Automotive roofs specialist Webasto has announced strong financial results for 2016. Webasto generated sales of over EUR3bn in 2016 for the first time in the company’s history.

“The Webasto Group can look back on 2016 as a successful year and the company is well-equipped for the future”, explained Dr. Holger Engelmann, chairman of the Management Board, Webasto SE, at the automotive supplier’s annual press conference in Munich. Webasto generated sales of over EUR3bn in 2016 for the first time in the company’s history. This marks an eight percent increase in sales compared to the previous year – from EUR2.9bn to approximately EUR3.2bn. After adjusting for the exchange rate, growth actually amounted to 10%. With an EBIT of EUR206m (2015: EUR167m) Webasto also saw a significant improvement in earnings – by some 23%. The profit margin for 2016 amounted to 6.5% compared with 5.7% for the previous year.

The largest share of sales was again generated by the sunroofs and panorama roof business unit: Sunroofs and Components accounted for 74% of total group sales, turning over EUR2.4bn. The Convertibles business unit (convertible roofs) contributed around EUR300m, or 10%, of total sales. The Thermo and Comfort business unit achieved sales of EUR500m with heating, cooling and ventilation systems, amounting to 16% of total sales. The number of employees at the Webasto Group increased by three percent and the worldwide workforce count was more than 12,000 at the end of 2016.

“In our core business we are very well positioned worldwide”, said Engelmann as he looked at the individual regions. The Americas region, which includes the USA, Central and South America, is developing at a steady pace and has good future prospects. A significant proportion of global sales are still generated in Europe. The most dynamic individual market is China. There, the demand for sliding roofs – and large-scale panorama roofs in particular – is continuously increasing. As a result, Webasto will further expand its China production network in the coming years. Most recently, a new site in Baoding (Hebei Province) was inaugurated at the beginning of May.

With China being Webasto’s key area of investment in 2016 alongside Europe, the automotive supplier invested a total of EUR150m worldwide in the expansion of buildings and plants. Additional EUR220m were invested in research and development. Engelmann comments: “Our sharp focus on standardisation and efficiency enables us to offer our customers a very wide product range with a high degree of customisation, while simultaneously improving our productivity.”

The dual strategy is paying off
“Our dual strategy, which comprises the pillars ‘strengthening’ and ‘participating’, is paying off, emphasised Engelmann, and he went on to explain: “On one hand, we are consistently strengthening our core fields of business. On the other, we are developing new fields of business, which match our competence profile, and are offering solutions for megatrends in the mobility sector.”

Webasto is strengthening its core business areas with new technologies and products among others. For instance, the company is continuously expanding its high voltage heater (HVH) product range. Engelmann foresees great potential for the coming years, with a particular eye on the electro-mobility sector, because a heating system is not simply ‘nice to have’ in a battery-powered vehicle, it is a ‘must have’. Furthermore, the targeted partial expanding vertical integration is important for all business units and product groups. Engelmann explains: “For us, electronic know-how is strategic know-how. The acquisition of an electronic components manufacturer of at the beginning of this year was a logical strategic step for us.” In the sense of ‘participating’, Webasto is concentrating on the development and production of battery systems and charging solutions for private car and company vehicle fleets with its E-Solutions and Services business unit. “As an innovative global systems partner to the automotive industry, it is important for us to invest in the future mobility market on the basis of our own expertise. This is where the future business lies for us all”, emphasised Engelmann.