Waiblingen, 5/2/2019 | Company press release

STIHL achieved slight sales growth in 2018 despite unfavorable weather

  • Weather, currency and global politics dampen growth 
  • More flexibility for STIHL dealers and customers
  • STIHL presents new powerful cordless and gasoline-powered products

“In spite of the challenging conditions in fiscal year 2018, the STIHL Group achieved a slight increase in unit sales of 1.5 percent and a revenue of 3.78 billion euros. Therefore, at minus 0.3 percent, revenue was only slightly below the previous year’s level,” said STIHL Executive Board Chairman Dr. Bertram Kandziora at the company’s balance sheet press conference on May 2. The strong euro exchange rate in particular had a negative impact on the revenue in euros. If foreign exchange rates had remained at the same level as in 2017, revenue would have been up 4.2 percent. An equity ratio of 69.9 percent indicates that the financial structure of the company continues to be very solid. In principle, all investments are financed with the company’s own liquid assets.
As well as gasoline-powered products, cordless products also contributed to overall unit sales. Referring to the current financial year, Dr. Kandziora said: “We have started the year fairly well with good demand for STIHL products in the medium and high price segments. The currently weaker euro is having a slightly positive effect on revenue in 2019.” The company presented two new products for the coming season: The high-powered STIHL MSA 220 C-B cordless chainsaw for the professional market and the STIHL RM 756 GC gasoline-powered lawn mower for larger areas.

STIHL asserts leading position in world markets despite adversity

As well as being impacted by the strong euro, business in 2018 was detrimentally affected by unfavorable weather conditions and unpredictability in world politics. “A long, cold spring and a very hot, dry summer in many regions negatively affected nature’s growth patterns and, consequently, the demand for our products. In addition, worldwide trade restrictions and a lack of clarity around Brexit terms impaired overall business conditions,” explained the Executive Board Chairman. In the past financial year, the STIHL Group generated 90.5 percent of its total revenue outside Germany, with 39% attributable to the European Union. “In spite of the difficulties, we were able to slightly increase unit sales and defend our leading position in world markets,” said Dr. Kandziora. STIHL cordless lawn mowers and STIHL robotic mowers recorded double-digit growth rates. The company achieved double-digit sales increases in Asia and Africa. Dr. Kandziora: “For us, Africa is a future market with growth potential. We now have our own marketing company in Kenya, which will further strengthen our market presence on the African continent.” The number of employees in the STIHL Group has reached a new record high. As at December 31, 2018, the company had 17,122 employees. That is equivalent to an increase of 7.9 percent year-on-year. 

Still on course for growth in the German market in 2018

“We achieved revenue growth in the German market in 2018, and are pleased by the development of chainsaw business,” said Dr. Kandziora. Growth in STIHL iMow robotic mowers is dynamic. The new STIHL cordless mowers were also in high demand. And justifiably so: In a recent test by the Stiftung Warentest consumer organization, the STIHL RMA 448 TC cordless mower was rated best for mowing performance. Currently, the STIHL MS 500i professional gasoline-powered chainsaw in particular is receiving enthusiastic approval. 

“Traditionally, the gardening season starts for us with the nationwide STIHL Test Day. This year it took place on April 6, and many customers took advantage of the opportunity to thoroughly try out the new products,” said the STIHL Executive Board Chairman. In 2019, the company will be represented for the first time as an official partner at a Bundesgartenschau horticultural show in Heilbronn. STIHL is also supporting the Rems Valley Garden Show (Remstal-Gartenschau) in Waiblingen as a diamond sponsor. Visitors there will have the opportunity to get to know the STIHL brand and try out power tools. 

German parent company grows and expands offering of attractive employee benefits 

Revenue at the German STIHL parent company ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG rose by 4.5 percent to 1.2 billion euros. During ongoing building work at Plant 1 in Waiblingen and in light of the continuing increase in employee numbers, STIHL opened the new STIHL Plant 8 in Fellbach at the beginning of the year. As at December 31, 2018, there were 4,997 employees at the parent company; this corresponds to an increase of 7.4 percent year-on-year. Of that total, 3,778 are employed in Waiblingen, 166 in Fellbach, 260 in Ludwigsburg, 725 in Weinsheim and 68 in Wiechs am Randen. “Our staff make an essential contribution to the positive development of our business. That is why, in addition to profit-sharing in the form of an incentive bonus and employee participation in the company’s capital, we also offer a number of other attractive employee benefits, to which this year we have added mobility support,” reported Dr. Kandziora. Parent company employees in the Stuttgart region who buy a season ticket from the VVS Stuttgart transport operator receive a net employer subsidy of 120 euros per year and an additional 10 percent discount on the ticket price. Furthermore, the company offers a subsidy of 120 euros per year for bicycle and e-bike leasing.

Investments up 30 percent

In 2018, the STIHL Group invested heavily in expanding research and development as well as the worldwide production and distribution network. The total investment volume was 324 million euros. “With this year-on-year increase of around 30 percent, we are creating the foundation for future strategic growth,” emphasized Dr. Kandziora. This stands against depreciation and amortization amounting to 159 million euros. The company built a new research and development center in Brazil, for example, and expanded the production and development of STIHL Tirol. Of the total investment volume 38.1 percent, or 124 million euros, is being allocated to ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG. This means that, compared to the previous year, investment in the head office location in Germany has almost doubled. For example, the company set up its own battery production facility in Waiblingen, which manufactures backpack batteries for professional applications. “By producing batteries, we are consistently advancing our cordless strategy and reinforcing our commitment to premium technology. The first in-house-manufactured batteries will be on the market in fall 2019,” shared Dr. Kandziora. Among the latest activities is the construction of a new production logistics facility at the STIHL Magnesium Die Casting plant in Weinsheim.

Adapting STIHL sales criteria

“The success of STIHL products is very much based on premium quality and the expertise of specialist servicing dealers. We now have over 50,000 dealers in more than 160 countries,” explained the STIHL Executive Board Chairman. In the future, customers will also be able to have all products – with the exception of chainsaws – shipped to them directly from the STIHL dealer. Online product advisers and other helpful media guides can ensure that customers receive high-quality advice from the dealer prior to shipment and, in particular, instructions on safe operation. In addition, brick-and-mortar dealers are now able to offer STIHL cordless and electric products, again with the exception of chainsaws, for customer collection in their original packaging. However, dealers can still assemble power tools if needed, and hand them over with expert instruction. STIHL is making these modifications to its sales criteria as a response to the continual advancement of cordless and electric products, and the changes to purchasing behavior arising mainly from online retail. Dr. Kandziora: “We feel confident that these changes will enable us to meet the challenges of selling cordless and electric products as well as online retail. At the same time it continues to ensure that expert advice, instructions on safe use, operation-ready product handover and professional servicing will remain crucial constituents of the STIHL brand philosophy.” 

New STIHL products for forestry, gardening and landscaping

A number of new STIHL products have already been launched in 2019: 

  • The STIHL MS 500i, the world’s first and currently only series-production chainsaw with electronic fuel injection, has been available on the German market since mid-March 2019. For market launch the product was awarded a Gold innovation medal, ahead of the demopark trade fair which will take place in June 2019 in Eisenach. The panel, which consists of editors from various trade magazines, gave the following reasons for their decision: “The STIHL MS 500i is the world’s first chainsaw with electronic injection. As such it has eliminated certain components such as a carburetor and ignition module. As a felling saw for professional users, it provides very rapid acceleration and high power whilst also featuring low weight. The engine unit weighs 6.2 kilograms.”
  • Other new products include four newly developed pressure washers in the compact class – STIHL RE 100 to RE 130 PLUS – as well as the lightweight, attractively priced entry-level STIHL RE 90. 
  • In addition, the STIHL iMow RMI 422 PC robotic mower with app control via smartphone or tablet, for lawns of up to of 1,700 square meters, will be available for the start of the gardening season. The STIHL RM 248 T with 46 cm cutting width for medium-sized lawns, and the professional STIHL RM 756 GC model with 54 cm cutting width for larger lawns are new products in the gasoline-powered mowers range. Three redesigned Series 4 to Series 6 tillers ease the task of breaking up soil for domestic and professional users. The STIHL HLA 56 long-reach hedge trimmer complements the COMPACT cordless power system, which now comprises eight power tools. 
  • From summer 2019, the STIHL MSA 220 C-B battery chainsaw will be added to the PRO cordless power system, which will then include almost 30 products for demanding professional use. The new cordless saw is equipped with an exclusive STIHL 3/8" Picco Super 3 full-chisel saw chain as standard. It is ideal for tree care, building with wood as well as felling and processing thinner wood. The power required to operate the cordless saw is provided by a powerful 36-volt lithium battery; the new STIHL AP 300 S is the recommended choice. It offers exceptional endurance not only for the STIHL MSA 220 C-B, but is also compatible with all other power tools in the STIHL modular cordless power system. 

Online Brand Shop for STIHL merchandise items

The STIHL Brand Shop has been online since the end of 2018. No longer restricted to specialist dealers’ outlets, it is now possible to also buy a wide range of trendy lifestyle and fan items, robust functional and leisure clothing as well as versatile travel accessories at www.stihl-markenshop.de. “The ability to order STIHL merchandise items and have them delivered to the doorstep generated a positive response from customers and fans of the STIHL brand,” said Dr. Kandziora. 

STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® season highlights in Sweden and the Czech Republic in 2019

In 2019, the world elite of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Series will face off again at two major international events: On May 25, the Champions Trophy of the premier league of sports lumberjacking will be held in Sweden for the first time. The world’s twelve best lumberjacks will compete in exciting duels at Tjolöholm Castle near Gothenburg, with a spectacular backdrop of fjord scenery. The season finale will follow in fall in the Czech Republic: At the World Championships being held in Prague for the first time, on November 1 and 2 the world’s finest athletes will compete to be crowned 2019 champion in the team and individual events. For the first time, the Champions Trophy and the World Championships will be shown live on German TV by Sport 1 and broadcast online. In addition, the competitions can also be seen via livestream on the TIMBERSPORTS® website and Facebook page.

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