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The international Häfele Group for hardware technology and electronic access control systems ended 2015 with a satisfyingly positive result. The company group achieved revenue of 1.272 billion Euro (2014:
1.144 billion). This represents a growth of 11 % compared to the previous year. This meant the family business based in the Swabian town of Nagold continued on a path of remarkable growth despite the various crises ongoing around the world.
With a rise of +16%, it is the 37 foreign-based subsidiaries that are to be accredited with this increase in sales. As announced by the company management, it is these international markets that - apart from the odd exception - have performed markedly well, with the broad growth also bolstered by foreign exchange rate developments outside of the Euro zone in 2015. Strong growth was especially apparent in the USA, Great Britain, India and Australia, so making a considerable contribution to the double-digit rate of growth. Häfele is now generating 79% of its revenue abroad. This development is also reflected in the number of employees. It rose by 200 to 7,100 worldwide.
For its part, the parent company in Germany performed well again following a weaker first six months to the year. This is due not least to the international IT conversion project. In the light of this, the 1% rise is a satisfactory result and the forecast for this year is for growth to return to about the 5% mark. The number of employees in Germany remains unchanged at 1,600.
Growth through strength
“Strong regional diversification is enabling us to share to a large degree in the growth outside of Europe”, is how the situation is summed up by Sibylle Thierer, Managing Director, who took over management of the family-owned company rich in tradition in 2004 and now represents the
3rd generation. “The last decade has been largely shaped by the tremendous dynamism exhibited by our Asian subsidiaries. The international know-how and expertise we have gained from this, has allowed us to steer the whole Häfele organisation into the future, ensuring that we continue to remain profitable and so be able to grow under our own steam.”
Häfele is represented in over 150 countries throughout the world and has independent sales subsidiaries in 37 countries. With 23 sales subsidiaries operating for 15 years or more, the philosophy of staying in close contact with customers, which Häfele has lived by for many decades, enables the company to produce a range of products and services which are all tailored to their customers’ needs. The products and services of the corporate group are used by the world’s leading furniture manufacturers, architects and planners, joiners/cabinet makers and dealers. This backdrop of superlative product and market expertise has been the setting in which global and local product ranges have been developed to meet the various requirements down through the years. These products are then manufactured in one of the company’s six production facilities or in line with the “Häfele German Quality standards” at one of the locations of their 1,500 partners spread around the globe.
Own house assortments for global success
In recent years, Häfele has made considerable investments in the development of its own house assortments now used around the world. Apart from well-established ranges such as furniture connectors and fittings for sliding doors and furniture flaps, there are also the highly popular Dialock electronic access control systems for project business. These systems are used to open doors in global hotel chains as well as in small family-operated hotels, and we should not forget our Loox LED lighting, which is used in many kitchens and furniture pieces. Both of these highly sought-after ranges are contributing to provide more convenience and luxury in buildings and furniture the world over.
These own house assortments represent Häfele’s dynamic innovative capability. “Our claim is ‘Thinking ahead’, which means that we must already be thinking about what our customers will need in future, today”, says Sibylle Thierer, explaining the family enterprise’s motto. This is likewise reflected in how Häfele has engaged with the current mega-trend that is urbanisation, thanks to which Häfele has developed itself into something of a pace-setter in recent years. And so today - guided by the motto “More life per square metre” - the company is creating sophisticated hardware fittings for multi-functional furniture with innovative designs and the optimised use of space, making small-scale living and working equally attractive in both the residential and commercial settings.
Hardware fittings with rediscovered importance
In view of this situation, Sibylle Thierer thinks the corporate group could not be better steeled for challenges both current and future, and she sums it up so: “The importance of hardware fittings has increased in recent years, especially in the kitchen context. Whereas hinged doors were seemingly ubiquitous just a few years ago, today the look is dominated by drawers with soft closing systems for base units and user-friendly furniture flaps for wall units. And then there’s the Italian sliding kitchen door trend that has now emerged in Germany. Our mission is to make this increasingly complex technology as easy and as user-friendly as possible to those who install these products and to those who buy them. We have identified good opportunities for Häfele to make even more progress.”
Global networking and current challenges
Our global network has a crucial role in the future viability of the business. Over the past year, Häfele has invested 30 million Euros in markets, logistics and production with the aim of interlinking the various markets, so as to offer our increasingly internationalised clientele the level of service they expect. To this end, we have developed global methods of cooperation in order to win over investors, planners and the fabricators.
Outlook for 2016
Häfele has made an optimistic start to the new financial year. In the light of the investments already made in a global standardized IT, in markets, logistics, production and services, the company sees good opportunities for again achieving international growth throughout 2016. “We are anticipating a mid-single digit increase in revenue, due to the fruit borne by our investments and projects”, explains Managing Director, Sibylle Thierer. The amount of investment of the Group for the coming year will be approximately 35 million Euros. Risks continue to be seen in the volatile foreign exchange markets as well the growing number of trouble spots, to which a flexible and careful approach will be applied - just as in 2015.
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