Haulotte Group is one of the key global players of people and material lifting equipment, a leader in Europe and the third largest manufacturer worldwide. Their success is primarily due to a strong focus on innovation and safety. It is our concern for customer proximity which has driven Haulotte's international development of business and strategy over the last 15 years, says Alexandre Saubot,Chief Executive Officer, Haulotte Group. Excerpts from the interview.
To what extent has the financial crisis impacted the Group's business performance?
The financial crisis has impacted the whole economy, and like many players, the Haulotte Group is also impacted. Between 2007 and 2009, sales reduced by one-third. However, even during the crisis, we have not sacrificed any part of our organisational structure like factories and distribution entities. They have been preserved, which has kept us ready for market recovery.
The crisis also obliged us to rethink our strategic priorities and be more ambitious about implementation, given that the markets have still not recovered, to 2007 levels. In this context, we need to perform better.
What do you think will be the major demand drivers in different markets, including Asian countries?
The global market for powered access platforms continues to be boosted by the growth in the US market. Regarding the boom of AWP in BRIC nations, productivity and safety remain the main drivers even though the context of legislation for mandatory usage of such machines is yet to be in place.
How has the Haulotte Group geared up to address the shift towards BRIC nations in terms of investments, logistics, etc?
Haulotte Group is building a strong sales network in the BRIC nations, thanks to our own entities and a dealer network, in order to established proximity relationship with customers, to provide them products and services, which fits the customer's requirement. We have opened operations in Brazil, Russia and China for over five years now, and made the same decision for India in 2012.
The manufacturing network emphasises the Haulotte strategy; our production facility based in China (Changzhou) is able to serve a large part of the product portfolio required by the customers in Asia-Pacific area.
How do you look at the potential for access equipment in the Asian market?
There is a considerable potential in the Asian market especially India and China. However, the lack of safety regulation for work at heights slows down the development of the concept and the usage of less safe options like scaffoldings remain a major deterrent.
We are targeting a 25 per cent growth of our business in the region for 2012 after a 50 per cent increase in 2011. This growth is the outcome of the consolidation of relationship with large rental customers combined with expansion of our dealers' network across Asia and Australia.
We have significantly strengthened our service structures in Asia this year and will pursue these efforts next year, establishing capabilities in India and in Japan. The pace of growth is expected to be steady in 2013, in spite of the current market uncertainties.
Given the current global scenario, what has been Haulotte's strategy regarding competitive costs?
We are encouraging our customers to look at the total cost of ownership. We are not in a price war. Competitive cost is not only price, but also a balance between quality of products, suitable additional services, support for customer and the reliability of the relationship between our customers and us.
What has been Haulotte's core focus on providing value addition to its customers?
The Haulotte Group strategy is driven by customer proximity. This involves the establishment of a commercial and services network closer to our customers, with teams of professionals who understand the needs and expectations of their markets and provide support to our clients. It is trying to provide the best fitted solutions to a very specific requirement.
What has the Group's overall performance been so far?
Consolidated sales were Euro 261.2 million (September 2012) compared with Euro 224.7 million at the end of September 2011, an increase of 16 per cent between the two periods (19 per cent on equipment sales). Overall sales increased in all geographic areas, particularly Latin America (90 per cent) and Asia Pacific (26 per cent). The US continues at a good pace with overall growth of 30 per cent at the end of September compared to 2011. Growth in Europe (+4 per cent) faced a real slowdown at the end of September.
Rental business and services continued to rise on the trend of HY 2012 respectively 9 per cent for rental business and 4 per cent for services at the end of September 2012. The growth rate recorded at the end of September should not change significantly during the last quarter of 2012 given the expected dynamism of our business outside Europe and also the planned investments by our major customers in Europe during this period.
Tell us about the product range and services Haulotte offers.
Our product range is as under.
AWP - 7 product ranges, over 60 models:
- Articulating booms, from 12 to 41m working height, diesel or electric powered
- Scissors lift, from 6 to 18 m working height, equipped with rough terrain diesel for outside applications or silent electric for interior use, their platform capacity ranges from 230 to 1,000 kg
- Telescopic booms, from 14 to 43 m working height
- Vertical masts, from 6 to 10 m, they can be used both outdoor and indoor
- Push around, from 7 to 14 m working height, this light compact machine is designed for fragile floor surfaces
- Trailer booms, from 12 to 26 m, their compactness and lightweight allow them to be towed to any site
Its general ergonomics improve visibility and allow easy maintenance on six models:
- 10 m working height: Three machines with maximum lift capacity 3,200 kg, 3,500 kg and 4,000 kg.
- 14 m working height: Two machines with maximum lift capacity 3,600 kg and 4000 kg.
- 17 m working height with maximum lift capacity 3,600 kg and 4,000 kg.
How do you view the potential for rentals for these kinds of equipment?
The rental companies are the key customers of the Haulotte Group. They display our product range for a wide range of applications and allow users to rent the machine which fit with their needs.
In mature markets such as Western Europe, North America, Japan and Australia, the rental sector is the main contributor to the industry itself. These rental companies (regional, national and international) represent a large quantum of our business in these countries.
In emerging markets such as India and China, this industry is not yet structured and organised on the same levels. It is still under formation but represents a large potential in the near future.
Brief us on the production facilities.
We have six manufacturing plants across the world, three based in France, one in Romania, one in the US and one in China.
"The lack of safety regulation for work at heights slows down the development of the concept and the usage of less safe options remain a major deterrent."
"In emerging markets such as India and China, this industry is not yet structured and organised on the same levels. It is still under formation but represents a large potential in the near future."