Claas, one of Europe's largest manufacturers of farm machinery, is reporting that its sales increased by 33.5% in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011 and posted its highest sales in its history, at €3,304.2 ($4,318.87).

At approximately €255 million ($333.274), Claas' income before taxes more than tripled compared with the same period a year ago. The company's gross margin rose to 24.9%.

Claas Group in Figures

In the financial year just concluded, the general economic climate was characterized by global economic recovery. Starting from a low level, the agricultural technology sector has seen very positive development overall. In Western Europe, the markets for agricultural technology has made a recovery after two years of sharp decline. The highest level of market growth was apparent in Central and Eastern European countries, albeit from a markedly low level. The North and South American markets were on a high level, while the markets in Asia continued to grow, as did the Indian market.

Claas has been able to further expand its market position in most product groups; for instance, sales of combines saw a rise and improved its market position in this field. As in the previous year, tractors came second to combines in terms of sales in the Claas Group. Here, too, Claas succeeded in expanding its market position in the majority of regions. In Western Europe alone, Claas saw growth of over 20% in tractor sales, considerably above the overall market growth of 13%.

Sales of forage harvesters climbed to record levels this year. This year saw the 30,000th JAGUAR leave the Harsewinkel production site. Likewise, Claas achieved sales increases in forage wagons and balers, consolidating and in part slightly boosting its position. The company improved once again upon its good results of the previous year in the fields of replacement parts and accessories, used machinery, and its service business.

In its production engineering business field, Claas' sales rose by €79.9 million, or 69.7 %, to €194.7 million in the year under review. Growth in orders from the automotive and aviation industries played a major part in this increase. The industrial engineering business likewise benefited from favorable overall conditions, with financial year 2011 bringing a sales increase of €10.9 million, or 42.7 %, to €36.5 million. The principal purchasers of these products are customers from the agricultural, construction machinery, and municipal technology sectors.

The number of people employed by Claas has seen only a slight increase, standing at 9,060 as of September 30, 2011.

Claas brought the combine harvester to Europe 75 years ago and has sold 435,000 combines since then, plus a new combine harvesting World Record was set by a Claas LEXION 770 combine in September 2011. German specialist journalists have selected not one, but two Claas products as "Machine of the Year 2012" in the relevant categories: the JAGUAR 980 forage harvester and the AXION 900, which was launched onto the market in 2011 and is the highest powered standard tractor.