In the 2019 financial year, the technology group Freudenberg SE, Weinheim/Germany, continued to invest in machinery, equipment, acquisitions and above all in the 3 key topics of the 2018-2020 strategy period: mobility, digitalization and sustainability. In addition, research and development activities were again significantly expanded at a high level. In 2019, sales of the Freudenberg Group totaled €9.47 billion (2018: €9.46 billion), almost matching the previous year's level. At €820 million, the operating result (EBIT) was below the previous year's high level (€910.3 million).
Sales in the Technical Textiles and Filtration Business Area, which comprise the segments Freudenberg Performance Materials, Freudenberg Filtration Technologies and Japan Vilene Company, rose by 3.7% to €1.97 billion.
2019 was a challenging year for Freudenberg Performance Materials (-3.2%). The business environment proved difficult as demand in some key markets progressively slowed down from Q2/2019. This was attributable to uncertainty associated with the economic slowdown, the trade disputes, and Brexit. The automotive market, which had already begun to slacken in China and the USA in the second half of 2018, also weakened in Europe in 2019. This impacted the Business Group’s “Automotive Interiors” segment and business with filter media.
Momentum in the apparel market slowed in almost all regions, and margins came under increasing pressure.
On the other hand, the newly-established “Healthcare” Division reported growth in the promising advanced wound care segment in Europe. In the Energy business, sales in cable protection applications and battery separators rose.
Following the acquisition of a leading manufacturer of air and water filtration solutions in China, the Freudenberg Filtration Technologies Segment developed positively in 2019. Overall, existing business was roughly on a par with the previous year. While sales in industrial filtration rose in the mid-single-digit percentage range despite volatile market demand, business with automotive filters declined significantly in line with market demand.
In a challenging market environment, sales in the Japan Vilene Company segment increased by 4% to € 580.3 million. Advantageous exchange rate effects had a positive impact.
Developments in the Industrial Materials division during the year under review were mixed, but overall there was a slight decrease in sales. While sales in electrical and industrial materials, for headliner facings, and for apparel and amenity materials were down on the previous year’s level, there was a slight rise in sales in medical materials and air filter materials.