Sectoral conditions

The global material handling market, which comprises industrial trucks and supply chain solutions, expanded in the reporting year according to the KION Group’s estimates. However, the global market for industrial trucks contracted slightly in 2019 in terms of unit sales after several consecutive years of growth. The escalation of the trade dispute during the reporting period and the resultant weakening of global trade depressed demand in key sales regions. At the same time, however, demand rose sharply for warehouse automation and for sorting and picking solutions. Contributing factors here included the creation of additional warehouse and sorting capacity for the growing e-commerce market and the implementation of omnichannel strategies.

Industrial Trucks & Services

In 2019, order numbers in the global market for industrial trucks fell by 2.1 per cent year on year to around 1.5 million trucks. The market picked up slightly in the second half of the year, mainly due to an uptrend in the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region. In the EMEA region (western Europe, eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa), the KION Group’s main sales region, new orders were down by 6.2 per cent compared with the prior year. Both western Europe and eastern Europe also fell short of the level of new orders achieved in 2018.

The Americas region (North, Central and South America) saw a year-on-year decline of 6.7 per cent. Whereas North America registered a significant contraction, the Central and South American market was close to its prior-year level. The APAC region recorded moderate growth of 3.9 per cent, mainly because of a rise in unit sales of warehouse trucks in China.

Across the regions, new orders of warehouse trucks were up slightly on the prior-year level (+1.0 per cent). One of the main reasons for this growth was again that manual equipment was being replaced by entry-level electric trucks in the lower price segment. By contrast, order numbers for IC trucks were down by 5.2 per cent and for electric forklift trucks by 3.6 per cent. > TABLE 006

Global industrial truck market (order intake)006

in thousand units




Source: WITS/FEM

Western Europe




Eastern Europe




Middle East and Africa




North America




Central and South America












Supply Chain Solutions

The market for supply chain solutions delivered strong growth in 2019. According to market research company Interact Analysis, the rate of expansion was more than 10 per cent again. The increase was disproportionally high in the APAC region in comparison to the US market, which is dominated by e-commerce, and to the EMEA market.

E-commerce activities and the related realignment of supply chains towards an omnichannel approach remained the main growth drivers. In order to speed up processing times and make the flow of goods more efficient, a growing number of companies invested in the expansion and optimisation of their warehousing and logistics capacity. This included not only automated warehouse systems but also solutions for individual processes, such as picking and packing, plus fully integrated end-to-end solutions.

Procurement markets

Price trends for the commodities used by the KION Group were mixed over the course of 2019. The price of steel, the most important commodity, fell steadily as the year progressed and at the end of 2019 was well below its average price for 2018. The copper price was also down at year-end on the high average price of the prior year. The price of Brent crude did increase in the first months of the year but at the end of 2019 was lower than the average value for the previous year. The rubber price bounced back significantly after weakening for a period in 2018, but then experienced a sharp correction in the middle of the year. However, the average price for the year as a whole was higher than for 2018.