Expertise opens export markets, employment growth
Mercer Group expertise opens export markets, employment growth
Mercer Group continues its renaissance with the launch of a new ‘European-styled’ seamless sinkware range from its upgraded production facility at its manufacturing plant in Christchurch.
Prime Minister John Key had the honour of officially opening the upgraded production facility today.
With strong orders already coming in from the domestic market and Australia, and enquiries from the United States and Singapore, Mercer Group is currently ramping up production and hiring new staff. Over the past 12 months the NZX listed manufacturing company has increased staff levels from 161 to 187.
Rodger Shepherd, chief executive of Mercer Group, said that the new sinkware that the company will produce is currently available from Europe.
“The new high fashion square look is characterised by a reasonably tight radius but is seamless without any welds. These are difficult to manufacture, but after extensive simulation tests in the United States and much testing in our Christchurch plant, we have perfected the technique to manufacture the bowls to the standard we sought.
“Much of the credit for this must go down to the great skills of our staff and key suppliers. The company is 130 years old and we hold a tremendous amount of intellectual property inside our company. Mercer is the only company left in New Zealand pressing sinkware, with the others closing down their local operations and relying on imported product,” he said.
Initially Mercer will produce two bowls, a 400mm by 400mm unit and a 400mm by 250mm unit.
“The New Zealand market is being flooded by cheaper, lower quality imported product out of Asia, and our research shows that there is a definite demand for better quality, European-styled bowls which we can manufacture here in this country at a good price,” he said.
Even with such a high dollar, Mercer believes the new bowls have great export potential, and is encouraged by the early interest being shown from offshore.
“To be a successful export manufacturing company in New Zealand you need to work in the high value end of the market with innovative products. At present we export around 20% of the sinks we manufacture but we expect this to grow significantly.
“With the Prime Minister opening the upgraded facility today, I urged him to push harder a ‘New Zealand made’ message throughout the Government departments. This will support local businesses and provide a backbone to grow exports.”
Mr Shepherd said that last year the company invested close to $2m on new product development, including the S-Clave sterilisation project, Titan Bacon Slicer IVS (Involute Vision Slicer) machine, and development of this new sinkware range.
“The Board decided to pick a few key opportunities and invest in them for future growth.”
After coming into the business two years ago, Mr Shepherd has set about putting the 130-year-old company back onto a strong financial footing, having just reported a trading profit (EBITDA) of $2.5 million for the full year to June 30, 2013, and a net profit before tax of $1.2 million.