Making reliable plans is impossible nowadays, Carsten Knobel complains. The managing director of Henkel says sky-high energy bills are threatening the competitiveness of businesses.
Energy costs exceed sales prices
“The competitiveness of the industry is under threat”, Knobel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The CEO has to guide the Persil and Pritt producer through uncertain times. Energy costs are so high that for some production companies, the energy cost is already equal to the usual selling price of the products. “Obviously, production then becomes unprofitable“, Knobel said.
A cap on the energy bill, more precisely a maximum price for gas, is therefore indispensable, according to the CEO. In Germany, where Henkel is based, the government has also abolished a gas tax – much to Knobel’s relief. “The gas levy alone would have been more expensive for Henkel than the entire 2021 gas bill in Germany.”
However, for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, more measures are needed. “We face enormous challenges in Europe and in Germany”, Knobel asserts. By “we” he means industry, politics and “each of us”. “If we do nothing, we will end up in a world we will not like.”
“Uncertain next few weeks”
Saving and planning are the only options in times of crisis, but nowadays planning is no longer possible. “We live in a time when it is impossible to reliably plan what will happen in the coming weeks”, the CEO admitted. For the time being, Henkel still expects cost increases of around 25 %, as costs have consolidated at this level in recent months, but for 2023, Knobel has no idea yet.
Despite the difficulties, Henkel last month raised its outlook for 2022. In particular, the adhesives division is doing better than expected. The consumer products giant now expects organic sales growth of between 5.5 and 7.5 %, instead of the 4.5 to 6.5 % previously forecast. The restructuring is also proceeding faster and more smoothly than expected.