We look back on a financial year that was unprecedented, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic had a significant impact on the global economy and on us too. We reacted immediately to the lockdown in Germany and Europe in March in a decisive manner to minimize the risks for our Group and to ensure our ability to act. The health and safety of our Group’s employees has always been and remains our top priority. Hygiene measures were adapted at all MAX sites and conditions were created to enable mobile working wherever it made sense and was possible. At the same time, we have taken measures to secure the liquidity of the MAX Group. In addition to reducing external services and putting a freeze on spending and hiring, we re-evaluated our own investments against the backdrop of our customers’ investment behavior and carried them out with prudence and a sense of proportion. We will continue to adhere to these measures.
Cost discipline and the efforts undertaken to safeguard liquidity, as well as our continued efforts to work through the problem areas in the Non-Core business, meant that we were able to close the financial year with a positive operating result (EBITDA) of mEUR 5.7 with sales of mEUR 307.0. Nevertheless, after an initially positive start to 2020, the pandemic has set us back quite a bit in the realignment of the Group that we had initiated. The fact that we were nevertheless able to hold our own in a market environment characterized by the corona crisis and can therefore at least look back on a satisfactory year is due to the broad positioning of our core business units Process Technologies, Environmental Technologies and Evolving Technologies in industries with a promising future.
Overall, our core business units recorded a strong performance in the corona year with a comparatively small decline in order intakes of under 10 percent. This was mainly driven by the strong positive demand in the Evolving Technologies segment. Here, the Medical Technology area achieved an exceptional performance with its Tip & Cup technology and successfully entered the in-vitro diagnostics market. Sales of our solutions in packaging automation also developed encouragingly. These developments helped to compensate for the situation in robotics, which remained tight. Demand in the Environmental Technologies segment was impacted not only by the pandemic but also by the low oil price, which reduced demand for alternative fuels. Planned growth in the Process Technologies segment slowed significantly. In the automotive market, economic uncertainties were particularly noticeable and the awarding of major projects was delayed in the wake of the pandemic. However, initial signs of recovery in the automotive industry and the increasing commitment of governments and companies to e-mobility allow us to remain confident with regard to the growth opportunities for Process Technologies.
We believe that the MAX Group is strategically well positioned with its core businesses. The financial and operational challenges still ahead of us as a result of the pandemic, as well as possible losses from the Non-Core business, will have to be overcome in financial year 2021. We will continue to drive forward the initiated transformation of the MAX Group into a stable, profitable and future-oriented Group. Our new Group strategy, which we will publish this financial year, will set further important milestones for this. Our goal is to create added value for our shareholders and to leverage the Group’s potential.
We are confident that the further increase in the availability of vaccines will accelerate the recovery of the economy in general and the industries of our Group companies in particular. The current order backlog forms the starting point for a solid business development in financial year 2021. Compared to the challenging previous year, we should be able to increase sales and earnings. Our expectations for this year depend on there being no further unexpected worsening of the pandemic and an associated significant deterioration in the economic situation.
Our special thanks in these times go to our approximately 1,800 employees in the individual Group companies. Through their high level of commitment and flexibility, they have contributed to the MAX Group’s ability to overcome the difficult challenges. The increased resilience of the MAX Group in the past year is thus the achievement of a high-performance team. Our thanks also go to our shareholders, customers, suppliers and partners for the trust they have placed in us and for their support.
Dusseldorf, 12 March 2021
The Managing Directors
Dr. Christian Diekmann
Dr. Guido Hild