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FIDIA: HI-TECH EXCELLENCE LEAVES THE MOULDS AND ENTERS AEROSPACE
The Italian company Fidia is one of the leading international groups operating in the sector of numerical controls and milling of complex surfaces. The company established its long-standing position of leadership very shortly after its foundation back in 1974. Fidia (www.fidia.it/english/indice_eng_fr.htm) designs, manufactures and markets numerical controls, drives and milling systems for the mould and die and aerospace industries. Its product range has expanded over the years to include a line of machine tools which was launched in the early nineties and has quickly reached a leading position in the mould and die industry. In recent years, Fidia has also achieved excellent results in aerospace applications thanks to its “K” series. Last year, the Group recorded proceeds of just under 42 million euros (6.3% annual increase) and, in the first quarter of 2008, a 42.5% annual turnover increase to 9.2 million euros.
With its headquarters in Turin and three production plants in Italy, the Group employs a total of 320 people and now operates at international level thanks to a joint venture in China and eight branches around the world. Its main export markets are Europe and North America with a substantial presence and significant potential for expansion in the emerging countries, particularly China and Brazil. Fidia technology is designed for the manufacture of highly complex moulds and dies and its main applications are in the automotive industry (tyres, bodies and some mechanical parts), the aeronautical industry (engines, undercarriages and turbines), footwear (soles and/or structures of technical sports shoes) and complex items. The moulds are used in the manufacture of product series and are therefore employed in an extremely wide variety of production sectors.
Fidia’s customers include some of the major international groups such as Bmw, Coopertyre, Continental, Daimler-Chrysler, Ferrari, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Ford, Renault, Citroen, Rover, Nissan, Skoda, Mercedes-Benz, Goodyear, Opel, Volvo, Peugeot, Jaguar, Audi, Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen, Comau, Fatagroup and Thyssen in the automotive industry, Bertone, Italdesign, Pininfarina, Edag, Model Master and Karmann in the automotive design sector, Aerospatiale, Alenia, Alsthom, Boeing, British Aerospace, Canadair, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, Stadco, Dowty, Aermacchi and Snecma in the aeronautical industry and Bata, Nike, Salomon, Samsonite, Benetton, Philips, Swarovski, Electrolux, Villeroy & Boch, Ideal Standard, Bormioli in other sectors.
The crisis that hit the European automotive industry (the company’s original market) after 2001 compelled the group to adopt a two-fold strategy of diversification in order to defend its market shares and conquer new areas. Fidia therefore decided to begin exploring new market sectors, adding the United States and Asia to its original markets and, at the same time, transferring the majority of its business to the aerospace sector, an industry in which the Italian company was always a leader but which did not constitute its main source of income. “In 2003”, explains Fidia’s President and CEO Giuseppe Morfino, “aerospace accounted for about 20% of our turnover. Today it counts for over 53%, making us a leader in key high-added-value sectors such as aeronautics, defence and the commercial jet industry which is extremely important in the United States in particular”.
Fidia is therefore reaping the benefits of the bold strategy it adopted. Overcoming the considerable obstacles to entry into the aerospace business was far from easy. “However”, Morfino continues, “we were already active in the sector so we weren't starting from scratch”. Diversification paid off for them. And, now that the automotive industry is showing signs of recovery, Fidia, thanks to its balanced product mix, is in a position to harness the favourable trend, initially in Europe, which is showing signs of recovery, particularly in Germany, front but also in the East. “We are beginning to expand into Russia and India where we have already won significant commissions from the Indian group Tata Motors”, Morfino concludes.