The RINA Group is one of the European groups with a very complex activity. What is the area of activity with the largest share in the RINA business?
One step after another, the heir of the historic Italian Shipping Register, born more than a century and a half ago to certify the national ship owners, is structured as a global group that now has about 2,700 employees, including over a thousand in Genoa and 120 subsidiaries. The Group is currently present in more than 60 countries worldwide through its approximately 170 offices. The shipping business today still covers 30% which puts Rina in the worldwide top ten of the Shipping Registers, but the rest of the turnover is divided between Energy (about 35%), certification (about 22%) and infrastructure and transport (about 13%). Meanwhile, the turnover of the Group continues to constantly grow from 205 million in 2010 right up to 294 million in 2013. The increase continues in 2014 as well, with a record level of 333 million and an adjusted EBITDA, which is of around Euros 37.7 million (+ 1.3%).
What services does RINA offer today in Romania and which sectors does it operate in?
The RINA Group is present in Romania with three different Brands, RINA ROMANIA, RINA – SIMTEX and ISCIR CERT and through them it provides classification services, certification, testing and inspection, training and research (TIC Services), to ensure the excellence of the most different organizations operating in the fields of manufacture, shipbuilding, environmental and energy, infrastructure, transport and logistics and agribusiness.
Thanks to our continuous investments in research and training, we have developed high expertise in the certification of management systems, products, equipment and personnel for companies of all sizes and operating in any area of business, while developing our traditional activities for naval classification and certification.
As a further guarantee of the reliability and the value of its certifications and assessments, RINA has acquired over the years a wide range of recognitions at national, community and international levels, all of them issued by authorized entities / bodies.
As a third party and independent body, we always provide our services in full compliance with the principles of professional ethics, transparency, confidentiality and corporate liability of the company.
Which are the certification schemes mostly used in Romania?
In Romania, as regards the management system, the integrated approach on issues such as Quality / Environment / Safety is very common. This usually allows us to satisfy the need for reorganization of our own business processes, to improve the quality of the services and products we offer, to reduce our own impact over the environment and to create a safer working context while reducing the passive costs related to a non-effective and non-efficient prevention management. This type of Management, although it may seem troublesome due to the effort required for its implementation, provides a rational and harmonious development of the system documentation, eliminating duplicates; it supports the implementation of improvement strategies through goals leading to the efficiency of the company in all areas of interest; it strengthens the full governance for the local units of the organization.
We have witnessed the addition of subsequent standards to the traditional ISO patterns corresponding to these so-called “classic” aspects, standards that have grown very much in terms of local spread and which are required by specific markets, such as the food industry with all the patterns that govern the Food Safety aspects, the computer industry that has developed standards for Information Security, the energy industry that has focused on the environmental aspects, the emission reduction and the energy efficiency or the production aspects in the Motor Vehicle, Railway or Aeronautical fields that have developed voluntary standards derived from the traditional ISO 9000.
Then there also mandatory requirements by the Law or the national or international standards which regulate the production and marketing segments as well as the use of specific products, such as those subject to the various European Directives.
This is why in all of these cases, as well as in others that have not been explicitly quoted, RINA always wants to be considered as a reliable and efficient industrial partner the companies can address with confidence in order to solve their problems.
What were, in 2014, the areas with the highest growth rate?
First I want to say that we are very pleased with the results achieved in 2014 by the RINA Group in Romania, which are growth results that, once again, demonstrate the effectiveness of the development strategy implemented over the recent years.
We have witnessed a positive evolution of all the different lines of business with growth results that are particularly higher in the field of voluntary certifications for the automotive and food sectors, training and qualification of the specialist technicians, such as welders, painters and CND operators and the certification of Products pursuant to the most popular European Directives.
To these positive data I would like to add that, again in 2014, we have witnessed a great appreciation following the opening of our new office in Targu-Mures, which has helped us get closer to the many companies located in Transylvania and also consolidated a growth trend that started years ago; we have been able to add – due to financial and technical efforts –additional accreditations to our local service portfolio, confirming once again our national leadership in the sector.
Going back to the numbers, the local turnover in 2014 grew compared to the previous year and the operating margin recorded was much higher than that of 2013.
Some anticipation for 2015? Do you believe you will be able to do better than last year?
For the current year, in Romania, we are acquiring more and more significant contracts and we would like to continue on this road while widening as much as possible the range of our skills and the portfolio of services offered on the local market. Our goal is to grow further by increasing as much as possible the crosselling and to become a single point of reference and a unique Service Provider for those Customers who require various services in the fields of certification and Engineering.
I can even anticipate that this year as well we will continue to increase the number of offices in the territory, our goal being to increase it as widely and as directly as possible and I can also say that we are developing our skills in the technical and sakes areas through recruitment targeted at skilled resources for the sales and technical support segments. These hirings, 5 already since the beginning of the year, will continue throughout 2015 and most definitely will bring safe benefits for the present and for the future of the company.
We have also planned the extension of some local accreditations in the field of System and Product Certifications that will try to acquire as soon as possible by investing in human and financial resources in order to be able to satisfy in a more comprehensive way the needs of our Customers.
Hence, for 2015 our goal is to become more and more a “global provider” and especially a “problem solver” for those who choose us as their partner.
You have plans for the future. Do they also concern the Romanian market?
The Group is always ready to seize the opportunities that arise in the various markets where it operates. During 2014 RINA has indeed accomplished a number of acquisitions around the world, from Italy to Canada, from Brazil to Tunisia and all the way to the USA, by investing primarily in the areas of industrial certification and inspections and by acquiring major companies operating on local or international markets.
In Romania, as demonstrated by the acquisitions made in the last 3/4 years, we believe that our growth can also occur through partnerships, but if the right opportunity presents itself, however, we are always ready and available to analyze the potential investments arising from the privatization or sale of private companies.
Has the recent economic crisis affected the activities carried out by RINA in Romania?
The context of the macroeconomic crisis even in 2014 has affected our performance.
Nevertheless, in recent years, we have had a constant and systematic growth in terms of the sizes of the generated business, which happened undoubtedly thanks to our flexibility and to the quality of the many services in our portfolio.
We are aware of the persistent difficulties of the present times, but we believe there are still many opportunities to be seized. For this purpose in particular we do our best to strictly control the costs while intensifying the sales efforts and maintaining a high quality of the services provided.
A few years ago, the RINA Group made major acquisitions in Romania. How do you evaluate these acquisitions now?
The process of integration, which was successfully completed, was very complex and also full of great satisfaction. The various companies, ISCIR CERT and RINA-SIMTEX, acting on different reference markets, have somehow maintained their historic brand and can now be considered as an integral part of the RINA Group in terms of organization, processes, procedures and methods.
Whenever we talk about this topic, I must emphasize that, as a result of the acquisitions made by the RINA Group in Romania, the number of our employees has never diminished but rather has always grown in number and quality, and this has happened in order to demonstrate the even ethical great value of the investment made and the desire to build something of importance both locally and nationally.
You have been in Romania for several years now and you have witnessed the various changes and the growth of the country. How do you see Romania in a few years?
I remember coming to Romania for the first time in 2004 and carrying out some technical activities for certain Italian customers on behalf of Rina. Two years later I founded the first company of the Group, Rina Romania S.R.L. and I opened our first small office on Calea Victoriei. Thinking back at that time, although nine years have passed since the official opening of our first office in Bucharest, obviously we have done well and we have the market leadership in terms of the services offered locally in an area where we continue to consolidate our position through the five offices in Bucharest, Timisoara, Targu-Mures, Chisinau and Constanta and a full and effective staff that is close to one hundred people. From this one can easily understand that the experience in this country has definitely been educational in terms of management and also stimulating and rewarding from a professional perspective and, in spite of these past years, although many things have happened and many changes have taken place in this country, in my opinion the Romanian market always has great potential in terms of industry, both in the manufacturing and the services sectors and this is the reason why we remain optimistic for the future.
The feeling now is that we have managed to find part of the thrust lost because of the recent crisis and that therefore we are rebuilding these foundations that soon could bring some satisfaction to the entrepreneurs and investors. For our part we have certainly experienced in all these years the slowing down of the national and international economy but, frankly, we have had no significant loss of customers compared to the physiological loss that has been budgeted annually.
From 2015 on, we expect to witness a further significant growth in volumes that we expect to be not less than 10% along with its positive effects on the operating margins at the end of the year.