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Hanix plans European expansion

Undeterred by predictions of a slowdown, Hanix wants further growth as it celebrates 20 years in the UK. By Paul Howard

Japanese mini-excavator specialist Hanix is celebrating 20 years in the UK and European markets with expansion plans and a range of new products.

The company began life in 1988 distributing machines from its base in Manchester under the Nissan Kizai brand. “We actually manufactured the machines here as well for a while but all our machines are now produced in Japan,” says Hifumi Ogasahara, company secretary.

“We’ve always been strong in Scandinavia, and have developed UK market share over the past four years. Now we’re focusing on Germany.”

The company also has a target of increasing its market share across Europe to five per cent in the next five years.

“It’s a difficult task across such varied markets with desires for different machines,” says Ms Ogasahara, although she adds, “Sales have risen every year for the last five years.

“We think the market is still growing and are confident we can sell more machines. People have been saying that growth in the UK will end every year for the past five years but it grew last year and with projects like the Olympics it’s hard to tell if there will be a decline.”

In the UK, at least, expansion will be achieved through the company’s existing network of dealers.

“We have sufficient dealers so growth will be reliant on them. Our focus is on supporting them and we have built a sales team to do this,” she explains.

According to Ms Ogasahara, this level of support for dealers, and through them customers, is crucial to success. “Twenty years ago the market for mini excavators was immature.

“Now there are lots of manufacturers and very tough competition. We think the market still appreciates a Japanese product but this isn’t enough on its own. With lots of choices available to customers you have to have a strong -customer focus.”

‘You can’t force customers’

The company’s new 5.5 tonne zero tailswing machine, the H55DR, is a case in point. Following feedback about its previous zero machine, the smaller H36CR, the new model will have a hexagonal cab to ensure that the door, even if fully open, doesn’t extend beyond the tracks of the machine.

“It would have been easier for us to put in a smaller, normal cab, to accommodate the door, but customers want a bigger cab for operator comfort so this is what we did. You can’t force customers and insist on knowing what’s best for them,” she says.

The H55DR will be available in the UK from May and will be shown at SED.

“The European market likes zero tailswing machines and we plan to introduce two more in the next two years,” says Ms Ogasahara. “Rather than rush and make models the market doesn’t want, we’ll consider how to get it right. Our engineers have the benefit of having invented the 360 degree mini-excavator so they know how important it is to get the balance right.”

Also new at SED will be a prototype micro-excavator. “The future is in the hands of the customers. You can’t ignore what they think,” she says.