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Division

Windows

Consisting of EgoKiefer, Wertbau, Slovaktual and Dobroplast, the Windows Division is one of Europe’s leading window manufacturers. The four companies offer customised window systems made of wood, wood/aluminium, vinyl, vinyl/aluminium and aluminium, designed to accommodate every building situation. The extensive range of windows is further complemented by balcony and lift-and-slide doors, front doors and shade solutions. The products are made in the three production competence centres in Germany, Slovakia and Poland, as well as in a service shop for custom solutions in Switzerland. In its target markets, the division operates its own decentralised sales organisations and extensive dealer networks.

Market trends

The Windows Division increased its revenue by 4.4% to CHF 366.3 million (previous year: CHF 351.0 million) during the reporting year. When adjusted for currency effects, this resulted in growth of 2.7%. EBITDA fell from CHF 29.7 million in the previous year to CHF 19.7 million due to the sale of the property in Altstätten (CH) in December 2017. Without special effects, EBITDA grew from CHF 13.3 million in the previous year to CHF 16.0 million. This was achieved in spite of the negative impact of significant increases in the CHF/EUR exchange rate, particularly in the first half of the year, which had an adverse effect on the result due to production within the eurozone and the high proportion of sales in Switzerland. In addition, the decision to relocate wood/aluminium production from Switzerland to Thuringia (D) further impacted on the division’s result. Against this backdrop, the division’s profitability performance at EBITDA level is positive. The EBIT shifted from CHF 15.0 million in the previous year to CHF 1.5 million, and without special effects from CHF –1.4 million in the previous year to CHF –2.5 million.

For the Windows Division, the 2018 reporting year was further marked by the completion of the relocation of wood/aluminium window production from Altstätten (CH) to Langenwetzendorf (D). After a challenging first half of the year in which planned production volumes at the plant in Thuringia (D) were still behind schedule, monthly output was able to be doubled in the second half of the year. As a result, the workforce at the Altstätten (CH) production plant has again been significantly reduced for 2019. Over the course of 2019, the aim is to complete a final reduction of the production staff in Altstätten (CH) to the size of a service shop.

EgoKiefer successfully raised its revenue and volume of incoming orders in 2018. This positive trend can be attributed not least to a balanced mix of sales channels and considerable growth in business with specialist companies. Profitability of the business is anticipated to improve further thanks to selective prioritisation during the bidding phase and methodical project management during order handling. Business with specialist trade partners was also encouraging in 2018. Thanks to a comprehensive service package and an attractive product range, EgoKiefer was able to acquire new partners and boost revenue with existing partners. In the autumn, EgoKiefer invited all its specialist trade partners to a partner day at the new wood/aluminium production competence centre in Langenwetzendorf (D) to show its appreciation. This enabled the partners to see the state-of-the-art production facilities in person and to share their experiences with the local Wertbau management team.

In 2018, German company Wertbau focused its efforts on increasing output in wood/aluminium window production. Over the course of the year, significant improvements were able to be made to both productivity and output thanks to the extraordinary levels of commitment shown by the entire workforce. Currently, around two-thirds of the wood and wood/aluminium production for the Swiss market takes place in Langenwetzendorf (D). The division is confident that this proportion can be increased further in 2019. With respect to the market, Wertbau finished the year with a slight growth in revenue.

At the Pravenec (SK) site, the division commissioned a state-of-the-art insulating glass facility in 2018 and started to operate it at full capacity during the second half of the year. In addition to significant cost reductions, this facility has above all also shortened production lead times, enhanced quality and improved processes as it has decreased the company’s dependency on local suppliers. During 2019, around 80% of the total vinyl and vinyl/aluminium range from EgoKiefer and Slovaktual will be produced using insulating glass from this facility. With respect to the market, Slovaktual maintained its revenue compared with the previous year. While increases in market shares were able to be achieved in the key Slovakian domestic market, revenue decreased in Austria. With the introduction of the new “Optim” vinyl window system, which impresses with exceptional thermal transmittance values and technical properties, in 2019 the division is launching a window that is tailored to the needs of Slovakian and Austrian distributors.

Business in the Polish market was encouraging. On account of the Dobroplast brand, the division has grown to become one of the leading window manufacturers in this dynamic market in recent years. With the launch of the new “P-Line” window system, Dobroplast is setting new standards in terms of quality and technology. The product also enables it to increase its market penetration in the mid and upper price segments. Dobroplast’s export business also followed a positive trend. In the German market especially, the division continues to see significant potential for growth.

Products, technology and innovation

The Windows Division is continuing to focus resolutely on a strategy of technology-based cost leadership. Through a high degree of vertical integration and standardised product ranges, the aim is to make use of synergies across the division and generate competitive advantages. Against this backdrop, 2018 also saw the harmonisation of the fitting and profile range in addition to the commissioning of the insulating glass facility. As well as resulting in significant cost reductions, standardising the ranges also allows production capacities to be made more flexible and processes to be improved.

The new wood/aluminium window range is setting new standards in terms of finish quality and design options. At Swissbau 2018 in Basel (CH), EgoKiefer presented the new range to the general public. Since then, it has been continually extended and improved.

The new vinyl window generation is currently being launched on the Slovakian and Swiss markets. Thanks to their exceptional technical properties and outstanding thermal insulation standards, these windows play a significant role in reducing the amount of energy buildings consume.

Another important focus of the division was to increase digitisation. During the reporting year, the scheduling of the entire service and assembly workforce in Switzerland was moved to a fully automated and digital solution. The division is currently working on new digital sales approaches which aim to further simplify the sales process for partners and end customers in the target markets. With respect to production, the Arbonia Group is focusing firmly on state-of-the-art production technologies. For example, at the new wood/aluminium production plant in Langenwetzendorf (D), every window component is fitted with an RFID chip so that the entire production process can be tracked in real time and simulated.

Sustainability

As around 75% of household energy consumed is caused by heating costs, the insulation of the exterior walls, ceilings, floors, roofs and, above all, the doors and windows is a key factor for saving energy and increasing energy efficiency. Through the continual innovation of all its window ranges, the Windows Division is making a major contribution in this regard.

The new vinyl and vinyl/aluminium generation in particular offers improved energy efficiency. Thanks to an optimised overall depth, wider and therefore more energy-efficient glass packages can be used in both new constructions as well as in renovations, making a valuable contribution to further reducing energy consumption and lowering CO² emissions. The new wood/aluminium windows as well as the vinyl windows from EgoKiefer are certified to the Minergie standard and demonstrate exceptional environmental performance thanks to their high quality standards and long product service life.

Also in respect to production, the Windows Division follows principles which allow resources to be used sparingly at all stages. For example, the wood chippings at the Langenwetzendorf (D) plant are used to heat the production facilities, and thanks to coextrusion systems installed at both the Pravenec (SK) and Zambrow (PL) sites, off-cuts from vinyl profiles are now fed back into the production process instead of being thrown away.

Outlook

As the 2018 reporting year draws to a close, the production transfer and restructuring process for the Windows Division is largely complete. The additional costs incurred as a result of relocating wood/aluminium production from Switzerland to Langenwetzendorf (D), which still had a significant impact on the 2018 results, will no longer be a factor in 2019. What’s more, the reduction in the workforce at the Altstätten (CH) production site is set to have a positive impact on the results.

As a result of the investment activities of recent years (including the division’s own insulating glass production facility), standardisation of the product ranges and modernisation of production facilities in Zambrow (PL), the division anticipates further improvements in productivity and profitability.

With respect to the market, the division expects healthy demand to continue in 2019. In all markets, it anticipates slight growth in the sales market as well as revenue growth at the same level as 2018.

Highlights

Realisation of large-scale projects involving the new wood/aluminium window

The new wood/aluminium window from the Langenwetzendorf (D) plant has enabled EgoKiefer to carry out a number of successful large-scale projects. These include two large construction sites in the Zurich area – the “Glattpark” and “Guggach” – which both offer space for over 250 apartments.

Launch of the “P-Line” product range

In spring 2018, the new “P-Line” product range was launched on the Polish market. The vinyl window is setting new standards in terms of quality and technology. The product launch was accompanied by a revamp of the brand identity and the introduction of innovative shop-in-shop systems which enable the Dobroplast distributors to serve their customers on a small scale.

Market launch of the new “Optim” window range on the Slovakian market

The new “Optim” vinyl window was launched as a way to drive growth in the Slovakian market. Thanks to maximum thermal insulation properties with an overall depth of just 76 mm, it can be used in new constructions and renovations as required. The premium profile system with branded fitting ensures the long-term functionality of the window and increases customer loyalty.

Start of new wood/aluminium production

Full productive capacity was reached at the wood/aluminium production competence center in Langenwetzendorf (D) in spring/summer 2018 with the commissioning of the wood profiling system. The multi-stage profiling system features an automatic planer and three processing gantries with automatic mechanisms for changing the cutter heads and linked, continuous transportation of the wood by means of alternating clamped transfer stations. This machine is unique in the wood processing industry and has never been built on this scale before.