IBIS Partner Interview – AkzoNobel

A global partner to IBIS now for a number of years, AkzoNobel continues to build an enviable reputation within the automotive refinish market. Here, Keith Malik, director – global accounts, AkzoNobel provides an insight into the global giant’s business.

 

Please provide a brief overview on the current refinish paint market globally.

The refinish market is valued at circa €6bn. The mature European and North American markets are currently dominant in size, but are rapidly being overtaken by the fast growing car population in Asia. Thus, over time, the centre of gravity is shifting.

What is AkzoNobel’s status within the market?

AkzoNobel are one of the leading players in the vehicle refinishes aftermarket operating in more than 80 countries. With our four main paint brands Sikkens, Lesonal, Wanda and Dynacoat we operate in both the premium and value segments globally.

How is the refinish business structured globally?

AkzoNobel is a leading paints and coatings company headquartered in Amsterdam and operating in over 80 countries across the globe with three regional hubs centred in Europe, Asia and the Americas. We have research and development facilities and production sites in all key geographies. With over 3,000 employees delivering products, services and solutions to over 45,000 customers worldwide.

What challenges and opportunities do you see globally within the refinish sector?

The impact of reducing claims with the introduction of AEB systems and the resulting impact on repairers and thus the value of the market. Decelerator – with infrastructure and OE technology geared towards safety we see an increase in passive/active safety improvements which, in turn, is driving a trend towards smaller repairs, therefore fast repair systems like our UV product range will deliver process improvements and reduce cycle times. Our aim is to deliver a ‘while you wait’ repair solution to our bodyshop customers.

Legislation is also a leading factor within the refinish market – there’s strong regional governmental drive for lower VOC products resulting in closure of smaller shops/OTC sales that don’t comply with the legislation and drive for VOC compliant and sustainable technologies.

With the digitalisation of the refinish industry we see customers moving towards digital solutions to enable fast and effective delivery of services to their customers. AkzoNobel is well placed to answer the needs of these customers with its digital solutions such as Carbeat (https://carbeat.com) and digital colour process Colorvation (www.colorvation.com).

The collision repair industry varies greatly from region-to-region – can you give examples from the refinish paint perspective on just how diverse the market is?

In most cases the markets operate at similar levels within the premium segment, what differs by market and thus impacts the relative maturity is which stakeholder has the most control of the supply chain – OEM/insurer/bodyshop/recovery company etc.

What is/are the key strategic focus for the refinish business moving ahead?

Our business is focused on bringing our innovation and technology advances to the customer to enhance the repair process and improve sustainability. With our four global brands (Sikkens, Lesonal, Wanda & Dynacoat) we can deliver products, services and solutions to all sectors of the crash repair market, wherever there are bodyshops looking for world class products, AkzoNobel can deliver.

How does AkzoNobel ‘add value’ to the collision repair industry?

We add value from delivering world class products and dedicated people that are focused on ensuring a profitable and efficient process for our end user customers. We bring innovations in the repair process with products such as Autosurfacer UV, bodyshop workflow software such as Carbeat, and with colour tools such Automatchic Vision which enable our customers to stay at the forefront of repair process developments and deliver real term benefits to their customers.

In addition we sponsor events such as IBIS that allow us to support the raising of the bar for the industry as a whole and not just AkzoNobel.

Digitalisation, innovation and technology are major influences within all walks of life today – how far can this influence the realm of refinish paint?

The use of digital is central to our strategy to deliver leading edge support to our end user customers and this comes in the form of digital tools such as Mixit Cloud, Automatchic Vision and most recently Carbeat. Mixit Cloud and Automatchic Vision are AkzoNobel digital colour tools and improve and speed up the color matching process. Carbeat is a new innovation by AkzoNobel, a digital production control system for body shops designed to improve communication and production efficiency.

There has been lots of ‘noise’ in recent months regarding possible acquisitions/mergers amongst the global paint giants. What is causing this? And what are the likely outcomes?

AkzoNobel announced on 27 March to sell Specialty Chemicals to The Carlyle Group and GIC. This is a key milestone in creating a focused, high performing paints and coatings company.

It is not for us to speculate; we can only talk for AkzoNobel and our strategy. Our strategy is about winning together, and focuses on four pillars: Passion for Paint, Precise Processes, Powerful Performance and Proud People. Our stronger operational and financial foundation means we are more agile and better able to seize growth opportunities, including acquisitions. We are ready to participate in the consolidation taking place in the industry and we have a stronger balance sheet and cash flow to do so. We are participating in industry consolidation via our acquisition of the Industrial Coatings business, in addition to the three completed acquisitions in 2017 (Flexcrete, Disatech, V. Powdertech) that strengthen our Coatings business.

Lastly, you’re an IBIS global partner – why is IBIS so important to you as a business?

AkzoNobel have been a global IBIS partner since inception in 2011 and have continued as sponsor into 2018. We highly value the opportunity to participate in a forum that leads and drives the industry forward for the benefit of all, and provides thought leadership and unparalleled networking opportunities that helps us prepare for the future.