The European Materials Handling Federation (FEM) stated last month that European materials handling production value had declined by nearly 7% in 2013. Exports had stagnated but FEM predicted that manufacturers are gradually doing the majority of their business outside Europe (Forkliftaction.com News #689)
Christine Cranney contacted industry members for their opinion.
Jungheinrich spokesman Jan Kaulfuhs-Berger points out that although the Asian markets are growing, the forklift manufacturer's biggest market is still Europe, which is also growing.
Europe, Jungheinrich's main sales market, posted growth of 11% for the third quarter of 2014. Demand for the German manufacturer's trucks rose by 12 % in Western Europe, with market volume in Eastern Europe advancing by 3%. In Asia, demand grew by 13%, with the North American market enlarging by 6%.
Group net sales for the first nine months of 2014 were up 9% to EUR1.792 billion (USD2.241 billion). In Germany, net sales in the same period increased by 9% while foreign net sales climbed by 10%. Non-European net sales advanced by 18%, buoyed by strong growth in Asia.
However, Jungheinrich says that the European market, with Western Europe as the growth driver, is currently expected to continue displaying positive development, albeit with slightly less momentum. "In this context, it remains to be seen how the unfolding of the Ukraine crisis and the geopolitical uncertainty in the Near East will affect the development of the economy. The growth of the Asian and North American markets will probably persist, albeit with slightly waning momentum in both regions."
Tyre and track manufacturer Camoplast Solideal sells its products to the materials handling, construction, agriculture and powersports industries in more than 100 countries. The Canadian company acquired Luxembourg-based Solideal Group in 2010 to branch out into the tyres and wheels business.
Spokesman Derek Bradeen says about 56% of its products are sold in North America, 29% in EMEA, 7% in Asia, 4% in Latin America, and 2% in Oceania. It has manufacturing operations in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia.
Asked if his company is "getting closer and closer to making the majority of its business outside Europe", he says Camoplast Solideal is well-positioned to serve its European OEM clients and their customers both in Europe and in the export markets they serve.
"We are committed to growing our European footprint and have made recent acquisitions in Spain (Gulimsa Tires) and in Austria (Atra Industrial Tires) to help us serve additional European customers."
To boost exports, Camoplast Solideal is "building [the] company from the strong position [it has] in Europe and North America with strategic investments and organic growth in the developing markets of Asia and Latin America.
"Our goal is to be the leader in each market segment we engage in; we will continue to look around the world for opportunities to serve our customers with innovative off-the-road mobility solutions," Bradeen says.
Manitou vice president for sales and marketing Francois Piffard boasts that the French equipment maker is the world leader for rough-terrain handling, and has developed its product offering to address the various markets worldwide, including the construction, agriculture, industrial, mining, and oil and gas sectors.
"(Currrently), our activity is harmoniously split in our three major markets worldwide; 75% of revenues out of France, [our] historical and domestic market. More than 1,400 dealers distribute as well on the American continents as in Asia or in the Pacific without forgetting MEA (Middle East and Africa) who contributes significantly to the development of the group. Nineteen subsidiaries distribute and support our dealership."
Piffard says some sales areas like Northern Europe, Central Europe and Russia are more dynamic for Manitou. "[There is] a slow-down in Latin America, especially in the mining sectors in Argentina and Chile. There is still dynamic activity in Northern Europe."
Antonio Martinez, managing director of Spanish rough-terrain forklift manufacturer Bomaq, tells Forkliftaction.com News
that all of his company's rough-terrain forklift sales came from outside Europe, while 25% of its spare parts business came from Europe. The company's main export markets are Australia, Canada, USA, Sweden, South Africa and the UAE.
Martinez agrees with FEM that European manufacturers are increasing their sales outside Europe. "Our production capacity is dimensioned according to the last high demand, and now that the European market is not capable of absorbing this capacity, all the companies have been forced to look [outside] our borders, and focus our sales in other countries that are growing, but don't have the technology or products we have in Europe."
Bomaq has seen its exports grow in 2013 thanks to the appointment of new dealers and the introduction of new products.
On boosting exports, Martinez says: "We are investing in marketing since the very beginning. But we think that the key is to find the appropriate place to focus our sales capacity, and for that we have to do a lot of research about the market: needs, competitors, price levels, expected growth..."