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Bekaert company profile

Bekaert is a world market and technology leader in steel wire transformation and coatings. Bekaert (Euronext Brussels: BEKB) is a global company with headquarters in Belgium, employing close to 27 000 people worldwide. Serving customers in 120 countries, Bekaert pursues sustainable profitable growth in all its activities and generated combined sales of € 4.1 billion in 2013.

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Bekaert employs unique metal treatment technologies to deliver a quality portfolio of drawn steel wire products and coating solutions on a global scale. We purchase more than 2.8 million tons of wire rod per year as our basic material. 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, ropes and strands, weave or knit them into fabric or process them into an end product.

Operational Excellence

Bekaert believes that operational excellence is a prerequisite to a successful strategy. Meeting and exceeding customer expectations is what drives our focus and actions. Improving our business processes and optimizing the synergy potential and efficiencies within the organization are an illustration of Bekaert’s continuous pursuit for excellence. Moreover, the company constantly evaluates its operational, technological and organizational set-up.

We will continue to pay increased attention to the efficiency 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.

Technological Leadership

Innovation is a key driver of Bekaert’s technological leadership. Within Bekaert, innovation is put into practice along two main axes: product innovation and process innovation. Product innovation helps us better serve our current and new customers. Process innovation enables us to increase our operational excellence while minimizing the impact on the environment.

We team up with customers and suppliers around the globe to develop, implement, upgrade and protect both current and future technologies. Listening closely to our customers and understanding how our products function within their production lines and products is key to developing fit-for-use solutions and added value for our customers.



  Innovation in a nutshell 
  • In 2013 we invested € 62 million in R&D.
  • An international team of 400 R&D specialists works on customer-driven research projects.
  • We acknowledge the importance of innovation: 43 first patent applications were filed in the course of 2013. IP protection applies mainly to products and brands, but also to processes and equipment.
  • Bekaert recently launched a project to accelerate its innovation potential and engages its employees worldwide to participate in a FastForward Innovation Competition.
  • Bekaert’s in-house Engineering department employs an international team of 500 colleagues who design, assemble, install and maintain the company’s proprietary equipment. 
 

Global market leadership

Ever since making its first investment in Latin America in 1950, Bekaert has shown its pioneering spirit by investing in growth markets worldwide. We set up operations in Latin America, Asia and Central Europe when early signs of opportunities appeared. Overall, our business platforms in growth markets account for more than 70% of combined sales.

In EMEA, Bekaert is present in both the mature Western European markets as well as in Central and Eastern Europe. After a relatively weak start of the year, Bekaert’s activities in EMEA recorded solid sales with better volumes at stable prices, driven by a demand improvement in automotive and energy-related markets. The company invested in future growth opportunities by expanding its Central and Eastern European platforms with additional bead wire and Dramix® steel fiber capacities. In Western Europe, Bekaert continued to invest in promising new technologies and production capacity to serve automotive and energy markets.

North American industries using steel wire were unable to leverage a consumer demand rebound as a result of increased imports of end-products. The resulting fierce competition, combined with continued investment delays in energy and construction markets and a significant unfavorable currency translation effect due to the strong euro, drove revenues down. Bekaert exited unprofitable markets and trading activities in competition with cheap imports and decided to cease its steel wire operations in Surrey, Canada. The Group’s Canadian steel ropes activities, on the other hand, continued to perform strongly.

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In Latin America, Bekaert manufactures a broad product portfolio spread across the region: from steel wire and cord for the automotive industry to barbed wire for the agriculture sector, as well as ropes and meshes for mining and construction. Bekaert holds leading market positions in most Latin American countries and decided to expand its business in the region with the acquisition of a steel wire plant and the construction of a Dramix® plant in Costa Rica. The segment’s top line dropped mainly because of the impact of the drastic depreciation of the Venezuelan bolivar and the consolidation, since the beginning of 2013, of the bolivar-denominated financial statements at the economic exchange rate. Also the changed sourcing policies for wire rod and the resulting lower costs passed on in the selling prices had an impact on revenues. Bekaert’s joint ventures in Brazil achieved robust sales growth. In December of 2013, Bekaert announced the acquisition of the remaining partner’s share in the Cimaf ropes activities in Brazil.

Bekaert’s activities in Asia Pacific achieved significant organic volume growth as a result of demand pick-up in the Chinese tire sector and by seizing growth opportunities in other markets. Also the integration of the acquired Malaysian activities added to consolidated sales. Wire rod price decreases, unfavorable currency movements and a negative price-mix impact, however, led to flat sales growth for the segment year-on-year. Bekaert strengthened its position in various markets and continued to invest with product portfolio and capacity expansions in India, Indonesia and China.

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