SIEMENS MERGER WITH CRABTREE NOT A ‘REVOLUTION’ BUT AN ‘EVOLUTION’
Siemens’ recent purchase of Wadeville-based Crabtree Electrical Products will see the local manufacturer of low voltage wiring accessories, cable systems and power cords gain new equipment and inventory that will initiate an increased level of stability in the market and, subsequently, a bigger footprint in South Africa and the sub-Saharan region.
Siemens acquired Crabtree Electrical Accessories and its associated Lesotho business from Powertech Industries, a division of Allied Electronics Corporation (Altron). Originally established in 1947, the Crabtree business is a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens with the day-to-day management of the business handled by Electrium Sales, a Siemens company.
At the launch of the ‘new’ Crabtree South Africa on April 20, Steve Richardson, Integration Manager for the Crabtree acquisition, outlined the future plans for the business.
“What we have is a business that is really strong when it comes to its people, and their expertise and knowledge. It needs some key investments in new products and equipment to be able to put itself on the front foot in terms of a strong product offering for the South African market,” said Richardson.
“This merger is seen in a positive light, with Crabtree South Africa and its associated Lesotho business, re-joining a larger group with no plans to absorb it into the larger group company.”
Up until 1989, the Crabtree South African business was part of Crabtree Electrical Industries based in the UK, which now trades in the UK as part of Electrium Sales, in turn owned by Siemens since 2006.
Jim Currie, Head of Operations from Electrium, said investment in Crabtree SA has already begun – and will continue. “The main structure of the company will remain in place,” explained Currie, “and we will be relying on the experience of the local staff and management team, so there will not be a ‘revolution’, more an evolution over a period of time.”
Crabtree serves a broad range of construction customers through an excellent established electrical distributor network in South Africa with access to African markets – and the acquisition provides Siemens with a significant manufacturing know-how.
Richardson emphasised that the changeover would be “as seamless as possible”. “We will be investing in new equipment and inventory, which we hope will lead to an increased level of stability in the market. We want to support our current route to market and recognise that it is the lifeblood of the business. We are going to add to the critical mass of local manufacturing. With the reduced levels of past investment in the business, the product range has not been refreshed for some time, something Electrium is keen to address.”
“It is really important we maintain the manufacturing capability within South Africa, and achieve critical volumes to warrant having the equipment, machinery and test labs available locally.” By bringing in the export volumes and the extra demand via the linkup with Electrium, we are securing the future of SADC manufacturing for the Crabtree brand,” said Richardson.
He added that the acquisition has come at “an opportune time, when sentiment in Southern Africa is on the up with new optimism in the respective markets”.
Currie noted that the company is committed to local manufacturing, an aspect which sets it apart from many of its competitors. “The South African market is mature and competitive and with Crabtree’s local expertise and Siemens’ support we look forward to growth. We look forward to the challenge ahead, a new lease of life for Crabtree, and renewed vigour in the housing market.”
Both Richardson and Currie emphasised that the overall aim is to bolster Crabtree’s offering: “The wholesalers are going to see more products and inventory to support their businesses; the specifiers will have new products to meet the high specifications standards required; and for contractors, we aim to continue to be their default brand for quality and reliability.”
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