VIKING GmbH once again enjoyed great success in 2010: the gardening power tool manufacturer increased its turnover by over four million euros to more than 110 million euros, representing four per cent growth year-on-year. Business development is particularly clear when figures are compared over a five-year period, showing that sales have increased by 33 % overall. Despite the serious international economic crisis, the number of employees has almost doubled over the last six years. In 2010 this figure rose from 250 employees to 265. With an increase of five percent in equity capital, totalling 48 million euros, and a record balance sheet total of some 72 million euros (up 11 %), the company achieved excellent results last year. The equity ratio amounted to 66 %.
The consistent pursuit of the VIKING premium strategy has enabled the company to continuously increase its market share. The central factors in this success are a commitment to superior quality, advanced technology and design, sustainable and resource-conserving production, as well as innovative employee training and education concepts. On an international level, the company managed to top its successes from the previous year. The overall results are highly gratifying, and increased market shares in Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and Austria are particularly good news.
The importance of the Langkampfen location for the company was further strengthened through the expansion of the product range in 2010. "The shifting of tiller production from a French partner to our in-house facilities at Langkampfen represented a major step. This enabled us to distribute production capacities more effectively on the one hand, while also creating more jobs in Langkampfen on the other," said Peter Pretzsch, the new Managing Director of VIKING, summarising developments of the past year. The gardening tools manufacturer scored a particular success in association with its parent company, STIHL: The plant in Tyrol has successfully established itself as a base for manufacturing battery products. Since 2010, all battery products for the STIHL Group are produced in Langkampfen.
Peter Pretzsch took over as Managing Director of VIKING GmbH in Langkampfen on 1 April 2011, succeeding Nikolas Stihl. A native of Germany, he headed the "Technology and Buildings Group" product division at the parent company STIHL until the beginning of this year.
VIKING – a member of the STIHL Group
As a family-run company, VIKING remains independent of decisions by third parties. Since 1992, VIKING has been a fully-owned subsidiary of STIHL International GmbH, the global market leader for chain saws. The two STIHL Group brands – STIHL and VIKING – complement each other perfectly in terms of products, and can thus exploit synergy effects. VIKING produces and sells lawn mowers, robotic mowers, lawn tractors, scarifiers, garden shredders, and tillers. STIHL produces hand-held machines with petrol engines or electric motors. More and more of STIHL's electric products, and its numerous battery-powered machines, are produced in the plant in Langkampfen.
Award-winning innovations for the garden
VIKING recently launched new products in three market segments: tillers, mowers and ride-on mowers. The new tiller models were launched on the market to coincide with the move of tiller production from the company's French partners to the Langkampfen location. In addition to ergonomic design and high performance, the new generation is also characterised by a high degree of comfort. Launched in the autumn, the HB 585 tiller has already been awarded the internationally renowned "Good Design Award".
The gardening tools manufacturer also began production of a new machine group in Langkampfen: the R4 Series ride-on mowers. The new ride-on mowers are available with either a Briggs & Stratton engine or, in the case of the comfort model, an economical, smooth-running, 2-cylinder Kawasaki engine. The mowers have been designed by the in-house VIKING R&D team and as well as being easy to operate they are particularly manoeuvrable and precise. The MR 4082 ride-on mower received the coveted "red dot design award" for its impressive styling and functionality.
2010 also brought another innovation in to the VIKING lawn mower range with the introduction of the 3 Series, a completely new line of pedestrian models. These mowers are available as electric motor or battery-powered-drive versions, are low-noise and generate no exhaust emissions. Their compact design is also ideally suited to mowing in tight spaces, and the battery-powered version is particularly suitable for small lawns. Shortly after its market launch, the VIKING electric ME 339 C lawn mower received the "universal design award 2011". "We only use materials that will withstand the toughest conditions when producing our machines. Every innovation must meet VIKING's stringent quality standards," confirms Johann Weiglhofer, Product Development Manager, referring to the excellent reputation enjoyed by VIKING products.
The awards at a glance:
- HB 585 tiller: Good Design Award
- MR 4082 ride-on mower: red dot design award
- ME 339 C electric lawn mower: universal design award 2011
VIKING had another reason to celebrate with the award of a state prize in 2010. The company, together with its packaging partner Duropack, won the "Austrian State Prize for Exemplary Packaging 2010" in the tiller product group. The prize was awarded by the Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management .
Innovative battery-powered machines from Langkampfen
The latest development from the Langkampfen plant proves that what really counts in its products is excellent workmanship. The gardening tools manufacturer has been producing all the battery-powered machines for its parent company, STIHL since 2010. What makes this production so special is the fact that the drive solution is compatible with numerous STIHL and VIKING products. The high-performance lithium-ion battery can be used in a variety of VIKING and STIHL machines. The battery-driven garden tools meet the company's stringent quality standards and bring together innovative battery technology and first-class machine technology. These resource-conserving products are particularly valued for their smooth-running, environmentally-friendly operation. "The Tyrol region is an ideal location for the production of our high-performance products. Our employees are acutely aware of the importance of quality and continuously undertake further training. This allows us to make a significant contribution in ensuring that our specialist products are truly top class," says Josef Koller, Production and Market Supply Manager, describing the excellent way in which the company has developed.
VIKING – an internationally reliable brand name
VIKING is a strong retail brand that is characterised by the reliability, performance, safety and easy handling of its machines. Thanks to its excellent sales organizations abroad, the Austrian company is gaining an increased market share in countries such as Germany, Poland and Scandinavia. Extensive marketing activities and test days at retail outlets have succeeded in increasing brand recognition. The high quality of the products is also a winner: by investing in its extensive dealer network (11,000 specialist dealers), the gardening tool manufacturer has achieved significant gains in all product segments.
Despite a difficult market environment with a high density of DIY stores and with garden equipment also now being sold in food stores, the domestic market in Austria experienced above-average growth in 2010. There was a strong increase in the lawn mower and ride-on mower product group. Last year, the export quota consequently fell for the first time in many years from 98 % to 97 %. There were similar developments in Scandinavia. VIKING recorded a significant increase in sales of lawn mowers. "We are proud of the fact that we have succeeded in expanding our position in Europe in recent years. It is our objective to become the number one in the specialist gardening tool market in Europe," emphasises Wolfgang Simmer, Sales and Marketing Manager of VIKING GmbH.
High level of social commitment
VIKING carries out its social responsibilities in a number of ways. The company has had a long and intensive partnership with children's charity SOS Children's Villages - the world's largest orphan and abandoned children's charity. It is not only the children and teenagers that need care in the charity's villages, the parks and gardens also need to be looked after. The procurement of lawn mowers and other gardening tools is therefore always an urgent priority and gardening equipment has been supplied free-of-charge by VIKING for many years. The company also provides for plenty of fun by the children; VIKING's range of children's tractors and mowers from the Kid Series have proven to be a huge hit with the younger residents.
In addition to its charitable commitments, the gardening tools manufacturer employs and integrates people with disabilities at its Langkampfen plant, while also providing jobs for young people, and offering interesting traineeships. Furthermore, VIKING supports schools, kindergartens and training centres in the Tyrol region, as well as a number of sports clubs.
VIKING: Successful member of the STIHL Group
VIKING has been a member of the STIHL Group since 1992. The VIKING gardening power tool range supplements the product range of the global market leader for chain saws in an ideal way and the Tyrolean company profits from synergy effects with the internationally-operating Group. VIKING is a fully-owned subsidiary of STIHL International GmbH and increasingly produces parent group products in addition to its core range in Langkampfen. VIKING asserts its position in the tough internal competition among the STIHL production sites.
In 2010, the STIHL Group achieved a record turnover of 2,363 million euros (an increase of 16 %). This growth is mainly attributed to a significant rise in sales. The equity ratio also rose slightly last year from 65.3 percent to 66.7 percent. The number of employees rose by 3.9 percent on the filing date, 31/12/2010, reaching 11,310. Cost-cutting programmes also continued to be implemented in 2010. The liquidity of the STIHL Group thus increased and the company found it possible to fund all investments from its own resources.