Being the number 1 specialist of lifting equipment in Europe and one of the global leaders in the sector, Haulotte is a French company heavily involved in international business and counts 20 subsidiaries as well as a network of distributors all over the world.
Interview with Eddie-David ROULE, Group Credit Manager at Haulotte.
A few words on Haulotte
Founded in 1985, Haulotte is an international company with 20 subsidiaries and 6 industrial sites, its headquarters are located in the La Loire region (France). We have specialized our production on people and material lifting equipment. Our offer is defined by 7 types of lifting equipment and 3 telehandler ranges. Mostly on the American market but not only, we also rent scaffold equipment, event material (terraces, stages…). We are the European leader in our field and one of the main world actors thanks to our large range of products. Our turnover has reached 458 million euros and we are aiming at 500 million for 2017.
In what country do you export and what are your main markets? Why?
We have subsidiaries all over Europe, in the Middle-East, in North and South America, in Asia (China, Singapore, India…) and in Australia.
Today, the Pacific part of Asia, as well as the Middle-East, is growing fast in terms of new infrastructures, which represent for our companies a great deal of new growth catalysts for the group.
North America represents more than 50% of the global market and stays historically very important in our field of activity. This area is very competitive since our 2 main competitors are Americans and are well established in this territory. However, our growth potential is very high and the concentration of our business efforts is progressively bringing us to a better position.
The French market is also a source of growth in Europe. Our French subsidiary was able to take advantage of the increase in demand in our country.
What are the risks and advantages in the international business trade?
Without international expansion, Haulotte would not have been able to grow. Today it makes over 80% of its turnover through exports; this is the key to continue to expand our group. Our economic model is firmly tied to volumes. We must seize every growth relay possible to fully use our production capacities, to increase benefits and our innovation.
However, we also face specific risks linked to our international activity.
As we are both directly and indirectly present over all continents through our production factories and our distribution subsidiaries, we are subsequently exposed to business risks in multiple areas. We are also subject to raw material trends and exchange rate movements.
It is on the trade risk that we can have the most direct control thanks to our action and our management; having reliable and regularly upgraded financial information help us to influence directly our business development and that is where Ellisphere brings in its expertise.
When did you decide to contact Ellisphere? What business intelligence solution is offered by Ellisphere and what are the benefits of its expertise?
I used to work in the mass retail business (Casino group) before working with Haulotte; back then I was collaborating with Ellisphere (Coface at the time). When I started my job in Haulotte, the company was working with another contractor. After we studied the contract we decided to contact Ellisphere to support us in our client risk management. Ellisphere is the ideal partner as far as I am concerned since I need a clear financial view on the companies I work with, which they provide.
I systematically use all solutions offered by Ellisphere. I receive a scoring regarding all our clients on a monthly basis and when it is necessary I deepen some analyses by ordering investigations. Once I have the Ellisphere reports, I compare them to the Haulotte database to make sure I have the best overall vision and the most personalised feedback possible. For instance, if a client reveals itself to be untrustworthy, I must anticipate and make the right decisions. Ellisphere clarifies and helps me to adapt my vision regarding a situation.
Moreover, I need to be more than cautious when I analyse information because a wrong scoring or a wrong report is most likely to have huge negative repercussions. Hopefully, at Haulotte, everyone contributes: our subsidiaries collect as much financial information as possible and transfer it to us. We analyse this information and merge it with Ellisphere’s studies.
Finally, we are in a trustworthy partnership based on exchange. For example, if I have information that can be of interest, I transfer it to Ellisphere so that they can enrich their database. This is a win-win collaboration.
Did you ever refuse to collaborate with a foreign company? Why?
My role is not to take the final decision, I simply give my economic, strategic and financial point of view regarding a potential customer. If there is a risk, my responsibility is to set an alarm with factual data. It is with this information that the Haulotte management will take the most appropriate decision. To this day, very rare cases were unfavourable.
What advice or recommendation would you give to other companies willing to invest in export?
I would advise them to get to know the local market they wish to work in as much as possible, meaning its administrative and legal obligations, to maximise commercial canvassing regarding the country and the companies they are targeting.
Before thinking of the business opportunities that export could represent, it is more than necessary to be informed and to deepen the information by crossing sources, by contacting the economic services of embassies or local French chambers of commerce. They must be curious and always well aware of changes.
At Haulotte, we easily obtain information thanks to our foreign subsidiaries. Our international customers also inform us of their economic and general situation. A company that would not have the same network could retrieve this information with tools such as internet, media…
To conclude, having a good support coming from a good partner that makes detailed studies with an objective view like Ellisphere is a great asset.