Liebherr’s turnover rises amid challenges

The R 976-E is one of two electric crawler excavators for mining and quarrying applications

Its turnover was €11,639m (£9,769m) in 2021, which was up €1,298m on 2020 and close to the 2019 figure record figure of €11,750m.  

The company said that the conditions in the past financial year were difficult for manufacturing companies. From the second quarter in 2021, it was to some extent extremely difficult to procure various raw materials, components and electronic parts. This resulted in price increases and bottlenecks in the global supply chains, it said. Despite that, Liebherr Group grew in 11 of its 13 product segments and in almost all of its sales regions.

Revenues in the earthmoving, material handling technology, deep foundation machines, mobile and crawler cranes, tower cranes, concrete technology and mining product segments were 17% higher than in the previous year at €8,009m. In the other segments, including maritime cranes, aerospace and transportation systems, gear technology and automation systems, refrigerators and freezers, as well as components and hotels, Liebherr achieved total revenues of €3,630m, a 3.9% increase compared to the previous year.

Sales increased in the European Union, which has traditionally been the Group’s strongest sales region. High growth rates were recorded in almost all EU markets, with France in particular showing above average development. Outside the EU, there was a marked rise in sales in the United Kingdom, among other regions. Positive development was also seen in North America, as well as Central America and South America, where strong growth came especially from Brazil. The Liebherr Group faced declines in Africa, as well as in the near and Middle East, whereas the financial year in Asia and Oceania ended with a moderate rise.

In 2021, the Liebherr Group achieved a net profit for the year of €545m, a value above the level before the pandemic. The 2021 business year also saw a significant increase in the number of employees. At the end of the year, the Liebherr Group employed 49,611 people worldwide – an increase of 1,686 compared to the previous year.

Liebherr invested €559m in research and development last year. The bulk of this was used in the development of new products. Numerous cooperative ventures with universities, or higher education institutions and research institutes were initiated or continued.

Alternative drive technologies continue to be a focal point of the research projects. In 2021, it worked, for example, on hydrogen-powered combustion engines and their injection technologies, as well as electric drives. It expanded its portfolio of construction machines with electric drives with two all-electric truck mixers on five-axle chassis frames, the two electric crawler excavators (R 976-E and R 980 SME-E) and the battery-powered crawler cranes LR 1160.1 unplugged and LR 1130.1 unplugged, both with zero local emissions. The start of the development phase of the first all-electric offshore crane marked the launch of the electrification of the product portfolio in this area. Om addition, Liebherr prepared various product lines for the use of hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO) as a fuel. The Ehingen and Kirchdorf an der Iller sites (both in Germany) are now already fuelling all machines with the climate-neutral fuel ex works as standard.

The group said that it started 2022 with a good situation in terms of orders. However, the negative effects on its activities due to the war in Ukraine can already be seen. “Liebherr is monitoring and assessing the current situation in Ukraine and Russia on a daily basis and is currently in the process of adjusting its Russian activities to the extensive sanctions imposed on the country,” it said.

“At the same time, there are still uncertainties with regard to the pandemic-related restrictions, the effects of steep price increases for many goods and services, shortages of certain raw materials and the lack of skilled workers, as well as bottlenecks in different supply chains. It is also unclear how fiscal and monetary policy measures will ultimately affect the Liebherr Group.”

Despite the difficult conditions, Liebherr is cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year, it added.

In a later press briefing, Liebherr revealed that it had decided not to withdraw from Russia because it considers itself to have responsiblities for its 2,300 employees there across two factories and eight sales & service branches. “Our commitment to our employees does not stop at our borders,” said  Liebherr International managing director Andreas Bohm. He stressed that Liebherr was “totally against this war”, and was reviewing the company’s position every day, but it differentiated between the Russian people and the Russian government. However, no new machines have been shipped into Russia since the start of the war, he added.

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