The current economic situation might offer excellent opportunities for acquisitions within its field of operation, comments Bearings International (BI) Managing Director Bart Schoevaerts. This comes off the back of increased collaboration within the Hudaco Group, of which BI forms part. Plans for next year also include expanding and optimising BI’s branch and franchise network across Africa.
Looking at recent developments, BI has focused on its motor strategy, announcing a new partnership agreement that will see it distributing IE2 and IE3 motors from ABB in 2021. Initial stocks will arrive in late December 2020, with more to follow in the New Year. “We are incredibly excited about the future of this partnership and look forward to offering the market a premium brand motor of choice,” highlights Schoevaerts.
Also introduced in 2020, the CRAFT range of bearings has been well-accepted by the market and will be added to in 2021. On the power transmission side, BI will add a heavy-duty vee belt to its offer. “There are a few other products and services we plan to launch in 2021, so watch this space,” adds Schoevaerts.
“We are looking at developing a total on-line customer experience, in addition to further digitalisation,” reveals Schoevaerts. This focus has emerged from the learning curve introduced by the Covid-19 pandemic, which highlighted the need to automate and introduce more paperless processes.
“The IT skills of our employees are crucial, so we will invest more in training and development in this regard. Customer and supplier contact is equally important, and therefore we will give this even more attention going forward. We shall evaluate and embrace new technologies continuously and not wait until a situation forces us to do so.”
The main challenges facing the distribution sector in South Africa at present are product supply, logistics capacity and a hesitancy to enter into long-term commitments. What gives BI the leading edge in such a tough trading environment at present are the resilience and willingness of its staff to embrace change and its existing long-standing relationships with both customers and suppliers.
“The hard lockdown certainly made it more difficult to visit and win new customers, while the various lockdowns around the world have impacted the availability of some products. In addition, the cost of logistics has seen an increase, while customers have postponed or even cancelled some key planned projects,” notes Schoevaerts.
In terms of the future, he concludes: “I am confident that we have learned a lot, made the necessary changes and will continue to make future changes to become more resilient against future crises. I would like to thank our customers and employees for their continuous support and trust in the BI brand.”