“We’re convinced that manufacturing in Italy provides real value, and believe it to be both a possibility and a duty for all businesses in our country”, stated the President of Sacmi Imola, Paolo Mongardi, as he commented on the cooperative’s 2014 annual report, one of the best in its entire history and an improvement on last year’s result both economically and financially.
With consolidated sales firmly above 1.2 billion euro, the net worth of the cooperative at over 660 million and a global workforce numbering almost 4,000, Sacmi is reaping the rewards of a dual effort: high investment in research and technological innovation – over 20 million euro once again in 2014 – and a strong focus on working alongside customers in international markets, acting not just as a supplier of machines and services but as a true global partner in the plant engineering field: “The international economic outlook”, President Paolo Mongardi reminds us, “remains complex, especially in certain geographical areas. Despite this, the cooperative has achieved outstanding results in terms of both volumes and profits, improving its business and industrial position on both consolidated markets and emerging ones”.
The backdrop to 2014, now confirmed as one of the best years in the cooperative’s long history, comments general Manager Pietro Cassani, consisted of “a policy of carefully targeted sell-offs and takeovers (e.g. Cosmec, Cmc, Eurofilter) and a concentration of resources in ‘core’ sectors (ceramics, packaging, automation), plus major investments at the Imola site where the number of employees has now climbed to 1,085, with over 120 new hires since 2011”.
Although a decidedly international enterprise – Sacmi makes over 88% of its sales outside Italy – the Group has kept its technological and manufacturing heart firmly in Italy: “Doing business in a globalised, highly competitive world”, explains President Paolo Mongardi, “has made it necessary not just to set up a far-reaching sales organisation but also to establish production facilities abroad, such as the Indian plant in Sanand, inaugurated earlier this year”. The overriding goal, however, points out Mr. Mongardi, is “to produce only that needed to cope with the aggressive stance of our main competitors and, therefore, defend our leadership in traditional business areas so we can continue to develop facilities and invest in Italy”. In short, underscores Sacmi’s President, the mission is one of “localisation not re-localisation, maintaining high added-value output in Italian and German firms”.
A look at the individual business sectors begins with the outstanding performance of Ceramics, the cooperative’s long-standing business that, in 2014, achieved further growth in terms of both volumes (5%) and profit margins thanks to new products that were near-immediately successful (from the Continua+ large slab production line, presented at Tecnargilla 2014, to the flexible Eko Sort and Eko Wrap stacking and packaging systems and the AVI high pressure casting solutions). The year also saw extraordinary expansion of the Special Pressing sector (machines for manufacturing refractory ceramic, pressing metallic powders and metal drawing), with sales – following the takeover of Bologna-based firm Matrix – now in excess of 15 million euro.
In 2014 the Closures sector focussed on the development of further solutions for the manufacture of ever-thinner, higher-performing caps, while the Beverage sector achieved growth, in terms of volumes, of no less than 30%, the result of a decisive investment policy that, in 2014, established centralised sales management and saw completion of major technological projects on injection presses (IPS). Then, there is Tableware, a business, reveals Pietro Cassani, that has produced “surprising” results: once again, this stems from the Group’s efforts to operate as close as possible to target markets (hence the decision to open new branches in Morocco, Kenya and South Africa).
And those who deemed the sell-off of Negri Bossi to an American firm during 2014 as an evident withdrawal from the Plastic business were very much mistaken: “The Plastic business” explains General Manager, Pietro Cassani, “has not only not disappeared from the Sacmi balance sheet but has, rather, actually increased its volumes and margins considerably by focussing on production of the high-tonnage Bi-Power hydraulic presses for which Sacmi remains the sole provider to that same Negri Bossi”.
Lastly, Automation&Service has repeated the results achieved in 2013 with its “total quality control” solutions, sold worldwide from China to Mexico, from Taiwan to Spain and Italy. This sector is a strategic one for the entire Group as it is involved in developing process automation solutions, true “mechatronic systems” that add considerable value to an all-round plant engineering range that spans from raw material processing to end-of-line solutions.
Now with 70 subsidiaries - that, points out President Paolo Mongardi, “contribute positively and often decisively to the overall result” - the Sacmi Group has, with these figures, put the seal on the cooperative’s 95th year in the best way possible. The results are a satisfying follow-up to the Open Day held on 2nd December when over 4,000 people visited the Imola plant and the Sacmi Museum.
So what lies in store for 2015? The initial data, reveals General Manager Pietro Cassani, already looks highly encouraging, “thanks to an excellent portfolio across all the Divisions and high sales levels”. Cassani goes on to hypothesise “further increases in the budget, which will be accompanied by every possible effort to implement further innovation on the organisational front”. In short, that will mean testing and developing new products at even faster rates to ensure we stay one step ahead of the market and the competitors.