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SABAF: SAFETY AND TECHNOLOGY WITH AN EYE TOWARDS ASIA
An advanced industrial enterprise, combining respect for the environment, for quality of life, and for working conditions: these are the hallmarks of Sabaf, an enterprise which produces burners and components for cookers.
The company, based in Brescia, began life in 1950 as a small family concern, and has now evolved into an international, publicly-traded company, admitted to the “STAR” high-requisite securities segment of the Italian stock exchange.
Nowadays, Sabaf has 700 workers to its name, and is Italy’s foremost producer of essential components for cooking appliances, and also among the top manufacturers at global level. It has achieved this result while still paying consistent attention to environmental concerns, sustainable growth and research. We asked the company’s Managing Director, Alberto Bartoli, to tell us about the plans and future horizons of the business, which has recently started to cast its eyes towards Asia.
How would you describe Sabaf’s mission and philosophy?
Sabaf has made regard for individuals, respect for business ethics, and socially responsible behaviour the fundamental basis for its business model. In this context, the Sabaf Group has designed and adopted a management system whose aim is to support a model of growth sustainable over time, by means of constant innovation and by fulfilling the legitimate expectations of our various stakeholders. Our mission is therefore to consolidate our technological achievements and market leadership in designing, producing and distributing a comprehensive range of components for domestic gas cookers, and to achieve this by a consistent focus on innovation, safety, and the enhancement of our skilled workforce. All of this is expressed in an ongoing programme of investments, which enable us to maintain the standards of quality and safety for which our products are recognised.
What are your flagship products?
In recent years, we have seen a movement away from the use of brass taps to those made from extruded aluminium, which has a lower environmental impact. At the same time, we are concentrating on the research, development and production of highly efficient burners (those which consume less gas for the same energy output), such as the Series II HE and the double Corona Compact burners.
How is Sabaf positioned in its reference market?
Sabaf is the undisputed leader at European level, and highly ranked both on the international scene and in specific markets. We are certainly the only group to offer a complete range of products for the cooking appliance market (taps, thermostats, hob and oven burners, hinges, etc.).
How have you confronted the economic crisis?
The crisis has had a significant impact on our balance-sheets, mainly due to the default of some of our long-standing clients. We have responded to this situation by investing heavily in R&D and in our production lines, and also by renewing our product range. This has been accompanied by a careful review of our costs, in order to improve our internal efficiency.
You have chosen to stay firmly anchored in Italy: how and why?
Yes, 85% of our production is still within Italy, alongside the production from our factories in Turkey and Brazil. However, the internationalisation of the markets and of our clients is also demanding that we produce within our various export markets, and this is sure to become an increasingly common phenomenon. In any event, the marginal impact of labour costs and the need for high-volume production to justify the investment make it less worthwhile for us to move the production of some of our product lines: like taps, for example.
What are your plans for foreign sales? Which countries are you looking at?
We are historically based in Europe, with a foot in the Middle East and one in Brazil. The only market/continent in which we are not present is Asia. We are now looking towards that region, and obviously to the largest market there: China. The idea is to start producing burners designed exclusively for the local market by the end of 2014.
What was your turnover for 2013, and what are your predictions for 2014?
We registered a turnover for 2013 of about 130 million Euros, maintaining previous values. For 2014, we predict a moderate increase in terms of turnover and profit margins.