Claas, the German manufacturer of agricultural machinery, has announced record sales in its 2020 financial year.
Sales rose 3.7% to €4.042bn, despite the pandemic and shutdowns in production.
The firm said that sales in Germany, France and western Europe remained stable, but grew significantly in eastern Europe and Russia.
At around 20%, Claas had its strongest growth in sales outside of Europe, with North America proving to be the most important growth driver.
The successful year meant that pre-tax earnings rose to €158m, up from €136m in 2019.
Despite the effects of COVID-19, investment in major projects at the company’s Le Mans tractor plant and at its forager and combine plant in Harsewinkel continued, in addition to the completion of the new Claas UK headquarters at Saxham and the new 15ha Technoparc centre in France.
Investment in research and development totalled at €237m, down slightly on the €244m invested in 2019.
Claas said that, at first, the positive business development was not at all expected.
Almost all of its production sites experienced production shutdowns of several weeks.
It put the success down to its staff and a close-knit logistics network, maintaining supply to customers as best it could be.
The number of staff employed by the firm remained stable this year, dropping by 53 people to 11,395 employees.
The number of staff rose slightly in Germany, while dropping in France.
Claas has said that in view of the coronavirus pandemic and the international trade conflicts which are still smouldering, negative effects on sales and earnings cannot be ruled out.
It added that further risks could arise from volatile producer prices and changes in the political framework for farmers in core markets.
Despite these uncertainties, Claas expects sales and earnings for the current 2021 fiscal year to remain at the previous year's level.