VDMA reports dip in sales but more optimistic outlook

The German shipbuilding and offshore equipment industry continued to lead the field in terms of export volumes last year. Its 400 member companies generated annual turnover for 2020 of €10.5 billion, 76% of which was for overseas customers, the VDMA Marine Equipment and Systems Association reported at its annual media conference this week.

Overall VDMA members reported a 4.9% decline in sales during 2020 but it was a mixed picture for the equipment industry with 31% of companies still recording growth compared to 45% reporting a decline.

Any forecast for 2021 is ‘difficult’ due to the effects of the pandemic, observed the association, but it detects clear signs of recovery due to a strong increase in demand from shipbuilding.

“The current development in the markets with a significant increase in incoming orders makes the industry optimistic, and expectations for the future are positive,” said Martin Johannsmann, Chairman of the Board of VDMA and CEO of SKF GmbH.

“Even if there is still insufficient capacity utilisation in parts of the industry now, the increasing orders for new ships give more than hope for 2021 and 2022,” he added. “We have learned to respond flexibly to the needs of the pandemic.”

However, the VDMA noted the increasing importance of China – as a customer but also “as a competitor”.