During the « Schleifring Grinding Symposium » that took place in May in Thun, M Ralf Kammermeir, CEO of the Group, emphasized the fact that there are opportunities to grasp while living a slowdown in the economy. This positive attitude and his availability allowed us to organize a quick interview to share some thoughts with Eurotec’s readers.
The Schleifring Group is a group that reached gross sales of € 487 million in 2008. Although incoming orders still clearly exceeded the previous year’s level at mid-year, they dropped off sharply in the fourth quarter. The recession installed itself. How do you see the future?
Most customers of the machine tool industry were caught up in the economic crisis by the end of last year. The impact was the same for the large markets in the Americas, Asia and Europe. In view of the dramatic downturn, it is almost impossible to provide a reliable forecast at the present time; however, a sharp decline in incoming orders and production is generally expected for 2009 and for 2010. After that, stabilization will begin in 2011 although growth is not expected until 2012.
In the current year, Körber Schleifring is still benefiting from the good order backlog from 2008. However, the decline in incoming orders, which was already apparent in the 4th quarter of 2008, continues to persist at the beginning of 2009. It affects almost all Schleifring companies, although to a varying degree. The positive effects from the acquisition of Combitec and the expansion of production in China are unable to compensate for the sharp decline in demand due to the economic downturn. Sales will also decline significantly.
High investments will continue to be made in research and development. The Schleifring Group will emerge from the current economic crisis with greater strength.
We know that production costs are quite high in Europe and that technology makes a difference. How do you see the actual crisis from that point of view?
Times of economic difficulty also present opportunities. Companies that set the right objectives now will be in a good position after the recession. Experts are sure that with expertise and cutting edge technology we can face the future with optimism. The Schleifring Group is therefore aiming for technological leadership in all areas of fine machining.
You will be able to discover the complete interview in next issue of Eurotec