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FUCHS: Lubricating the Way in

Fuchs, known globally for its lubricants, has recently added Batyole Freedom Group in its ensemble making it more comprehensive for lubricant market.

Fuchs Petrolub Se, founded in 1931 as a family firm in Mannheim, Germany, is nowadays a globally operating corporation, and the world’s leading supplier of lubricants among the independent companies. Fuchs offers lubricants for hundreds of applications – including lubricants for the wire and cable industry.

The headquarters of the UK subsidiary, Fuchs Lubricants (UK) Plc, is located at modern, highly automated production plant in Stoke-on-Trent. The Fuchs Group has a worldwide reputation for outstanding performance and product quality, and the company takes pride on having its UK manufacturing plant audited to the highest levels.

Fuchs Lubricants (India) Pvt. Ltd. is the wholly owned subsidiary of the Group operating in India. Also, on the 9th Dec, 2010, the Group inaugurated a new state-of-the-art plant at Ambernath near Mumbai to take care of its growing clientele in the Indian market. Most recently, Fuchs has acquired the lubricants business of the Batoyle Freedom Group in UK and is in the process of integrating it into their subsidiary Fuchs Lubricants (UK).

Wire & Cable India recently had a brief chat with Mr. Adrain Day, Sales Executive (Trade & Export Division), Fuchs Lubricants (UK) Plc. During conversation, he explained Fuchs’ priorities for Batyole lubricants in India and the world over. Excerpts:

Wire & Cable India: To start with, please tell us about the acquisition of Batyole Freedom Group?

Adrian Day: In June 2013, it was brought to our attention that Batyole was looking for a buyer. Around June-July 2014, it was formally announced to the market place that Fuchs Lubricants UK had acquired Batyole Freedom Group completely – its manufacturing plant, customer list, technology and formulations, and worldwide distribution network.

Between July and December 2014, the process was undertaken to relocate the manufacturing from the Batyole facility in Yorkshire to Fuchs’ lubricants facility in Stoke-on-Trent. That’s now completed, all the manufacturing has been integrated into Fuchs manufacturing program and the existing customers have been entered into Fuchs UK customer record system. Deliveries were unbrokenly maintained from Batyole facility during the period July-December 2014, the period of integration. From January 2015, all manufacturing of Batyole facility ceased and is continuing now from Stoke-on-Trent.

WCI: What sort of value-added did you expect, and now see as fulfilled, after Batyole’s Acquisition?

AD: As far as synergies and advantages are concerned, Fuchs Lubricants saw that Batyole offered unique products for both the cars and tube & wire sectors. Moreover, they offered long-standing, established, and efficient technologies and chemistries which we wanted to acquire, pursue, and make further investments to grow the business wherever possible. We made this acquisition a business decision and having made that decision we are now trying to gain on our investments.

WCI: Tell us in brief about Fuchs Lubricants.

AD: Fuchs Lubricants is a German owned family business started in 1931. It’s now being run by the third generation of the Fuchs family and has become the world’s largest independent lubricant manufacturer in the world. Its revenues are solely derived from the production, development, sales, marketing and distribution of lubricants. We have engineered lubricants, greases, anti-corrosion products, specialty products for pharmaceuticals, industrial lubricants, etc. Our market opportunities are through specialist lubricant products which incidentally are also offered by Batyole.

WCI: Going forward, any chalked-out strategy for the promotion of Batyole product range in the market?

AD: Our immediate, short-term strategy will be to compensate for the lack of support that Batyole has received in the past 12 months, and then identify the gaps of what marketing support is required to re-establish the brand and develop it going forward.

WCI: What about the investments in Batyole you just mentioned?

AD: At the moment, it’s premature to say exactly what sort of investments will be made. Presently, we are gathering information about which parts of Batyole distribution network is most in the need of investment to identify the sort of investments required.

WCI: Your views on the Indian market from Batyole products view-point?

AD: Presently, huge! From what I have seen during my visit to India, the market is huge and is growing at fantastic rate. Batyole products need support as well as marketing. It’s clear to me that it’s pointless selling a product if you can’t maintain and support it with an adequate customer base. These are the issues that Fuchs will surely address.

WCI: What kind of space do you see for Batyole product range in the Indian wire industry?

AD: The strength which drew us to acquire Batyole in first place is its unique chemistry and technology which is proven and works well. Batyole’s USP is well known in the market place and we will try to build upon those fundamentals.

WCI: Fuchs has a strong partner in India to promote and distribute products. Going forward, what are your expectations from them?

AD: Yes, we do have a strong partner in the form of Ajex & Turner. I think now that we understand the strength, depth, experience and expertise that Ajex & Turner has in wire drawing, we have found a partner with a huge co-business and who knows exactly what their customers are producing. It’s a perfect frame. We would try and do our best to support them in whatever we can to help them grow their business, and with that our business, in the Indian market.

WCI: Do you find any competition for your product range?

AD: There are competitions in the market, but we have our strengths and USPs to sustain ourselves. Moreover, the USPs Ajex & Turner offers in conjunction with Batyole are simply a one-stop-show facility. If a customer is drawing copper wire, they are going to need dies; Ajex & Turner can provide dies. Likewise, if they want tolling, Ajex & Turner can provide tolling with training and the maintenance of the machinery. They understand completely what a customer is trying to do right from incoming raw material to packaged finished goods. And with all that, Ajex & Turner can also supply the lubricants whereas our competitors merely supply lubricants. They can’t offer the range or depth of knowledge of the manufacturing process that goes alongside lubricants.

WCI: Fuchs is into the copper, aluminum, zinc, stainless steel and carbon steel wire related lubricants. Do you manufacture all these in India?

AD: Yeah, these are the existing products in the Fuchs India portfolio. For the sale and distribution of the products you just described, a lot of these are imported from other Fuchs manufacturing operations outside India. Not all of them can be manufactured in India. There are 38 manufacturing plants of Fuchs spread across the world, but no two are exactly the same. Each manufacturing plant has a bias towards the biggest volume product in which the local market is showing interest.

WCI: You have a manufacturing unit near Mumbai. Going forward, does Fuchs intend to produce wire lubricants in this plant?

AD: At this point of time, I can’t comment on whether we are going to produce wire lubricants at our Mumbai plant. Presently, manufacturing for the entire Batyole range has been integrated into Fuchs UK manufacturing plant. Manufacturing in India, of course, would have advantages in terms of cost ultimately because you don’t have to worry about shipping over 6000 miles. But at same time, this has been experienced that certain section of customers seems to derive much benefit from the products manufactured in Western Europe. Hence, as long as the customers’ demand and expectations are associated with the products made in Western Europe, that’s how we would continue to manufacture for the time being.

WCI: Something about Fuchs philosophy?

AD: It may sound like cliché, but Fuchs is committed and dedicated to total customer’s satisfaction with our products from purchase to use.

WCI: Any message for the Indian wire industry?

AD: I think my message would be that although the ownership has changed the product and the commitment to the Indian wire and cable market remain as strong as ever was.

 

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