4.2 Strategic levers

1. Consolidation of market-leading position in Europe and expansion of range of services

The KION Group is the technological leader in the industry with a broad range of products and solutions across six brands and a constantly growing service offering at group level. It intends to undertake further consolidation of its market-leading position in Europe and to build on its competitive advantage.

The Group's range of highly efficient products enables customers to achieve significant improvements in their logistics operations in terms of consumption, performance and ergonomics. For 50 years, the Linde brand has enjoyed an outstanding market reputation with its hydrostatic drive and economical, efficient, low-maintenance units. Linde also has many years of experience and expertise in electric trucks and is continuously pressing ahead with new developments in its Linde Hydraulics business unit and the new Electronic Systems and Drives division. STILL is strongly placed in the high-potential market for hybrid drives with its diesel-electric drive system – a unique concept in the sector. In addition, STILL offers a broad selection of automated logistics vehicles, including vehicles for challenging warehouse environments.

The Linde and STILL brands are focusing a great deal of effort on separate concepts and development projects involving alternative power sources for drives such as hybrid, fuel-cell and lithium-ion technologies in order to ensure that they can benefit from the long-term trend towards 'green logistics'. In 2011, the KION Group's research and development expenditure amounted to 2.8 per cent of total revenue, or 4.7 per cent of revenue from new and hydraulics business. The research and development expenditure ratio in the KION Group is therefore at the upper end for the industry, allowing the Company to continue to consolidate its technological advantage and at all times offer its customers innovative logistics solutions that are fit for the future.

The KION Group aligns its range of products and services directly with the requirements of its logistics customers and thereby secures customer loyalty. The range therefore extends well beyond the straightforward sale of trucks to encompass a comprehensive service offering that covers customer requirements for solutions and services over their entire internal material flow. This includes the provision of, and ongoing support for, individual and fleet solutions as well as efficient, end-to-end material flow management including the necessary IT systems. Services worth highlighting in addition to conventional aftersales business include the sale and leasing of used trucks and the provision of finance and leasing services. In 2011, service business accounted for 42 per cent of total revenue. Given an active fleet numbering more than one million units over the entire market, service business is of huge significance to the KION Group. This business represents a key driver for long-term customer loyalty and its importance to the Group will continue to grow in the future. This is the basis for continuous expansion of the range of support services and increasing service cover for the active fleet.

2. Developing the full potential in growth markets

The KION Group is already superbly positioned in all growth regions – eastern Europe, South America and Asia – and is endeavouring to consolidate its position primarily in the BRIC countries so that it can benefit from the potential for further growth in these regions. In two of these markets of the future, China and Brazil, the KION Group has established local production facilities. Regional research and development teams have also been set up. These teams take into account local market requirements early in the product development phase, thereby facilitating the development of solutions that are both customer-oriented and cost-effective. The KION Group will continue to target growth regions in terms of capital investment, expansion of its product range and strengthening of the sales and service network so that it is able to fully leverage the potential in the global logistics market.

3. Multi-brand strategy aimed at increasing market penetration

The KION Group has six brands. It is the market leader in Europe and the global number two in the industrial trucks market. Different regions as well as different markets and customer requirements are efficiently covered and supported by the brands Linde, Fenwick, STILL, OM (OM STILL from 2012), Baoli and Voltas. The KION Group operates globally with its premium brands Linde and STILL, which are complemented in Europe by Fenwick in France and OM STILL in Italy. The international Chinese brand Baoli, which has been part of the KION Group since 2009, and the local Indian brand Voltas (part of the Group since 2011) service the high-volume economy segment.

The multi-brand approach allows the KION Group to pursue a targeted sales and service strategy adapted to each particular market. This approach also means that the Group can offer a number of different options compared with competitors and thereby boost its market presence. In addition, the KION Group plans to expand and achieve further improvements in its global market position through selective acquisition of local providers.

4. Cost leadership through synergies and continuous operational excellence

Since the KION Group was hived off from the Linde Group in 2006, the Company has systematically exploited potential efficiency improvements and thereby enhanced its performance. The organisation is structured so that synergies can be realised across brands and a best-practice approach can be implemented throughout the Group. Despite the moves towards standardised processes and structures, one of the key strategic elements of marketing is a clear differentiation between the brands.

The corporate functions in the KION Group are managed centrally under the umbrella of Central Operations (COPS) in order to ensure that standards are established and expertise is made available throughout the Group. Efforts to improve efficiency focus both on continuous streamlining of production processes and on platform strategies and other modular concepts. Central purchasing generates cost benefits for the entire Group, cross-brand research and development activities pool resources and promote efficient utilisation of capacity; in turn, standardisation of IT systems and platforms reduces costs and facilitates maintenance. The KION Group plans to continue to improve its cost structures and thereby its market position over the long term by exploiting further potential synergies and enhancing operating performance on a continuous basis.

An approval process for capital expenditure projects has been implemented throughout the KION Group. It supports appraisal and decision-making for capital expenditure projects to ensure that such projects are efficient and economic over the long term. Capital expenditure projects in excess of €250,000 are presented individually in detail and are also subject to an investment appraisal using the discounted cash flow method. The results are reviewed to ensure that the internal rate of return and the payback period are acceptable. Capital expenditure projects aim to generate a sustained increase in enterprise value and must therefore achieve a higher internal rate of return than the cost of capital.

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