Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, German manufacturers of industrial valves saw a stable year in sales backed by an increase in domestic demand.
While the industry held up well in H1 2020, sales declines in Germany and abroad made themselves felt in the following months. Foreign business declined significantly. Foreign sales fell by 4 per cent last year. Here, the euro zone in particular proved to be a brake on growth. Sales contracted by 6 per cent. In contrast, sales in Germany increased by 6 per cent at the same time.
"As a result of the very good start to the year and the stable domestic market, German manufacturers of industrial valves have come through the crisis well," said Wolfgang Burchard, Managing Director of VDMA Armaturen, commenting on the situation.
The industry's broadly diversified customer structure once again proved to be an advantage. 
"Of course, our industry was not immune to the international lockdown and the consequences of the global economic slump. But in some cases," says Burchard, "losses - for example in the oil and gas business - were offset by gains in other areas such as the pharmaceutical or food industries."
Thanks to stable domestic demand, the industry achieved sales growth in all segments in Germany last year. However, the situation was different for foreign sales, which declined across the board. In the case of shut-off valves, the decline in foreign business could not be offset by the increase in domestic sales, with the result that overall sales fell by 2 per cent. By contrast, sales of control and safety and monitoring valves still grew by 3 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.
In 2020, German industrial valve manufacturers exported goods worth around €4.1 billion ($5 billion) abroad. This corresponds to a decline of 10.4 per cent compared to the previous year.
Business with China, the most important trading partner, had picked up somewhat after a sharp dip at the start of the year and was only slightly (-2.1 per cent) below the very good level of the previous year. Valves worth a total of €557.3 million were supplied to the People's Republic.
Deliveries to the US, the second most important customer country, slumped by 16.6 per cent to €363.0 million. France also received significantly fewer valves than in the previous year (minus 11.9 per cent). The country nevertheless maintained third place among the most important sales markets with an order volume of €216.1 million.
Among the most important customer countries, only Switzerland and Russia stood out positively. Exports to Russia rose by 4.4 per cent to €143.6 million, and 0.6 per cent more valves (€146.1 million) were supplied to Switzerland.
At present, there are many indications that the global economy will pick up again in the current year and thus also that the valves business will pick up. However, the recovery of the global economy will probably take longer than originally expected. Important customers such as the chemical industry and shipbuilding are gradually returning to a growth path. The oil and gas sector, on the other hand, will be held back for the time being by low oil prices and slumping demand from the aviation industry. "Against this background, we currently anticipate a slight decline in sales of 1 per cent for 2021," Burchard said. –Tradearabia News Service