Liebherr’s UK operations only deliver £174M revenue out its total turnover of £6.1bn. But the company is planning to grow its market share in Britain, as Margo Cole finds out.
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The largest presence by far at this year’s Bauma was German plant manufacturer Liebherr. The masts of its tower and mobile cranes were visible from all points of the vast showground, and its “stand” − a massive structure measuring 200m by 40m that took five months to build − dominated the outside arena.
The firm is Germany’s biggest construction equipment company, and its proprietor Willi Liebherr described Bauma in Munich as a “home match”, adding that he hoped this year’s event would be a “catalyst for a positive future” after the recession of the last two years.
Although massive in Europe, Liebherr is still relatively small in the UK, where its operations contribute around €200M (£174M) out of the company’s total turnover of around €7bn (£6.1bn).
“We are the only OEM in the UK not to make people redundant. We’ve actually increased our staffing level”
Plans are under way for growth, as Liebherr Great Britain managing director Stefan Heissler explains. “We are trying to improve our market position, and we are opening a new depot in Sunderland and a new facility in Bathgate.
“We are the only OEM [original equipment manufacturer] in the UK not to make people redundant, and we’ve actually increased our staffing level.” The company operates in four market in the UK: earthmoving and materials handling; mobile cranes; tower cranes and mixing technology; and maritime cranes.
Investment has continued throughout the recession, and at Bauma the firm launched new products in all these markets, including a 30t articulated dump truck and a 3,000t mobile crane designed specifically with nuclear power station construction in mind. Both products will be available in the UK during the next 12 months.
Heissler says the company’s philosophy is to develop long term relationships with customers. “When we have a customer it is important that he stays with us forever. There’s no difference whether you have one machine or 100 − you should get the same attention, service back-up etcetera. We have to look after our smaller customers as well as the big ones,” he said.
Evidence of Liebherr’s continued investment in product development came on the eve of the exhibition, when the company won two out of five of the Bauma innovation awards, one for a new energy storage cylinder in the components category, and the other for its LH120C material handler in the design category.
“We have to always try to be ahead of the game − especially where we are the market leader,” says Heissler.