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Ecomotive - Archive

23/04/2014
A CHECKERED FLOOR

Strong “ups and downs”, showing the first timid lights and still many unclear points.



Paolo Castiglia

The winds of economic recovery are reflected, at least partially,  in some automotive sectors , such as “Autogrill” motorways restaurants, whose performance was up 0.9% in the first nine weeks of the year (although total revenues in Italy decreased by 1, 3%), and travel retailer World Duty Free that, in the first two months of 2014 recorded a revenue growth of 4% from sales in Italy, Spain and Germany.

Italians are on the move again and, perhaps, also attracting new tourists. Motorway traffic info,  published by Atlantia, shows a decline of 2.4% and 2.7% recorded respectively in the first and second quarter of 2013 with an upturn to -0.8 and -0.6% in the last two quarters, recording an even encouraging +1% in December.

And estimates, in the first nine weeks of 2014, show an encouraging +0.7%. Even better are airport figures. Starting with Rome’s international airport (Adr), now integrated in Atlantia, passengers in February were up 4.8% compared to 2013 with a total annual share forecast set at +4.4%. The Benetton giant, talks ,rather cautiously, of "signs of stabilization" to traffic in Italy. But the trend is also confirmed by Sat (Pisa Airport passenger traffic up 1.8% in the first two months of 2014) and Save (North eastern ports,+ 0.5% passengers in 2013, with a + 2.6% only in Venice).

On the other hand, also the Italian aftermarket confirms a progressive increase of 4.8% thanks to increased  volumes +0.3% accompanied by a significant price reduction -0.4% due to higher market competition and reduced sole rights.

A modest growth in volumes generated by a number of reasons: the rebalancing of the automotive market touching new sales as well as vehicle repairs, peculiar liveliness of some brands no longer exclusive and a progressive reduction of authorized spare parts dealers. Nevertheless the last quarter of 2013 showed, compared to the corresponding period of 2012, a reduced growth margin, due to negative volumes and prices.

An aftermarket traditionally  countercyclical compared to the economy as a whole seems, however, adversely affected by the general situation prevailing in the country.

This is the picture. What makes matters worse are the relentless rise in fuel prices and motorists poor spending power - the difficult access to credit, difficulties in collecting payments, aggressive competition by car manufacturers. The recession and the difficulties of a country that is struggling to grow and living a challenging transition is stifling any possible stimulus to sales and, as if that were not enough, auto carriers have also given their negative contribution with an over-a-month strike and consequent slowdown in deliveries.

According to ISTAT’s preliminary estimates the national index of consumer prices recorded a rise of 0.5%  in economic terms and 3.3% as a trend. Particularly responsible for this growth are  non-regulated energy goods: the price of petrol (+3.4%),diesel (+1.9%) and other fuels (+8.8% ).

If we were to turn these observations into numbers, considering both central and suburban distribution, the loss margin in the North ranges between -3 to -8 percentage points. In the South, recession bites even more and loss margins have reached levels of concern ranging between -10 to -20 and in some cases even up to -25%. It’s increasingly difficult to produce the same volumes of recent years as profit margins are low, the market is increasingly fragmented and insolvency has become pandemic. Agents were able, in part, to restrain this negative trend thanks to a positive turnover from e-business related to historic cars. A niche that was particularly successful, which also helps to eliminate stockpiles. Not much work in Central Italy either, where a deep crisis in the supply chain can be observed.

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