Brückner Group reports strong growth

New assembly site in Navi Mumbai

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Brückner's Siegsdorf
Brückner's Siegsdorf premises Photo Brückner Group

The Brückner Group member companies remain strong players in the field of suppliers of machines and systems for processing plastics and alternative materials. In addition to the packaging industry, target markets include the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, the refrigerator industry and highly specialized niche markets in plastics technology.

Even though the business focus of the individual group companies is still on the packaging industry, special applications such as lines for the production of battery separator films are becoming increasingly important. The broad product portfolio enables the Brückner Group to react quickly to market trends and, if necessary, to compensate for fluctuations in the individual industries. The expansion of applications to include alternative materials does the rest.

In order to meet the demands of the market and to be able to serve customers in the best possible way, the Brückner Group invests and grows on a broad level – expanded product portfolio, increased number of employees, and the expansion of locations worldwide. Within the Brückner Group, internal growth takes precedence over external acquisitions. To achieve this, a wide range of investments have been made and staff has been built up in recent years: The number of employees worldwide has increased fivefold to almost 2,600 in the last 15 years and will continue to grow.

Brückner's CEO Axel von Wiedersperg
Brückner’s CEO Axel von Wiedersperg announced the expansion of several Asian locations including the move to a new assembly facility in Navi Mumbai
Photo Brückner Group

Part of this growth philosophy is, too, a worldwide investment in locations and subsidiaries. For Navi Mumbai, India, CEO Axel von Wiedersperg announces a move into a newly converted assembly facility to support market growth in India. A step in Asia will be done with the re-establishment of the Brückner Group Asia-Pacific and the associated move to the new site in Bangkok, Thailand.

Over 50% growth

Groupwide, after an already very positive turnover development in the past years, growth of significantly more than 50% compared to the last K fair year 2019 and a very pleasing annual turnover of more than one billion Euros (for the first time) are indicated for 2022.

The biggest driver of the Brückner Group’s dynamic growth is the film stretching business of Brückner Maschinenbau, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2020. It has even more than doubled its turnover since 2019. Kiefel has also recorded very dynamic growth over the past few years, driven not least by packaging technology.

Schneider-CFO-BrücknerGroupWEB300
Maximilian Schneider, CFO Brückner Group
Photo Susanne Blüml

The company continues with its philosophy to provide markets with tailor-made solutions. Presenting the actual figures Maximilian Schneider, CFO, underlines, “We have to deliver according to market’s specific requirements. It not up to us to rate markets preferences.” This understanding includes a broadening of portfolio at Kiefel, Freilassing, Germany, who opened a new business field in less than two years – fiber based molding technology, a sector which is expected to gain more ground in the near future.

Boom in stretching lines for packaging films

In the years 2020 and 2021, the market for packaging films has really exploded worldwide – and, as a result, the demand for film stretching lines from Brückner Maschinenbau has increased significantly. One reason for the very pleasing business development is that topics such as hygiene and food safety have become much more important in the packaging sector globally. In addition, food retailing and mail order have recorded growth in all regions.

In 2020, Brückner Maschinenbau’s turnover in complete lines and equipment for the plastics and film industry was around €400 million, in 2021 it was around €500 million. A record turnover of more than €800 million is expected for 2022.

Demand from Asia remains strongest

A look at the worldwide distribution of sold lines shows that China continues to be the strongest market, the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia also remain core markets.

After a few quieter years in the typical BOPET cycle, demand for equipment to produce oriented polyester film (BOPET) was particularly high in Asia. This type of film is valued there primarily for its excellent mechanical strength, good coating capability and further processing capability as a packaging material. In addition, the increasing number of installed polycondensation plants, i.e. own PET raw material production in China, is responsible for the boom – raw material producers want to process their raw material efficiently on site into high-quality film.

The market for biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) has been stable for years, and consumption has risen steadily worldwide in recent years. BOPP films are very popular mainly because of their outstanding barrier properties and thus universal applicability for a wide variety of packaging.

At K 2019, Brückner Maschinenbau presented new hybrid plant concepts for the production of BOPE films (biaxially oriented polyethylene). The aim is to develop a rigid carrier film (HDPE) step by step starting from sealing film (LDPE) for the circular economy. These then enable the production of complete BOPE mono-material films for unmixed packaging, good sortability and best recyclability.

Since 2019, Brückner has sold eleven BOPE/BOPP hybrid lines worldwide in this completely new market segment. Two of these have already gone into operation in Europe, with five more to follow this year. Brückner expects demand in this field to rise steadily in the coming years.

In the packaging market, demand for Brückner lines is expected to go down again in the next few years in line with the traditionally very volatile cycle. The company sets its sights on the further development of special film lines market for battery separator films. These lines from Siegsdorf are in demand worldwide, especially for the rapidly growing eMobility sector. In total, approximately 35 million electric cars are forecast worldwide by 2030, which will trigger a corresponding demand for approximately 280 lines for battery separator films for lithium-ion batteries.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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