Brand power on a changing market
Mapei has been well-established in the UK since 1989. It has recently built a new manufacturing plant for concrete admixtures. What are the growth targets following this boost in manufacturing in the UK?
Mapei UK has growth built in as part of its DNA. Over the past 27 years I cannot remember a single year when our business did not grow. We now have a fantastic new concrete admixtures plant which was opened in January in Speke, close to Liverpool in the North of England. We have a new team for the concrete admixtures line led by Alan Robinson on the sales side and Ian Ellis on the technical side. Our expectation is to develop the turnover in 2023 to more than 3.5 million Euros from about 1.15 million Euros in 2022. We confidently expect that over the next 3 to 5 years we will increase the turnover for this product line to 12 million Euros. Being acknowledged as a serious player in the concrete admixtures market has also started to open doors in the development of the watertight concrete market by specifying our BBA (British Board for Agrément) certified IDROCRETE KR 1000.
Which sectors of the building industry does the Mapei brand perform best in? On which sector will it be focusing on in the future?
In the UK we are market leader in the products for installing ceramic and natural stone and in a strong second place in the products for installing resilient materials, LVT, textiles and wood. Both lines are directed by Kevin Field, our Commercial Director for the ceramic and resilient product lines. There is still space to increase our turnover and further develop our market share. In the building products sectors the key areas of focus for Mapei UK are concrete admixtures, roofing materials, solutions for underground constructions, structural waterproofing, industrial flooring, concrete repair and structural strengthening as directed by Julian Pritchard, Mapei UK’s Commercial Director for building products. These are the key growth areas alongside the ceramic tiles and resilient and wooden floorings sector. Over the next 3-5 years our plan is to increase our business from 105 million Euros to more than 175 million Euros.
Specifically in terms of product lines, how are Mapei operations looking at the UK now?
Mapei UK product lines are generally performing well against our competitors in 2023. We have some challenges in the ceramic sector around lower cost products gaining some traction due to the economic climate, but we are responding to this trend. As a business we are confident of achieving budget. At the moment, the best performing line in terms of revenue and growth is the concrete admixtures range, which saw a 115% increase in revenue compared to last year and a 139% rise in sales over the first quarter. This is followed by the range of products for the underground construction sector boasting a 144% increase in revenue, and the line of products for installing resilient materials with a 26% increase in revenue over the first quarter of last year. Third comes the product line for installing ceramic tiles that Mapei launched on the UK market in 1989, which recorded a 5% increase in revenue over the first quarter and is expected to rise by 10% by the close of 2023. The ceramic line was the first product line started in the UK back in 1989: we are now market leader and expect to grow this line by a minimum of 10% by the end of 2023. Last year the Mapei UK turnover achieved the 105 million Euro sales mark, in 2023 we expect to comfortably go past 117 million Euros for the first time.
Great Britain is suffering the consequences of Brexit. What have been the effects on the building industry in general and Mapei’s business operations in particular?
I did not vote for Brexit; however, we live in a democracy, and accept the result of the voting. I took the view that nothing major would change for Mapei regarding our market because the UK is a developed country with a population in excess of 60 million people and that is who we get our business from. Cost of labour and construction products have risen faster in price than in the European Union and some of this will be a symptom of Brexit. However, this is the same for all construction product manufactures in the UK: we are all in the same boat. Exporting to Ireland is a little more complicated now, but it is a logistics issue that just needs managing. We have also had fewer people in the workforce from European countries. You could ask where all the lorry drivers went, but I do not believe that Brexit is wholly the culprit here. Brexit created more paperwork for import, but as I have stated, it’s a logistics problem that the business is required to comply with in order to continue to trade. The bigger problems have been Covid-19, raw material shortages, transport issues, labour shortage and cost of living.
To stimulate growth, London is focusing on investment in large infrastructure projects: what opportunities are opening for Mapei?
I would not suggest that business in the UK is a bed of roses, but I strongly believe that as usual the UK will outperform the various advisers. I can only talk for Mapei in the UK: we are a very strong business and well-known brand in the construction industry. We are now stretching the brand across a wider marketplace including the ceramic, resilient and building segments and in doing this, it is our expectation to achieve specification of more Mapei systems on an increased number of projects. The UK government has focused on the development of some major infrastructure projects across the UK and, of course, Mapei has grown as a result of these projects. This factor will develop faster with Mapei winning projects in sectors where historically we have not been seen as strong contenders: admixtures, underground construction, roofing, waterproofing and industrial flooring. With growth in these construction areas, we not only increase our turnover, but we also improve the visibility of the Mapei brand to a wider audience.
Mapei opened the Group's first Specification Centre in London. How is this project working out in in a city that has earned a worldwide reputation as an international centre for modern design and architecture?
Our Specification Centre Mapei World London City has been an important investment for the business. Located in Clerkenwell, a key showroom district for architectural and design practices specifying products for all over the world, Mapei World London City puts us in the right place to serve this community. Regular daytime and evening events and presentations are held for specifiers and our customer base can also take advantage of the space to host their events. Mapei World London City is always a popular exhibit during Clerkenwell Design Week, the design week that takes place every spring in London, and we have taken part in the event since 2016. The Specification Centre provides opportunity for Mapei to showcase finished products, including a full cementitious floor completed with ULTRATOP LOFT mortar and revolving displays across all Mapei product line systems. It is also a base for our Specification Team, where there is always someone on hand to provide technical support to visitors.
Mapei has long been closely associated with sport. This year Scotland hosted the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships: was it a great communication/marketing opportunity for Mapei UK?
Yes indeed, being an Official Partner to the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland was a terrific opportunity for Mapei UK, both in terms of significant brand awareness and customer hospitality. We had 11 days and 13 disciplines to entertain our valued customers in Scotland. There is a large number of keen cyclists among our customer base, many of whom enjoyed the previous event in Yorkshire in 2019 and were excited to join us again. The Mapei logo was displayed at all venues, along road routes and of course across television broadcasts. Mapei UK also sponsors local teams to its headquarters in Halesowen, West Midlands, namely Halesowen Cycling Club who were in 2022 voted "Club of the Year" by Cycling Weekly and continue to develop promising young riders and also Halesowen Town Football Club who have achieved promotion to a higher division this year.
Working with top golfers
In a country where football is not the only sport fans rave over, Mapei UK is taking advantage of various sports to boost the brand’s popularity and offer special experiences for its business partners. Besides sponsoring international cycling events and local cycling and football teams, Mapei sponsors established European Tour Player Adrián Otaegui and renowned online golf coach Chris Ryan. Adrián Otaegui, who has won four titles including the Scottish Championship in 2020 and the Andalucía Masters in 2022, has been sponsored by Mapei UK since 2019. In addition to sporting the Mapei logo on his sleeve, he has held Golf Clinics at Mapei UK Golf Days and has joined the company for several events to interact with its clients. Chris Ryan has also been sponsored by Mapei UK since 2019. With a consistently growing online presence, he brings the Mapei brand to almost 400,000 You Tube subscribers and 150,000 followers across his social media channels. Chris Ryan also joins Adrian Otaegui at Mapei UK’s Golf Events combining assisting our guests with their golf game with Q+A interviews and presenting.