Hankook has a proven history of finding unique ways to increase competitiveness. Based on our entrepreneurial spirit and desire to surmount difficult challenges, we have developed a strong foundation of growth and innovation that have shaped the company into a leading global tire brand.
Throughout our entire production process, Hankook’s productivity and efficiency in all processes are extraordinary. Widely recognized as the first tire company to have benefited from economies of scale and a global supply system, we have improved our standing worldwide. At a time when globalisation was unfamiliar and the tire industry could not meet local demand through small production facilities, we were able to turn the situation around by strategically developing large-scale production facilities and an efficient global supply network. Hankook simultaneously maximized productivity and efficiency, and we are now able to respond quickly to customer demand in over 180 countries.
The Hankook brand boasts a diversified global portfolio across five oceans and six continents. By dividing the world into five zones and crafting specific strategies for each, Hankook has achieved stable growth in both advanced and emerging automotive markets. Hankook’s history of steady growth even amid severe economic storms such as the 1997 Asian liquidity crisis, 2008 global financial crisis, and European financial crisis is are a testament to our abilities to build a stable business flexible enough to seamlessly respond to global economic hardships.
The ability to anticipate the challenges of the world economy and the automobile market has made Hankook what we are today. The tire industry, which grew rapidly during the era of motorisation, underwent restructuring in the 1980s and market reform which centered on global brands in the 1990s. Effectively analysing the future, we accelerated our advancement into markets around the world and became a global brand. The 2008 financial crisis has compelled further change in Hankook as consumers in advanced markets seek rational consumption, while those in emerging markets have begun to emphasize quality and brands. With extraordinary insight and technical skill, Hankook is once again taking a giant step towards enhancing our brand value.
Since the founding of Hankook, our entrepreneurial spirit has been the driving force for growth in new markets. Moreover, the will to overcome challenges among our top management has ensured continued growth. As the first global company to advance into the Chinese market, we have strengthened our position as the top tire brand there through localisation strategies. In the emerging markets of Russia, Central and South America, and Indonesia, our success has achieved global awards and recognition. One such honour received is the Commander’s Cross Order of Merit received from the government of Hungary in 2012 for our accomplishment in setting up a strategically placed production facility for the European market there.
At Hankook, our transparent and sound financial structure has enabled continuous reliability and growth. At the end of 2012, our debt, gearing, and net worth ratios were 129.6%, 65.9%, and 43.5%, respectively. As of the year 2013, we recorded an annual growth rate of 13% over the past decade, and despite economic recessions in the United States and Europe, we have continued our upward trend in growth through efforts to optimize our labour force and operating expenses.
Additionally, we maintain a transparent financial management system that puts emphasis on corporate responsibility and shareholder profit. Our stable financial structure is the basis for reinvestment, which has enabled us to increase our brand power worldwide.