Interview with Xabier Ortueta, CEO of AFM
June 29, 2010
Bearing in mind that the fair is held in a very delicate moment for the sector and the economy in general, what is your assessment of this edition of the BIEMH?
My assessment of the fair would try her to be divided into two aspects. On the one hand the expository aspect, which I think is evidence: the fair has been a total success. Exhibitors, although she has been diminished somewhat in space, came with its technological potential, showing the best of themselves. On this hand, I do an assessment of absolute success. On the other hand, in the atmosphere of the fair visitors, from beginning to end of the week has gone to more. I believe that the visits have been good, quality. Probably we would have liked that it would have been more, but in any case, have been above expectations. That we now have to check is whether all these contacts, all these proposals and discussions with clients materialize truly in order.
Can you give us data from most recent production, import and consumption?
The picture we are experiencing is truly difficult. We have been a difficult year 2009 in which machine tool orders have fallen with a very strong intensity, over 50%, and this brings us to a few figures of manufacture which has been diminished, as 30% in 2009. The domestic market has also been very touched: the import has dropped over 55 per cent and consumption around 49-50%. This puts us in a picture of the start of 2010 complicated. The companies have a low order book, with an intensity of labour also complicated. But the reality is that little by little the orders have been recovering since the first quarter of 2009 was the worst, quarter to quarter, during four successive, including the first of 2010. Although we believe that this growth is insufficient, we hope to gradually be capable of rising to the surface. I believe that we are still one meter below the water, but the trend is good. Let us hope that the Biennale, as with regard to the domestic market, be able to support and encourage this turning point that we have already passed.
A few days before the start of the BIEMH announced a new Plan Renove for machine tools. What do you think of this new initiative?
I think that the Renove Plan comes just at the time. We have passed a final stretch of the year 2009 where the Renove Plan also had an intensity of EUR 10 million in total and with an aid intensity of 30%, with a maximum of 200,000 euros per operation that sold out very quickly. I believe that it had complied with its role at a difficult time as it was the final leg of last year. This year it comes at the right time, in which we need to reactivate again demand, with the show in full swing and I think it will come in handy. Intensities have been divided by two, i.e., it is helping a maximum of 15% of the value of the machinery and with a limit of 100,000 per machine, but the total amount that the Basque Government puts at the disposal of companies is 100,000 euros.
As for the impact it may have, first must be taken into account for who it is. The Renove Plan are to renew equipment of productive industries, i.e., industries that make automotive components, parts for the aeronautical, railway, for wind power. We are talking about a Plan Renove which helps the industry is reequipe. The industry is the primary beneficiary. I think that it is a subject that is well thought out and that works in our favor as economic and industrial fabric. And on the other hand, the second beneficiaries are both manufacturers and importers of machine tools. To the extent that that touches us, also seems to us a wise measure. As for how is going to have an impact, I believe that the result will be good. I don't know if we will be able to sell everything that give those 10 million euros in aid, because that would be virtually to multiply it by 10, almost going up to 100, but in any case I think that it is a very good measure.
This time the percentage of national exhibitors is superior to other occasions. What is the explanation?
The percentage of national exhibitors grows because it is our trade fair, the fair of machine tools. The heart of all machine-tool fair are manufacturers of machine tools. And in this case we are talking about the biennial Spanish machine-tool and therefore the Spanish machine tool manufacturers are the heart of the fair. The rest of the exhibitors are usually services, components, tools that go around this industry. It is a strategic trade fair, a very important market for us, then the bet is maximum. We have passed, at a time when the fair was busy 100% to 14% of the exhibition area, at this time, that things have been more complicated, but I think that the fair has a size and a magnificent levelto occupy 25% of the exhibition area. I believe that this is the proof of what we care about the fair and that it is really our fair and our market.
What actions being AFM out to help their businesses to other markets?
AFM, as an association, is a service company and that is why we must increase the capabilities of the companies which themselves have. Our companies are not alien to the needs of internationalization that they have and take individual actions and activities. We do is to promote those activities on a pooled basis charged sense. Traditionally we have helped them to participate in different events and different fairs in those countries where there are more propensity to consume. Apart from that, we have also made voyages of exploration to attract new customers, distributors, etc. Our latest line of work, what we have been developing the 3-4 years, it is the approach sectors and that goes a bit beyond international. We are not thinking about whether we need to export to China, India or Russia, but that we are watching it from the perspective of the sector of the customer who buys us. We are talking about railway, aerospace, energy and attacked each of the countries with the prospect of what sector exists in that country and that implementation has.
How he perceived the mood of the manufacturers?
I believe that this is a question that comes. I like to think, and what I believe, that our sector is a deeply professional sector. Professionalism is, rather than the spirit, which leads to focus on these difficult times in which the sector has to do. We have followed the last year three important roads.
On the one hand, keep our people and the ability of these people, essential in these times of crisis. Although we have had a drop in employment, it has been very below what has been the drop of production or demand; We had a decline in employment of around 7%. I believe that this marks a milestone clear and also holding and educating people, because we need, at the time in which things will reactivate, have persons and more prepared.
On the other hand, the few operations that move the market, we must respond to them, and that is why we have stepped up efforts in the commercial area and in the international area. We have multiple cases of companies whose commercial departments not only have not been disposed of staff but would have increased capabilities.
And then, another dynamic from this perspective of professionalism and not so much spirit is dedicate to innovate. These times are more idle must devote them to the technical offices, to the r & d and make improvements and contributions of value to the market.
Separately, the mood is good and that is why we are here. It is not the first crisis that touches us, and like all its predecessors, this we will also be true.