Ladies and Gentlemen,
“We woke up today in a different world”—these were the words that German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock used on the morning of 24 February 2022 to signal that nothing would ever be the same again. We all thought we were safe when 1990 brought about German reunification and the end of the Cold War. We thought the conflict between West and East had been resolved and that diplomacy and strong alliances were guarantors of peace and freedom.
The Würth Group is responsible for over 83,000 employees. More than four million customers across the globe trust Würth to be on hand to assist them as a reliable partner, even in difficult times. As a family business, Würth is supported by a strong culture of values characterized by mutual respect and tolerance. The European idea of world peace is based on the very same foundation. All of this gives me confidence that our longing for peace will ultimately prove stronger than war and terror. My thoughts are with all the separated families, with the people in Ukraine who are forced to leave their homes in search of safety, and with those who are risking their lives there for a better future. Therefore, I hope that our donation of one million euros will provide support during this difficult time. There is also a great deal of solidarity within the Group: Our employees are collecting donations in kind to help people in Ukraine.
The Würth Group closed the 2021 fiscal year very successfully. With sales of EUR 17.1 billion, the Group grew by 18.4 percent, while the operating result increased to EUR 1.3 billion. Nobody can predict how this war will affect the fiscal year that lies ahead. The German economy expects to see an end to the COVID-19 crisis, which gives us at least one reason to be hopeful. I myself am putting my energy and confidence into every discussion with our customers, employees and every person I meet, combined with the message that commitment to peace and freedom, the cornerstones of social cohesion, begins with each and every one of us. Each and every one of us has to bear responsibility. We all decide what our children’s future will look like.
Work of the Advisory Board
The Advisory Board of the Würth Group held four extensive meetings in 2021. A resolution was also passed to expand the Central Managing Board from four to five members at an extraordinary Advisory Board meeting held on 3 February 2021. These meetings were all based on the reports from the Central Managing Board members covering the business situation, projections, and opportunity and risk management. All transactions subject to approval pursuant to the company statutes were submitted to the Advisory Board for approval in good time and considered at length; in urgent cases, resolutions were passed by means of a circular procedure.
In 2021, the work of the Advisory Board was again dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the company. The Advisory Board provided support to the Central Managing Board. The aim of the Advisory Board’s work was to continue with the general strategic development of the Würth Group in addition to focusing on overcoming the pandemic in the short term. In this respect, topics relating to the digitalization of our business model and processes remained a focal point in 2021 and became even more important in light of the pandemic. Another focus topic was ensuring the availability of goods. The Advisory Board’s regional focus was on the Würth Group’s activities in North America and Asia, particularly in China.
The Advisory Board continuously monitored the work of the Central Managing Board and provided it with support in its management duties, in the further strategic development of the company, and with regard to key individual issues. In addition, the Chairwoman of the Advisory Board was provided with regular information on current developments and relevant events within the company outside of board meetings in reports by members of the Central Managing Board.
Each of the Advisory Board’s three committees (Personnel, Audit, and Investment Committee) met three times in 2021. These meetings serve to increase the efficiency of the Advisory Board, carrying out preparatory work on complex issues. The committee chairs each report regularly and in depth to the Advisory Board as a whole on the work of the committees.
On 27 April 2021, the Advisory Board’s Audit Committee took an extensive look at the 2020 consolidated financial statements, including the Group management report, for which an unqualified opinion was issued, as well as the audit report prepared by Ernst & Young GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft. The Audit Committee examined these documents and approved them. In 2021, the Audit Committee focused on ensuring the effectiveness of risk management, internal auditing, and compliance structures in the Würth Group, as well as on the Group’s IT strategy in a forward-looking manner.
The Advisory Board’s Investment Committee assessed the investment projects that are subject to approval and classified them according to urgency and significance. The committee also addressed the issue of investment controlling, especially in light of the impact of the pandemic on short-term business development. The Würth Group remained committed to its investment culture as a prerequisite for the company’s growth in 2021. The Advisory Board approved the corporate plan, including the investment and financial plan, of the Würth Group for the 2022 fiscal year at its meeting on 10 December 2021 based on the proposal submitted by the Investment Committee.
The Advisory Board’s Personnel Committee dealt with all personnel measures falling within the Advisory Board’s area of responsibility at its meetings. The Committee focused on HR development and succession planning for managers, as well as on the structure of the management incentive and remuneration systems. The Personnel Committee has the power to pass resolutions regarding employment contracts and management remuneration.
The Advisory Board of the Würth Group would like to thank the Central Managing Board and the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group’s Family Trusts for the good working relationship, especially Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group’s Family Trusts. Although the 2021 fiscal year was still hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, it proved to be a very successful year. We would like to extend a very sincere thank you to all our employees for this outstanding achievement. Most importantly, we would like to thank all our customers and business partners for their loyalty to the Würth Group.
Chairwoman of the Advisory Board of the Würth Group
(Photo: Frank Blümler)