Bekaert combined sales by sector
Combined sales: € 1 148 million
Capital expenditures (PP&E): € 52 million
Total assets: € 881 million
Employees: 7 297

Economic environment in 2016

Europe has seen a stable economic performance in 2016. While the overall GDP growth was about the same in comparison with 2015 – slightly below 2% - the increased economic, financial and political uncertainties did show in the significant discrepancies between countries. 

Many countries saw a stabilization or deceleration of their GDP growth in 2016 from 2015’s already weak reading. While the impact on economy from terrorist attacks, refugee migration, or political instability has not been proven, these developments have led to increased uncertainty, which dented growth in Turkey, Italy, Greece, France, and other countries in the region. 

Eastern European countries generally achieved solid growth rates. Romania and Slovakia for instance, delivered 5% and 3.5% GDP growth respectively. In Russia, recession continued in 2016, although the pace of GDP decline has slowed down to less than -1%. 

Amidst the various political and economic headwinds, the European automotive and construction markets - sectors which are crucial for Europe’s prosperity and highly relevant for Bekaert’s activities - witnessed continued strong demand in 2016. Energy-related markets, however, were heavily affected by the downturn in the oil and gas sector.

Bekaert has a presence in both the Western and the Central & Eastern European markets. In Europe, we offer a quality portfolio of advanced steel wire products for sectors that are in search of innovative, high-end products and solutions. 

Our activity performance

Demand from European markets remained solid throughout 2016. This applied to automotive and construction markets in particular, while demand for profiled wires declined as a result of investment delays and cancellations in the oil and gas sector. 

Bekaert’s activities in EMEA delivered excellent results with record EBIT, EBITDA and ROCE performance. The strengthened business portfolio after recent acquisitions, divestments and business exits and the increased benefits from various transformation programs drove EMEA’s solid, double-digit profit base to a record full-year underlying EBIT margin of 12.2% and € 141 million in absolute numbers, up 10% from last year.

Capital expenditure (PP&E) was € 52 million and included capacity expansions and equipment upgrades in all plants, particularly in Slovakia, Romania and Belgium.

Transforming our business

The global transformational programs supporting Bekaert’s vision and strategies are gaining impact in implementation scope and speed. Also in Europe:
  • Bekaert’s global manufacturing excellence program aims to gain competitiveness by optimizing our safety, quality, delivery performance and productivity. In Europe, the program has been implemented in Zwevegem (Belgium), Hlohovec (Slovakia), Petrovice and Bohumín (Czechia), Izmit and Kartepe (Turkey) and Ubisa (Spain). It will be rolled out across the region in 2017 and the coming years.
  • The customer excellence program is projected to drive growth and margin performance and is being rolled out by business cell, across all regions.
  • A supply chain excellence program was launched which focuses on sales & operations planning, inventory management, production planning and master data structure and content.
  • The company’s new global safety excellence program, BeCare, kicked off with awareness sessions and trainings to ensure better safety performance and a true safety culture.

Hosting our customers

  • Bekaert organized a European Customer Week with a varied program including information sessions, workshops and customer visits in all European plants and offices. The intention was to build a better understanding with all employees of who our customers are and how we can all contribute in serving them better.
  • In April 2016, Bekaert hosted its customers at Wire Düsseldorf, the largest fair for steel wire manufacturers, machine builders and customers in Europe.

Celebrating past and future successes

  • Bekaert celebrated 15 years of manufacturing presence in Slovakia. Almost 4 000 people participated in the celebration which took place at the Trnava City Arena. Bekaert is an important employer in Slovakia and wanted to celebrate the anniversary with all employees and their families.
  • Bekaert Combustion Technologies in Assen (Netherlands) and Bekaert Advanced Cords Aalter (Belgium) – now part of Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group – both celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2016.
Bekaert 50 jaar Aalter

Capital market event 2016

In June 2016, Matthew Taylor, CEO, several members of the Bekaert Group Executive and of the EMEA regional management, and the Bekaert Investor Relations team hosted the financial analysts who cover Bekaert in their research at a capital market event in Romania.

The program included a full business update, information on the Bekaert manufacturing excellence program, a status update on the establishment of Bridon-Bekaert Ropes group, and a presentation on tire market developments by a guest speaker of Continental AG. On the second day of the event, all participants traveled to Slatina to visit the Bekaert tire cord plant and the neighboring Pirelli tire plant.

The purpose of a capital market event is to help analysts understand Bekaert's strategy, markets, and performance – so they gain a more in-depth view of the business dynamics which should help them in their analyses and guidance.

First stone laying ceremony of Bekaert's new Headquarters

In April 2016, Chairman Bert De Graeve and Mayor Marc Doutreluingne laid the first stone of Bekaert’s new Headquarters. The ceremony took place on the construction site in Zwevegem. 

The new building will house 175 employees who are now located in 4 different office blocks in Zwevegem and Kortrijk.
The adjacent neogotic building is being renovated. 

We project a finalization of the construction works by mid 2017.