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The art of managing the unplannable

03-20-2024 09:04 AM CET | Industry, Real Estate & Construction

Press release from: Markilux

/ PR Agency: conzept3
Michael Gerling, Director of R&D and Production, and Klaus Wuchner, Director of Sales & Marketing, are optimistic about the future

Michael Gerling, Director of R&D and Production, and Klaus Wuchner, Director of Sales & Marketing, are optimistic about the future

A gloomy consumer climate, particularly in Germany, meant another challenging financial year for markilux in 2023

For four years now, large numbers of companies in the country have been mastering a difficult, obstacle-ridden course. A whole range of economic and political factors have led to a sharp drop in general purchasing power in Germany; the effects of which were also felt by awning specialist markilux in 2023.

Seasonal cycles with varying volumes of incoming orders have always been normal in the solar protection industry. It is part and parcel of corporate planning and acting. To date, however, this has taken place in an economically and politically calculable environment. But both Klaus Wuchner, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Michael Gerling, Director of R&D and Production, at markilux agree that this has not been the case for the last four years.

Weak start to the season
"There was quite a lot we had to change within the company at very short notice at the beginning of the pandemic and we had to face a number of challenging situations in the years following. But we were successful with our strategy," stresses Klaus Wuchner and goes on to say, "However, the financial year 2023 was a difficult mixed bag, as, all at once, several factors led to the market for solar protection having a bad start to the season." Mr Wuchner lists some of these factors as the cool, damp weather at the beginning of the year, persistently high inflation and a sharp rise in interest rates. Added to that was the general decline in the construction industry, the growing shortage of skilled labour and a public unsettled by both the new Building Energy Act and a generally unclear political direction.

Acceptable sales achieved
All this severely dampened end consumers' willingness to invest. "In this difficult environment, markilux was able to achieve sales of approximately 100 million euros which is acceptable in view of the market situation the entire solar protection industry finds itself in," explains Klaus Wuchner. Particularly as export and commercial business performed better in this somewhat chilly economic climate. The company's presence with showrooms in major international metropolises contributed to this. "The markilux brand has thus become even more visible in our European core markets, in Australia and the USA, and thus more attractive for potential buyers," says the company director confidently.

Continued focus on design and innovation
According to Michael Gerling, the high demand for everything to do with "large-area shading" had a stabilising effect. The versatile systems have been popular for years and markilux is committed to their continuous further development. Television advertising, which was used for the first time in addition to print and online advertising, also had a positive effect. The number of people simultaneously using the markilux website saw a considerable rise. Making sure a brand is present even in tense economic times is extremely important. "Investing in marketing is a crucial part of that, as are good design and convenient functionality which are very popular with the end consumer. This meant we scored high in 2023 with the smart lighting technology and elegant look of our new 'MX-4', with the awning immediately reeling in a total of four design awards," says Mr Gerling. markilux also resolutely pursued its strategy of innovation and design with the "MX-2 colour" and the "collection one" awning fabric collection.

Maintaining maximum flexibility every step of the way
The company intends to pursue this strategy in the future. With strongly fluctuating production and capacity utilisation, as experienced by the awning specialist in recent years, that is, however, only possible with a flexible and highly dedicated workforce. "We really do feel lucky to be able to rely on these characteristics in our employees. Regardless of whether in administration or the awning factory," says Michael Gerling. He feels that specialist expertise plays a crucial role. Investing in well qualified specialists is thus of permanent interest to the medium-sized business. Moreover, automation and digitalisation are important points on the future agenda. As is robotic technology, the deployment of which is currently being expanded in the awning factory. And it is important to check at an early stage just how feasible and economically viable product ideas are with regard to production and logistics.

Great interest in stopping the build-up of heat during the summer
"For us, that very definitely means being as agile and flexible as possible with well organised processes and the clever deployment of technology and personnel so that we can manage the unplannable," explains Klaus Wuchner. He feels the commercial environment will continue to be difficult to predict in advance in the coming years. Both directors are nevertheless convinced that the market for solar protection offers good long-term prospects in the future. After all, more and more people are looking for ways to stop a build-up of heat in the summer. Durable and smart products as well as reliable service from a specialist partner on site are thus very much in demand.

For further information, please visit: www.markilux.com

Awning specialist markilux
markilux stands for 'Design Made in Germany', innovative new products and excellent quality in the exterior solar protection sector. Since 1972 folding-arm awnings, conservatory awnings and vertical blinds have been produced at its manufacturing facility in Emsdetten, northern Germany. The high-quality products are distributed by professional partners in Germany and abroad. Selected companies assure the high qualitative standards during the assembly of the awnings.

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