A Step in the Right Direction
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Joe Palliser
BBF Safety Group (Pty) Ltd merges some of the most respected, family-owned safety footwear manufacturers in South Africa together; namely Beier Safety Footwear (Pty) Ltd, Bagshaw Footwear, United Frams and Wayne. During the course of the past 14 months, the Group has sought to diversify its portfolio and attract new customers from a broader range of sectors across the industry.
Equipped with this renewed focus, the BBF Safety Group has its eye keenly focused on the latest industry trends to remain ahead in the safety footwear sector, and to capitalise on the growing demand for high quality products, made with industry-leading technology.
“Today, our combined experience in safety footwear encompasses more than 200 years and we are proud to offer some of the most recognised and trusted brands in sub-Saharan Africa; including Bova, Frams, Fuel, Lemaitre, Sisi, Inyati and Wayne,” states Silvio Ceriani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BBF Safety Group.
Operating from its four manufacturing facilities in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, the BBF Safety Group is in the process of acquiring new machinery to not only grow its production capabilities, but continue to innovate and explore the possibilities of opening up the Company’s revenue streams across its select markets and industries, with a continued focus on safety products.
New year, new focus
In alignment with its objective of continuous improvement, the BBF Safety Group will begin 2016 with a key member of staff who will look closely at the right opportunities for the Company to develop in 2016 and beyond. “We have recently hired Taygan Govinden as the new Business Development Manager to lead potential business-changing ideas and research how best to remain competitive in the safety industry,” says Silvio.
Backtracking to its investments this year, the BBF Safety Group has appointed new distributors in the Middle East which Group Export Manager, Tven Heyer is confident will pave the way for additional growth in 2016. “From our perspective, the overriding focus is really in three key areas; namely appointing new distributors in key markets, expanding our footprint in new markets across the globe, and improving our own operational efficiencies to positively impact our level of service; which is largely thanks to the addition of further personnel to our exports team. This will certainly assist with building strong and focused relationships with both our new and existing distributors across the globe.”
Tven adds: “It’s key that we continue to grow our reputation across new markets and the resulting strengthened export network will provide us with significant growth potential. In Africa, we will be growing our already-reputable presence in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. In addition, Australasia and America present a welcome challenge as markets with excellent export potential to add to our already comprehensive distribution portfolio.”
Currently, South Africa is marred by a high unemployment rate, with recent figures reported at highs of approximately 25.5 percent. In the manufacturing sector in particular, there has to be a fine balance between implementing the latest machinery – which is often semi or fully automated – and developing a previously unskilled labour force. The BBF Safety Group continues to demonstrate its commitment to the Government’s drive to create employment by subscribing to the BEE initiative and opting for predominantly semi-automated manufacturing processes.
Silvio explains: “We are very much on-board with the BEE initiative; something which is both a welcome challenge to uphold and helps us to create a locally-rooted, sustainable and locally-relevant approach to business in South Africa. Moreover, this is something that makes us competitive and we are proud of our commitment to local empowerment.”
“Supporting this is our in-house training, including emphasis on better educating our stakeholders on the processes and products from the BBF Safety Group. We make sure that every supplier partnership we uphold is sustainable for both parties in the long-term. For example, we work closely with our distributors as they play such a vital role in the day-to-day business operations,” he adds.
The theme of growing sustainably is deeply ingrained in the BBF Safety Group’s plans for the new year, comprising a whole host of ways to diversify its revenue stream across the safety footwear sector. “Next year, our investments in new equipment will see our production capacity accelerate and open up new market sectors,” says Silvio.
Tven adds: “In terms of exports, we will always keep a close eye on potential markets abroad and how to expand into these countries sustainably. Furthermore, it is our balance of experienced people who have remained with us during the merger, combined with our longstanding stakeholder relationships, which will assist us on our mission to provide people with safety footwear across the globe.”
The CEO concludes: “By balancing growth with a sustainable business model, we have been able to drive our continuous improvement objective forward and bring the best safety footwear brands to an increasing number of industries across the continent in the short space of just a few years.”