Our Strategy

Our Profile

After the turbulent year 2009, Bekaert’s strategy of sustainable profitable growth has proven effective in 2010 too. Bekaert performed well because it scrupulously implements its strategy and constantly builds on the three key strategy elements that guarantee structural long-term growth: global market leadership by geographic expansion, technological leadership through innovation and operational excellence.

Bekaert company profile

Bekaert (Euronext Brussels: BEKB) is a global technological leader in advanced metal transformation and advanced materials and coatings, and a market leader in drawn wire products and applications. Headquartered in Belgium, Bekaert employs over        27 000 people worldwide. Serving customers in 120 countries, Bekaert pursues sustainable profitable growth in all its activities and generated combined sales of € 4.5 billion in 2010.

Bekaert employs unique metal treatment technologies to deliver on a global scale a quality portfolio of drawn steel wire products and coating solutions. As our basic material we purchase more than 2.6 million tons of wire rod per year for our consolidated plants. Depending on our customers’ requirements, we draw wire from it in different diameters and strengths, even as thin as ultrafine fibers of one micron. We group the wires into cords; weave or knit them into fabric; or process them into an end product.

Bekaert is unique for its combination of metal transformation and coating technologies, which brought forth a wide variety of products, tailored to our customers’ needs.

The Bekaert Way

The strategy of sustainable profitable growth and our better together philosophy are further expanded today in ‘The Bekaert Way’. This determines the building blocks: the way in which the entire company, the various entities and the many employees work toward sustainable profitable growth.

Vision

Sustainable Profitable Growth

Our vision is reflected in our baseline: better together for growth, for profitability, for sustainability.

Corporate Social Responsibility

People / Environment / Society

We want to achieve growth in a responsible manner, with respect for our employees. That is why health and safety on the work floor remain the most important Key Performance Indicators.

We strive to have as little impact as possible on the environment with our products and our production activities. We implement an integrated environmental policy worldwide in our operations.

Total Quality Management

Preferred Supplier / Committed Employees / Operational Excellence

We are also continuing to work in our long tradition of Total Quality Management. We want our customers to acknowledge us as a preferred supplier. That aspiration requires the passion and dedication of our staff around the world. Our operational excellence is the binding agent between our employees’ top performance and our satisfied customers.

Way of working

Customer Focus / Innovation / Result Driven / Self Management / Talent Focus

All of this requires a structured approach to work. And it also requires that all employees have specific skills: customer focus; focus on innovation, the key to our long-term success; being result-driven; self-management and a focus on talent.
Because Bekaert’s ambitions will only reach as far as our talents dare to aspire.

Values

Resilience / Trust / Integrity

Our 3 basic values grow in importance as we continue aggressive growth and have more and more employees from the most diverse countries and cultures.

  • Resilience is synonymous with versatility, flexibility and adaptability: qualities that have allowed us to build on 130 years of success.
  • Confidence – that of our co-workers, our shareholders, our society – we have to earn it every day anew.
  • And the integrity of the professional, of the team player who is loyal to Bekaert, is an essential building block of our success.

The three values are not only a basis, but also a guideline for the way in which decisions and choices are made at Bekaert.


bekaert way

Global market leadership

Global market leadership

For over half a century now, Bekaert has shown its pioneering spirit by investing in emerging markets worldwide. We were among the world’s first to set up operations in Latin America, Asia and Central Europe when early signs of opportunities appeared. Today, our production platforms in the emerging markets are operating at high capacity utilization. Overall, they account for 74% of our combined sales in 2010.

In spite of the economic downturn in 2009, we never stopped investing in these emerging markets. And in 2010 we stepped up this investment policy, on a broader scale and at an accelerated pace. And not just in China. Bekaert is investing significantly in its production activities in India, Indonesia, Russia and Slovakia. This is how we are able to strengthen our production platforms in the growth markets in order to further consolidate the base for our global market leadership strategy.

In the mature markets we continue to diversify our product offering and introduce innovations that make our products stronger, more durable and more eco-friendly.

In Latin America Bekaert manufactures a broad product portfolio spread over the region: from wire and cord solutions for the automotive industry to barbed wire for agriculture, and meshes and ropes for mining. This well balanced mix of markets and products resulted in satisfactory performance for the whole region in 2010. We met growing demand in agriculture, construction, automotive and utilities markets.

Both the automotive and the energy and utilities sectors in Asia Pacific performed outstandingly. In the overall sales volume for the region in 2010 they represent shares of 50% and 36% respectively.

Even though the industrial platform in North America is going through difficult times, business in the automotive sector has picked up again. As for the energy and utilities sector, the recession year 2009 almost brought investments in the oil & gas industry to a complete halt.

In the EMEA region Bekaert is present in both the mature Western European markets and the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe. The mix of market maturity and the alignment of product offerings to local market needs are major reasons why Bekaert performed fairly well in Europe in 2010. The construction and automotive sectors showed good performance in Central Europe, illustrating the high correlation between Bekaert’s growth and industrial growth. In the Western European markets, however, the construction sector faced many challenges.

Bekaert will continue to step up the implementation of its strategy of global market leadership. However, we must remain cautious in order to be ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead. Pioneering in a world that is trying hard to find its economic and political balance means entering highly volatile market conditions. Even though Bekaert has taken great strides in 2010, many more have yet to be taken in order to ensure that we can continue to achieve high performance.

 

          

 

Technological leadership

Technological leadership

Innovation is a key growth engine for Bekaert. In close cooperation with our business partners and customers we conduct research and development, focusing on highly specific problems or business situations. We do this at the Bekaert Technology Center in Deerlijk (Belgium) and at the Bekaert Asia Research and Development Center in Jiangyin (China). For the latter we opened in 2010 a state-of-the-art facility to house its 350 researchers and laboratory technicians.

The new Technical Center in Pune (India), which was inaugurated in 2010, is another facility contributing to the high level of customer-driven innovation that sets Bekaert apart from its competitors. Our development labs in the Netherlands, Chile, Brazil, India and in the U.S. complete our global technology platform.

In 2010 we both accelerated and broadened our investments in innovation and technology. The allocated budget totaled                    € 79 million or 2.4 % of the consolidated sales. 

 


As a consequence of our strategy of technological leadership the Bekaert product portfolio has shifted. Energy & Utilities, for example, which used to represent a fraction of our turnover, today accounts for about 24%. Thanks to mostly new, innovative products we were able to achieve fast growth in these sectors.

With a range of dedicated products for the photovoltaics and wind energy markets Bekaert continues to answer the growing need for alternative energy sources. Our sawing wire to slice polysilicon ingots into ultra-thin wafers, thin film coatings, back sheets for the overall design of solar crystalline modules, and steel cord for the reinforcement of belts for wind turbines are examples of these products.

Global energy consumption keeps rising steadily. As the demand for energy grows, so does the demand for solutions to extract oil and gas from ever deeper wells and to transport energy safely and efficiently to the consumers. To meet those needs, Bekaert has developed wires, ropes and steel reinforced strips, resisting corrosion, pressure and heat.

Bekaert’s in-house engineering department, for its part, designs, assembles and installs production lines and globalizes spare parts asset management. It played a crucial role in 2010 in the construction of our greenest steel cord plant in the world, which is located in Shenyang (Liaoning Province, China).

All these successful innovation projects are the results of our efforts to secure technological leadership. Both in the mature markets where they are crucial to guarantee business sustainability and in the emerging markets where they accelerate growth. If we want to remain at the forefront of technological development we have to ask ourselves the question as to how we can deploy our products in new situations and add value to our customers’ activities.

Research and development is key for Bekaert as it offers our customers the most innovative solutions and secures our technological leadership position. In order to achieve the best possible result, we attach particular importance to co-development, starting from highly specific problems or business situations. Customer-driven innovation is an asset that helps us stay ahead of the competition.

Operational excellence

Operational excellence

Bekaert believes that operational excellence is a prerequisite to a successful strategy. A constant drive to improve our business processes and a permanent focus on Total Quality Management are inherent in the Bekaert DNA. The task of putting these ambitions into practice on a day-to-day basis is in the hands of the Bekaert employees.

Worldwide, Bekaert has expanded significantly in recent years and we are working hard to cement the Group in its new structure. Last year we welcomed around 5 000 new employees. This has consequences for the maturity of our organization and requires robust training efforts.

At present, Bekaert is doing well, especially in the emerging markets and thanks to its innovative product portfolio. Should growth rates start to slow down, Bekaert’s driving principle of operational excellence will become even more pivotal in putting us ahead of our competitors.

And if we want to maintain our operational excellence at its high level, we will need to pay increased attention to the maturity of our organization and to integrating our corporate philosophy in our most recently added production platforms. It is crucial that all our employees continue working better together at delivering top performance, resulting in satisfied customers.

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