Claus Bolza-Schünnemann wait until the deposits are received
KBA IS SHOWING SIGNS OF GROWING SALES even before the full results from Drupa are in. Orders for sheetfed presses are up 8% and the backlog is 29% higher than in Q1 last year.
Group sales were up 4% in the period to €263.5 million, though incoming orders, boosted by large orders for specialist presses last year, fell back from the record €432.1 million to €236.6 million. Even though sales had increased, this was short of the Q1 target, but the group reported an operating profit €2 million (from an operating loss of €1.8 million).
SHEETFED ORDERS WERE HELD BACK IN THE PRE-DRUPA quarter, but were still 8.1% up, something that KBA attributes to a major pre-Drupa preview event in Radebeul. The manufacturer prepared for the show by building up inventories of machines for order at the show hit cash flow, though as these machines are delivered the cash flow balance will be restored.
The show confirmed hopes in terms of business. The total value of orders taken was “far higher than anticipated” says the company though notes that many are subject to finance being approved. CEO Claud Bolza-Schünemann says: “We have signed a lot of contracts both with existing and new customers. But it will be weeks or even months before customer prepayments have been received and we and other exhibitors can assess our true performance at Drupa.”
HIS CAUTION RECALLS THE OPTIMISM WITH WHICH followed Drupa in 2008, only to see that evaporate as credit dried up. Orders have been received from 30 countries across the globe with web press sales to France and Germany. KBA expects to confirm first users for the Rotajet 76 “shortly”. Top seller however was the Rapida 105, positioned as the standard B1 press and attracting orders from China and other emerging markets.
The blip in terms of Q1 sales was business from Germany where sales dropped and as a result export business rose to almost 90% of sales. Asian business grew to 30% and North America up to 8.2%, while sales to Latin America and Africa climbed from 14.5% to 25.4%.
THE EXTENT TO WHICH KBA HAS BENEFITED FROM THE UNCERTAINTY which has surrounded Manroland. However, KBA management is convinced that its projections for sales of more than €1.2 billion for the year are sound, though more details will wait until the company’s AGM.
Bolza-Schünemann says: “We’ll continue to exploit the strategic options offered by consolidation in the sector. We have already introduced measures to strengthen our international sales and service network in markets where we see growth potential for KBA. We are also vigorously pursuing our strategic goal of expanding our product range for the key Chinese market by acquiring a stake in a domestic manufacturer.”