Claas reports stable sales and earnings

Claas, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of agricultural machinery, was able to increase its sales revenue to a new all-time high of 3.838 billion euros (previous year: 3.823 billion euros) despite a significant downturn in the overall market. With earnings before tax of 158 million euros (previous year: 155 million euros), Claas achieved a return on sales of 4.1 percent.

“We are delighted that we have been able to overcome the current weakness in the market thanks to our international structure and wide product range. Our double-digit sales growth outside Europe was a positive factor in our results”, said Lothar Kriszun, Speaker of the Claas Executive Board.

The worldwide market for professional agricultural machinery will shrink by around 20 percent this year. Falling commodity prices and relatively new machinery fleets in many areas are having a no-ticeably negative impact on customers’ purchasing tendencies. Nevertheless, Claas has been able to further strengthen its position of leadership in Europe. Sales in North and South America are develop-ing positively, while Eastern Europe is seeing declines. In Asia, Claas has achieved further growth in India, while the market for maize pickers has stabilised in China.

Development and modernisation of production sites and sales locations
Claas focused its investments in material assets in Russia, France and Germany. In the city of Kras-nodar in the south of Russia, the most modern agricultural machinery factory in Europe went into op-eration at the beginning of October. Shortly after, the company signed a letter of intent with the Rus-sian Federation – with the aim of having Claas classified as a “Russian manufacturer”. Demand for efficient harvesting technology is high and there is an ongoing need to modernise.

Two new large-scale test benches were put into operation at the testing centre in Trangé, France. The new facilities allow an entire tractor service life to be simulated in four weeks. At the site in Hamm, Germany, the warehousing technology was further modernised to ensure that worldwide replacement parts supply can be carried out as efficiently as possible. Other key areas of investment included worldwide development of the sales and dealer network and further digitalisation of processes.

Worldwide growth in employee numbers
The number of employees worldwide increased to 11,535 as of 30 September 2015 (previous year: 11,407). This was mainly a result of employee growth in China and the development of worldwide sales activities. Over the past two years, the number of employees has grown by almost 20 percent. In Germany, Claas employs 5250 staff and remains committed to training its own junior employees. In 2015, the ratio of trainees at the company was a high 7.8 percent (previous year: 7.3 percent).

Strong focus on research and development
At 203 million euros (previous year: 212 million euros), investment in research and development re-mained at a very high level. The focus has been on developing new services as well as harvesting machines and tractors. With the new LEXION, Claas is aiming to further consolidate its market lead-ing position within the combine harvester premium segment. The modification of machines to fulfil the new statutory emissions standards also necessitated development expenditure. Currently, one in ten employees of Claas works in research and development.

Outlook
The market drivers relevant to Claas remain intact: Demand for agricultural raw materials resulting from growth in population and living standards will continue to rise despite the possibility of temporary fluctuations.

For the current 2016 financial year, Claas is however expecting another decline in the world market. Negative developments in agricultural income and the effects of political and economic crises in emerging markets are causing general restraint towards agricultural machinery purchases.
Thanks to its well-positioned range of products and services, Claas is nevertheless expecting to maintain its sales at the level of the previous year and achieve stable earnings before tax.

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