The Wietersdorfer Group closed the 2022 fiscal year with sales of € 974 million. All five business areas developed positively thanks to the Group’s internationalization strategy. In the meantime, the USA, with a 16.9% share of sales, is among the third-strongest countries, and the African market also recorded a significant increase. Among the business areas of the Wietersdorfer Group, the GRP pipe systems (GRP = glass fiber reinforced plastics) with € 403 million are the strongest in terms of sales. With more than € 20 million, the Carinthian group of companies invested around one third of its investment volume in green transformation projects in the past fiscal year. In this way, the Wietersdorfer Group is actively driving forward its ambitious goal of CO2-neutral production by 2035. For the next two fiscal years, a total of € 70 million in investments is planned per year, 35% of which will be allocated to the Austrian market. The company is thus underlining the importance of Austria as a location for the Group.
External influences affect sales development
Compared to 2021, sales experienced an increase of around 22% (2021: € 799 million; 2022: € 974 million). This disproportionate increase was mainly due to external influences: High energy costs (electricity, gas), the shortage and resulting increase in the price of CO2 certificates, higher personnel costs, and foreign currency effects influenced the sales development of the Wietersdorfer Group in fiscal year 2022. “Among other factors, the energy crisis resulting from the Ukraine war hit our energy-intensive business areas hard. We – just like many other industrial companies – had to expand or convert our production units to be energy resilient within a very short period of time and are still struggling with high energy prices today, just like consumers,” Michael Junghans, CEO of the Wietersdorfer Group, takes a look at a challenging fiscal year 2022. “Even though external influences had a significant impact on our sales in 2022, our internationalization strategy, which has been consistently implemented for years, bore fruit in the past fiscal year,” Junghans continues. Around 90% of the increase in sales is attributable to the company’s commitment to international markets.
CO2-neutral by 2035
Despite difficult general conditions, the internationally active Group has succeeded in consistently pursuing the goal of CO2-neutral production. Thus, packages of measures were put together for all five business units (GRP Pipe Systems, PP Pipe Systems, Cement & Concrete, Lime and Industrial Materials) and a total of € 20 million was invested in green transformation projects in 2022. In the area of renewable energy, the Wietersdorfer Group focused increasingly on PV systems last year. Thus, with the past fiscal year, PV plants in Spain and Slovenia provide a total output of 3405 MWh per year. In the USA, the construction of a 3300 MWh PV plant was started, which will cover one third of the energy demand there. In terms of CO2 reduction, the Group is focusing on the use of low-CO2 energy sources. For example, it is planned to reduce the use of fossil fuels in regular operations at the Austrian sites in Peggau to 50% and in Wietersdorf to zero.
To implement the green transformation process, the Group is not only relying on established paths such as cooperations or research projects. In its search for new technologies, the Wietersdorf Group has now also invested in the venture capital scene with a five-million-euro investment in the Speedinvest Climate & Industry Opportunity Fund in 2022, focusing on CO2 reduction, energy efficiency and digitalization. “We know that our ambitious goal of CO2 neutrality can only be partially achieved with existing knowledge. We have to find new ways and solutions,” Junghans said.
GRP pipe systems top-selling business unit
As in previous years, all five business areas of the Wietersdorfer Group continued to develop positively in 2022. The biggest revenue generator within the Group is the GRP Pipe Systems business unit with € 403 million. It is followed by the cement and concrete business unit with € 253 million. Third place goes to the Industrial Materials Business Area with € 171 million. This is followed by the PP pipe systems business unit with € 112 million and the lime business unit with € 43 million.
In Europe, Austria with 18.1%, followed by Germany with 17.5%, are among the countries with the highest sales. Overall, the Wietersdorfer Group generated 78.4% in Europe, followed by America (17.7%), Africa (2.8%) and Asia (1.1%).
America & Africa gain in importance
Sales outside Europe are growing steadily: in 2022, the Wietersdorf Group generated € 210 million (21.6%) outside Europe. The largest share of 16.9% was generated in the US market, where Wietersdorfer’s subsidiary Hobas USA achieved a 49% increase in sales last year. “The development in the U.S. confirms the investments we have made in the Hobas Houston site over the past three years,” says Hannes Gailer, CFO of the Wietersdorf Group. The commissioning of a new production facility for non-circular pipes in 2021 was followed by the successful opening of a filament wind (coiled tubing) plant in Houston last fiscal year. “Our pipes are in strong demand for U.S. infrastructure projects in the drinking water and wastewater sectors,” Gailer added.
Although currently still small in comparison with a 2.8% share of sales, the African market is nevertheless developing positively for the Wietersdorfer Group: sales in Morocco, from where the Wietersdorfer subsidiary Amiblu currently serves the African continent, doubled in the last fiscal year from € 11 million to € 22 million. Total African sales amounted to € 27 million. “Africa holds enormous potential for us. That‘s why we also decided last year to increase our stake in Amitech Maroc from 85 to 100% and continue to drive our African business forward,” Junghans said. The Wietersdorf subsidiary Amiblu is primarily involved in the construction of desalination plants and water pipelines in Africa.
The Wietersdorf Group includes the companies Amiblu and Hobas (GRP pipe systems business unit), Alpacem (cement and concrete business unit), Calcit (industrial minerals business unit), Poloplast (PP pipe systems business unit) and Intercal (lime business unit).