ELKHART, Ind., April 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Thor Industries (NYSE: THO) today provided an update on global operations, market conditions, community support and go-forward strategies for employee safety. The RV industry leader, with production facilities in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, Oregon, Germany, Italy, the UK and France, is looking forward to continuing to help people enjoy the outdoors, when it is safe to do so.
As government mandates begin to lift, the Company anticipates production to resume. Certain of Thor's European RV production facilities resumed operations today, April 14th, with additional facilities expected to begin operations later this month. North American RV operations are planned to resume at varying levels of production on May 4th, assuming no further unforeseen circumstances. Throughout this time of government mandated temporary production shutdown, every Thor subsidiary has continued to provide warranty, technical and parts support to its dealer partners and owners, without pause.
During the temporary shutdown, Thor companies, in both Europe and North America, spent considerable time and effort to ensure increased worker safety when production resumes, including adjusting production lines and making other necessary changes to allow for social distancing where possible, and instituting numerous additional health and safety protocols. Also during the shutdown, the Thor companies have worked closely with key suppliers to minimize potential disruptions upon the restart of production.
Thor's team members are the most valuable part of its organization. Maintaining the health of its employees, while protecting them and their families, is the Company's top focus. Accordingly, new, strict safety protocols are being implemented. These measures include, but are not limited to, providing every production employee with the appropriate personal protection equipment as it pertains to their specific job, including in most instances a personal protection kit complete with eye protection, face mask, personal hand sanitizer and CDC guidelines to maintain health; abundant access to hand sanitizing stations in all common areas; providing full face shields for line workers whose job requires close interactions with team members; thorough and more frequent cleaning and disinfecting throughout all facilities; reduced access to breakrooms and gathering areas and employing social distancing in common areas of production facilities. Thor will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC, WHO and state and federal governments to help ensure the safety of employees, their families and the communities in which they operate. Thor is committed to providing its employees the safest work environment in the industry
Prior to the onset of the coronavirus, Thor had been experiencing a strong early start to the selling season and high optimism from both North American and European dealers. Thor's management team and subsidiary leaders have been in regular communication with dealer partners, closely monitoring sales and dealers' inventory levels. Dealer inventory levels were appropriate for the spring season prior to the impact of COVID-19.
Within the U.S., several states have specifically restricted dealers' sales operations in many of the largest RV markets. Dealers in other states across the nation have shifted their focus to provide consumers with online buying experiences and home deliveries, continuing to serve a community that is excited to get back to the outdoors. Thor's independent dealer network continues to experience sales through this challenging time, albeit not at planned levels. Thor recognizes its essential role in continuing to support its dealer partners and owners. All operating companies are staffed in essential areas and are proud to continue to support dealers and owners through this challenging time.
In the European market, dealers report a strong level of retail sales awaiting delivery upon the reopening of their operations, which is generally expected to occur throughout the month of April in most locations, with Italy being an exception. While performance of the European companies will be materially impacted by COVID-19, the strong retail performance experienced prior to the impact of the virus is expected to gradually resume beginning in the second half of April.
Independent Dealer Inventory Overview
Independent dealer inventory levels continue to be in a balanced position in both North America and Europe as the retail channel navigated the previous excess inventory levels of calendar 2019. In many places, dealers continue to experience retail sales, paving the way for incremental wholesale sales once operations resume. Thor believes the suspension in production, at a time when dealers continue to sell, has helped maintain an overall healthy dealer inventory position. In addition, each Thor company is responsibly planning appropriate production levels once operations resume. This strategy will put Thor's independent dealer partners in the best position to be successful coming out of the pandemic.
Thor believes it has an obligation to provide support to its communities in the effort to combat this virus. Every operating company has contributed to its communities, collectively resulting in the donation of over 8,000 masks, 860 protective suits, 400 sets of protective eye wear and over 16,000 pairs of gloves to ensure the safety of the heroes of this crisis - the health care workers. Thor companies have also provided 12 RVs for use by local healthcare facilities and first responders. The Company intends to continue to work with local governments and its dealer partners to equip additional communities with much needed resources throughout the remainder of the crisis.
"As we work through the coronavirus pandemic, we are positioning our businesses to restart production in a safe and prudent manner. Our flexible business model and highly variable cost structure have been significant benefits as we navigate through this period of uncertainty. We are pleased that our European production of caravans and motorcaravans is partly restarting today, and we look forward to our North American operations phasing back online in early May. We have remained positive during this unpredictable and unprecedented time because of our strong belief in the unique benefits that RV travel provides to families and friends throughout North America and Europe and continue to believe that the RV industry has a bright future," said Bob Martin, President and CEO of Thor Industries.
About Thor Industries, Inc.
Thor Industries is the sole owner of operating subsidiaries that, combined, represent the world's largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles. For more information on the Company and its products, please go to www.thorindustries.com.
This release includes certain statements that are "forward-looking" statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements are made based on management's current expectations and beliefs regarding future and anticipated developments and their effects upon Thor, and inherently involve uncertainties and risks. These forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of future performance. We cannot assure you that actual results will not differ materially from our expectations. Factors which could cause materially different results include, among others, raw material and commodity price fluctuations; raw material, commodity or chassis supply restrictions; component supply disruption related to the coronavirus outbreak; the impact of tariffs on material or other input costs; the level and magnitude of warranty claims incurred; legislative, regulatory and tax law and/or policy developments including their potential impact on our dealers and their retail customers or on our suppliers; the costs of compliance with governmental regulation; legal and compliance issues including those that may arise in conjunction with recently completed transactions; lower consumer confidence and the level of discretionary consumer spending; interest rate fluctuations; the potential impact of interest rate fluctuations on the general economy and specifically on our dealers and consumers; restrictive lending practices; management changes; the success of new and existing products, services and production facilities; consumer preferences; the ability to efficiently utilize existing production facilities; the pace of acquisitions and the successful closing, integration and financial impact thereof; the potential loss of existing customers of acquisitions; our ability to retain key management personnel of acquired companies; a shortage of necessary personnel for production; the loss or reduction of sales to key dealers; disruption of the delivery of units to dealers; increasing costs for freight and transportation; asset impairment charges; equity investment impairment charges; cost structure changes; competition; the impact of potential losses under repurchase or financed receivable agreements; the potential impact of the strength of the U.S. dollar on international demand for products priced in U.S. dollars; general economic, market and political conditions in the various countries in which our products are sold; the impact of changing emissions and other regulatory standards in the various jurisdictions in which our products are sold; and changes to our investment and capital allocation strategies or other facets of our strategic plan. Additional risks and uncertainties surrounding the acquisition of Erwin Hymer Group SE ("EHG") include risks regarding the potential benefits of the acquisition and the anticipated operating synergies, the integration of the business, the impact of exchange rate fluctuations and unknown or understated liabilities related to the acquisition and EHG's business. These and other risks and uncertainties are discussed more fully in Item 1A of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended July 31, 2019 and Part II, Item 1A of our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ended January 31, 2020.
We disclaim any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained in this release or to reflect any change in our expectations after the date hereof or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any statement is based, except as required by law.
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SOURCE Thor Industries, Inc.