Management Holding with Long-Term Objectives

Stability and long-term corporate development are the key words that characterise Possehl Group’s business strategy. In line with this strategic course, we preferentially acquire equity holdings in companies operating in mature industries or niche markets. We manage our Group in a decentralised manner. Our lead companies are independently operating enterprises, which ensures that relevant decisions can be made directly and without delay in their respective markets.

Sales development in € million

2019 | 4,140
2018 | 3,764
2017 | 3,809
2016 | 3,877
2015 | 3,516

EBIT before special effects in € million

2019 | 173
2018 | 181
2017 | 176
2016 | 175
2015 | 167

Sales revenues by regions in %

Executive Board

Mario Schreiber

Member of the Board of Management
Diplom-Betriebswirt (MBA)

Has been working for the Possehl Group since 2004. Member of the Executive Board since 2013 and responsible for the divisions Special Purpose Construction, Electronics, Identification Solutions, SME Investments and Cleaning Technology.

Joachim Brenk (CEO)

Chairman of the Board of Management
Dr-Ing.

Member of the Executive Board since 2009. Chairman of the Board since 1 August 2017 and responsible for the divisions Intralogistics, Printing Machines, Precious Metals Processing and Tyre Technology.

Henning von Klitzing

Member of the Board of Management
Dr rer.-pol., Lawyer

Has been working for the Possehl Group since 2006. Member of the Executive Board since 2013 and responsible for M&A.

Supervisory Board

Ernst F. Schröder

Dr rer.-pol.
Chairman
Businessman

Hanno Brüggen

Personally liable shareholder of H. & J. Brüggen KG

Claus Bunk

Head of Plant Assambly of BÖWE SYSTEC GmbH
Chairman of the Works Council of BÖWE SYSTEC GmbH
Chairman of the Group Works Council of L. Possehl & Co. mbH

Henning Großkreutz

Chief Authorised Representative of IG Metall Lübeck

Michael Hinrichsen

Insurance broker

Uwe Lüders

Master of Economics (Dipl.-Volkswirt)

Liane Papaioannou

Chief Authorised Representative of IG Metall Pforzheim

Hans-Willi Puntheller

Painter and Decorator
Chairman of the Works Council of cds Polymere GmbH & Co. KG
Member of the Group Works Council of L. Possehl & Co. mbH

Rolf Schmidt-Holtz

Co-founder and Supervisory Board Chairman of Just Software AG

Max Schön

Entepreneur
Chairman of the Possehl Foundation’s Board of Directors

Angelika Strait-Binder

Personally liable shareholder of J.G. Niederegger GmbH & Co. KG

Horst Wardius

Equipment Engineer
Vice Chairman of the Works Council of Hako GmbH, Bad Oldesloe plant
Member of the Group Works Council of L. Possehl & Co. mbH

Targets and Strategy

GROWTH AND VALUE ENHANCEMENT

It is our aim to constantly increase our Group’s earnings and enhance our corporate value sustainably.
To achieve this, we need suitable entrepreneurs, who enjoy a high level of entrepreneurial freedom within the framework of our corporate values, to manage each of our many companies. In addition, it is our objective to offer owner- and familiy-run businesses attractive succession solutions in order to win new companies for our Group.

ABILITY TO PAY DIVIDENDS

It is our aim to pay our proprietor, the Possehl Foundation, attractive regular dividend, even in economically difficult times.
We achieve this through long-term income and investment planning and a conservative interpretation of accounting flexibility. When taking major decisions, we always include our capability of fulfilling dividend promises on a sustained basis into our considerations. We rely on our companies’ sustainable profitability without pursuing any exit strategy.

STABILITY

It is our aim to secure the entrepreneurial activities ofour individual companies by ensuring the strength of the Group as a whole.
We achieve this by maintaining a diversified and broadly based portfolio stretching across various business sectors and industries with companies preferably subjected to different economic cycles. We will continue to broaden our base in the coming years. Despite pursuing a strategy of diversification, we aim at understanding each and every of our business models since we can only develop products and services we fully understand.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

In our endeavours to achieve our targets, we are always fully aware of our social responsibilities and feel obliged to fulfil our shareholders’ high standards in this respect.
This is why people in their individuality always play a key role in all our decisions. Within the mid-tier segment, we communicate, openly and honestly, on an equal footing. Both employee representatives and works councils as well as union representatives are regularly welcome to
discuss business matters with our managements.

Leadership philosophy

LEAN STRUCTURES AND FAST DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES

A good opportunity waits for no man, and matters of great urgency do not allow any delay. And why should they? Today, modern lines of communication enable fast and efficient information exchange processes within organisations. The same goes for us: At the Holding Company, we are always available and approachable for our companies, directly and without much ado, to help solving problems in a fast and straightforward manner. All of our companies adhere to this principle.

VENTURING INTO NEW TERRITORY

Given the highly dynamic development in the markets, our companies, in return, need to become even more agile and, in particular, rise to the challenge of digitisation in the years to come. We encourage our companies to seize opportunities, once identified, with a “controlled approach to risk”. In doing so, we also accept the fact that, with hindsight, certain decisions may prove to have been wrong. However, at the end of the day, this is what entrepreneurship is all about. The most important thing is that the overall performance is right.

CLEAR TARGETS AND HONEST FEEDBACK

As is to be expected, our companies’ freedom of action is linked to certain conditions. We attach great importance to transparency, clear agreements and exact feedback received from our managing directors in the course of informal dialogues as well as at our annual meetings. In general, we give preference to personal discussions rather than exchanging emails or receiving excessive key data “monstrosities” or stylish presentations.

COOPERTIVE LEADERSHIP

Nobody knows his own waters better than the captain himself, who negotiates them on a daily basis. We know this because in our current positions as “attentive members of the Supervisory Board, controllers and advisors”, we ourselves have gained many years of experience in different managerial positions in operative units in the past. For this reason we place great trust in our companies’ managements. We strive to make them as strong as possible while giving them as much leeway as possible in their day-to-day operative development. Instead of relying on setting targets, we give preference to exchange and inspiring new momentum to encourage mutual trust that will help us to overcome difficult situations.

REGULAR COMMUNICATION

Information provides security. This is why our managers closely communicate with each other on a regular basis. Our division managers are in constant contact with our operative management to discuss shortterm developments. In addition, regular meetings take place between the managing directors and the executive board on a quarterly basis, followed by annual planning meetings in autumn. Parallel to this, the management of the Holding Company maintains regular on-site contact with the managing directors to exchange information.

BOTTOM-LINE ACCOUNTABILITY

It is part of our leadership philosophy that our companies develop independently, which includes operating under their own profit responsibility. Each company is accountable for its own results. Cross-subsidisation is not intended. As a general rule, cross-corporate actions, such as measures regarding cyber security, benchmarks, joint purchasing of licences or innovation competition, are optional in character and mostly based on the initiative of individual group companies.

Company History

Continuity and Change since 1847

The Possehl Group can look back on a long and successful history.
More than 17 decades in business have refined a company profile that is characterised by experience and reliability.

1847

Establishment and Development

On 1 May 1847, Ludwig Possehl founds his company L. Possehl & Co. in Lübeck and starts trading with iron and coal.

His first customers are from the local region: citizens from all levels of society in the Hanseatic City and its surrounding areas need coal. Iron goods are sold to various nearby industries such as tradesmen and handicraft businesses. Within a short time, Possehl is supplying its first industrial bulk purchasers with sheet iron, black coal and general hardware such as nails and wires. To give his business the broadest possible foundation is already an important business principle.

Improvements in infrastructure lead to an economic upswing. The developing steam shipping industry on the river Trave, the modernisation of the port and the linking of Lübeck to the railway network causes a boom in business. In addition, customs regulations für Lübeck’s merchants are eased to facilitate trading.

Possehl’s stable equity position enables his Company to survive economic crises such as that of 1857, when economic life in the German Empire nearly entirely collapsed. Conservative capital withdrawal policies result in the Company’s equity growing to seven-and-a-half times the original starting capital, despite the difficult first 15 years of the Company’s history.

1873

Growth in Europe

In 1873, Ludwig’s eldest son Emil Possehl takes over the management of the Company. This is the start of the heavy industrial period. Emil Possehl is one of the first to recognise the trend towards industrial development and aligns his business accordingly.

In the 1890s, the industrial revolution is in full swing: the German steel industry offers Possehl a market that permits business activities across Europe. Emil Possehl particularly focusses on organising the sale of Swedish ore in Germany, which soon makes him the largest importer of iron ore from Sweden.

Until the beginning of the First Word War, Emil Possehl, now Senator of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck, is able to expand his Company considerably, as he holds interests in iron works, steel works, limestone quarries and iron pyrite mines, which are mostly based abroad. The company’s own shipping company handles the pan-European distribution from the far north to as far south as Lisbon and Africa.

In 1915, Emil Possehl streamlines the company structures by transforming the existing departments of the Company into autonomous trading companies. L. Possehl & Co. becomes the parent company. This provides the basis for an organisational style that still characterises the Company in the 21st century: the division into one overarching holding company and its subsidiary individual companies.

1918

The Crucible Years

The First World War leads to a dramatic setback: war bonds fail and the losses have to be financed through the sale of rights to Swedish ore mines. The Company is able to survive thanks to the coal and domestic fuel business in Germany.

Emil Possehl dies on 4 February 1919. The sole heir to Company assets is the Possehl Foundation. Since that time – as was intended by its founder – the foundation has promoted cultural, social and charitable activities in his hometown of Lübeck.

After the financial turbulence of the 1920s, the 1930s find the Company on the rise again.  New branches of industry, i.e. production companies, freight and insurance agencies, join the Possehl Group. The core business with steel, coal and other fuels develops and flourishes once again.

This period also witnesses the development of the Possehl Group into its present structure. The Possehl Foundation transfers its then directly held companies to L. Possehl & Co. and has only held shares in the parent company since.

The Second World War leaves deep scars: the Company loses all of its foreign holdings and a large part of its markets. The branches located in the eastern part of Germany are lost, as are assets in foreign countries. The head offices in Beckergrube, along with all records, are also reduced to rubble and ashes in the midst of the war.

1948

Rebirth and International Growth

The Possehl Group was hit hard by the collapse of Germany and the ensuing political changes at the end of the war. All companies headquartered in areas now under the Soviet sphere of influence are lost.  Not until the currency reform of 1948 are the conditions in place for the Company to be rebuilt.

The Company management takes small steps towards rebuilding what remains of old business relationships. In their effort to establish new contacts, the Company management particularly benefits from the diversity of the existing production-, trading- and service companies incorporated within the Group. Central leadership of the Group by the parent company also proves effective. Investment decisions are made systematically and companies that are not profitable are supported and realigned, or, if restructuring efforts fail to be successful, divested and sold.

At the beginning of the 1950s, business activities pick up sharply. A highly successful decade for the business follows. In 1965, Possehl records consolidated Group net sales of DM 831 million. At this time, the Possehl Group implements its first structural change: the acquisition of production companies results in a decreasing percentage of trading activities. In particular the acquisition of Heimerle + Meule GmbH, which today still acts as the lead company of Possehl’s precious metals business, plays a key role in this structural change.

1997

Possehl Celebrates its 150th Anniversary

In particular the 1980s and 90s see a strong growth in business. Possehl acquires various, mainly mid-sized, domestic companies and, associated therewith, the Group of companies develops into a diversified Group equally divided between trading and production activities.

By this time, achieving annual sales of more than DM 3 billion and employing some 5,000 people, Possehl is one of the 100 largest companies in Germany.

Possehl Today

Diversified Group of Companies Operating Across the Globe

Today, Possehl is a globally operating and deliberately broadly based Group of companies recording annual sales of almost 4 billion euros. More than 180 successfully operating Group companies employ some 12,500 people worldwide.

Our business activities focus on the capital goods industry, in particular machinery and plant engineering. With its currently nine independent divisions and largely decentralised management structure, Possehl is a classic conglomerate. In addition to being targeted towards both profitability and continuity in dividend distributions, the Company portfolio, which includes a vast number of so-called Hidden Champions, has its emphasis on long-term business activities, stability and the balanced distribution of risks. In pursuing these strategic company objectives, we take adequate account of the long-term orientation of our shareholder, the Possehl Foundation. Financial independence is extremely important for Possehl and plays a key role in all our decisions.

Possehl Foundation

Sole Shareholder for the Past 100 Years

Since 1919, the Possehl Foundation has been Possehl‘s sole shareholder. By determining this specific ownership structure, Emil Possehl has made sure that his life’s work – the Possehl Group of companies – is sustainably preserved over the long term. In 2019, the Possehl Foundation celebrates its 100th anniversary.

“It is my greatest wish that my beloved hometown, the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck, may benefit from the fruits of my life’s work.”

Emil Possehl

The Possehl Foundation is a company trust and a charitable organisation at the same time. Operating profits are solely used to serve the common good. The City of Lübeck and its citizens in particular benefit from the commercial success of the Possehl Group, in accordance with the wishes and testament of Emil Possehl. It provides support and financial assistance to:

The Beauty of the City

Lübeck’s old town has held UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status for more than three decades. Preserving the cityscape with its beautiful buildings and parks is a particularly multi-faceted objective of the Foundation, especially in a city as rich in listed historical structures worthy of preservation as Lübeck. Many homeowners put a great deal of commitment into restoring their properties, which have an architectural history that often goes back to the Middle Ages. The Possehl Foundation provides funding for the additional costs involved in carrying out renovation work that meets curatorial standards, and therefore contributes to safeguarding this historical heritage for the future. Furthermore, the Possehl Foundation participates in projects promoting the contemporary redesign of Lübeck’s inner-city streets and town squares. Contributing €42 million to the construction of the European Hansemuseum in the northern part of the old town has been the Possehl Foundation’s most significant contribution to the development of the cityscape so far. Since its opening in 2015, the museum has attracted more than 100,000 visitors every year.

Helping the Young

In recent years, the subject of “education at work” has increasingly gained in importance for the Possehl Foundation. In close cooperation and dialogue with both the municipal authorities and the network of Lübeck-based foundations, the Possehl Foundation contributes to children finding the kind of favourable conditions in Lübeck’s schools and day-care facilities that encourage the joy of learning and give them the opportunity for a self-determined future. A special initiative is the SAME (“Solidarity Action Day Movement in Europe”) office in Lübeck, which was established in 2018. For one “Social Day”, pupils from all over Europe swap their classrooms for offices and help to support projects all over the world. The Foundation also encourages getting closer to nature – for example by supporting the nature workshop on the Priwall peninsula. In 2019, a group of young people had the opportunity to experience nature conservation firsthand on the peninsula on the Trave estuary.

Fostering the Arts and Science

“Fostering science” is specified as one of the Foundation’s purposes in its statutes, and this enables the Foundation’s board of directors to support the excellence of research and teaching at Lübeck’s universities. The intensive support and funding of both the University of Lübeck, the Technical University of Applied Sciences Lübeck, and the University of Music Lübeck (MHL) increases the universities’ attractiveness for professors and students and reinforces Lübeck’s place on the academic map, which benefits the city and its citizens. The main areas of funding are specific research projects, endowed chairs and the technical equipment required for scientific work. In a city so rich with history, preserving its cultural heritage is a priority. The construction of the Kunsthalle St. Annen art gallery erected on the foundation walls of the historic Friary Church in 2003 had already built a bridge from the past to the present by creating a place of encounter with both contemporary and 20th century arts amidst the medieval Aegidien Quarter.

Alleviating the Hardship of Those in Need

Personal need is an important issue in today’s society. It is the Foundation’s objective to prevent social neglect, financial indebtedness and lack of perspective. To achieve this, it aims to promote more effective coordination and networking of existing services. For ten years now, Lübeck’s day-care facilities and schools have been in a position to better support children from low-income families. The Education Fund offers support in financing school lunches, educational material, music and sports activities and school trips, and is supplemented by benefits from the Educational & Participation Package. In cooperation with the job centre, the Hanseatic City of Lübeck was able to set up a simple, uncomplicated structure which ensures one thing above all: that children and young people receive rapid and unbureaucratic support. In cases where the Educational & Participation Package does not take effect, the Education Fund steps in. Every year, some €4 million are made available to support more than 8,700 children.

Charitable and Non-Profit Institutions

There are more than 300 registered associations in Lübeck dedicated to a broad range of different objectives, which are supported by Lübeck’s citizens with a high level of charitable commitment. This engagement reinforces societal cohesion and is a valuable addition to the work carried out by public authorities. The Foundation’s financial contributions to the funding of all kinds of charities are also a mark of recognition and appreciation for their work, which is indispensable for the welfare of the city. More than 140 associations – many of whom are financially supported by the Possehl Foundation – with some 40,000 members belong to the Lübeck Sports Federation (Lübecker Turn- und Sportbund). In 2019, the Foundation also supported TEAM LÜBECK, an association of young athletes who want to promote Lübeck as a sports city. In addition, the Foundation provides particular support to charities that are committed to the integration of elderly people, migrants and people with disabilities.

Possehl Foundation contributions in €

1950-2018390,812,754.23
201917,973,608.34
Total408,786,362.57

Click here to visit the Possehl Foundation website:

www.possehl-stiftung.de