From strength to strength
It is clear that Irizar South Africa is going into 2011 feeling strong after an outstanding year in 2010. The company has a firm foothold as a leader in the country’s bus industry and does not plan on giving an inch in the coming year
2010 saw an increase of 69% in coach sales and 53% in aftersales above 2009, with the total year on year turnover being 68%. “2010 was extremely successful compared with 2009,” says a proud Paul Nel, general manager, Irizar South Africa. “While a small margin of this success can be attributed to the 2010 World Cup, the majority of it was due to the increase in the intercity market.” Nel explains that this rise occurred largely because of Africa’s resilience. Africa did not suffer as much as Europe in the recent economic slump; it was not hit as hard, and it bounced back quicker. “This means that fleet operators in Africa were able to renew their fleets in 2010. Zimbabwe in particular experienced significant growth and this was reflected in sales.” Nel also expects that this growth will continue over the next few years. “Due to the success of the World Cup, tourism is most likely to increase for at least the next two to three years, and this spin-off will bring even further gain to last year’s figures.” This can only point to a very promising 2011 for Irizar.
But the company is not resting on its laurels and waiting for a further increase in sales. It also plans to bring in improvements and possible new products to the South African market this year. “We really want to focus on aftersales this year, and have already invested R1,5 million in a new spraybooth,” says Nel. “Irizar Spain launched the I6 late last year – a vehicle featuring various improvements over the Century in terms of design, air conditioning, acoustics and internal finishings. It has already been well received in Europe and we are currently awaiting confirmation of when it will be available in the South African market.” The I6 can be seen on the cover of this month’s FOCUS.
One area in which Irizar South Africa is set to become particularly prominent is the mining sector. The company receives its vehicles directly from Brazil, where mining conditions are extremely harsh, but safety is of the utmost importance. As a result, much research has been done into supplying highly specialised vehicles appropriate for dangerous mining conditions. The plant in Brazil has been very successful in supplying these vehicles to South America, and this accomplishment places Irizar South Africa in an advantageous position to supply vehicles into southern Africa.
Irizar South Africa’s close ties to Brazil also mean that the company will be receiving plenty of support from the factory there. Manuel Neves, a director in Brazil, will be visiting South Africa frequently to ensure that local customers’ needs and requirements are understood and relayed directly to Brazil. “It is Mr Neves’ objective to ascertain what is important to African operators and to ensure that they get what they need,” explains Nel. The company will be receiving technical and managerial support from Irizar Spain. Gotzen Gomez will also be providing his expertise to support the local management team, which, according to Nel, is already very strong. “2011 will see a strong drive for Irizar South Africa to become more aligned with Irizar’s global marketing and branding strategies,” concludes Nel.