Intelligent growth

24 April 2008

Nacanco recently moved into this larger depot in Bologna, Italy. It also has depots in Brescia and M

Nacanco recently moved into this larger depot in Bologna, Italy. It also has depots in Brescia and Milan. Its Spanish sister company operates 11 branches.

Why should access rental utilisation rates be 4 - 5% higher on average in Spain than in Italy? It's the weather, apparently. Stefano Giusto, business development manager of Nacanco in Italy - which has a sister access company in Spain - says painting work outside is almost impossible in northern Italy from January to March, which is enough to make an impact.

A more obvious difference, perhaps, has been the rates of growth in the two markets, with the buoyant Spanish access market experiencing a growth rate that Italy, and most other countries, have found hard to match. This is reflected in the relative sizes of the two business: Nacanco's Italian operation - based in Brescia, Bologna and Milan - currently has a fleet of around 700 machines, while Nacano Spain has 2000 machines at 11 locations.

Mr Giusto - a member of the family that owns both the businesses (see box story) - says the feeling now is that Spain will continue to grow, although perhaps not at the same rates as the past 10 years. “We are keeping our eyes open. There could always be a recession waiting around the corner; we want to be ready for that.”

Italy, meanwhile, has been suffering a little, with industrial investment hit by the high valuation of the Euro and oil prices. It's an unpredictable market, says Mr Giusto; “In the 90s we would have devalued the Lira. We can't do that now.”

The company avoids the Italian public works sector, focusing instead on commercial developments and private business, where there is enough activity to justify further investment in the fleet next year.

Mr Giusto says that across the Italian and Spanish companies some 150 older machines will be removed and 350 new ones acquired to both update and expand the fleet. Nacanco favours JLG and Genie for booms, Haulotte and Skyjack for scissors, and Manitou for telehandlers.

Around 70 of the new machines are targeted for Nacanco's biggest Italian depot at Milan, where the fleet could number 400 machines by the end of 2006.

Growth is not the main issue for Mr Giusto; “We are not so concerned about the fleet size, or the area we cover. We want to grow, but in an intelligent way.”

Would it not be natural for the business to move into France? “We would do it the day we see the opportunity”, he says, “but we don't want to think in a Napoleanic way - we want to make money and make our customers happy.”

If Nacanco is wary of expanding too fast, it is nevertheless aware of the benefits that cross border contacts can have. The company exhibited at the recent APEX exhibition partly to meet other rental companies in Europe; the aim being to create a market for what Mr Giusto calls “cross country rentals”.

“It is part of our &global' service as a rental company for the several customers of ours in Italy and Spain who increasingly travel to other countries in Europe and ask us for access equipment. In particular, we are seeing that happen in France, the UK and Germany, but also in eastern European countries... At the same time, our rental &partners' in Europe can count on us to provide the necessary equipment [for their customers] in Spain and Italy.”

These contacts will also stimulate trading of equipment between companies, he says, helping to “increase efficiencies, keep fleets as young as possible and contribute to the expansion of the so-called &new developing economies' in Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.”

That may be the long-term strategy, but Mr Giusto will also be hoping for some short-term good fortune: a mild Italian winter.

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