NPK France: twenty years of unparalleled servicePublished 17/4, 2018 at 15:43
France belongs to a handful of countries whose impact on the European and global economy is hard to overestimate. After a few years of sluggish economic growth following the 2008 meltdown, the construction market has fully recovered and now grows at a neck-breaking pace. NPK France - the French subsidiary of Japan based attachment specialist - is expanding to meet the skyrocketing demand. Andrei Bushmarin reports.
Limoges is a vibrant university town in the heartland of France. It enjoys the strategic advantage of a central location with easy access to every corner of the country. From a logistics viewpoint, its position is as good as it gets, which is an important factor in NPK Group’s business model.
Bad times, good times
The decision to establish a fully blown subsidiary in France was prompted by the demise of NPK’s exclusive importer in 1997. The 1990s was a period of a deep protracted crisis in the construction industry that saw many suppliers of construction machinery and attachments going ‘belly up’. However, recession or no recession, France was too lucrative a market to easily give up on. Having hired some of the bankrupted importer’s employees, the newly formed subsidiary rolled up its sleeves and got down to work. It successfully weathered the rough times, and already in the early 2000s the company was back into growth mode.
Recycling leads the trend
It is a well-known fact that France is a heavily regulated, bordering on bureaucratic, country. So it should come as no surprise that the French government has very stringent and specific regulations concerning demolition and recycling. With the latter playing an increasingly important role in the modern construction environment, there is a noticeable trend towards using crushers, shears and multiprocessors on job sites rather than hydraulic breakers. If 15 years ago hammers accounted for almost 80% of NPK France’s sales, today it is a 50-50% split between them and other attachments. Another tendency that also has to do with the increased focus on recycling is downsizing. Compact agile machines and small sized high performance attachments are what French specialist contractors ask for these days, and NPK is now believed to be the country’s leading brand in this segment.
The return of the “Belle Époque”
Having fully overcome the consequences of the 2008 crash, the French market is now in remarkably good condition. Demand for specialised machinery is soaring, fuelled by a multitude of construction and building renovation projects that are being undertaken all over the country as part of the preparations for the summer Olympic Games to be held in 2024. Paris, of course, is where the biggest and most investment intensive projects are being implemented. To be at the centre of the action, NPK France, which already operates two repair shops - one in Lyon and one in the south of France near Nimes - is opening a new depot in Paris in the coming June.
Japanese innovativeness and French service
France has always been a fiercely competitive, ‘take no prisoners’ market. Since patience is not something the French are particularly known for, speedy and efficient service is paramount. NPK France prides itself on its customer service capabilities, which it considers to be the company’s key competitive advantage. Attachments and spare parts are delivered from its 900m2 warehouse in Limoges to customers anywhere in the country within 24h – a lead time that rival attachment brands cannot yet boast of.
Last year the company’s turnover reached €9 Million, with some 500 attachments being sold to end users as well as major construction and rental companies. The latter, featuring a number of high profile names, constitute NPK France’s biggest customer group. Sales are already up by 10% in the first quarter of 2018, with further growth anticipated throughout the year. Now staffed by 13 persons including its president Naoki Watanabe, a demolition industry stalwart with a worldwide reputation, NPK France is taking on a new technician and another salesman this year to accommodate the growing demand. The company expects growth to continue at least until the Olympics - a cause for celebration by itself. Another is NPK France’s 20th anniversary, which it is going to be marked with a cocktail party at Intermat on 26 April 2018.