CCN talks exclusively to Beijer Ref general manager, Craig Bicket, about the wholesaler’s local expansion plans following its 2015 acquisitions of Realcold and Patton.
These acquisitions were big news, both companies were well established in the Australian market. And while Beijer Ref may be new to Australia, the company certainly isn’t a new wholesaler.
It is one of the largest refrigeration and HVAC wholesalers in the world. In fact Beijer Ref is only getting bigger.
Its most recent acquisition spree is a significant step forward in the company’s strategy to broaden its presence outside of Europe.
Last year the company finalised its acquisition of Realcold and Patton with Beijer Ref general manager, Craig Bicket, confident the process of rebranding will be completed by the end of 2016.
Like the company, Bicket isn’t new to the HVACR industry in Australia. He is pretty well known after spending nearly two decades with Actrol.
In his last position, Bicket was Actrol’s state manager for Victoria, Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia.
So what’s the main focus for Beijer Ref in 2016? According to Bicket, he is busy consolidating operations with the focus on establishing a truly national footprint across Australia.
“We are in the midst of creating one team with an organisational structure that has a strong focus on engineering,” he said.
“There are six application engineers available to customers plus we have manufacturing operations in Brisbane and Sydney. We have the flexibility and adaptability to respond to the needs of customers.”
With 81 staff across 20 branches, the company’s presence in Australia is supported by administrative staff in New Zealand.
“Heat exchangers are manufactured in Sydney while refrigeration racks and units are manufactured in Brisbane,” Bicket said.
“The core part of our business is refrigeration. That is one of our differientators in the market.”
Another differentiator is the company’s access to exlusive brands such as Gree airconditioning and Italian firm SCM Frigo.
It has been an interesting 12 months for Beijer Ref especially when its Patton acquisition was first announced in March 2015.
When the company acquired Patton, Beijer Ref CEO, Per Bertland, said the company was a great fit.
Founded in 1923, Patton has always had a strong local presence before expanding to Thailand and India. Bertland described the Patton buy as a key accquisition.
“Patton is an established company with a long tradition and a strong growth potential in its markets. The company eminently fits our profile,” he said.
Bicket stressed that the Patton product range is very much still alive, along with the SCM Frigo CO2 transcritical chillers.
While Beijer Ref already had a presence in 32 countries, the company’s focus was on strengthening its position in Asia.
From 2005 to 2014, the Beijer Ref Group has reported average annual growth of 19.2 per cent.
During the latest five-year period, operating profit has increased by 12.6 per cent per annum on average.
Beijer Ref aims to further strengthen its position as the leading operator in Europe and to establish itself as a global operator. The objective is to grow faster than the market.
Its most recent expansion plans have focused on Asia with the acquisition of RNA Engineering & Trading, which has its head office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Local appointments announced
Beijer Ref Australia general manager, Craig Bicket, has formally announced the appointment of local state managers.
The company’s 2IC and Queensland state manager is John McCarrey and the New South Wales state manager is Ashley Joiner.
Andrew Galliano has been appointed Victorian state manager while Darren Bromley is state manager for South Australia.
Beijer Ref has four joint venture operations in Albury (VIC), Perth (WA), Rockhampton and Gladstone (Qld).
In December, Sameer Handa was appointed managing director of Beijer Ref Australasia.
Handa was Group CEO with Patton for 17 years and under his leadership the company expanded its presence in Australia, the Middle East and South East Asia.