“We are not just suppliers, we work alongside our customers”
In 2013 Frank López landed in Aplimet with a mission: to internationalise the brand that designs manufactures and customises beer towers for the industry and the hotel and catering sector. Now he talks to us about how that expansion has evolved.
1. Which countries is Aplimet present in today?
In the last five years, since I started working for the company, we have moved from what was practically a token share of the international market to have a permanent presence in countries such as:
France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Serbia, Montenegro, Poland and Turkey among others And that’s as well as occasional sales of our products in many other territories.
2. What plans does Aplimet have for 2018 outside our borders?
Following a good year in 2017 our focus now is on consolidating and widening our presence in Belgium, and to do so we’re in contact with breweries in the country. We’re also looking at strengthening our market share as a distributor in France and trying to enter into other interesting markets in which we are not working permanently, and that we see as important: Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom.
3. What differences do you find between the Spanish and international markets?
At the international level were in a phase of full expansion and penetration in new markets, trying to “open doors” and get ourselves known as a brand. In all such openings the difficulty comes from a general lack of knowledge of our brand and having to compete with local suppliers in the country. Nevertheless, Aplimet can overcome this without problems with a customer service that is close, flexible and of the very highest quality.
In Spain we are well established as a company and the work is more to do with retaining and keeping an eye on accounts that we’ve been working with for years.
4. What is the biggest problem that you have found in your process of expansion?
I don’t think that we can really talk about problems in our expansion process. Maybe time in delivery could be considered to be a handicap, but we are working on it and we have significantly reduced delivery times. We work with a Premium high quality product, so it’s as easy as finding the right customer: once we have their confidence in a project, it all becomes a lot easier.
5. What difficulties does Aplimet find compared with other European producers of beer towers ?
The biggest difficulty is obvious: competing with local producers is very complicated, especially without reference points in the country in question. In our case, a presence in fairs and the hard work of our distributors have made things a lot easier for us and have been a great help. One clear example is Belgium, where we are becoming increasingly well positioned.
6. How does the type of beer affect the manufacture and customisation of the tower?
Rather than the type of beer, its the idiosyncrasy and the values that the brand represents that really influence the tower, for example “tradition” in the Belgian market. In Aplimet we are considered as being among the best experts e customisation.
7. What differentiates Aplimet’s towers from those made elsewhere in Europe?
The added value of Aplimet comes from its focus on the customised, tailor-made product. Our strong points as manufacturers are design, innovation and flexibility with regard to what the customer wants. On top of that there is the quest for excellence, closeness, and continual visits to customers (potential and current) We are not just suppliers, we work alongside our customers.
8. What’s happening in Europe in the beer tower market ? What are the latest trends?
It depends a lot on the country but the presence of modular towers is one of the most strongly received inputs in Europe. Customers always want “something different”, the “wow” effect, to surprise and be different. At Aplimet we have always tried to be step ahead and to present innovations all the time.
9. Since you started out on this expansion process what increase has the been in your production, and in your work force?
As head export sales in all of the international market I have seen how production in the international market has increased by 500% in the last five years. The work force has risen based on sales, we have gone from 14 people on the payroll to 18 of us now.
10. What percentage of your production goes outside Spain? How much do you expect it to be in 2022?
The percentage last year was noticeably lower due to growth of about 50% that we obtained in Spain. Approximately 20% of our production in 2017 went abroad, which is a 10% increase over the previous year. However, the important thing is that we have seen a considerable increase in the number of customers, so that we have a better position in the export market. Looking at the future, we expect that in four years around 30-35% of our production will be sent outside our borders.