German stockists sell more flat products in 2021

Sales of flat products at Germany’s distributors increased in 2021 over 2020, their association BDS reports in its annual analysis. While this recovery is not surprising, given the hard stop of lockdowns in 2020, it is worth noting that the year brought the first increase after years of continued decreases in individual product categories.

The most striking increase occurred for quarto plate sales, which rose by nearly 15% to 945,000 tonnes. For more than a decade, domestic stockholders had lost sales to warehouses abroad and to direct sales from mills, Kallanish hears from BDS. At the end of the year, plate inventories stood at 451,000t, 12% above the low level of end-2020.

Hot-rolled coil saw a minor year-on-year increase of 1.6%, totalling 1.1 million tonnes. An unusual detail pointed out by BDS is that HRC stocks reached their highest level in December, when inventories normally are being scaled down. At 237,000t, they were 9% above the end of 2020.

Surface-coated coil, too, saw its inventory peak relatively late in the year, in November, at 386,000t, with only 3,000t less at the end of December. Coated material is the biggest segment among flat products, with sales totalling 3mt, 5% more than in 2020.

Cold-rolled coil sales rose by 8% y-on-y, to 1.26mt. CRCs reached their highest inventory level in September at 304,000t, and ended the year at 271,000t – still a respectable 21% above the end of 2020.

Sales of pipes and flanges rose by 6.5% to 1.39mt. The on-year surge of sales of flat products and pipes is not echoed by the long products, which saw only minor increases, or drops (see Kallanish 19 August).

Christian Koehl Germany