SMS eyes acquisitions and digitalisation in tough 2021

Burkhard Dahmen © Anne Orthen

SMS group believes that 2021 will be another hard year marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, but is optimistic that key performance figures will rebound as of 2022.

The family-owned German plant-builder normally reveals its annual figures in the summer, but this year postponed its press conference to the end of November. In 2019, the company still saw its essential key figures increasing, with revenue up 4.6% on-year to €2.9 billion ($3.5 billion), order intake up 2.2% to €3.2 billion, and pre-tax profit up 127% to €126 million. The order book at the end of the year stood at €3.85 billion, 6.3% higher than in late 2018.

In the current full-year, SMS expects order intake to drop by one third, chief executive Burkhard Dahmen said at a conference call attended by Kallanish. Apart from a drop of investment spending among mills, the pandemic has caused other problems. Chief operating officer Michael Rzepczyk noted that “…the actual construction site remains our main working place, and here we had to cope with massive hygienic regulations, and also with employees infected with the virus.”

He continued: “Thanks to augmented reality and video conferences that seemed to last all year through,” the firm managed to finished projects despite the hurdles. In fact, this year has seen the number of employees in the SMS Digital division more than treble, according to digitalisation officer Katja Windt. She predicted that services and maintenance, powered by digitalisation, will make up 50% of the company’s revenue by 2030.

SMS says it will continue to supplement its organic growth with acquisitions of suitable start-ups or established specialists.  This year, it acquired shares in two Brazil-based companies, Viridis and Vetta, both based in Belo Horizote, to create a competency centre for industrial digitalisation. In Italy, with the acquisition of OMAV and Hydromec, SMS expanded its product range in the extrusion plant and forging press sectors.