TRAUN/LINZ. “We will fight for our people and will not have to do anything about staff cuts this year,” said Christian Klinger, co-owner of the International Window Network (IFN), which includes nine companies across Europe with a total of 4,215 employees, 3,000 of them in Austria: Internorm, Topic, GlG and Schlotterer are the best known in our country.
After two very good years, the window market is currently collapsing rapidly, OÖN has reported. At the presentation of the family company’s balance sheet on Thursday in Linz, IFN CFO Johann Habringer feared that the sharp decline in building permits would mean that the construction of new houses and apartments in Austria would fall 60 percent below the previous year from the second half of the year. As a result, fewer windows and doors are required.
However, due to the well-filled time accounts of the employees, the broad international positioning and because of the “third-largest order backlog in the company’s history, the management sees no need for action this year with regard to the number of employees”.
Investments are made in the Mühlviertel, 150 new employees are being sought
On the contrary: the company is sticking to the investment program of around 60 million euros this year. For example, the Internorm factory in Sarleinsbach, Mühlviertel, is expanded with new window and glass production lines and a furnace for glass hardening. 100 to 150 additional employees are needed, and construction could start this year.
The past financial year was also marked by growth: 100 million euros investments in the group; the operating performance rose from 747 to 875 million euros (plus 17 percent). 62 percent of sales of EUR 861 (785) million are generated outside of Austria. Earnings before interest and taxes, on the other hand, were almost ten percent down on the previous year at EUR 52 million.
IFN is now completely withdrawing from Russia and Belarus. In Borisov (Belarus, 50 employees) the Skanva production is currently being liquidated, the Skaala plant in St. Petersburg (80) is being sold. The burden on earnings of “three to four million euros” has been accounted for and will not increase any further, according to Habring.
Internorm with a strong plus
Sales of the window brand Internorm increased by 16.3 percent to almost 500 million euros. The sun protection specialist Schlotterer in Adnet in Tennengau is still waiting for approval for the expansion on the green field, which will be designed in an environmentally friendly way (lowering, greening, PV). The slow approvals are a nuisance for the management, which takes climate targets very seriously and wants to generate 20 percent of the electricity required at each production facility from its own solar power. Klinger: “It’s extremely tedious, you can’t even produce electricity yourself without a feed-in point.”
The outlook for the current year is gloomy. In terms of sales, the company is currently at the same level as the previous year, and incoming orders are a fifth below 2022. Klinger expects a five percent drop in sales over the year. “but we invest anyway”.