BETTING HEAVILY ON RETREAD DEVELOPMENT
AN INTERVIEW WITH BRENNO BENAGLIA, COMMERCIAL MANAGER AT MARANGONI COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL TYRES
With an investment of 3 million euros, the Trentino-based manufacturer aims to renew the truck and earthmover series of hot-retreaded tyres by expanding production capacity and pushing its Ecoenergy range
Mino De Rigo
THREE MILLION euros for updating and expanding the truck, bus and earthmover range of hot-retreaded tyres, increase production capacity, especially for products with low rolling resistance, and further increase the level of automation at the factory in Rovereto. Marangoni is betting with confidence on the continental market’s ability to recover after closing 2012 with good prospects: despite a slight downturn of 3% in volumes, the direct retreading business showed growth in turnover and margins.
“We recouped shares on the domestic market and in Europe” – stated Brenno Benaglia, commercial manager of the Commercial & Industrial Tyres Division at Marangoni – “thanks also to the launch of new products and the requalification of part of the range that is now in the premium segment. Encouraging performance considering that the Italian market for industrial retreads closed the year with a falloff in volumes of over 11%, while the downturn in the segment for new truck and bus tyres was steeper at almost 27%”. Retreading is losing less because it is an anti-cyclical sector and the products allow customers to economize. “We would have done even better if we had not come up against the enormous problem of obtaining casings, which is still an issue”.
New tyres vs retreads
Three-quarters of Marangoni’s hot-retreaded industrial products go to Italian customers and the rest are sold abroad. But it’s the countries on the other side of the border that absorb over 65% of earthmover retreads, with the domestic market taking the rest.
“Europe” – Benaglia continued – “has become a single big market but strong differences persist. In the 1970s, Italy could boast one of the highest ratios of changeover retreads in the world. A few years ago we touched bottom and have now risen to just under 35%, but in Germany the ratio has been over 45% for some time now and in France, Scandinavia and the United States they even account for more than half of sales. Italian retreaders have a lot of responsibility for what happened”. Slipshod operations and products with dubious levels of quality, but it seems that it is now possible to dispose of these. Also thanks to the commitment of the main brands: “The presence of manufacturing companies is useful because it contributes to raising the average level of quality and the market has to contend with companies that do not shirk from the correct management of product positioning. Of course their greater direct involvement increases the demand for casings to be treated, but there is always room for those who operate correctly”.
Success comes from product quality
An even more serious aspect is access to credit, considering that in recent years transport fleets have been unable to save enough for a rainy day. “In many cases” – the Marangoni manager emphasized – “their balance sheets have shown a loss. This has created tension in the entire supply chain. Making things even more complicated is the extreme fragmentation of the segment, which makes our sales actions more costly in Italy, where it is necessary to have a greater presence in the territory”.
On the other hand, there seem to be very wide margins for convincing the fleets that still do not use retreads. “The operation can be successful only if product quality and reliability come first and foremost. It would not make sense otherwise. Just as it would be pointless to buy a retread that is not well made, has less effective and efficient compounds than the original tyre, doesn’t last as long and consumes more”. This is the reason for the constant research in moulds and compounds, all the more so because the Trentino-based company is the main European manufacturer of materials for retreading industrial tyres. “We have always maintained good levels of investment” – Benaglia sustains – “so that we can keep our range in step. There is strong pressure from the new tyre industry in terms of developments that our products must follow. As far as moulds are concerned, we tend to go for tread patterns that are in line with the original products but have their own characteristics that are the result of constant research and development; with regard to compounds, we make products that give exactly the same performance as new tyres”.
Market share: objective 2013
Given the results of tests carried out by Marangoni, this is the case of the premium line Marix RP100 and the Ecoenergy series that was conceived to contain consumption thanks to reduced rolling resistance.
“Today, fuel consumption is almost an obsession. If it is true that tyres (correctly inflated and aligned) can save up to 3.5%, the difference in price compared to retreads that cost less but are not as efficient or eco-compatible is marginal for a fleet with respect to operating costs”. Capitalizing on a 2012 that closed on the plus side, this year Marangoni aims to increase its direct penetration of the market which, in Italy, is close to 30% for industrial and earthmover retreads. “In the truck retread market we have a large presence in Poland and Great Britain, we are growing in France and even more so in Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as well as in Greece, Macedonia and Romania. Precisely because international transport fleets have moved east. In the earthmover segment we are already at the top of the European classification. The aim is to increase market share by another 10%. Even if the crisis were to continue, we can count on our ability and quality for achieving our objectives”.
• The premium line expands under the Marix umbrella
A new regional truck product in the Marix RP100 premium line, MD National Grip 3, and another for quarries on the launch pad in April, are part of the continual expansion of the range of references. New products that feed the gradual upgrading of the range after Marangoni’s reorganization of the hot-retreaded tyre area: on the one side, by changing the truck product codes for immediate recognition of tyre type and use; on the other, by bringing earthmover tyres under the Marix brand’s large umbrella. The objective is confirmed also by the Trentino company’s declared commitment to increasing its share of bead-to-bead retreads.
Considerable renewal that Marangoni will also be making to its range of “cold” retreaded tyres, which continues to grow in the domestic market. New products with improved performance have been presented also with the RP100 code that characterizes Marangoni’s premium line.
A way of offering not only an image that is consistent with the branding of the entire line and therefore more exploitable on the market, but also of improving strength, especially thanks to the use of protective layers of anti-ozone material. In 2013 Marangoni will add new sizes to last year’s new products and also launch all-season retreads for buses and coaches.