Fttings specialist, Blum, has recorded an 11.6% increase in turnover for the 2021/2022 financial year ended 30th June 2022, representing a growth in turnover of 266 million euros on the previous year.

The last financial year was another good year for kitchen and furniture manufacturers. “Consumers were again drawn to the homing and home improvement trend which remained strong during the last year," says Philipp Blum, Managing Director of Julius Blum GmbH. "The demand for fittings has stabilised at a high level.”

The family-owned business from Vorarlberg, Austria has posted 2,643.65 million euros in Group turnover for the 2021/2022 financial year. “The last business year has again proved to be a challenge due to the ongoing COVID pandemic and war in Ukraine," explains Philipp. "This makes the 11.2% increase in turnover all the more pleasing.

“This year’s increase in turnover is partly due to a growth in sales volume and partly due to the price adjustments we had to make because of the dramatic rise in costs.”

The family-owned business also added 644 employees to its headcount last year, taking staff numbers worldwide to more than 9,422. 6,981 of these employees are based in Austria.

Development of international markets
Western Europe saw another big increase in turnover, particularly in Italy, Germany and the UK. However, the political situation had a subduing effect on markets in Eastern Europe. “We are shocked by Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine which has inflicted untold suffering on many people since it was launched in February,” says Philipp Blum. "The war in the middle of Europe is shattering peace on the European continent and shaking the foundations of stability. Although our colleagues in our Ukrainian subsidiary are as well as can be expected, their health and well-being are a constant concern.

The lockdown in Shanghai and other Chinese cities in the spring of 2022 put the brakes on growth in China, while business was satisfactory in North and South America. However, international transport routes have created new challenges for the company.

“Disruption is being caused by the war in Ukraine and the worldwide shortage of freight containers, heavy goods vehicles and drivers," says Philipp Blum. "The supply chain is still under severe pressure."

The company is nevertheless satisfied with order volumes and is guardedly optimistic about future developments. “We’re pleased that we’ve been able to greatly reduce lead times for many product groups by increasing production capacity and recruiting new members of staff over the past few months,” says Philipp.

Blum Group investments
Blum has strengthened the location of Vorarlberg, Austria by investing a total of 224 million euros in its main production facilities, specifically in its plants in Bregenz, Hoechst und Gaissau. “This is where we develop our products and production methods, where we create most of the added value,” explains Managing Director, Martin Blum. “To overcome global supply chain challenges and reduce our ecological footprint, we will expand our global production network – in Europe and internationally,” he continues.

One major milestone is the completion of a new plant in Shanghai. First production lines have been put into operation and Blum has been assembling hinges for the local market since early April. The manufacturer of fittings will also have additional production space at its disposal at its Polish subsidiary from 2023.

In the past financial year, investments worldwide totalled 339 million euros. For Martin Blum, one of the most important investments is in the training of skilled professionals. “Our programme of vocational training and ongoing education is designed to stem the shortage of skilled workers. We train 400 apprentices worldwide, 363 of whom in Vorarlberg,” he says. “We’ve pulled together and come through despite another challenging year which put enormous pressure on our organisation. That wouldn’t have been possible without our extraordinary team."

Looking ahead to the forthcoming year
Blum is concerned about the high rate of inflation and rising cost of living. “People are having to think twice about how they spend their money," says Philipp. "The fragility of international supply chains, complexity of transport logistics and volatility of raw material prices will remain a challenge.

Now, more than ever before, the company as a whole needs resilience and flexibility to be able to respond to crises, learn from them and move forward. This will be key to the company’s success in volatile times. “Only in this way will we remain a reliable partner – to both our customers and employees,” he concludes.