Negri Bossi's recent UK open house event in Rugby
In the past 18 months Negri Bossi has flourished under its new owners. The company has seen growth of around 30 percent, success in new markets and the addition of new variants of its product lines, which were premiered in the UK. Leanne Taylor spoke to CEO, Craig Ward, about the secret to success.
Earlier this year saw Negri Bossi’s UK subsidiary benefit from the first worldwide public showing of the new variants of the company’s EOS and Canbio ST injection moulding machines. The machines, have been upgraded in terms of control systems and software, making them much more intuitive and user friendly.
The changes are partly as a result of listening to the feedback of customers and technicians and this, says Craig Ward, the company’s British CEO, is where the secret to success begins.
“Our strategy is very much based around customer satisfaction,” Ward told BP&R. We recognise that without our customers, we have no business, so it’s in our best interests to ensure that we listen to what they want.”
This, he added, is an approach instilled by Negri Bossi’s owners of the past 18 months, US-based capital expenditure firm, Kingsbury. “They operate a very service-orientated culture. As a company with new owners we’re still the same people, the same history, the same skill set – everything’s good in that respect – we’ve just changed our direction. Before we were very much working for our owners and, now, under the new owners, we are working for our customers. I think that’s the main change.”
With its American owners, a British CEO and global subsidiaries, does Negri Bossi’s Italian heritage still play a part in the business? “Absolutely,” Ward told me. “The company will always be Italian at heart. We’re a global company in a global market and the new ownership and a British CEO at the helm is just natural progression. I am aware of what our Italian background brings to the table and want to make sure we retain that. I can’t stifle the creativity and passion that these people have. It is what makes our products our products.”
“An unbelievable 18 months”
In the 18 months since the change of ownership, Negri Bossi has achieved some impressive sales figures. Ward says this is a combination of the right product, the right markets and the right approach.
“I think our current owners were fortunate in the sense that they bought the business at a time when the market started to pick up a bit, so we’ve had a good tail wind there. In terms of our historic markers, we have seen growth of around three to five percent. However, overall as a group in the last 18 months we have grown in the region of 30 percent, which is a phenomenal result and an unbelievable achievement. We’re very pleased that things have started that way.”
Ward attributes this growth to the strength of its core product lines, the Canbio and Vector models, as well as growth in new markets in which it has invested heavily, such as India and the USA.
“If you look at the tonnages of the Vector, it’s in the 500-1000 mark and, therefore, sits in the ideal area for the automotive market,” Ward explained. “Obviously the automotive market is still doing very well and that’s really driven the growth of this model in some of our historical markets.”
Whilst on the subject of automotive, I asked Ward whether automotive was a key driver for business in the UK. “For sure, it’s definitely a key market. However, I wouldn’t say it has helped our business in the UK as much as it has helped some of our local competitors. Our UK subsidiary is one of our strongest and it has a very broad customer base, so it’s not reliant on the success of one sector.
“Things will inevitably cool off in the automotive market in the UK, but it’s not something that particularly worries us as a company because of the footprint of loyal customers we have.”
Growth plans in the short to medium term
In terms of how the future looks for the Negri Bossi Group, Ward says that the growth seen in the last 18 months is unlikely to be repeated. “We still see that the markets will grow for the next three to five years, and we expect our overall growth to be steady based on this,” he explained.
“We’ve had a really exceptional 18 months and we don’t expect growth on this scale to continue. That said, with our heavy investment in India and America we do expect to see good growth there. But these are quite specific investments and strategies.”
Finally, Ward said that although its owners were “always on the lookout for acquisition opportunities”, the Group would continue to invest in research and development to continually improve its existing product offering.
“Obviously we have to create value for our customers, so we’re constantly reviewing our products and services so that we can bring a new package of upgrades to the market when ready. For us that’s very important.”