Hamburg Distribution Centre Offers Vipal Further Opportunities
When Brazilian based retreading materials supplier Borrachas Vipal boosted its European market presence in 2005 with the opening of its first distribution centre, the company’s goal was to be one of the largest suppliers of tyre retreading and repair material on the continent, a brand recognised for the quality of its products. Vipal Europe believes this goal has been, three years later, well and truly reached, and confirmation of the company’s ever-stronger position in Europe can be witnessed through the establishment of a third distribution centre in the region.
The original centre, in Valencia Spain, and the company’s second, in Logatec, Slovenia, have until now served Vipal well in Europe. However in October 2007 the company’s board of directors approved a number of ‘macro strategies’ for the European retreading market, and these strategies included ways to better serve growing markets. “Vipal believes that the retreading market must be attended from up close, and that the only way to be a main player is being present in the market with product and personal assistance,” explains Manager of Vipal Europe, Mr. Alessandro Campos.
In particular, developments in Western Europe prompted the need to re-consider logistical practicalities. “The increase in sales in Germany, Benelux, Poland and Czech were our supporting factors,” says Mr. Campos, “however these countries were being attended from our distribution centre in Slovenia and the distance was not allowing much further expansion.” Therefore a new location for a distribution centre was sought, and for a number of reasons the company decided upon Hamburg, Germany.
Vipal’s new Hamburg distribution centre, in operation since May 2008, is located in the vicinity of Hamburg’s ‘Free Habour’ and enjoys good access to Europe’s second largest port complex. As Mr. Campos comments: “The harbour in this city is internationally known and has excellent shipping connections with the Brazilian ports we use. Additionally, it is a central position to attend the markets mentioned above.”
With a new location for market supply now established, Vipal again has the infrastructure it needs for continued European growth. According to Mr. Dijan Rigo, a member of Vipal Europe’s Commercial and Technical Support team in charge of central Europe, the Hamburg distribution centre will further the company’s market supply in the region in three distinct stages. The first stage involves attending markets where Vipal is already present, such as Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Benelux countries – all markets that, as Alessandro Campos mentioned, were determining factors in opening the centre. Mr. Rigo comments that delivery times to these markets are up to 50 per cent shorter when serviced from Hamburg, and freight costs have also been reduced. The second and third stages consist of expansion to new markets, in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. A date for these expansion plans has not been disclosed.
As with its other European distribution centres, Vipal’s presence in Hamburg is operated by an internationally known logistics firm, an arrangement Mr. Campos says allows the company to concentrate its efforts in areas where it is strongest – product development, sales and customer service. The company supplies Vipal with floorspace from a service area of approximately 21,000 square metres, and when Tyres & Accessories visited the facility the warehouse was filled almost to the ceiling with Vipal and Ruzi (see textbox) brand product on some 8,500 pallet places. There is, however, ample room for more when the need arises.
The company’s sales and administrative team continues to operate out of Valencia, Spain, and from here the Vipal Europe commercial team travels throughout the region to meet with customers. Products supplied are all sourced from Vipal’s factories in the Americas. The retreader’s manufacturing unit in Nova Prata, Brazil is at present operating at full capacity, producing an average of 13,000 tonnes of rubber monthly. The new factory in Bahia, Brazil, opened this year, will increase rubber mixture manufacturing capacity to 18,000 tonnes, and work is currently underway on Vipal’s first factory to be located outside of Brazil. The US$40 million facility in the Mexican state of Aguascalientes is expected to be operational in mid 2009 and give Vipal better access to NAFTA markets.