With an increase in sales of more than 15%, the Krone Group recorded the most successful trading year in its almost 100-year history. Krone reported a total turnover of 612 million euros for all sectors of business under Bernard Krone Holding GmbH & Co KG. As in the preceding year, almost 60% of sales was generated abroad; the Krone Group has recorded an equity ratio of 38%.
In the financial year 2003, Krone employed 1,482 people (up from 1,440 in 2002), of whom 680 were engaged in agricultural machinery production at the Spelle, Germany, facility; 454 people worked at the commercial vehicle production facility in Werlte, Germany; and 197 at the reefer factory in Hvam, Den-mark.
The average revenue per employee generated in 2003 was 412.9 thousand euros, one of the highest per-capita revenue figures in the German metalworking industry. The dramatic 43.7 thousand euro (more than 10%) rise in revenue per employee against the previous year is especially notable in view of the difficult economic situation.
Krone outperformed the positive trend seen on the European commercial vehicle markets in 2003, with more customers than ever choosing a trailer from Krone. For the first time, the company was the clear market leader not only in Scandinavia but also in the Baltic states and in Slovenia. In almost all other markets, too, Krone increased the market share. The refrigerated trailer business, in particular, delivered superior results in the year under review. The facility at Hvam in Denmark produced almost double the number of refrigerated semitrailers as at the time of the takeover in 2000, with virtually the same number of employees. In Germany, the company's share of the reefer market rose from 17.4% in the previous year to 25%.
Total Krone vehicle sales also grew, rising by just under 23 percent against the previous year to 408 million euros. National sales contributed a 17% increase, while international sales rose by 26% overall. The largest increase was achieved by the longstanding Polish distributor Pozkrone, which, as in the previous year, tripled its sales revenue once again in 2003. Alongside the steady growth in Scandinavia, sales in the new nations launched for the first time in the previous year, Romania and Spain, also contributed substantial relative increases in sales, though at a lower absolute level.
Thanks to this positive development, Krone was for the first time in its history able to overtake two of its strongest competitors, both in terms of unit volumes and sales, and so becomes the second-largest trailer manufacturer in Europe.
The positive order situation also had effects on the production figures and the workforce levels. In the second half of the year, Krone recruited additional staff in design and production, and increased its average daily production from around 50 to more than 65 units.