MANUFACTURING: Betafence Expands Despite Recession
Recent Western Cape Business News
PAARL-based perimeter security specialist Betafence SA, announced an ambitious growth strategy that includes new business in agriculture, rolling out a national footprint, plans to capture new markets and starting up local production of wire rather than importing it.
The strategy comes in the wake of sustained revenue growth of 42% per year over the past five years despite the global recession that is now playing out in SA with mounting job losses and rising company closures.
Betafence SA general manager, Michael James, told Cape Business News this came primarily on the back of strong sales and exports, favourable market conditions and sustained innovation.
Betafence SA manufactures and supplies high security mesh products, professional PVC coated fencing systems, unique with a ten year anti-corrosion guarantee, high security fencing designs, access control and electronic detection systems. One of its most notable achievements in the past two and a half years was locally driven research and development that now enables Betafence SA to manufacture and supply fully PVC coated fence panels from its imported coating machine at Paarl. This machine can coat 6m wide panels, twice the width of Europe’s standard coating machines, thereby making it the largest coating machine in the world.
The company further operates in the high security, commercial, government and lifestyle estates sectors and as a manufacturing concern derives the majority of its business in applying particular solutions and specifying to high security applications in correctional facilities, telecommunications, infrastructure and transport, public utilities and the specialised securities industries.
Meanwhile, the company’s plans to role out a national footprint would entail expansion and intensified business in the KwaZulu Natal, Southern Cape and Gauteng regions.
A recent distribution agreement with Impi Wire in George aimed at making Betafence’s products more accessible and readily available in the Southern Cape especially to lifestyle and golf estate developments. Fancourt golf estate, Somola golf estate, Fernwood Estate and Stillbaai Dunes are just some of the prestigious developments to which Betafence SA has already supplied.
The distribution also targets the agricultural sector along the Garden Route and James says Betafence SA has already made its mark in the greater Cape Town region through having offered a variety of high quality and durable fencing and security solutions to leading wine farms such as Boschendal Wine Estate.
According to Betafence SA’s marketing manager, Nicky Taylor, the company is also geared to open a sales office in Johannesburg in the next few months in order to establish a presence in that province for the first time.
Further expansion and diversification plans include the local manufacture of wire at its ISO approved production plant in Paarl, a decision James says is prompted by exchange rate considerations as well as a strategic location for the production of wire for the group. Another supporting factor is the change in consumer demand for lighter, more cost effective and durable wire. The availability of the large coating machine at Paarl also means that the wire can be PVC coated and offered to the market for the first time. The company has enjoyed ISO approval since 2005.
James says the past four years of the company’s ten year existence in the Western Cape have shown the biggest growth.
“It was during this time that we strengthened our design and manufacturing capacity in response to changed market requirements, particularly in the security sector. An increasing awareness for better and more sophisticated perimeter security led to Betafence SA becoming a world leader in the design and manufacture of perimeter security solutions and electronics.”
“For that reason, and due to the diverse range of products on offer and the spread into different markets, Betafence SA has generally been well cushioned against the recession. The recession has led to a marked slump in the lifestyle estate development market - things like home security and different types of fences and products in that market - but this has been offset by increased demand by government for infrastructure provision for 2010 – stadiums, airports, harbours, roads and services.”
Meanwhile, James also expects new markets to boost the company’s future performance.
“The relocation of the plant from Blackheath to Paarl represents a R25 million rand investment in South Africa and this is expected to open up new markets. With the flexibility of the coating machine, we are now able to offer PVC coating services to a whole range of applications that was not possible before.”
The products include full panels, gates, bar fencing, fully made window screens as well as products on demand by manufacturers.
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