Over 90 per cent of all Krone refrigerated box bodies sold in the 2012/2013 financial year were from the Cool Liner Duoplex Steel series. Krone has observed this trend in particular since the 2009/10 crisis and has therefore decided to focus on the production and sale of steel boxes in the refrigerated vehicle segment. This means that Krone closes down the plant in Hvam, Denmark.
“For a few years we have noticed that the demand for refrigerated trailers has moved significantly in favour of the steel option. Strong customer markets for GRP refrigerated vehicles, such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal, have still not recovered from the effects of the financial crisis, which in turn has a direct effect on the investment behaviour of the transport industry,” explains Bernhard Krone. As the trend towards steel boxes is also recognisable in the used vehicle segment, Krone will in future focus on producing steel boxes at the Lübtheen site.
A consequence of this strategic decision is that the Danish production subsidiary (Bernard Krone A/S) has been offered for sale. The purchase agreement with the new owners (Gorica Industries, Dubai and Inner Circle, Viborg, Denmark) was signed this week. The former Norfrig plant in Hvam will therefore belong to Inner Circle from 1 January 2014. The parties have agreed to keep the purchase price confidential.
“We only made this decision with heavy hearts,” explains Bernhard Krone. “Both my father and I have been heavily involved in Hvam in the past; after all it was GRP boxes that opened up the refrigerated trailer market for us. So we mulled the matter over for a long time before deciding to take this step. We told the employees about this in person and are sure that it wasn’t a complete surprise for them because of the order situation. We have also paid severance that is significantly above the statutory and collective agreement requirements.”
Krone took over the production site in Hvam from Norfrig A/S 13 years ago; at that time up to 2,700 refrigerated GFK series vehicles were produced each year. They manufactured around 730 GRP units over the past financial year. In total Krone produced over 27,300 rolling units over the past financial year and thus recorded revenue of around €930 million.
The new owner of the production facilities plans to move the plant to Dubai; some former Krone employees have been offered jobs accordingly. Refrigerated box bodies are to be produced to the trusted Krone GRP standard in Dubai from the 4th quarter of 2014 on. A new production site will be created in Dubai for this purpose. Krone and Gorica are working towards cooperation with the Krone plant in Tire, Turkey, for the delivery of vehicle chassis.