Taking ownership of automotive affairs

Iveco SA Daily Africa

Between 2013 and 2016, Lowden is aiming to continue to achieve exponential growth, increasing Iveco market at a faster rate than the market itself is growing, but sustainably, entrenching the benefits of successful sales to last beyond his own tenure at the company. Lowden quotes expected growth in southern Africa markets of between seven and nine per cent to 2016 and expects growth at Iveco SA over the same period of around 30-40 per cent. That is, actually, quite realistic.

Iveco was achieving modest growth before Lowden's arrival. Last year's sales (2011-12) increased by 30 per cent. This year (2012-2013), growth in sales is estimated at another 30-40 per cent. Lowden reports that forward orders are already 10-fold up on two to three years ago and that the supply chain and other elements of the sales ecosystem have been revamped and refined to manage the increased numbers of units passing through the channel.

The transformation of Iveco SA is very much allied to transformative investment in production and distribution, at a local level. Through 2013 and 2014, around R600mn (US$60.8mn) will be placed by the firm in the development of a new manufacturing facility and associated sales and services operations, through a joint venture with Larimar Group, a diversified industrial enterprise with strong South African roots.

The JV splits at a 60 per cent stake held by Iveco, with the remaining 40 per cent held by Larimar. The new facility, which is being built at Rosslyn in Tshwane, will undertake completely knockdown assembly of trucks, coaches, and buses. Around 1,000 jobs will be created locally, but the benefits extend beyond employment in the local economy. It means something to Africans to buy equipment from companies in which Africans have a genuine stake.

Iveco gets local empowerment, and understands the political imperative for more local content in the provision of manufacturing and services. There is a purely corporate motive, of course, in that assembly African soil averts the costs associated with importation, but the local story is more compelling both to the company and the economy in which it operates.

The rewards for entrepreneurship

Iveco's appeal to southern African markets is enhanced by the prospect of increased engagement with potential and actual customers bases.

Lowden now drives Iveco sales up with a new, motivated management team, but he has also overseen the company's move into used-vehicle sales and offering new packages including trade-ins and buy-backs.

In partnership with Standard Bank, and with an experienced financial specialist on board, Iveco SA also offers vehicle and fleet financing options and Lowden has plans in place to deliver a fully-fledged financial services arm over time.

Lowden is also building his dealer network, reinvigorating it with entrepreneurial individuals prepared to dedicate their efforts exclusively to the Iveco brand and product portfolio. He encourages a determined, nakedly commercially approach to market, albeit underpinned by a sustainable business model, with a clear focus on developing operations to match the market, and then take ownership of it.

Lowden encourages those with entrepreneurship in their blood to sign up. "Iveco is committed globally to distributing products through an independent dealer network. We are looking for new dealers in Africa, new entrepreneurs to come on board," he says.

An example of the successes achieved during Lowden's tenure at Iveco SA include the decision by Bogdan's Bulk Transport to change its fleet from UD to Iveco. Last year, the company chose Iveco trucks to transport cementitious dry bulk products – 100 Stralis 430 models, sold through Truck Centre, an independent Iveco dealership, with fully-integrated operational and after-sales service support included in the package.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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