Ladies and Gentlemen,
The year 2022 can only be described as a turning point. There is no doubt about it: On 24 February 2022, our globally organized world changed completely. Supply chains collapsed virtually overnight, energy prices skyrocketed, and inflation has since made deep inroads into our day-to-day lives. Personally, the people that worry me most are the very youngest members of our society. According to a study, one in five children in Germany are affected by poverty—another horrific consequence of war, flight, rising prices, and international economic relations that have been turned upside down.
All of this really spurs me on to think ahead in terms of the future. Our Minister for Economic Affairs is cautiously optimistic and expects Germany to report slight economic growth of 0.2 percent this year. It is crucial that we do not let times like these simply pass us by, but rather that we make a conscious decision to reflect on them. We have never known uncertainty like this before, and we need to learn how to deal with it.
The year 2022 has shown how important stability is for each and every one of us. We need something to offset the current uncertainty, a firm leg to stand on when the other is on shaky ground. This is the only way we can stay on an even keel in difficult times. When we are faced with insecurity on our left, we need security on our right. Where grief and anger prevail on one side, hope and courage must reign on the other. As a family business, we managed to build on these values in a year that marked a turning point—together with our more than four million customers and our suppliers across the globe, hand-in-hand with our more than 85,000 employees. This will certainly have played a key role in our success.
We almost reached the EUR 20 billion threshold, with just one day’s sales separating us from that goal. But that is not the most important thing. What is important is that we achieved a fantastic result—by sticking together and showing the sort of curiosity that now defines us as a company, in partnership with our customers and our suppliers, with a genuine sense of responsibility toward all our employees, and with humility. This is something I am very grateful for indeed!
The Advisory Board of the Würth Group held four extensive meetings in 2022, one of which was devoted primarily to the Würth Group’s strategy. All meetings were based on reports delivered by the members of the Central Management Board on the business situation, planning, and opportunity and risk management. All transactions subject to approval pursuant to the company statutes were submitted to the Advisory Board for approval in good time and considered at length; in urgent cases, resolutions were passed by means of a circular procedure.
In 2022, the Advisory Board’s work was heavily influenced by the war in Ukraine and its aftermath, such as the energy crisis, inflation, and sanctions. While the war in Ukraine pushed the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain issues somewhat into the background, these challenges are not yet over either.
The Advisory Board provided support to the Central Management Board in all of these matters. The Advisory Board’s work also focused on the general strategic development of the Würth Group. In this respect, the focus in 2022 remained on topics relating to the digitalization of the business model. The Advisory Board’s regional focus was once again on the Würth Group’s activities in North America.
The Advisory Board continuously monitored the work of the Central Management Board and provided it with support in its management duties, in the further strategic development of the company, and with regard to key individual issues. In addition, the Chairwoman of the Advisory Board was provided with regular information on current developments and relevant events within the company outside of board meetings by members of the Central Management Board.
Each of the Advisory Board’s three committees (Personnel, Audit, and Investment Committee) met three times in 2022. These meetings serve to boost the efficiency of the Advisory Board’s work and to prepare complex issues. The committee chairs all report regularly and in depth to the Advisory Board as a whole on the work of the committees.
On 26 April 2022, the Advisory Board’s Audit Committee took a detailed look at the 2021 consolidated financial statements, including the Group management report, for which an unqualified audit opinion was issued, as well as the audit report prepared by Ernst & Young GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft. The Audit Committee reviewed and approved these documents. One focus of the Audit Committee’s work in 2022 was on future-proofing the internal audit and compliance structures within the Würth Group.
The Advisory Board’s Investment Committee reviewed any investment projects that were subject to approval and categorized them based on their urgency and importance. The Committee also dealt with investment controlling and the approach to be adopted for companies directly affected by the war in Ukraine. The Würth Group remained committed to its investment culture as a prerequisite for the company’s growth in 2022. The Advisory Board approved the corporate plan, including the investment and financial plan, of the Würth Group for the 2023 fiscal year at its meeting on 9 December 2022 based on the proposal submitted by the Investment Committee.
The Advisory Board’s Personnel Committee dealt with all personnel measures falling within the Advisory Board’s area of responsibility at its meetings. The Committee focused on HR development and succession planning for managers, as well as on the structure of the management incentive and remuneration systems. The Personnel Committee has the power to pass resolutions regarding employment contracts and management remuneration.
The Advisory Board of the Würth Group would like to thank the Central Management Board and the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group for the good working relationship, especially Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group. Although the 2022 fiscal year was marred by a number of crises, our quick reactions, agile management, and flexible, well-meaning employees once again helped us to close the year with record performance.
We would like to extend a very sincere thank you to all our employees for this outstanding achievement. Most importantly, we would like to thank all our customers and business partners for their loyalty to the Würth Group.
Chairwoman of the Advisory Board of the Würth Group