Ladies and Gentlemen,
DR. JÖRG WOLLE, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Today, we experience first-hand a transformation so fundamental, all-encompassing and rapid as it has rarely been recorded in the history of economics. Within a few years, the internet and digitalisation have been transforming our daily lives, while simultaneously revolutionising business models that worked successfully for decades. The pace and dynamic of these changes keep increasing all the time. This also has a huge impact on goods flows, global supply chains and, indeed, on logistics as a whole. Today, e-commerce accounts for almost 20 percent of global retail sales, and an increasing number of purchases in the private sphere are being made online and via mobile phone.
For logistics service providers, this means, above all, that change represents not only major challenges but also significant opportunities. Goods flows will continue to increase, producing a corresponding growth in the demand for efficient logistics. Those companies will benefit that can closely integrate their global services and physical networks with the new digital structures of their business partners and customers, thereby creating extensive value for the customer.
Kuehne + Nagel knows the potential that these changes present. This is something we began to focus on at a very early stage, and have continued to do so consistently. We are proactively shaping the transformation, and not just that of our company or industry. Our goal is to be a valuable strategic partner for our customers to help them transform their own business models. We deeply embed ourselves into our customers’ value chains and use highly efficient logistics solutions to help them leverage the benefits of digitalisation so that they are ready for what the future brings. And we are well prepared to do this.
The past year was characterised not only by a rapid pace of change in our industry. Also, the overall economic environment changed, unfortunately taking a turn for the worse in the most important sectors. We see that the trend toward national isolationism is gaining traction and growing in intensity. Major economies have become immersed in reciprocal punitive tariffs and threaten one another with trade wars. This is most painfully felt with Brexit, in which a core European country breaks away from the common market, negatively impacting all involved. This is the wrong path to take! We advocate for free and unhindered trade, because it is the foundation of prosperity for all. In the last 20 years, globalisation, which today is so often blamed for undesirable political developments, has even in poorer countries produced more wealth, a higher quality of life and better means to combat poverty than the sum of all development aid programmes of the last 50 years. The reality is that globalisation is irreversible – it is continuing to advance and that is beneficial, as long as it serves the general well-being.
The annual results achieved by the Kuehne + Nagel Group proves the company’s strength, despite this challenging environment. We look back on another successful business year. Above-average growth in volume in all of our business units and further efficiency gains have led to new records in net turnover, gross profit and EBIT. Once again, our clear focus on our target customers and target markets, our high level of expertise in the industry and our strong global presence were crucial to our performance. The key factors in our success are and will remain our almost 82,000 employees worldwide, who ensure the seamless shipment of our customers’ goods and commodities. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to express my most sincere thanks to all of them for the great contribution to the success of the Kuehne + Nagel Group.
Despite our achievements, we will not rest on our laurels. Our goal in 2019 is to once again double the market growth across all business units. To do this, we will continue to focus on organic growth, which will be supported by our active M&A strategy.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear shareholders, many of you have been invested in our company for a long time, while others have joined us more recently. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I thank all of you for your trust and I look forward to continue this journey together in the years to come.
Dr. Jörg Wolle
Chairman of the Board of Directors
KLAUS-MICHAEL KÜHNE, Honorary Chairman
KARL GERNANDT, Vice President
DR. RENATO FASSBIND
DR. THOMAS STAEHELIN
DR. MARTIN C. WITTIG