIHL Executive Board Chairman.

New intelligent solutions for smart forests, smart gardens and smart landscaping

In the past year, the company has established new areas, structures and working methods to drive forward the development of STIHL products with digital functions. “This work is now bearing fruit. We have developed intelligent solutions and connected products in the areas of smart gardens, smart forests and smart landscaping which make it easier for our customers to work in and with nature and their home gardens,” reported Dr. Kandziora. For smart gardens, STIHL offers an intelligent system for garden irrigation and a robotic mower – and both can be controlled via an app.
In the area of smart forests, the company has prepared Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality concepts for product training and developed the world’s first gasoline-powered chainsaw with sensor-controlled fuel metering. The new LogBuch software – a Forestry 4.0 pilot project – offers forestry workers an intelligent solution for geolocating objects such as trees. The stored data are transferred to the web-based LogBuch system, which automatically converts voice notes to text and displays information about the corresponding geopoints on a digital map.
STIHL connect pro is the name of a cloud-based system solution being developed for efficient fleet management on a digital basis, which provides benefits for horticulturists and landscapers as well as local authorities. “In addition, we already offer horticulturists and landscapers the MemoMeister software solution, a communications and organization platform that makes their work much easier,” said Dr. Kandziora. MemoMeister is a product from the startup Freiraum, in which STIHL has held a stake since the beginning of the year.

New STIHL products

At the international STIHL Media Day, the company presented many new products in connection with the press conference.

  • Gasoline-powered chainsaw: STIHL presented the world’s first series-production chainsaw with electronic fuel injection, the MS 500i; it will be available from dealers from 2019 onward. The injection technology enables the saw chain to be accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in just 0.25 seconds. The power-to-weight ratio of 1.24 kg/kW is so far unmatched among series-production chainsaws. “The saw, which we presented as a prototype last year, features exceptionally easy start-up characteristics and guarantees optimum engine performance from the outset,” said Dr. Kandziora.
  • Smart Garden Hub: With the new STIHL GCI 100, sprinklers become a smart system. Intelligent technology controls the irrigation of home gardens and large areas like parks and sports grounds. The Smart Garden Hub is operated via an app on the user’s smartphone or tablet. It enables water consumption to be reduced by up to 50 percent. The intelligent system can identify certain products from other manufacturers, and connect to them via the cloud.
  • Cloud-based system solution: STIHL connect pro enables professional users working for local authorities or landscaping companies to digitally manage power tool fleets and deployments. The sensor on the power tool – the STIHL Smart Connector – records operating hours and transmits them to the STIHL Cloud via the user’s smartphone or tablet. The STIHL connect pro Portal provides users with a detailed overview of the status of their power tools, along with relevant data such as the usage type and duration, or upcoming power tool maintenance instances. This ensures better coordination of power tool fleet deployment and daily work processes.
  • Robotic mower: In the course of the brand changeover, the STIHL iMow RMI 422 PC robotic mower will be added to the STIHL product line from spring 2019. Thanks to the iMow app, users can control the mower from their smartphone or tablet. An optional feature enables the iMow to take into account data from the weather forecast when planning its mowing times.
  • Cordless lawn mowers: For use in professional green area maintenance in noise-sensitive areas, the company presented the prototype of a new cordless lawn mower, the STIHL RMA 765 V. It has a generous cutting width of 63 cm and is very nimble thanks to the zero-turn function of the front wheels. The maintenance-free EC engine guarantees a long service life. The mower is powered by a 36V lithium-ion battery from the STIHL PRO cordless power system.
  • Cordless long-reach hedge trimmer: STIHL has added a lightweight long-reach hedge trimmer to its COMPACT cordless power system, in the form of the HLA 56. An angle-adjustable cutter bar enables the user to cut overhead, vertically and close to the ground.
  • Pressure washers: The four newly developed STIHL RE 100, RE 110, RE 120 and RE 130 PLUS pressure washers are suitable for a wide variety of applications, from car washing to domestic grounds cleaning jobs. These four power tools in the robust compact cleaner class deliver working pressure of up to 135 bar and feature a high-quality rotary nozzle for excellent cleaning power. The new RE 90 pressure washer is a lightweight and compact entry-level power tool with a very attractive price-performance ratio.

STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® World Championships in the UK for the first time

The World Championships of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Series is coming to the UK for the first time: The international season finale of the premier league of lumberjack sports will take place in the Echo Arena in Liverpool on October 19 and 20. The best athletes in the world are looking to become 2018 World Champions in the team and individual competitions. Last year, athletes from New Zealand impressed in both team and individual competitions.

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