The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the strengths and opportunities of a multi-channel approach to the fastener market, according to the Würth Group, which saw sales growth in March 2020.
The digital sales channels significantly gained in importance during the crisis. The Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG website handles around 700 search queries per minute and around 400,000 customers log into the online shop and the Würth App each month. In March, when the coronavirus crisis started in Germany, e-business sales at Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG jumped 27%.
While the outbreak did hamper the Group's development, Würth Group reported sales growth of 2.8 percent as of March 2020. Even in the countries heaviest affected by the virus, there were some positives. Würth France grew its e-business by 29.1 % in Q1 2020 despite extensive lockdown restrictions. Würth Italy reported almost 30% too, while Würth Austria and other companies of the Würth Group doubled their Click & Collect orders (orders via app or phone and pick-up from the parcel stations outside the Würth shops). The lockdown, which has been in place almost all over Europe, has resulted in almost no delivery bottlenecks at Würth.
In Germany, the Würth Group suffered only minor setbacks. The German Electrical Wholesale Unit even reported sales growth of 9.2% in Q1 2020. Only companies operating in industries close or related to the automotive industry had to resort to short-time work, Würth said.
Sales at Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG have developed well considering the current backdrop, reporting a sales increase of 7.6% in Q1 2020. The Group’s parent company used its multi-channel offering to ensure supply security for its customers.
"This crisis highlights the strengths of and opportunities presented by the multi-channel strategy very clearly,” Robert Friedmann, Chairman of the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group. “We have expanded all available channels that comply with lockdown restrictions. Now, we are seeing the expansion of digitalised processes over the past years bear fruit in this time of crisis."
Norbert Heckmann, Chairman of the Management of Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG, explained: "We are proud that we were able to always provide our tradespeople with the needed materials. Due to their status as essential businesses, the skilled trades have been able to keep going throughout the coronavirus outbreak, thereby making a great contribution to maintaining the infrastructure and operations in essential utilities and hospitals. Many facilities are currently retrofitting their spaces to comply with new distancing and hygiene rules.”
The Würth Group reported a new sales record in 2019 with the sale of assembly and fastening materials generting sales of EUR 14.3 billion (previous year: EUR 13.6 billion) and growth of 4.8%.
Despite the slowing development of the Würth Group in Germany (+2.2 percent), which is driven by the recent cooldown in the automotive industry, sales continued to develop positively thanks to multi-channel activities in the e-business channel: E-business sales experienced above-average growth and amounted to EUR 2.6 billion, pushing the share of e-business activities in total Group sales to 18.3%.
The Group said it had never been exposed to a crisis of this magnitude in its 75-year history: "The COVID-19 pandemic is having a grave impact on the entire global economy. The currently very volatile economic situation across the world does not allow for any reliable forecasts for 2020. The Group is expecting to maintain its performance on a stable level, helped by its multi-channel strategy and its diversification of risk through its international footprint and diverse business models."
Würth’s has more than 530 shops in Germany and more than 2,200 worldwide – and online channels such as the online shop, the Würth App and e-procurement solutions.