The Doors Division consists of two business units: Profile Systems and Interior Doors. Forster develops and manufactures high-quality steel and stainless steel profile systems for doors, windows and facades for safety and security applications such as smoke and fire protection as well as burglar-proof systems, and for energy-efficient exterior applications where requirements are more stringent.
Within the Central European markets, the Interior Doors Business Unit is one of the largest providers in its market segment. The companies Prüm, Garant and Invado, which have been part of the Arbonia Group since end 2016, are market leaders for interior doors and frames on their domestic markets of Germany and Poland. RWD Schlatter is Switzerland’s leading provider of sustainable wooden doors for applications in the area of security as well as fire and smoke protection.

Market trends

In a turbulent year 2016, divisional revenue amounted to CHF 156.7 million, 6.2 % above the previous year’s level (CHF 147.6 million). When adjusted for currency and acquisition effects this represents a growth of 4.5 %. Due to the substantial price pressure in the domestic market of Switzerland, EBITDA decreased from CHF 7.5 million to CHF 5.8 million. Without special effects, EBITDA amounted to CHF 6.8 million. EBIT grew from CHF – 17.2 million to CHF 2.8 million. Without special effects, EBIT amounted to CHF 3.8 million (previous year: CHF 3.5 million). The first-time consolidation of the new companies – Prüm, Garant and Invado – will take place on 1 January 2017.

The key markets of the Profile Systems Business Unit are Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Austria and the United Kingdom, followed by other Western and Eastern European markets plus the Middle East. In Switzerland, increased pricing and competitive pressure from foreign competitors had a significant impact – an aftereffect of the minimum euro exchange rate being abolished. The non-residential construction market remained very muted, while the education and healthcare related construction market was much more active. The renovation business also developed positively. Forster’s products were able to differentiate in this area, demonstrating adaptability, energy efficiency and sustainability. Residential construction recorded significantly more dynamic activities. Products for construction projects in entrance areas involving stricter safety and security requirements achieved positive outcomes.

The competitive environment in other European countries, where the economy is only gradually getting back on its feet, proved challenging. Significant price reductions had to be deployed in order to win contracts and, in many cases, projects that had been planned using steel were produced using aluminium for cost reasons.

Following the takeover of the direct sales locations in Germany, Forster is now operating independently on this market. This is allowing the company to work directly with the customers and enhanced market presence. The consistently positive feedback that has been received is proof that this move has been the right one for the company. However, delays in many construction projects resulted in a performance below expectations.

In France, the awaited upturn in the economy failed to materialise. Despite this, Forster still achieved its budget within this market and closed 2016 with a healthy result. The declining number of approvals granted in the area of public construction remained a concern. While 40 million square metres received approval in 2008, this figure was just 21.8 million in 2016. However, the decline is assumed to have now bottomed out in France, and a rising number of approvals is expected once the presidential election has taken place.

The market in the United Kingdom recorded a stable performance. In spite of currency fluctuations, the business unit achieved its goals. While there have been no noticeable consequences of Brexit so far, the uncertain mood that is prevailing renders budgeting difficult

The Austrian market ended the year with a positive result. The increased market share here can be attributed to both the move towards direct sales and an excellent customer service structure. Revenue objectives were met and margins experienced a slight increase.

By contrast, the Italian construction sector continued its sluggish performance after a seven-year trend. The number of building permits issued reached its lowest point in 100 years. However, the Profile Systems Business Unit was still able to gain ground and additional shares of the market in this challenging environment.

The Interior Doors Business Unit (formerly Special Doors), whose business hat been almost entirely Switzerland-related in the past, held up well in a highly competitive environment and market that appears to be on the decline, and increased its market shares. Revenue was 6 % above the previous year’s figure. RWD Schlatter won contracts primarily for hospital buildings and hotel projects, which compensated for the decline in non-residential construction. As in the previous year, residential construction still accounts for around 50 % of revenue.

Products, technology and innovation

Forster launched two new EI30-class fire doors: a burglar-proof RC 2 model for interiors and a thermally insulated door for outdoor applications. Both doors are fully wheelchair-accessible and can be ordered with an antipanic function.

The extension of Forster’s facade system has made it possible to carry out construction that meets passive house A (phA) standards. Forster thermfix vario Hi is the ideal solution for highly thermally insulated curtain walls without safety requirements.

Forster is intensively developing a new, multifunctional profile system: a unique, modular system that is used to construct windows, doors, glazing and facades. It meets the very highest demands in the areas of safety, energy efficiency and sustainability. The system will go on show for the first time at the 2017 BAU trade fair in Munich (D).

RWD Schlatter also achieved success with its burglar-proof door featuring resistance class RC4. This recently developed door can be produced at the company’s new large-scale facility resulting in lower manufacturing costs. The door element also meets the criteria of class FB4 for ballistic protection.

Featuring the Sanitized® label, the antibacterial door element is now also available with synthetic resin surfaces, complementing colour paint coatings. More frame options can be obtained too: in addition to the powder coated steel frame, there is also a colour paint coating and a wood frame version with the Sanitized® label available. This now means it is possible to satisfy any requirement in projects involving hospitals and care facilities.

The new EN 16034 product standard for fire doors did not come into force as planned on 1 September 2016, but instead two months later on 1 November 2016. What’s more, the new European product standard will only apply to exterior doors. Its introduction for interior doors is set to be delayed further.

In order to reinforce its position in the key German market for interior fire doors, on 1 January 2017, RWD Schlatter acquired TPO, a company specialising in fire protection and offers a complete library of fire protection licences.


Forster has significantly reduced its water consumption in recent years. From 27 000 cubic metres, it has seen a drop of 10 000 cubic metres to 17 000 cubic metres per year. That approximately equates to the capacity of the outdoor swimming pool in Arbon (CH). During 2016, the waste produced from steel processing fell by around 25 %. This is the equivalent of 66 tonnes or three truck loads. It is thanks to previous investment in process optimisation that this positive result has been achieved.

All ten of Forster Profile Systems’ sites (for production and sales) are undergoing testing and recertification in line with ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management). This takes place in the form of matrix certification. The main plant and three additional sites are audited annually as part of this process. Following a successful audit in 2016, the headquarters in Arbon and three branches achieved certification. The remaining six branches will follow the same process over the next two years.


The Doors Division is expecting to see a rise in revenue and sales figures during 2017. Market prospects are improving, and promising new products are being launched too.

To enhance its market presence across the board, the Profile Systems Business Unit is extending its sales network to include new partners and is already in negotiations with new distributors.

During 2017, the focus of the Interior Doors Business Unit will be on ensuring the seamless integration of the new companies that came on board in December 2016: Prüm, Garant and Invado. Together with RWD Schlatter, this will create one of the most powerful door providers in Central Europe, with the ability to offer customers in all three domestic markets (Switzerland, Germany and Poland) a comprehensive range of products from standard doors to complex functional doors. A cross-company team will track the progress of the integration process on the basis of a detailed schedule. This should ensure the pooling of best practices across all units involved. Additional sub-projects focus on the identification and realization of long-term synergies

For information on the takeover of the Looser Group and a look back at how it progressed, visit here.

I have worked for RWD Schlatter for nearly 30 years and there is hardly any production job that I haven’t successfully performed. This variety and the positive atmosphere within our team are my main motivation to come to work day by day.

Franz Wechner, blank production, with RWD Schlatter since 1988

Forster – Restoration of the listed Arbomec building

The listed Arbomec building on the former Saurer site in Arbon (CH) has been renovated and is now part of the Jumbo Maximo chain. While the windows on the ground floor were fit for restoration, those on the upper floor had to be replaced with new ones. Thanks to Forster unico XS, it was possible to create windows with an identical appearance to the original versions on the ground floor.

RWD Schlatter – Outstanding safety and security at affordable prices

Before now, wooden doors with intruder resistance conforming to resistance class RC 4 were restricted to only very special applications on account of their cost. Thanks to a complete redesign and radically different materials, RWD Schlatter has managed to develop a door element that offers outstanding safety and security at an affordable price.

Prüm, Garant, Invado – Part of the Arbonia Group since 2016

In December 2016, Arbonia AG completed the takeover of Looser Holding AG, which is also active in the building supply business and has a particular focus on doors, together with its subsidiaries Prüm, Garant and Invado. This has resulted in one of the largest providers of interior doors within the Central European markets.