“2022 was very much characterised by rising energy prices, a much slacker consumer climate and therefore weaker demand for packaging and corrugated board. These trends also had an impact on us. This is why it is so pleasing to report that in the two main areas of our business, corrugated board sheets and containerboard, we managed to improve our economic performance and increase our revenue to around 1.8 billion euros,” says Maximilian Heindl, Chief Executive Officer of Progroup. This means Progroup has managed to boost its revenue by around 30% compared to the previous year.
Among other factors, the company benefited from having its waste-to-energy plant at its Eisenhüttenstadt site. The power plant thermally utilises what are known as rejects – waste materials from paper production and also from industry – and then supplies the site's PM2 paper machine with all the hot steam it needs. The power plant also produces electricity. The amount of electricity produced is equivalent to roughly 50 per cent of the power that PM2 requires. “We’ve always invested for the long term and in sustainable technologies that make us, as an energy-intensive company, even less dependent on fossil fuels. In challenging times like these, this visionary approach is once again paying off,” says Heindl. To ensure that Progroup is even less dependent on fossil fuels in the future, the company began constructing the next power plant of this type in Sandersdorf-Brehna at the start of this year. This will enable it to save around 80,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. It is set to start operating at the end of 2025.
Growth consistently championed
A key success factor is also the growth strategy that the family-run company continued to pursue consistently in 2022. Progroup is constructing its latest corrugated sheetfeeder plant (PW15) at Petersberg (near Pirmasens, Rhineland-Palatinate). There was great excitement last year when the ground was first broken. The company invited guests to attend the topping out ceremony at the end of April, and production is scheduled to commence in the first half of 2024. The new plant will form part of a sustainable packaging park together with Progroup’s long-standing partner G&G Preißer: In future, this will enable Progroup to deliver its corrugated board sheets to its neighbour just in time via a direct link so that G&G Preißer can process them into packaging. A significant amount of CO2 emissions and freight costs will be saved by the two companies having closely interlinked logistics and production processes.
Market position in Central and Eastern Europe strengthened
Progroup also remains on course to expand internationally. Following the site in Drizzona, the company is building its next corrugated sheetfeeder plant (PW16) in the Italian town of Cessalto (Veneto). This will also be the site of a sustainable packaging park. Construction work is set to begin in the second quarter of 2023.
Production has already started at Stryków in Poland. The corrugated board sheets have been rolling off the production line at the PW14 high-tech plant since the start of the year. Up to 200,000 tonnes of corrugated sheetboard will be produced here each year. With the neighbouring PW07 plant, the new Progroup plant will have a capacity of up to 825 million square metres per year. This means that Stryków is now one of the world's biggest sites for corrugated board production. Progroup has opted for the packaging park model here too, delivering products to the packaging manufacturer Gatner Packaging next door via a conveyor bridge.
Focus on zero waste and sustainability
This trend is resulting in an increasing number of employees: Progroup recruited more than 150 new staff last year. This means that at the end of 2022 the company had more than 1,700 employees at its 15 international sites. “We will continue to stick to the growth targets we've set ourselves for the long term,” says Heindl in underlining his plans. At the turn of the year, he took over the role of CEO from his father and Progroup’s founder, Jürgen Heindl, and is continuing to expand the company to secure its future. He is also very much focused on the issue of sustainability. “Taking ecological, economic and social responsibility always has been and still is part of the role we feel we must play as a family company. As a manufacturer of recyclable products, we are part of the circular economy that conserves resources,” says Heindl. “At the same time, climate change is showing us that we all need to do more to step up our efforts. One of the ways we are doing this is by organising our sites to have a strict “zero waste” principle and consistently developing this approach. Always with the aim of avoiding waste, reducing CO2 emissions and conserving resources.”
Following the strong figures in 2022, the company's forecast for this year is much more cautious. “It is very unlikely that the conditions in the market will get any easier in 2023,” says Heindl. “But we will fundamentally approach this challenge with confidence by continuing to focus on our strengths: reliability, innovative strength and therefore technological leadership.”
Progroup AG, located in Landau, Germany, is one of the leading manufacturers of containerboard and corrugated board in Europe. Since it was founded in 1991 in Offenbach/Queich, the company has been pursuing a consistent growth strategy which, in addition to technological leadership, is also based on the use of innovative and environmentally friendly production technologies. Progroup operates production sites in six countries in Central Europe. These currently include three paper factories, twelve corrugated sheetfeeder plants, a logistics company and a waste-to-energy power plant. The company's second power plant is currently being constructed in Sandersdorf-Brehna near Leipzig. With 1,700 employees, the company generated sales of around 1.8 billion euros in 2022.
Dana Walter, Corporate Communications
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