KION Group CEO Smith: ”The fundamental drivers of our industry are strong.”

Premiere for the new CEO Rob Smith: At his first Annual General Meeting as CEO of KION GROUP AG, he looked back on the successful financial year 2021, which the Group closed with very good results.

The strong performance in 2021 was also reflected in basic earnings per share of €4.34 (2020: €1.81). Investors will now participate in these successes: The Annual General Meeting approved the Executive Board's proposal to pay a dividend of 1.50 euros per share – a very significant increase of more than three times the previous year's figure (0.41 euros per share).

Sustainability as an essential part of corporate strategy

Looking at the company's prospects, the CEO highlighted, among other things, KION's expertise in electric drives and battery technology: “We are one of the most important providers of e-mobility in intralogistics – worldwide. Today, almost 90 percent of all new forklift trucks and warehouse trucks manufactured by the KION Group are electrically powered.” He added that lithium-ion technology and its further development were the focus of the company's own research and development. Two and a half years ago, KION and BMZ established the joint company KION Battery Systems in Karlstein am Main. At the end of April 2022, a new production line for 24-volt batteries was opened there, which will also be used to power the Group's warehouse equipment in the future. “This is high-tech made by KION – and in Germany,” added Smith.

Smith emphasized that sustainability is becoming increasingly important in society and industry – including at KION. Therefore, this important area for the future is firmly anchored in the KION Group's strategy as a separate and central field of action. “We bear responsibility – for the climate, the environment and society. Our sustainability expertise and progress are recognized – also in the capital market. “In 2021, the KION Group received a B rating from non-profit organization CDP and was awarded an A rating by MSCI ESG.” He also reported to shareholders that KION also commits itself to the implementation of its sustainability goals in terms of compensation: “20 percent of the variable remuneration of the Executive Board and executives is aligned with our sustainability goals.”

Smith used several examples to explain to the shareholders how KION is shaping the future of intralogistics. For example, the Group has been working with the Fraunhofer Institute for years to develop successful solutions, including the Dematic multi-shuttle system used in many warehouses. “This system plays a decisive role in intralogistics today,” described the CEO and showed the example of the new high-performance multi-channel fulfillment center in Trecate, Italy. It distributes clothing and jewelry of leading fashion brands to 80 countries. It combines multiple automation systems from Dematic, including a 600.000 storage location Multishuttle, a 50.000 location pallet rack, a 3-module pouch system, 10 kilometers of conveyors and the full Dematic software suite. The entire complex is about the size of 22 soccer fields. “It is one of the most modern and fastest warehouses Dematic has built to date. We have set a benchmark worldwide with this,” Smith said.

A few months ago, the next project for the future was launched with the Fraunhofer institute: a new generation of driverless transport vehicles with enormous sorting performance, called LoadRunner, which KION wants to bring to market maturity. These are swarm robots for warehouses that are intended to revolutionize intralogistics with artificial intelligence. “The vehicles are unusually fast. They also talk and work with each other. This makes them ideal for warehouse sorting tasks – for example, in parcel centers. KION is bringing a completely new technology into the warehouse: Swarm robotics,” Smith explained.

Proposals by Supervisory Board and Executive Board approved by majority vote

The majority of shareholders approved all the proposals put forward by the Supervisory Board and Executive Board. Around 225 shareholders and shareholder representatives watched the virtual Annual General Meeting.

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