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Volatility the new normal, says German family business

By Attracta Mooney

Market volatility is becoming the “new normal”, which means companies need to adapt their structures and workflows.

That’s the view of German family business Henkel, which held its annual general meeting on 16 April.

Speaking at the meeting, chief executive Kasper Rorsted said: “We have to accept higher volatility in our markets as the new normal. As a consequence, we have to permanently adapt our processes and structures to be able to respond more quickly and more flexibly than our peers.”

The business, famous for brands including Persil, Schwarzkopf and Loctite, recently reported its best year ever– sales were up 3.4% to €15.6 billion for fiscal 2011.

“We fully met all our financial targets and even over-delivered on a number of them,” said Rorsted.

The Dusseldorf-based company, controlled by descendants of founder Fritz Henkel, is also expecting strong results for fiscal 2012.

“We had a good start to 2012,” Rorsted said. “We expect organic sales growth for the full fiscal year to be between 3% and 5%.”

The business’s adjusted return on sales, which rose by 12.3% in 2011, is forecasted to increase by 14% this year.

Simone Bagel-Trah, the great-great-granddaughter of the company’s founder and one of CampdenFB's top family business leaders, is currently chairwoman of the shareholders’ committee and of the supervisory board. The family controls 53.2% of Henkel’s voting rights.

At the meeting, attended by about 2,000 people, a dividend of €0.78 per ordinary share and €0.80 per preferred share was approved.  

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