Ready to rumble!

Ready to rumble!

It’s been four years since Babcock was appointed sole importer and distributor of DAF trucks in southern Africa. During this time, it has set a solid foundation and will now concentrate on building DAF’s market share on the African continent – among other things …

According to Wilna Steyn, CEO of Babcock Africa’s transport solutions division, DAF’s sales and market share figures have varied greatly over the past four years. “During this time, we concentrated on laying down a solid foundation to enable us to service and support the DAF products in the future.”

She continues: “With this foundation now firmly in place, we can concentrate on building the market share of DAF in South Africa.” Steyn adds that this will spark a change in perception, compared to the product image before Babcock got involved. “We want to emphasise the fact that the partnership between Babcock and DAF features two of the most successful companies in Europe, and we intend to build on these successes here in South Africa.”

Looking at 2014, it is easy to believe that the duo will achieve this. “Last year was extremely exciting for Babcock and the DAF brand,” Steyn points out. Not only did the company exceed its previous sales record halfway through the financial year, but it also received its largest-ever single order – which was 133 vehicles – from Ngululu Bulk Carriers.

“We also introduced Babcock Financial Services, our own finance offering, to the market,” says Steyn – adding that this development has been a long time coming and will significantly boost sales of DAF trucks in the South African market.

“This development will give us the competitive advantage of a full product offering against certain brands in this market – and allow us to compete on the same level with others,” she emphasises.

“When we took on the DAF brand four years ago, we became aware of the importance finance plays in the extra-heavy truck market,” Steyn continues. “To address this issue, we initially entered into various joint ventures and partnerships with local banks to offer a solution to our customer base. These solutions did not fully meet all the requirements of our customers, however, who were really looking for an in-house finance solution. The establishment of Babcock Financial Services will now meet this need.”

She adds that, in addition to the renewal of Babcock’s DAF distribution contract for a further five years, this milestone development also demonstrates the company’s commitment to servicing and growing the DAF brand in this country.

Looking towards 2015, Steyn says that Babcock is aiming for sustainable growth in the markets where it has a product that can compete – which currently includes the on-road, long-distance, 6×4 truck tractor segment. “We also intend to expand our product range this year – watch this space.”

The company has also appointed a service dealer for Mozambique, who – according to Steyn – is making great progress in providing technical assistance and parts, which hadn’t been readily available prior to the Babcock and DAF partnership.

“Our plan is to concentrate on the southern African countries that have a large vehicle parc,” Steyn points out. This includes Zambia, where Babcock has two established offices in Lusaka and Kitwe, in the Copperbelt Province. Steyn adds that the company wants to incorporate a full service and parts offering for these markets.

As for the future, the transport solutions CEO says that – while the ever controversial “road versus rail” debate rages on, and suggests that road transport will diminish – the market has continued to grow. “The dynamics of the marketplace have changed over the past five to six years, with more and more professional transporters taking over the smaller companies and rationalising their fleets,” Steyn explains.

“This has encouraged shorter purchasing cycles, as professional transporters look to optimise the economic life of the vehicle. Gone are the days of these companies running ten to 12-year-old vehicles,” she adds.

It will be interesting to see how many of these newer vehicles will come from the Babcock-DAF stall, as the company has built a firm foundation, is planning an enhanced product line-up, has set up its in-house financial service offering and is working on its expansion plans into the rest of the region …

As Steyn says – watch this space!

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