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*EXCLUSIVE* Manitou: Future outside Europe


Thursday, 16 Feb 2006 ( #247 ) - Sydney, Australia
News Story
Bruno Fille
At the opening of Manitou BF’s newest subsidiary, Manitou Australia, Forkliftaction.com News reporter Christine Liew spoke to Manitou executive vice president Bruno Fille. He and fellow French directors Francois F Piffard and Henri L Gallard were in Sydney to open Manitou Australia (Forkliftaction.com News #246).

"A few years ago we talked about Manitou as the world leader in the rough-terrain business. Today our positioning is progressively changing. We are keeping our core business, rough-terrain forklifts, but developing other product lines, like industrial equipment," Fille said.

Manitou, known for its all-terrain forklifts, aims to gradually become a global player in materials handling equipment. Today, its business activities and products cover three main markets: construction, farming and the industries market. The latter covers all applications not included in the first two market sectors.

Last year, Manitou’s consolidated net sales totalled AUD1.5 billion (USD1.1 billion ) with total growth exceeding 20 per cent. Group turnover for 2005 jumped 12 per cent in France, 23 per cent in Europe and 47 per cent in "other countries". The USA experienced more than 60 per cent growth, Asia 79 per cent and the Pacific 49 per cent.

The Manitou Group’s strategy is to develop its activities in the three main sectors and avoid strong dependency on any one sector, Fille said. (Total net sales: 48 per cent construction, 27 per cent farming and 25 per cent industries).

The Asia-Pacific region was a point of interest for the group, representing its future as opportunities for market growth and increased market share existed there, Fille said.

However, he said Manitou had to start from first base in some Asia-Pacific markets.

"It will take years to develop the Chinese [rough-terrain] market because we have to develop from scratch but it’s a situation we like in Manitou. For the time being, we have no competitor in this market but we also recognise that the market has to be developed.

"We are starting activities in China with production of industrial forklifts to export them worldwide. They are relatively low cost in production and of good quality. Later, we will accelerate our development in Asia for rough-terrain forklifts but, for the time being, it’s a relatively small market," he said.

Manitou acquired the Irisman Company in China last September for around USD4 million. The company, which is considered a start-up, was renamed Manitou Hangzhou Material Handling Co Ltd and made an affiliate subsidiary.

Currently about 40 people work in Hanghou, which has the capacity to produce 3,000 units a year. The company manufactures industrial internal combustion forklifts with load capacities ranging from 1.5 tons to 3.5 tons.

Fille said there were ideas for joint ventures in other emerging markets, like India, but 2006 was "still a bit too early to talk about it".

However, the group opened its own marketing office in Mumbai, India, in June 2005. In late 2005, the Spanish marketing office was converted to a sales affiliate "in view of the size of activities achieved in the country". A marketing office opened in Belgorad, Russia, this year.
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