Despite considerable difficulties, German oil and additive specialist LIQUI MOLY says it remains on course for growth. The year 2019 closed with a record turnover of 569 million euros, an increase of four percent over the previous year. “This shows that we can be successful even under adverse conditions,” said Managing Director Ernst Prost, with regard to the software problems suffered a year ago. In the U.S. and Canada, sales increased by 18 percent.
LIQUI MOLY had introduced new software to control purchasing, production and sales. The changeover did not run as smoothly as expected – in fact, quite the opposite, according to LIQUI MOLY. This resulted in massive delivery difficulties. “Our customers were appalled, and rightly so,” Prost admitted. “They had never experienced anything like it with us before.”
The bungled software changeover severely cramped the figures for the first months. Step by step, the company solved the software problems and started the race to catch up. “Everybody rolled up their sleeves and pitched in,” said Prost, in praise of his team. As a result, LIQUI MOLY set one new monthly sales record after another. It then proved possible to regain at least a piece of the lost terrain. At the end of the year, instead of a minus, the books even showed turnover growth of four percent to 569 million euros – a new sales record. LIQUI MOLY has thus doubled its turnover over the past 10 years.
The success of the subsidiary in the U.S. contributed significantly to this. Sales in the U.S. and Canada grew by 18 percent last year. This carries even more weight, according to the company, because the U.S. is now LIQUI MOLY’s most important export market after Russia.
However, the arduous start to the past year left a clear mark on the revenue. A lack of turnover and the additional costs to fix the software problems pushed it below the 2018 level, but the return on sales is still in double digits. “LIQUI MOLY is financially healthy, is free of debt and has an equity ratio of over 80 percent,” Prost reported.
The number of “co-entrepreneurs,” as LIQUI MOLY employees are called, rose from 849 to 933 in 2019. Increasing the headcount in difficult times is not a contradiction in terms for Prost: “Crises are not managed by laying people off, but by hiring people who will then solve the problem.”
As expected, LIQUI MOLY grew more strongly in exports than in its home market of Germany, where the brand has been established for decades. “For a long time now, we have achieved higher turnover internationally than in our home market,” says Ernst Prost. “The sales potential there is also much greater.” The export business is certainly no automatic success. International trade conflicts, weakening economies and national import barriers are only some of the challenges to sales.
LIQUI MOLY manufactures its oils and additives exclusively in Germany to ensure the same consistently high-quality level all over the world. That makes LIQUI MOLY more of an upmarket brand. “We have no interest in being the cheapest,” said Prost. “We want to be the best.”
More sales, healthy earnings – Prost says he looks back with satisfaction on a difficult year 2019: “The fact that we can continue to grow despite the adverse conditions shows just how strong LIQUI MOLY is.”