Beijing, May 18, 2016. Freudenberg, a leading global technology group based in Germany, has continued its successful path in China despite a slow-down in overall economic growth. With 23 production sites and some 6,190 employees in China, Freudenberg is an important supplier to numerous industries. In 2015, company sales in the Greater China region reached CNY 6 billion (+0.4 percent compared to the previous year). On a Euro basis, sales amounted to € 858 million, a plus of 18 percent vs. 2014 and now representing about 11 percent of the 2015 total global Freudenberg sales of € 7.57 billion. “Overall we are satisfied with our development in China. It is based on innovative, value-added solutions and proximity to the customer, enabling us to deal with challenging market conditions,” said Hanno D. Wentzler, Regional Representative Asia for the Freudenberg Group, at the company’s annual press conference in Beijing.
Wentzler pointed out that following the strong growth rates over the last decade, China is now experiencing a phase of transition and consolidation typical of all global economies: “In our more than 166-year company history – and in over 100 years of partnership with China – Freudenberg has faced numerous episodes of market volatility. But endurance, innovative strength, the ability to reinvent ourselves and to respond rapidly to a changing environment have ensured our sustainable growth,” said Wentzler. “The same principles apply to our engagement in China and we strongly believe in a prosperous development of the country in the long-term. Our investment strategy reflects this, as we continue to extend our footprint in this important market.”
Continued investment – in facilities and leadership in R&D
Integral to the Group’s long-term approach and innovation strategy in China are continued investments in people development, high-tech infrastructure and local R&D facilities. Overall investments in Greater China in 2015 amounted to CNY 254.6 million, up nearly 13 percent compared to 2014. Over the last three years Freudenberg’s R&D-related expenditure in China increased by some 70 percent. In Suzhou, for example, the company installed new production lines and R&D testing facilities in 2015. The Suzhou site was certified by Chinese authorities as a “High and New Technology Enterprise” in recognition of its R&D activities – officially rating it as a highly innovative company.
Together for an upgraded manufacturing landscape
Freudenberg sees itself in a unique position to support strategically important industries that are the focus of China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan. “China is already the world’s largest manufacturer. With its extensive infrastructure and powerful workforce, experts say it has the potential to become a global innovation leader,” said Bettina Schoen-Behanzin, General Manager, Freudenberg Regional Corporate Center Asia. “Manufacturing companies make up the lion’s share of our customers. With our own manufacturing expertise and in-depth knowledge in materials science, Freudenberg is committed to innovating together with its customers to contribute to China’s industrial upgrade.”
The company presented examples of its latest innovations for China’s agriculture, renewable energies, automotive and biotech sectors. A new lubricant developed in China specifically for China’s sugar industry, for example, meets the growing demand for high-performance, safe, and environmentally-friendly lubricants: it is fully biodegradable, decreases lubricant consumption by 50 percent and saves up to 2.5 percent energy. For China’s wind energy industry, NOK-Freudenberg (China) offers highly functional and durable sealing solutions made from superior materials to meet the tough requirements of wind turbine applications. Freudenberg IT Asia offers expert services and IT solutions for its growing customer base in China to support efficiency, quality and connectivity – all the way up to smart manufacturing in the sense of “Industry 4.0”.
In addition to its long-standing aid project at the Ke De Bao Primary School in Haijin, Sichuan province, the Freudenberg Group has recently launched a new global corporate citizenship program named “e²”. The program encourages all Freudenberg employees to initiate and support non-profit projects in the fields of education and environmental protection. In Shanghai, for example, Freudenberg is preparing a project to overhaul used office computers and IT equipment and to donate them to a local school. The objective is to support students from lower-income families while at the same time helping to reduce electronic waste. As part of the project, Freudenberg employees will volunteer to provide IT training to the school’s teachers.