Kjell Antus.

Group president’s overview

Focus on sustainability

For 2022, we had planned for continued growth with good profitability. Expectations had been raised after the pandemic when demand recovered strongly. Business was then challenged by global shortages of raw materials, materials, components and containers, as well as increased costs. The Russian invasion of Ukraine significantly worsened the situation, which escalated into an energy crisis and rising inflation.

Despite the global uncertainty, we adapted well to the new reality and continued to deliver good results. Compared to 2021, sales increased by 10 per cent and amounted to EUR 619 million. The operating profit improved by EUR 2.4 million and amounted to EUR 73.7 million. Our operating margin of 11.9 per cent is in line with the previous year. The rate of investment was relatively high, although at EUR 64.2 million investment was significantly lower than in the previous year.

We have continued to strengthen the business areas in which we operate, including the recruitment of key talent and spe-cialist skills. The number of employees at the end of 2022 was 2,554. We have continued to develop remote working concepts, while also working hard to safeguard our corporate culture and strengthen the sense of belonging and security. We are grateful for the commitment and performance of our employees, and we continue to strive to provide a stimulating, challenging working environment in which every employee can develop and thrive.

Mirka strengthened its position in automation and robotics with the acquisition of shares in Flexmill Oy. Forward integra-tion opens up interesting new business opportunities. Robotics will play an increasingly important role in the future, with automation and artificial intelligence driving innovation.

For the KWH Logistics business group, a large part of its operations were disrupted on account of the war in Ukraine. KWH Logistics handled the shipment of Russian transit goods in Finnish ports, but the war and subsequent sanctions meant that this traffic stopped during the year. At the same time, Finnish industry’s need for raw materials laid the foundations for new opportunities. KWH Logistics was able to replace much of its export volumes with new import volumes during the year.

Global initiatives such as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have set a clear future agenda for the world for almost a decade. At the European level, we are now seeing increasingly stringent initiatives with increased regulatory requirements for companies, which also includes us at the KWH Group, who always try to stay one step ahead. At the same time, sustainability-related events such as the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis in Europe, in particular, have had a major impact on our activities and will continue to shape future priorities.

To manage the long-term competitiveness of the KWH Group, we took some important steps to accelerate our strategic sustainability work in 2022. As a first step, we conducted an analysis to understand the sustainability aspects for which we have the greatest impact and which reflect the expectations and requirements we have from our stakeholders. The analysis resulted in a Group-wide sustainability strategy that encompasses our most significant sustainability ambitions. In 2023, we will continue to implement our new strategy through our action plan, so that we can continue to future-proof our business groups and reassure our stakeholders that we are operating in a responsible, long-term, sustainable manner.

Kjell Antus, Group President, CEO