Manitou CEO Jean-Christophe Giroux says while the French telehandler specialist enjoyed a "great" first quarter, the company faces challenges typical in a new growth cycle after a severe financial crisis.
"First, business is definitely firming up across the board, driven by end demand as dealers' inventories remain at an all-time low. Second, the worldwide operational chain cannot cope with this acceleration, resulting in production delays and slower manufacturing ramp-up," Giroux says.
He explains that Manitou is "taking orders faster than it increases its operational throughput, and like any other manufacturer, is as good as its biggest problem on any given day".
"Situations keep changing all the time, and recent events in Japan will inevitably add more volatility in the system, although impossible to quantify to date.
"With deteriorating predictability, the most impacted groups are our workforce and our dealers and customers," he continues.
Giroux says Manitou's assembly lines have had to adjust from the low demand of the financial crisis to increased demand. They also have to cope with the issue of components availability. "Our dealers have a hard time monitoring their customers' demand in this context. Having said so, we believe this is typical of any new growth cycle after a severe crisis when supply and demand take some time to adjust and meet."
For the first quarter of 2011, the firm's rough-terrain handling (RTH) division recorded revenue of EUR192 million (USD276.4 million), 65% higher than the same period last year, while the industrial material handling division generated revenue of EUR34 million (USD49.0 million), up 37% from a year before.
Meanwhile, Christian Caleca, president of the RTH division who joined Manitou in December 2008, is leaving the group to pursue other opportunities. His replacement has not been announced.