Plant manufacturer Andritz eyes textile recycling business

The CEO of the austrian plant manufacturer Andritz, Wolfgang Leitner, sees business potential in the recycling of textiles, he said on the occasion of the presentation of the annual results.

Are textile recycling production lines he next big thing? The industrial company continues to generate around half of the Group's sales of 6.7 billion euros with pulp and paper mills and the large orders in this area.

Plant manufacturer Andritz has sold more than 30 production lines for the production of Corona protective masks in 2020. Italian subsidiary Diatec has developed a production line for FFP2 masks, following a line for mouth-nose protection in the summer. In this business area, called "Nonwoven," order intake almost doubled to nearly 500 million euros in 2020, Andritz CEO Wolfgang Leitner said Wednesday. He also sees business potential in the recycling of textiles.

Just in November, the technology group opened a test and research center for the recycling industry in St. Michael near Graz. This will enable recycling tests to be carried out under real plant conditions. At the same location, the "Digital Waste Research Lab" of the University of Leoben, a research center for waste recycling and waste management, has been established. The center has a total area of 3,600 square meters and has been available to recycling customers from a wide range of industries as well as research and development institutions

However, the Styrian industrial company continues to generate around half of the Group's sales of 6.7 billion euros with pulp and paper mills and the large orders in this area. Business with hydropower plants and in the automotive industry, where Andritz subsidiary Schuler supplies, among other things, presses for car body panels, was less good recently. Leitner believes that Schuler is now competitive again. For example, Schuler supplies presses for battery housings and electrical sheet for the production of electric cars.

The service business was affected by the pandemic. Customers postponed repairs and maintenance because they restricted access to their factories. In addition, there were travel restrictions and production cutbacks. However, Andritz will not try to obtain vaccine ahead of time through other channels, for example, for its service employees, he said. "We will not go to gray markets and pay more," Leitner said. If there are official vaccination options for Andritz employees in individual countries, this would be examined. One would also be prepared to bear the costs.

Andritz's workforce was reduced by more than 2,000 last year to 27,232 employees worldwide at the end of 2020. The largest job cuts were at Hydro and Schuler. In Austria, the number of employees fell from 3,700 to approximately 3,500. Despite the crisis, the plant manufacturer was able to maintain sales at the record level of 2019 and even increased them slightly by 0.4 percent. Consolidated net income grew by 66 percent to 203.7 million euros. The Executive Board proposed a dividend of one euro per share to shareholders on Wednesday when the results were announced. In 2019, shareholders received only 50 cents. In 2016 to 2018, Andritz had paid out around one and a half euros per year each. For this year, however, the Managing Board remains cautious. Only a slight recovery is expected, Leitner said. Sales are expected to shrink slightly in 2021 after the industrial group's order books became thinner in the first pandemic year.