Leinfelden-Echterdingen - (rp) “When a company can report extremely stable development on the whole in these challenging times, this is definitely the result of efficient work. This applies to us exactly.” This is how Marcus Sander summarised the performance of Roto Frank Fenster- und Türtechnologie GmbH (FTT) in 2020, the year of the coronavirus, during the 15th International Trade Press Day. The Chairman of the Board of Directors used this event at the start of November – which took the form of a livestream for the first time due to the pandemic – as an opportunity to explain the company’s current and future strategy. The focal point is the claim of being the “most reliable partner” to B2B customers around the world. The company is consistently pursuing this strategy – and with success thanks to continuous product innovations.
Global economic recovery jeopardised
The CEO firstly provided details of the market volume of the global hardware industry. According to calculations and estimates, this was around €3.4 billion in 2019. The ranking of the individual product segments remained constant according to these figures. Tilt&Turn (26%) ranked slightly higher than Door (25%) and Sliding (22%). Needless to say, no reliable figures are available for 2020 yet. However, “significant changes” are to be expected due to the impact of the coronavirus.
In view of the previous progression of the pandemic, the latest development with infection rates
starting to dramatically increase again is “worrying”, especially from an economic perspective, and may jeopardise the recovery trends that have since begun. In any case, the global economy is experiencing the most severe recession of recent decades. The building sector is not exempt from this either. 2021 will be overwhelmingly shaped by the effects of the coronavirus as well.
Crucial advantage over the competition
In this situation, it is important for every company – regardless of the industry – to act with a high degree of agility and flexibility. Roto FTT has managed to do this “very effectively” so far. The basis for this was a preventive healthcare concept which was implemented successfully at global level, emphasised Sander. The result is that “to date, not a single FTT employee has been infected at the workplace.” This in particular meant that it was possible to maintain the global delivery capability at Roto’s usual level, even in the critical phase of the coronavirus.
As Sander stated, the global network of 15 production plants once again proved to be a significant advantage over the competition. The concept implemented especially over the past few months of purposely producing more than the planned quantities in some cases, therefore creating a buffer for restrictions linked to the coronavirus, is also paying off. The same applies to the intensive digital communication used by the sales organisation to provide continuous support to customers. Roto is also taking major steps to advance the virtual support it offers to its market partners. This is proven by the full website relaunch, which went live in conjunction with the Trade Press Day.
Regions under the microscope
The CEO began his overview of the development of international markets and FFT’s performance in each of these in 2020 with North America. In his words, temporary lockdowns have created a volatile market situation there. Despite this, Roto is recording clear gains in market shares based on profitable growth. The markets in South America are not only shaped by challenges relating to the coronavirus, but by political and macroeconomic ones too. FTT has, on balance, performed well in this region. In Brazil, the division even managed to achieve a solid turnover increase in local currency.
For Europe, although Sander reported a “balanced market situation on the whole”, he pointed out major regional differences at the same time. According to him, the positive examples include Germany, Austria, Switzerland and – after the lockdown period – Eastern Europe. While France is stagnating, the situation in Italy is “difficult.” In both countries, the increasing pressure from Eastern European window producers is having a detrimental effect. There is a “major question mark” over Southern Europe. The building sector here is greatly dependent on tourism. The situation in the United Kingdom remains challenging, as the market is suffering equally from the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the impact of the coronavirus.
When it came specifically to Roto, the Head of FTT drew a positive conclusion for Europe. The acquisition of market shares is based primarily on the “high delivery reliability” in all product groups. Growth in Germany was especially encouraging, both in terms of turnover and market shares.
In the Asia / Pacific business area, all eyes were focused on China. In the first four months of the year, the pandemic led to a deep recession here. The regular processing business collapsed by over 40% in this period compared to the previous year. The market has since started to show considerable signs of recovery. Roto is also involved in this. Regardless of this, China ranks among the regions “where our business was significantly impaired by the coronavirus at the start of the year.” Sander reports a stable level on the whole for the rest of the Asiatic and Pacific region.
Good situation and innovative example
All things considered, it is expected that Roto FTT’s turnover in 2020 will be around the level of the previous year. This is a result that the CEO classes as a “major success” against the backdrop of challenging global conditions. In this “extreme year”, the company even managed to further improve its economic strength. Sander cites efficient resource and cost management and “due caution in business activities” as the key factors in this.
If the company is to stay on the road to success in future, it needs an effective, intelligent and innovative product range. This is why, despite the challenges of the coronavirus, the company did not “press pause on development”, but instead continue to invest consistently. This also applies to the Sliding portfolio alongside the Tilt&Turn and Door product ranges. Sander took the “Roto Patio Inowa” hardware system as an example. It is the impressive response to globally relevant parameters: a population which is growing and increasingly ageing, ever-scarcer housing and more frequent extreme weather.
The list of practical advantages offered by “Patio Inowa” is equally long. The smart sliding solution saves space and the cost of floor space, is easy and convenient to use thanks to the new “Soft” functions, makes many formats possible, is suitable for all frame materials, offers burglary inhibition in accordance with RC 2, enables even very slimline profiles, impresses thanks to the concealed technology, and ensures economical production.
The hardware system is already “at home all over the world”, as demonstrated by numerous international case study properties. The Head of FTT put the ambitious plans in a nutshell, stating “we still have the potential to increase our market penetration.” He also announced the next phase of the development of “Patio Inowa” to the specialist journalists tuned into the event: the increase in the load bearing capacity from a sash weight of 200 kg at present to over 300 kg. To conclude, Sander described the core of Roto’s strategy as follows: “We want to and will actively support and assist our customers around the world, and make them even more competitive with our innovations, even after the coronavirus crisis is over.”