Aerial Market “Stabilizing,” Tanfield CEO Says

Tanfield Group, parent company to Snorkel as well as Smith Electric Vehicles reported improvement in its electric car division for the first half of 2010 and the beginning of a more stabilized environment for aerial equipment.

Volume for the half was £28.1 million (about U.S. $43.8 million), down slightly from £29.9 million for the first half of 2009. Operating loss was reduced to £9.8 million, compared with £11 million for the same period of 2009.

“Both of our principal units performed in line with expectations during another extremely challenging period for the global economy,” said Darren Kell, CEO of Tanfield. “We maintained tight control of cash and moved closer towards a break-even position, while still retaining all our core people and skills. Tanfield continues to leverage its status as the world leader in commercial electric vehicles, while we are also seeing signs that the global market for aerial lifts is stabilizing, albeit at very low levels.”

For the Snorkel division, volume was £18.6 million (about U.S. $29 million), compared with £21.2 for the first half of 2009, a 12.3-percent decline. However, Kell was bullish about future prospects.

“We believe that, after an extremely turbulent two years, the market for aerial work platforms is beginning to stabilize,” he said. “During the period, the powered access division successfully sold significant amounts of excess inventory; going forward we will maintain strategic stock across the globe. For the past two years, we have marketed aerial lifts under two brands, UpRight Powered Access and Snorkel. In April 2010, we launched our new global Snorkel branding, which has been positively received by our customer base. On August 31, we will cease to market aerial work platforms under the UpRight banner, with all UpRight lifts consolidated into a global Snorkel product range. This consolidated portfolio contains new products in the volume segments of boomlifts and scissorlifts. The first of these new models are now in production and we will launch more next year.”

Kell said the company expanded and enhanced its global dealer network in the first half, adding new distributors in Latin America and Europe. “However, the major equipment rental companies continue to age their fleets and held off additional capital expenditure. As these companies account for more than 70 percent of worldwide sales for powered access equipment, their ongoing lack of spending continues to impact the entire aerial lift industry.”

Tanfield is continuing its partnership with Pop-Up Products Ltd. in the low-level access market for interior use.

Kell added that he expects rental companies to re-invest in their aerial fleets sometime in 2011.

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