Letter from the Management Board
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the ALTANA Group. Although the roots of our company actually date back much further – the BYK and ECKART divisions were established back in the 19th century – this anniversary is a milestone in ALTANA’s success story. Looking back, we can see that the qualities that characterize our company were especially clear in 2017.
In the last fiscal year, we once again demonstrated our innovation potential, not only through our own research and development, but also by strengthening our company with acquisitions. In doing so, we also entered new territory. For example, we significantly increased our basic research by cooperating with universities within the framework of the ALTANA Institute. In addition, the founding of ACTEGA Metal Print gave rise to the first startup company in the ALTANA Group.
Owing to our customer proximity and service orientation, we were able to take advantage of various business opportunities in our markets. We increased our operating sales by 7 percent and our nominal sales by 8 percent, thus exceeding our growth targets substantially. Acquisitions by BYK and ELANTAS also contributed to this development.
The driving force behind our dynamic profitable growth is our largest division, BYK, which broke the one billion Euro sales mark at the end of 2017. And the division keeps on growing, due, for example, to large expansion projects in Shanghai and Gonzales in the USA.
The other divisions also contributed to our growth or paved the way for future expansion. In 2017, ECKART boosted its sales more substantially than it had for a long time. ELANTAS is particularly benefitting from the demand in China and is further expanding its site in Tongling. And in a challenging business environment, ACTEGA continues to invest in the future, for example in the modernization of production and research in Bremen.
However, we not only aim to ensure our company’s long-term economic success, but also to be sustainable in every respect. Thus, as a member of UN Global Compact, ALTANA actively supports the goals of this organization, the world’s most important and largest initiative for responsible corporate management.
By integrating sustainability criteria into our business processes, we took a great stride forward last year. And nearly all of our environmental key performance indicators showed a positive development. In 2017, we already reached our goal of reducing our specific CO² emissions by 30 percent in the period from 2007 to 2020. After improving all of our key accident figures in 2016, we did not achieve the goals we set ourselves for the past fiscal year. As a result, we are now focusing even more on measures that will enable further optimization in this important area, too.
Throughout all of this, our ability to change is the engine of our further development. Within the framework of our Keep Changing Agenda, established in 2016, we made significant progress in 2017: We strengthened the strategic management function of ALTANA’s holding company and bundled competence and service units, which began work at the beginning of the year as the ALTANA Management Services company. And we also pushed forward the digital transformation of ALTANA, to cite just a few examples.
As in the development of our Keep Changing Agenda, we rely on the integration of our employees in corporate decision-making processes. Furthermore, we are in contact with external interest groups and opinion leaders. We are convinced that only in dialog with people who are associated with ALTANA directly or indirectly can we keep the company on track for the future and create value not only for our customers, employees, and shareholder, but also for society as a whole.
For this reason, in 2017 we intensified our dialog with selected representatives of these stakeholders by means of structured interviews. You can read excerpts in the magazine section of this report. For example, a mayor and a managing director at ACTEGA talk about what constitutes the right degree of citizen participation in expansion projects in the middle of residential areas. An internationally experienced energy expert, who otherwise advises governments, exchanges ideas with the chief engineer of our most energyintensive operation. The chairwoman of a children’s welfare organization in India talks with our CSR manager in that country about the importance of legally required social engagement. The managing director of a Swedish foundation that promotes women in management positions and an employee representative on ALTANA’s Supervisory Board talk about what German chemical companies can learn from Swedish firms. And the purchasing manager of one of our largest customers and his key account manager discuss the issue of how innovation can be advanced to continue to benefit both sides in the future, and what role sustainable products play in the process.
Our answer: The people at ALTANA are and will remain our recipe for success. They make ALTANA what it is: a highly innovative customer- and service-oriented company with the courage and will to change, yet at the same time with the staying power needed for sustainable corporate action.
We would like to warmly thank our employees for their contribution to the success and development of ALTANA in the 2017 fiscal year. Thanks also go to the members of the Supervisory Board for their constructive accompaniment and their trust in ALTANA’s work.
Martin Babilas Stefan Genten Dr. Christoph Schlünken