Würth Group sees growth despite pandemic while e-business contributes 20% of sales

Würth Group saw sales improve to €14.4 billion in 2020 (2019: €14.3bn). Adjusted for currency, growth was 2%. 2021 has got off to a promising start, with sales up 10.3% y-on-y.

Group sales were driven by the continuation of skilled trades through 2020 and also the Würth Group multi-channel strategy, offering customers contactless – and flexible - material procurement.

The group also heralded new approaches to its business designed to reduce its impact on the environment.

Flexible procurement

The digitalisation strategy of online shops, e-procurement solutions and the Würth App rounded off sourcing from local Würth shops. In 2020, e-business sales rose 5.8% to €2.8 billion, with e-business sales now accounting for 19.3% of the Group’s overall sales volume.

“We had laid the groundwork well before the pandemic hit: Our customers are familiar with our digital ordering options, with the sales reps offering expert advice when needed,” explained Robert Friedmann, Chairman of the Central Managing Board of the Würth Group. “Our strategy has paid off: 100% flexibility in procurement, even in times of COVID restrictions.”

2021 & an optimistic outlook

With optimistic projections from leading economic institutes despite the dynamically developing rate of infections, the Group said it needs to continue to generate organic growth: “by always being there for its customers, being active on the market, expanding its sales capacities and not least by gaining new market share through high performance and financial stability.”

Q1 2021 saw Würth Group sales in Germany grow by 7.2%, while sales growth came out at 12.6 % outside Germany. Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG also started well into the new year, achieving year-over-year sales growth of 11.0 % in the first three months.

Würth Group geographic & market analysis

In Germany, the Würth Group closed the 2020 fiscal year with sales up 2.9%. The pandemic’s impact on the individual markets supplied by the Würth Group varied greatly: Both the Construction Division (+12.2%) and the Electrical Wholesale unit in Germany (+10.8%) reported sales growth in the double digits. All units supplying the automotive and mechanical engineering industries, on the other hand, saw sales dwindle. Already faced with enormous pressure to help combat climate change, sales in the automotive industry collapsed in the wake of declining demand and weeks of production standstills. The mechanical engineering sector suffered as well. The Group’s companies outside Germany saw sales drop by 0.4%.

Environmental progression: Würth delivery day and packaging

To support customers with a high ordering frequency in making their inventory management more efficient and reliable, Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG is now offering the new “Würth Delivery Day”. Different individual orders of the same customer are consolidated into one fixed delivery date per week. The customer chooses the delivery date. This helps save up to 30% CO2 emissions per customer.

Friedmann said: “By the year 2024, Adolf Würth GmbH Co. & KG wants to be carbon-neutral and take on a pioneering role in the Group. Today, our shipments to customers are already carbon-neutral. We plan to establish a circular value chain by 2030, which is why we are already permanently working on sustainable ordering processes: including digital invoices as well as sustainable packaging and delivery systems.”

Thanks to these services, the customers will benefit in several ways, said the group: They will have to handle less packaging and packing materials and need fewer deliveries, which automatically means less resources used and a smaller environmental impact. In addition, customers can better plan their personnel needs in line with their delivery schedules. This delivery model will be rolled out across all Würth Line companies.

“This example shows how much potential is available and what we can achieve if we rethink our processes. It is not only about achieving faster, but also more efficient processes. Sustainable practices are something that the skilled trades are asking for more and more.”

Together with our packaging manufacturer, Würth developed packaging solutions that are made to 100% from recycled plastics (PCR = post-consumer recycled plastics) for machining tools. This type of packaging is almost entirely carbon-neutral, consisting to 100% of recycled plastics. Even the labels are made entirely of recycled plastics and are applied with an environmentally safe adhesive. This made it possible to achieve Cradle to Cradle™ certification. The advantages of sustainable packaging: It protects the product very well, while requiring very little material. It is reusable and resistant to oil, grease and moisture. This changeover will save roughly 45 tons of new plastic every year, reducing CO2 emissions for this product group by 77%.

“By the year 2025, Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG will have changed over 50 percent of its packaging to recyclable solutions and lowered its use of packaging materials by 20% compared to 2020,” Friedmann added.

2020 saw the number of employees increase slightly from 78,686 to 79,139 employees. In Germany, the Würth Group employs 24,514 people, 0.7 % more than last year, with 33,176 employees worldwide working in the sales force.


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