The uvex group brought the financial year 2021/22 to a close having increased Group sales by +11.7% to EUR 585 million. At EUR 445 million, the uvex safety group achieved sales growth of +11%, while the uvex sports group, together with the Filtral group, increased sales in the sport and leisure segment by 5% to EUR 148 million. In this context, a combination of internationalisation and a highly diversified product portfolio based on the protecting people philosophy served as growth drivers.
"I am delighted that our business model focused on protecting people at work, in sport and during leisure pursuits has proved its worth once again", explained Michael Winter, Managing Partner of the uvex group. "In the previous financial year, our most recent acquisitions, namely the HexArmor and Hiplok brands, were consolidated for the first time. This provided a significant growth boost." Michael Winter is very satisfied with this development. Adjusted for these newcomers, sales are on a par with the prior year. The sharp decline in coronavirus-specific protection products such as respiratory protection was offset by strong growth in other product groups. "We have therefore not only diversified our business areas around our credo protecting people in the best possible way, but have also successfully created growth potential on international markets for the entire uvex group," said Michael Winter.
US business as one of the guarantors of success in occupational safety and health
The uvex safety group remains the driving force of the uvex group. At EUR 445 million (+11%), it generated 75% of group sales. In most product groups such as safety eyewear, safety gloves, safety shoes, protective clothing and workwear, hearing protection and laser protection, significant growth rates were recorded in comparison with coronavirus-adjusted sales in the previous year. However, sales in connection with the respiratory protection product group, which was subject to high-level demand during the coronavirus pandemic, collapsed due to massive oversupply on numerous markets. Our majority stake in the US safety gloves specialist HexArmor, in addition to this acquisition having now been consolidated for the first time, now makes the US occupational health and safety market one of our biggest growth markets alongside Germany, France, the Middle East and Africa. Impacts from coronavirus-related lockdowns in south-east Asia and China were acutely felt. The structural transformation of the automotive industry as well as increased prices of raw materials and their availability continued to represent key factors influencing the development of the uvex safety subgroup.
Market environment for the uvex sports group extremely challenging
The sustained growth of the uvex sports group is also particularly pleasing. The sport and leisure segment, which consists of the uvex, APLINA and Hiplok brands in addition to the Filtral group, achieved total sales of EUR 148 million. This equates to sales growth of +5%. In the winter sports segment, the closure of ski resorts at the start of March 2021 in Germany and Austria resulted in a raft of pre-order cancellations at uvex and ALPINA, which in turn led to declines in sales. However, the uvex group achieved high growth rates in the area of equestrian sport in the riding helmet and gloves product groups. Meanwhile, in the first seven months of 2022, pleasing growth was recorded in the product groups cycling helmets and sports eyewear. However, this came to an end in the previous quarter due to general reticence on the part of the end consumer, above all in the stationary retail sector. The first-time consolidation of the acquired brand Hiplok (specialists for innovative safety and storage products for cycling and outdoor equipment) contributed significantly to growth on the international markets. The Filtral group with its two core product groups of sunglasses and reading glasses successfully continued its growth trajectory in the midst of a fiercely competitive market.
"Made in uvex" as a competitive advantage
To this day, the uvex group continues to develop, manufacture and test its innovative technologies at proprietary manufacturing facilities, with a focus on Germany and Europe. One of the uvex group’s most important competitive advantages is the capacity for knowledge transfer between uvex safety and uvex sports. Through collaborations with elite athletes, the uvex group has developed particularly innovative product technologies, which are also partly being leveraged by the uvex safety group. In return, the sport and leisure segment also benefits from developments at uvex safety, which meet the highest demands in terms of safety, quality and design. In the previous financial year, this unique interaction at the heart of the uvex brand was officially recognised in the form of the prestigious “Superbrand 2021/22” award.
"Given the volatile economic environment, it has seldom been so difficult to make a forecast for further economic development", said Michael Winter. "It can be expected that both the Ukraine conflict and the consumer crisis brought about by inflation and high energy costs will present us with challenges on an unprecedented scale." In order to successfully master these challenges in the future, the family business is strengthening important future fields with its strategic agenda. These include for example the continued expansion of the digital business with online marketplace models and the uvex group brand shop, as well as the continuous further development of the employee brand as the uvex group competes to attract the best talent. Mobile working, further training opportunities, occupational health management with attractive fitness offerings and an excellent work-life balance are just some of the benefits enjoyed by the uvex workforce of just under 2,000 employees, who are based in Germany. In the future, the company will also strive to enhance its reputation in another core area: sustainability. In this regard, uvex is developing sustainable products under the protecting planet label in order to make a contribution to climate protection.