Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

'We don't see a depression coming'

Marubeni-Komatsu has added its voice to the reassurances emanating from the construction industry in general and the plant sector in particular that the much publicised fears about the credit crunch are unlikely to have a major impact on the UK plant market.

"We have no real concerns about the wider economy," says Ed Prosser, marketing manager.

There's lots of talk about the credit crunch and the impact it's likely to have, and no-one can say for sure there won't be a significant downturn. But we see lots of work on the horizon.

"The Olympics is the one most often mentioned but there's plenty of infrastructure work and house building too."

As a result, Mr Prosser expects the market being pretty stable over the year to come. "It could be up or down one or two per cent. We don't see a big depression coming, though it's something we have to keep our eyes on."

This general economic picture goes some way to explaining the company's upbeat assessment of its prospects for the year to come.

"In the last financial year we had record sales and that was preceded by records sales in 2006 as well. The question we're asking ourselves is 'Why can't we do it again?'."

Growth over the past few years has been driven by excavators, which Mr Prosser describes as the company's 'core product' in the UK.

"We've had lots of success with the major hirers with bigger fleets and have done very well in quarrying, especially with the bigger machines," he says.

This growth is likely to be further fuelled by the availability of new products. "All our key excavator models are now available in Dash-8 specification.

"These have very good green credentials which is increasingly important. The development of bio-fuels, for example, has to be kept on the agenda, as well as the use of diesel particulate filters in London and the likelihood of this being extended across the country," he adds.

One specific growth sector has been in reduced 
radius machines. "We've had very good acceptance of our short tailswing PC138, and this is an area I can only see growing," Mr Prosser asserts.

"It's not been as quick as many thought but the market's getting there. It's quite possible that the only 13 tonne machines available at some point in the -future will be short tailswing designs."

Reduced radius models also feature highly in Komatsu's new MR-3 range of mini excavators which will be revealed to UK audiences at SED fresh from their international launch at Samoter in Verona, Italy.

"The 1.5 will be a conventional machine but all the other machines, from the PC22 to the midi-size machines will have a short tailswing design."

These new mini machines will also come fitted with Komtrax as standard, according to Mr Prosser.

"We're pretty confident major hirers with larger fleets will get a lot of benefit in terms of fleet management: knowing where machines are, how they're used and when.

"The tracker side is an extra deterrent. We've marketed it more as a monitoring system that also allows preventative maintenance."

Over and above the machines themselves, Marubeni-Komatsu is keen to set out its stall as a one-stop-shop.

"Our aim is to work in partnership with customers, not just to sell them a big, yellow machine and then walk away.

"We're trying to recruit more field service engineers, although I think everybody's finding that difficult, and we've got a new service depot in Warrington.

"We've also got good support from the manufacturer with its investment in parts and service in Brussels, we can offer finance in-house and we've got our dealer quality used equipment programme which gives better value machines for the end user and helps us maintain residual values."