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First quarter sales in 2009 up by ten percent


DEKRA bucks economic trend

  • Testing organisation remains on course to achieve sales target of two billion euros by 2010
  • Evolution into complete provider in attractive growth markets
  • Further expansion achieved by blend of organic growth and acquisitions

Stuttgart - The international technical services organisation DEKRA continues to grow despite the global downturn. "Our target of achieving a sales volume of two billion euros by the end of 2010 remains a realistic one," stated DEKRA boss Dr. Klaus Schmidt speaking at the Financial Statement Press Conference held in Stuttgart on May 14th, 2009. "As of April 2009 we have already improved our overall sales by ten per cent vis-a-vis the same period last year. The growth is once again being fuelled by more industrial inspections, automotive services, education and training." Schmidt described last year as a "year of strategic expansion." All in all, DEKRA made 15 acquisitions with a combined sales volume of around 100 million euros annually and thereby accessed new growth markets. Including the organic growth recorded by all the Business Units, the Group's sales increased by almost 11 per cent to 1.596 billion euros. The pre-tax profits grew by 12.3 per cent to 94.7 million euros.

"Together with the global increase in demand for safety and quality-related services, our clearly defined strategic focus on growth markets promises an excellent future. Although the economic downturn has not left us completely unscathed, we have so far been able to more than compensate for dips in sales in, for example, the temporary work sector or in real estate and construction." Member of the Board Roland Gerdon added that "we have remained true to our reputation of being one of the job motors in the European service sector. In 2008 the workforce grew by roughly 2,000, of which around 1,000 had resulted from acquisitions." Overall, DEKRA now has a workforce of more than 20,000.

World market leader in the automotive sector

In the automotive business alone, DEKRA increased its sales in 2008 by more than 12 per cent. "With sales of almost 1 billion euros we are the undisputed Number One in the global market and more than twice as large as our nearest competitor" emphasised Schmidt. In Germany DEKRA Automobil GmbH was able to maintain its market lead in vehicle inspections. In a widely distributed sector, it was successfully able to defend its market share of around 35 per cent.

Appraisals posted a significant improvement in sales, with used car management, vehicle evaluations and homologations making a considerable contribution. With its used car management systems DEKRA CarOperator and FleetOperator, DEKRA is reaching out to an increasing number of customer groups and has already established itself as the market leader in Germany in this segment. The acquisition of GKK Gutachtenzentrale in early 2008 gives DEKRA broader access to fleet- and leasing customers.

Internationally, further companies serving the automotive sector were set up in Great Britain, Croatia, North- and South Africa as well as in Russia with promising growth markets for expert services being developed. In France, the second core market after Germany, DEKRA bolstered its market position by establishing new business areas such as, for example, vehicle type testing and used car management. In preparation for the planned introduction of periodic vehicle monitoring for cars in South Africa, DEKRA has entered into a joint venture with South African partners. Mandatory inspections - so-called "road-worthy tests" - of cars which have undergone a change of ownership are already being offered at 40 test centres.

Broad-based range of industrial inspection services

"By posting a sales increase of more than 15 per cent, we have managed to turn industrial inspection into the second strong pillar within the company," said the DEKRA head. In Europe and beyond, DEKRA has more than 4,500 staff in this segment which produces sales of 351 million euros.

In the first year of full market liberalisation for industrial inspections DEKRA has already been able to land numerous new key contracts in Germany, too. One in four fuel stations in Germany is now inspected by DEKRA Industrial while since liberalisation of the market a further 50,000 elevator inspection contracts have been agreed. Furthermore, DEKRA is already one of the three key providers of non-destructive materials testing services in Germany. Within DEKRA Umwelt GmbH, the business unit Sustainability Management has been restructured. It offers services associated with the chemicals ordinance REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) of the European Union and energy efficiency analyses.

International activities are developing just as dynamically. The expansion into new business areas and markets - for example, wind energy in Spain and oil and gas in Algeria - has seen the range of services successfully increased. Product testing is another growth market.

"Our French subsidiary NORISKO will switch to trading under the name of DEKRA Industrial S.A. at the beginning of the second half of 2009." Schmidt explained that this was part of the global strategy of brand harmonisation with the long-term goal of achieving a harmonised group presence across the globe.

DEKRA Akademie records the best year in its history.

DEKRA Personnel had a successful year, recording a rise in sales of 7.1 per cent. Thanks to the introduction of innovative learning methods, the DEKRA Akademie achieved a sales growth of more than 17 per cent and thus recorded the best year in its history. It tops the rankings of private training providers in Germany.

The DEKRA Arbeit Group was also able to improve its figures in 2008. The hitherto disproportionate growth recorded by DEKRA Arbeit GmbH in Germany was hindered, however, by a lack of qualified applicants. Over the course of 2008 and in early 2009 market volume began to suffer from the effects of the economic slowdown. The general economic situation led the group to target higher quality services more heavily than previously in, for example, the engineering- and medical staff professions.

Acquisitions drive growth

An important strategic move to foster international growth was made in early 2009 by acquiring a majority stake in the Brazilian Volchi Holding based in Sao Paulo. Volchi comprises the companies Linces Vistorias, Checkauto and Identicar. The service spectrum ranges from insurance appraisals to database-supported vehicle management and extends to marking vehicles as an anti-theft measure. "The acquisition of Volchi makes DEKRA the largest technical services organisation in Brazil," says Schmidt.

In the Netherlands, the Bartok Group was successfully integrated into the group. The appraisal specialist along with the DEKRA Claims Services Group forms an important hub for the international appraisal and claims settlement activities of the entire Group.

A further strategic acquisition was the purchase of the Finnish safety service provider Polartest. The company is the Finnish Number One in the field of material testing and the second largest provider in the field of testing pressurised vessels. Polartest also possess important knowledge about the testing of the latest generation of atomic power stations.

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