Sabaf CEO Alberto Bartoli
September 2013

Dear Mr. Alberto Bartoli, could you please tell us briefly about yourself and your career so far?

After my graduation I spent few years as financial auditor, later I worked as CFO in industrial groups, and in 1994 I joined Sabaf as CFO. In May 2012 I was appointed as Sabaf’s CEO.

What is the secret to your success? Could you please tell us about your way of working and professional principles?

Success is difficult to be defined. I don’t think of myself as a successful man. In any case, ethic, professionalism, honesty and respect are my personal strongholds which I try to translate in my everyday working and personal life.

Could you please inform us on Sabaf’s corporate identity?

Sabaf is not a typical Italian company. Due to our President vision Sabaf was since the 90ies shaped in a very different way from other family run companies. The company has been managed not from the owner parents but from professional managers to take advantages from each one expertise and professionalism. Later on the company was listed on the Italian stock exchange market that gave to the company a more modern shape and worldwide exposure.

In all these years we have tried to build a respect and trusted company known for its high quality and innovative products but also for its high level of service provided to customers.

Could you tell us about the organizational chart on the basis of Sabaf Turkey and the position where Sabaf Turkey stands on the global scale?

Our plant in Manisa is still very young and the structure is still very lean. It’s run by Onur Yilmaz, a very talented manager that firstly spent five years in our head office in Italy and later came back to his home country.

Can we learn about the story of Sabaf’s investments in Turkey?

Turkey was and is a very important market for Sabaf. The growth of Turkey’s economy in the recent years and the very low average age of the Turkish population caused a sharp request of new houses and consequently of home appliances. Both local and European producers were asking for better quality gas valves and burners and looked at Sabaf as their main supplier.

The sales quantities we achieved and the forecast of further growth together with the daily request of local producers for Sabaf to shorten the delivery time convinced us that it was the time for us to build a new factory outside Italy after the Brazilian one.

Could you please inform us about your growth targets in the coming period both in Turkey and in the global arena?

Sabaf is obviously trying to cope with the present unfriendly economic situation in many countries, especially in Europe. Turkey is for sure one of the few countries where the global crisis is less felt. We have great trust in the potential of your country for the coming years. On the other side we are looking to other potential markets like China and India.

What is your take on the development of the white goods industry?

White goods industry is under great changes. Concentration and localization of the production are the main aspect the industry is facing now. The once leading area, Europe, is facing a very hard time while old and new emerging markets are reshaping the industry attitudes. End-users are also changing their spending and use habits. It will take a while for the global industry to understand and to adapt itself the new way but I think that this difficult period will help the best to be the key player of the coming years.

Could you please tell us about the advantages of making investments in Turkey? Would you recommend investing in Turkey to other global main industry members and suppliers, do you recommend it in your meetings?

Turkey has been a fantastic place to make investments and I would definitely recommend other investors to follow us. Bureaucracy is something entrepreneurs mostly fear. What we experienced in Turkey is an investor-friendly bureaucracy without compromising regulations and restrictions which are almost at European levels.

In Manisa we are also benefiting from developed infrastructure service, skilled labor force, investment incentives which make Turkey a more attractive place to invest. Our existing clients, significant sales volumes , experience in Turkish market and logistically closeness to Italy also made our investment process easier.

Sabaf is a supplier of international success thanks to its products. Which companies do you manufacture for?

In Turkey we manufacture for almost all gas-cooking appliance producers. Some of our clients are ARCELIK, VESTEL, BSH, CANDY SUSLER, SIMECO, PLASFORM, SIMFER.

Among those companies, you count such globally prominent Turkish firms as Arçelik and Vestel. Are there any differences between working with Turkish companies and companies from other countries; could you please compare them?

ARCELIK and VESTEL are two of the strategic clients for SABAF GROUP whom we have long-term relationship with. SABAF’s significant shares and increasing volumes with ARCELIK and VESTEL contributed to our investment decision as well. As these companies are listed on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, they are more transparent than many other companies both in and outside of Turkey. They are being managed by professional managers, so we always deal with experienced and competent people with professional attitudes.

Both companies rely on their R&D activities and new products. Number of patents these two companies apply to and the innovative products they are launching are higher than most of their peers.  Being innovative and investing in R&D is a core competence of Sabaf as well. We believe that this convergence makes our relations stronger with ARCELIK and VESTEL.

How would you evaluate the level the white goods industry attained in Turkey? Where does Sabaf stand in this sectoral development? I am aware that you have factories in Brazil and Turkey after Italy, and another one will be established in China, as far as I know. You must have seen something promising here? Could you please share with us what that is?

Turkey’s acceleration in white goods industry is impressive. Turkey has become the biggest white goods producer in Europe with an annual production capacity of 25million units. Production technology, product range and regulations are similar to Europe. Indeed, Turkey’s biggest market in white goods import is EU zone.

In all sectors, reliable suppliers are needed to support the main industry’s growth.  In fact one of the limits and opportunities for the main industry’s development are its suppliers. Sabaf is running side by side with its clients, supporting them in many aspects and consequently growing together with them.  I believe we are a part of this sectoral development in Turkey. Our market share which is above 50% also proves this.

What we have seen promising and what has ignited our investment decision is our relationship with our Turkish clients. After reaching the target quantities, investing in Turkey was inevitable for Sabaf.

Can we learn your production ratios for each of your factories? What percent of your production goes on in Turkey, what percent in Brazil and what percent in Italy?

According to Sabaf’s half year report as at 30 June 2013, percentage of sales in Italy, Turkey and South America is 35%, 16%, 17% respectively.

Sabaf is a supplier which has succeeded in entering the stock exchange and turn into a brand. What can you tell about the brand strategy of your firm?

As I already said being listed is a big opportunity but also a big challenge. You have a lot of obligations such as quarterly reports and a very transparent management but on the other side you have the possibility to increase the global brand awareness and to access the world capital markets that help us in our innovation efforts.

What about your targets for Turkey and for the global arena? Could you please tell us your efforts to this end?

Globally speaking, as there is a big variety among different market, our targets vary according to market conditions. In Italy and Western Europe Sabaf intends to focus on differentiating its product and increasing its attention on energy efficiency to deal with a market that is facing structural problems. In this regard we have developed new range of products.

In Eastern Europe and Turkey, Sabaf is at the high end of the market and intends to reap opportunities for expansion. In this regard we have opened a production facility in Turkey.

In Central and South America potential rising of regulatory standards represent a significant opportunity for us.

Speaking specifically about our Turkey factory, new trade relations will strengthen our market leadership.  Turkey is the ideal place to penetrate in countries like Russia, East Europe, North Africa and Middle East. We will use our Turkish factory to increase our presence in these markets.

I believe such developments are based on quality human resources in addition to hard work and financial resources. Could you please inform us about your human resources strategy?

People are the core of our company. Without single competencies and experience a company is only an empty box. We are investing a lot not only in new production machines but also on our human capital as it will be the key of our future success or failure.

You manufacture high quality and highly efficient goods. What are the products that set you apart from your competitors and the qualities that make you stand out among them?

Sabaf was known firstly for the quality of its gas valves, than for its thermostats and starting form middle of the 80ies for its burners. We get the world attention when we launch our Series II burners that has been admired, and unluckily also copied, worldwide. Our triple ring burner completely changed the sector. We cannot therefore name only one product. The quality that is behind and inside of a product is not easy to explain briefly: from R&D to production, from laboratory test and investments in production machines to the after sale service. All this issues makes our overall quality.

Could you please tell us on your R&D activities? How do you conduct your projects; do you cooperate with the main industry companies you are working with in your R&D efforts?

Our R&D team works at the same time on the product and on the machines that will produce it. This gave us a very big advantage in terms of costs and productivity compared to our competitors. We do also cooperate with our customers at different stages for the project. In some cases the cooperation is very deep, as in the case of customized and exclusive products. In other cases it is less but in any case very important as our customers has sometimes a better  view of the final market’s requirements.

Could you please compare the white goods supplier industry in Turkey and abroad?

Turkey has become the biggest white goods supplier producer in Europe also thanks to its suppliers. Suppliers and the main industry are related to each other. You can easily understand the level of a COMPANY by simply looking at its suppliers and the level of a SUPPLIER by simply looking at its customers. Comparing the different countries we know, Turkish white goods supplier industry seems to be more advanced and with a bigger productivity.

Sabaf Turkey has recently become a BEYSAD member; we are truly happy to have you among us. It is said that there is no other like BEYSAD in the world; are you a member of any society or NGO outside of Turkey which has a structure similar to that of ours? What is your take on BEYSAD and could you please tell about your expectations from BEYSAD?

In Italy, since 2002, we are CECED member, which is an organisation that includes white goods producers and suppliers. Turkey has an important supply industry which still has a big potential to grow. It is important for this supply industry to be organized in a professional structure. We are expecting to express the common problems and needs of the sector through the platform that Beysad has created. It would be also interesting to establish project teams which focus on up-to-date subjects like energy efficiency. We as Sabaf would be pleased to take part in these teams.

Thank you very much.

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