Dear Business Partners,
2018 was a special year for the STIHL Group. The past months have moved and challenged us in many respects. Through it all, we have remained focused on our core competencies: We define, develop, produce and sell products that spark enthusiasm and inspiration in our customers and make their work in and around nature easier. The STIHL MS 500i, the first professional chainsaw with electronic fuel injection, and the STIHL TS 440, a cut-off machine with expanded guard adjustability made possible by the world’s first sensor-activated wheel brake, are excellent examples of what we strive to achieve. Both tools strongly support our claim to technological leadership in the industry. In addition, the past fiscal year saw the introduction of even more gasoline- and battery-powered products, as well as new digital applications.
At first glance, all of those things would appear to be sufficient to make 2018 yet another impressive chapter in our company’s long success story – were it not for three other factors: the weather, global policy and exchange rates. With regard to the weather, we started the year with a long, cold spring followed by a very hot summer with little rain. Unfortunately, the weather also had an effect on demand for our products.
Our business is truly international. STIHL products are sold in some 160 countries worldwide, and the Group generates 90 percent of its revenue outside of Germany. An increase in anti-free-trade sentiment around the globe, the introduction of protective and punitive tariffs and the debate surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU are not the foundation on which flourishing business is built.
Another factor, exchange rates, had a major impact. The conversion of global revenue into euros resulted in a negative currency effect of 170 million euros – or nearly 4.5 percent.
As a result, the year was not a success on all fronts. Yet despite all the adversities we faced, revenue more or less matched the level of just under 3.8 billion euros seen in the previous year. We also managed to post a slight increase in the quantity of products sold.
Change has been and will continue to be par for the course at STIHL, and we have always kept an eye on the future. Today, more than 17,000 people around the world work for STIHL Group companies. We are making extensive investments in training and educating our skilled workers. Only qualified and motivated employees have what it takes to keep the STIHL Group growing. That is why in 2019, we have once again significantly increased the number of apprenticeships at our German founding company, ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG, while offering a wide range of additional training opportunities.
The growing workforce, along with numerous international awards that recognize STIHL as a leading employer in its industry, offers further evidence of how much people like working for the companies of the STIHL Group.
We are delighted to have so many dedicated and enthusiastic employees. On behalf of the entire Executive Board, I thank you very much for your outstanding work. I would like to thank the Advisory Board and the partners for the trust they have placed in me, and the members of the Employee Council for their constructive cooperation.
DR. BERTRAM KANDZIORA
Chairman of the Executive Board