More than 90% of all Krone refrigerated box bodies sold in the 2012-2013 financial period were from the Cool Liner Duoplex Steel series. Krone has observed this trend in particular since the 2009-2010 economic crisis and has therefore decided to focus on production and sale of steel boxes in the refrigerated vehicle segment.
“For a few years, we have noticed that the demand for refrigerated trailers has moved significantly in favor of the steel option,” said Bernard Krone. “Strong customer markets for GRP refrigerated vehicles, such as Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal, have still not recovered from the effects of the financial crisis, which in turn has a direct effect on the investment behaviour of the transport industry.”
As the trend towards steel boxes is also recognizable in the used-vehicle segment, Krone will in future focus on producing steel boxes at its Lübtheen site.
A consequence of this strategic decision is that the Danish production subsidiary (Bernard Krone A/S) has been offered for sale. The purchase agreement with the new owners (GORICA Industries, Dubai and Inner Circle, Viborg, Denmark) was signed in late September. The former Norfrig plant in Hvam will therefore belong to Inner Circle as of January 1, 2014. The parties have agreed to keep the purchase price confidential.
“We only made this decision with heavy hearts,” said Bernard Krone. “Both my father and I have been heavily involved in Hvam in the past; after all, it was GRP boxes that opened up the refrigerated trailer market for us. So we mulled the matter over for a long time before deciding to take this step. We told the employees about this in person and are sure that it wasn’t a complete surprise for them because of the order situation. We have also paid severance that is significantly above the statutory and collective agreement requirements.”
Krone took over the production site in Hvam from Norfrig A/S 13 years ago; at that time, up to 2,700 refrigerated GFK series vehicles were produced each year. It manufactured around 730 GRP units over the past financial year. In total, Krone produced more than 27,300 rolling units over the past financial year and recorded revenue of around 930 million euros.
The new owner of the production facilities plans to move the plant to Dubai; some former Krone employees have been offered jobs accordingly. Refrigerated box bodies are to be produced to the Krone GRP standard in Dubai beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014. A new production site will be created in Dubai for this purpose. Krone and GORICA are working toward cooperation with the Krone plant in Tire, Turkey, for the delivery of vehicle chassis.