Interview to Mr Alessandro Merusi – CEO of CFT Group
CFT Group has gone through numerous changes in the recent years, thanks to a long series of acquisitions which have determined a considerable growth for the whole company, both structurally and financially.
With these acquisitions, CFT Group continues to pursue its diversification strategy, further strengthening its competitive positioning in the Food & Beverage sector. Thanks to Comac’s acquisition, the Group aims at completing its current commercial offer, consisting of premium brewing plants currently supplied through the German subsidiary Rolec Prozess und Brautechnik Gmbh and glass/cans fillers featuring high speed, with a complete range of compact filling machines and keg systems, in whose production Comac is the market leader.
Regarding the Processing sector, an important goal has been reached with the entry of Milk Project into CFT Group’s family. Due to its wide range of machines specific for cheese handling and production, the company has expanded its Milk & Dairy portfolio to be able to meet different customers’ requirements and needs.
2018 has been an important year also for the Group’s End of Line Division, which saw the Spanish Group PKS becoming part of the company and integrating the wide range of CFT Group’s palletizing and de-palletizing systems with a wide offer of Secondary Packaging premium machines, such as wraparounds, shrinkwrappers and combi ones.
From a financial point of view, the turning point has been the completion of the recent business combination with Glenalta Group, which allowed CFT Group to be listed on AIM ITALIA. Following this merger, the company will benefit from new financial resources, up to euro 88 million, which will accelerate its development plans and enable some targeted acquisitions.
But let’s leave the floor to Mr. Alessandro Merusi, CEO of CFT Group, to ask him a few questions about all these issues.
Mr. Merusi, how do you think CFT Group is going to evolve in the very next future? Will the Group pursue this merging/acquisition policy in the following years?
If a good proxy to forecast the future is to look back at what done in the past, I can certainly say that we will continue in our growth path since started in 2000, with even more boost considering the strength of our current financial structure.
Moreover, we have to say that all the acquisitions we have performed in the recent years are part of a full range strategy of diversification and strengthening with the main aim of mitigating the market risk by limiting the exposure to the cyclicality of specific businesses as well as by increasing competitiveness.
Therefore, on the basis of the same strategy and taking into account the market opportunities as well as the macroeconomic context of the next years, we will try to continue applying our recipe in order to improve our ability to face successfully the future challenges.
In this age of globalization and internationalization, what do you think the strengths of CFT Group consist of?
Despite everybody talks about the age of “internet of things”, which is certainly true, I strongly believe that the main asset of our company still consists of the people who everyday engineer our products with passion and motivation, solving the daily problems and serving our customers with the same care I would use. Starting from this and taking into account that CFT Group realizes about 90% of its business out of Italy, one of the main strength is certainly the ability to act locally in Italy, in Spain, in Germany , in US, in Ukraine, where our main engineering and manufacturing branches are located. At the same time we are present all over the world with a sale and technical organization able to listen and understand our customer’s needs as well as to get the problems solved in a quick and flexible way.
CFT Group is the perfect supplier for food and beverage producers operating in different sector within the Food Industry. Which sectors will be particularly characterized by a considerable growth in the coming years? Why?
In general Food & Beverage industry is a growing market basically driven by certain megatrends which, despite the volatility of the short-term macroeconomic context, are well defined and will guarantee a long-term stability, such us the population growth, the urbanization trend, the growth of the middle class as well as the energy scarcity.
In the light of the above, CFT Group is definitely well positioned to benefit of these trends, looking positively to the future thanks to its widely diversified product’s portfolio. Moreover, there are specific applications which we believe will grow more than others, like sorting, robotics and secondary packaging, since they will strongly provide the main food and beverage producers with technical solutions able to guarantee safety, quality and cost optimization.
What special projects did CFT Group work on during 2018?
On top of the listing process, the internal growth and the strategic operating projects we have carried forward during 2018, we have succeeded in completing four acquisitions (i.e Comac, Pks, Adr and Milk Project) with an extra effort in order to get everything finalized in due time to benefit of the positive momentum.
Now that the first step has been completed, the game is just ready to start, since we need to work on the integration phase, both under the commercial and operational standpoint, in order to leverage on the acquired capabilities extracting all the potential synergies across our group’s companies.
Let’s talk about numbers and figures. How much CFT Group’s turnover has increased in the last five years? Can you say what were the determining factors that led to these results?
Just talking about figures: consolidated turnover of CFT Group has grown from about 120 mln eur in 2012 to about 207 mln euro in 2017, with a further expected growth in 2018 to a level of about 240 mln eur, with a double digit growth rate. Out of that, basically about 70 mln eur are related to organic growth while a net amount of 50 mln eur has been driven by acquisitions, of which 69 mln eur of investments and 19 mln eur of divestments. Focusing on the internal growth, the most significant contributions have come respectively from the beer and the fruit & vegetables sectors, where a key role has been played by the sorting business led by Raytec Vision, with a strong double digit growth rate over the past five years.
You have just entered the stock market through the merger with Glenalta Group. Where do you think this “business combination” will bring you? What results do you think you will be able to achieve?
First of all we have decided to enter into the stock market to get the resources needed to finance our internal and external growth strategy. Under the practical standpoint, the business combination with Glenalta has been just a shortcut in order to accelerate the process and to save some costs in comparison with a traditional IPO. Said that, leveraging on our strong financial structure as well as on an additional 100 mln eur credit line facility recently signed, we believe to be well positioned in order to benefit of the positive megatrends and key drivers for strengthening our position as leading consolidator of processing, packaging and sorting technologies in the food and beverage machinery industry.