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KNAPP AG achieves record levels of turnover and employee growth

The Austrian-owned group, KNAPP AG, has improved on last year’s record turnover to report an all-time high of approximately 380 million Euros on 31 March 2013. The company’s workforce also rose by 200 to reach 2,300 staff, of whom 1,700 are employed in Austria. In addition, the warehouse logistics specialist enhanced its market position in its core business areas of pharmaceuticals, fashion, general retail & lifestyle, food retail and tools & spares. Research and development continues to rank high at KNAPP, with the business again investing some 6 percent of its turnover in R&D.

When looking for highly efficient intralogistics solutions, leading businesses such as the Würth Group or lifestyle corporations such as Hugo Boss or Celio rely on KNAPP systems. Despite its international profile and an export quota of 98%, the company has kept its strong roots in Austria for 60 years – based at its headquarters in Hart bei Graz – while increasing its workforce worldwide by about 40% in the past four years. In the past fiscal year, a change of leadership on the Managing Board has ushered in a new era: former, long-standing CEO, Eduard Wünscher (pictured), has moved to the Supervisory Board, with the management team of Gerald Hofer, Franz Mathi and Christian Grabner now responsible for continuing the KNAPP success story. This success can be seen not only in the full order books – turnover in the fiscal year 2012/13 increased by 16% to around 380 million Euros – but also in the continuously growing number of employees. The company achieved an EBIT of 14.7 million Euros for the year in review. "We are looking back at a very successful business year with many new references and exciting innovations. In addition, we are extremely pleased about the highest operating results in company history and have set the course for success in the future with our strategy programme for 2020," concludes KNAPP’s CEO, Gerald Hofer.

Highest ever number of employees
Due to strong organic growth over the past year, the KNAPP group now employs 2,300 members of staff worldwide. "KNAPP is a very innovative company. We operate in an exciting and challenging environment. In addition to the international nature of the business, we offer interesting opportunities for staff development, employment stability and comprehensive social benefits," states KNAPP’s CFO, Christian Grabner.

Technological lead increased
The group invested more than 6 percent of turnover – 23.5 million Euros – in its research and development activities. In the KNAPP group, more than 400 people worked on innovation and solution development during the past fiscal year. KNAPP’s COO, Franz Mathi, says, "Intralogistics and our solutions are influenced significantly by the purchasing behaviour of consumers. From the traditional branch store to Internet commerce, the number of sales channels is continuously growing and the availability of sales items has become more and more important. The market calls for flexible systems suited to serve various trade channels. We believe that, with our solutions surrounding the core OSR Shuttle™ technology, we can flexibly adapt to growing and changing market demands. For the British department chain stores John Lewis and Boots, for example, we implemented trend-setting automation solutions."

Investment in Austrian locations
For more than 30 years, the headquarters of KNAPP AG, founded in 1952, have been situated in Hart bei Graz, Austria. Successful growth and continuous development over the years have shaped the site. "In Graz alone, we are expanding the business location by 14,000 sq m. Additional facilities and office space will be ready by the end of 2013 and a new company nursery will open in September. The company is also investing in its location in Leoben: the construction of testing and prototype facilities as well as a company cafeteria is in progress," says Christian Grabner. Expansion of its facilities and the strengthening of subsidiaries is an important step in KNAPP’s history of success – in terms of economy, organization and, above all, sustainability – and lays the cornerstone for healthy future growth.

98% export quota and increase in turnover by 80% in the fashion sector
Accounting for more than 70% of turnover, Western Europe is the largest sales region for KNAPP, followed by North America, a region in which turnover more than doubled. Latin America remained very stable, while the turnover tripled in the Asia-Pacific economic region. China, South Korea and Australia especially contributed to this growth. The fashion business area made a disproportionally high contribution to the growth, showing an increase in turnover by 80 percent compared to the previous year. Large-scale projects in the fashion sector include automation of the distribution centres for Hugo Boss and Olymp, with an order volume that runs into tens of millions.

Forecast for fiscal year 2013/2014: sustainability and organic growth
The new team on the Managing Board has set ambitious targets. Besides comprehensive development of the facilities in Hart bei Graz and Leoben, the company aims to double its turnover by 2020. "The new year started positively from the very beginning," says CEO, Gerald Hofer. "In the future we want to have a strong focus on food retail. We offer special solutions for this sector: for example, a fully automatic KNAPP sorting solution is in operation at Trinkgut, a subsidiary of Edeka, that ensures that 100,000 beverage cases are automatically registered, sorted and made ready for dispatch to beverage producers every day."

Tel: 01844 202149
E-mail: craig.rollason@knapp.com

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