This year, the presentation of Arania’s Company Plan – the most important strategic meeting of the year – took place in a different format, as a semi-virtual event. However, the circumstances surrounding the pandemic and this digital internal event highlight two of Arania’s fundamental values: adaptability to new situations and open participation, taking into account the opinions and experience of the whole staff. Quality, service and flexibility for a 2021 with great expectations.
Each year at the beginning of the season, after joint work in the different areas, Arania’s management shares personally the deployment of the Company Plan with all employees. At these meetings, teams present their results, set the challenges for the year just begun and define the medium-term strategy, ensuring the participation of the entire staff, whose experience and opinion are essential to optimise any operative aspect of the company. This time, the meeting was held telematically, with several open channels to guarantee the critical input of the employees.
In the automotive sector, a key industry for a leading cold-rolled steel company such as Arania, volume objectives set since 2018 have been irretrievably affected, firstly by the crisis in the steel industry and then by the economic slowdown resulting from the pandemic. In addition to other factors already in course, such as Brexit, we have witnessed a 25% fall in vehicle production in the EU-25 area in only two years. Furthermore, the continuous drop in the price of steel for two consecutive years has also negatively affected the profits for the steel industry.
The first quarter of 2020 looked as if the steel industry crisis of 2019 might be over, as Arania’s growth rate was in line with initial budget forecasts. However, the arrival of Covid-19 in mid-March directly impacted April’s activity with a turnover drop of 70% compared to expectations. Nothing in mid-March could suggest that the EU-25 GDP would fall by 7% in 2020, a drop unseen since the Second World War.
As the pandemic exploded, service, flexibility and quality became the best business tools for the Arania brand. While the usual recipe was to implement temporary lay-offs, Arania’s management, in consensus with the works council, decided to adapt the timetable to the new situation and stay on the job. As a result, during these months, orders were accepted and delivered in record time.
In February 2020, Arania took a proactive approach and set up a Covid crisis committee to manage all the unprecedented challenges related to the epidemiological circumstances, with the only goal of ensuring the safety of the employees, production continuity and the fulfilment of each and every company commitment. Despite the unfavourable industrial scenario, this strategy led to a significant increase of customers outside the automotive sector.
Reliability and quality are Arania’s best business card, as these key assets consolidate the trust of our partners and open the door to new customers. Thanks to new projects focused on medium-long term, with special attention on new materials and quality, the objective of the 2021-2024 Company Plan is to further improve the good results achieved in the last few years in terms of quality, reliability and product excellence.
Both the number of incidents and the rates of customer claims and internal rejects continue to fall sharply, proving the quality of Arania’s processes and safety protocols. The Arania quality brand certifies its status as a national and international benchmark, supplying major automotive customers in Germany and France.
Over the last year, the factory’s excellent ability to successfully respond to the specific needs of each situation has set the tone for a return to the path of growth. Therefore, the objective in 2021 is to take advantage of Arania’s values to recover production levels prior to the steel industry crisis, always with a philosophy based on quality, flexibility in customer service and reliability, both in products, processes and commitments.
Positive forecasts from different economic actors regarding the reactivation of activities in the coming years, combined with a recovery in the price of steel since the end of 2020 enable an optimistic forward-looking outlook for recovery.
The next few years will undoubtedly be marked by very powerful projects, a considerable demand and a new strategy focused on boosting new sectors and markets: this will be a period of opportunity where Arania will open the door to new and promising customers.