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Monday, 04 October 2010 00:00


“The aim of the industry is to seek out new markets in order to survive and improve productivity in every possible way”



The last two years have been particularly difficult for this industry, how would you assess them?


Well, every year is difficult now. From 2004 to 2007, as I remember, we went through some tremendously turbulent years, when steel prices went up monthly which meant manufacturers had to increase prices up to twice a year. Fortunately the market was able to cope with it; there was no other solution for the increase and we had to move on. Sales figures grew but the operating account did not.


From 2008 on, prices stabilised, but the crisis started that lasted the whole of that year. In 2009 I said in the annual magazine that we could be reaching the lowest point, although I also said we could be up to our necks in mud on the bottom for a long time.


As companies published their annual accounts, we could see from the 2009 data the harshness with which those accounts had been affected.



What is the current situation and what is your outlook?


Well, now one year later, in 2010, we are still at the bottom. Those interpretations or wishes have not been fulfilled and the general adjustment has been delayed. The crisis was very large, on that point we were right. But we did not want, not just the government but also many of the players in the market – perhaps to keep hope alive – to make all the necessary adjustments and we have been kidding ourselves with “planes E”, public promotions, etc., but without actually facing up to the issues.


Now the adjustment will be more costly and the second part of 2010 will be more critical, with less consumption, fewer works, less confidence among investors and many problems getting paid which will increase the bankruptcy rate or the simple process of “I'll disappear and not pay”.



What novelties would you single out among norms? Does the industry need any modifications or explanation of the main norms (RITE, CTE, etc.)?


Well, with regards industry norms that concern us, after the last 5 or 6 years with revisions of all the important regulations - the Gas Regulation, RITE, the introduction of the CE mark and the CTE publication - I have to say that we are thankful that there are no more major variations, which means that everyone working in the market – manufacturers, distributors, installers, and so on – can take on board the new norms even the authorities that have to monitor and enforce them can do so, which does not always happen.


At the same time, with regards RITE, the Permanent Commission holds frequent meetings to bring together the questions being asked by the market and publish pertinent clarifications, which is very important and necessary. But I will take this chance to talk about another, very important norm – that covering slowness in payment, which was recently passed and which achieves something very fundamental, despite opposition from some ministers, and that is the elimination of the clause that allowed longer payment terms to be agreed by parties. This should be welcomed, even when there are special terms available for large companies to adapt, for example the larger construction companies.


I think that general application of this norm, published on 29th June, and coming into force the next day, will lead to a noticeable improvement in the economies of companies as it reduces the payment period and so increases liquidity and reduces the need for financing.



What are the aims of enterprises in the industry and what chances do you believe they have for development?


Survive! It is that plain and clear. We are perhaps at the worst moment – there are no works and it looks like there will not be any, which means the options are clear: seek out new markets to sell in and achieve sales in them; show our productivity in every possible way and not just by the easy way of eliminating outgoings that are more or less unproductive. We are in a crisis, but a crisis is always an opportunity; an opportunity for those who think and act in a more profound and diligent manner, and that is where we have to make the effort.



Renewables are showing themselves to be a great alternative in the mid term. What is the industry's stance with regards them?


The only stance - which is also the logical stance: we cannot do anything else except climb on board. The age of fossil fuels is coming to an end, and it is a question of more or less time, but it is undeniable. We have to adapt to this and, as it is something that will happen tomorrow, we have to continue doing what we are already doing, the search for new applications for our products that will substitute the current applications. We are not afraid, quite the opposite, as these are new challenges for us: biomass, cogeneration, etc.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 10:50

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