Business News


Grinding Wheels Maker SwatyComet Exporting Across the Globe (interview)

Maribor, 18 February (STA) - SwatyComet remains one of the world's leading makers of grinding wheels four years after it emerged out of a merger of two companies from the sector. CEO Matjaž Merkan, who took over a year ago, told the STA the company exported to 82 countries around the world last year, while it only sold 7% of its products at home.

Merkan, who explained that SwatyComet's owner Avtotehna cancelled its search for a strategic partner already a while ago, assessed last year's operations as successful, including because the company brought out five new products, which is rare in the sector.

The Maribor-based company, which employs around 960 people, recorded sales worth 75.3m in 2013, which is 2% less than the year before, mostly on account of the crisis in the Middle East, Merkan explained.

This was partly offset with improved sales results on other markets, especially in Europe and South America, but SwatyComet's "ambition last year was not sales growth, since we mostly worked on repositioning our products into a higher price and quality segment".

"This was also reflected in the final proceeds, as profit almost doubled year-on-year to around EUR 2.4m despite a similar turnover."

SwatyComet, which sees opportunities on all continents, plans EUR 79m in revenue for 2014 and also an increase in profit.

"Along with regular growth in Europe, especially in Great Britain and Germany, we are continuing with activities in the Middle East and South America, while we will be additionally active on the Russian and Chinese markets."

Asked about the diplomatic support coming from the state, Merkan noted that the company's parters from third countries had no problems obtaining visas.

However, when it comes to making forays into new markets, "we mostly really on our own strengths and activities", he said, explaining that the grinding wheels industry is a very traditional one and involves long-term deals.

As regards the company's relations with banks, he said that they were orderly and that SwatyComet was one of the least indebted companies.

"Fact however is that we also wish to upgrade cooperation in terms of more flexibility and more daring support of good programmes which we believe we have."

Commenting on the size of the workforce, he said that before the merger the two companies - Swaty and Comet - employed slightly over 1,100 together.

Soft methods were used to get to the present number while productivity was increased at the same time and around EUR 15m invested into new equipment, Merkan said, while announcing that the size of the workforce would remain roughly the same in the future.

SwatyComet also has no plans to relocate - its main locations are presently in Maribor and Loče in the north-east, with Merkan saying that cooperation with city representatives in Maribor was exemplary.

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