2020 HIGHLIGHTS and 2021 OUTLOOK
2020 was no ordinary year, as Covid-19 spread around the world and upended our lives. Against this backdrop, the Group rolled out the protective measures we needed to keep our business running and keep our 1,400 employees around the globe safe.
The economic crisis triggered by Covid hit all of our activities last year, but to varying degrees: MEP Group’s markets saw a sharp decline, while Schiederwerk came through relatively intact, although it will feel the impact this year. In between those two extremes were engineering activities at Clextral and Keller, where sales declined by around 4% and 7% respectively, and Laulagun, where sales fell by some 10% as the pandemic kept the Division’s new subsidiary in India from hitting its stride. Our total sales declined by 9% for 2020 as a whole. All things considered, that is not bad, especially when compared with global trends in industry. This is one of the benefits of being a diversified group: there is less risk in time of crisis.
In these very unsettled times, our teams worked hard to keep all of our units operating and to continue serving our customers as effectively as possible. New orders were hit hard by the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020, falling a very sharp 32% from Q1 to Q2, but they stabilized in the third quarter and then rallied steeply, ending 2020 up slightly from the beginning of the year. This rise set total orderbooks up 6% at December 31, 2020, and the trend continued in the opening months of 2021, pointing to a gradual return to pre-crisis levels.
The pandemic has delayed our roadmap by one year. But it has not changed our goals, in particular our commitment to medium-term growth. To meet these goals, we will continue to invest—both in manufacturing capacity and in R&D to upgrade our products and services and make them even better.