Business Essentials for Professionals


"Metalu Plast helps everyday athletes reach their goals" says Guillaume Deguerry Marketing & International Manager

France did not only win on the field at the 2018 Russian Soccer World Cup. The company based in the west of the country provided nearly 30 team shelters where the Mbappé, Ronaldo and Messi of the world sat for several weeks. Feedback from an exciting experience with Metalu Plast's Marketing & International Manager

For the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Metalu Plast has won a contract to provide half of the stadiums with team shelters. How does a company like yours respond to an international call for tenders such as this one?

Our know-how and our manufacturing facilities are already renowned at the national level and we have good references including internationally recognized sports clubs. We benefit from a leading position in France, which naturally positions us on major calls for tenders. However, we had to be particularly mobilized for such an event.

First of all, we had to find the right local partner in Russia. We are pure manufacturers and therefore we systematically work with distributors and resellers in France and elsewhere. In Russia, our partner needed to have an important network to enable us to position ourselves in relation to interlocutors such as the Ministry of Sport and the FIFA.

We also have a team dedicated to the international market, composed of experts in the fields of logistics, legal, etc., who were able to respond positively to this call for tenders. Finally, our technical capacity to adapt to various projects predisposed us to this offer. Our size and know-how, as well as our control of the entire supply chain, grant us the agility necessary to meet such a demand.

You must have had some major competitors, what do you think made the difference? How did your teams mobilize around such a challenge?

Indeed, we were in competition with other companies from all over the world, especially in Europe where we had identified quite a few of them. What made the difference, in addition to the quality and innovative nature of our equipment, is our ability to adapt very quickly. We were consulted in October 2017 while the World Cup was starting in June of the following year and the thirty or so benches ordered had to be installed at the end of April. In addition, FIFA asked us for major technical changes, and we had to react quickly by integrating them into our equipment. I think it was our responsiveness that really made the difference. We do a lot of tailor-made work and this has been a decisive advantage.

This project required a lot of commitment from us. Metalu Plast has nearly 3000 customers and delivers minimum a complete semi-trailer every day, so existing customers were not to be neglected. All our clients have projects, which may be smaller in magnitude, but are just as important to them. So, we strengthened our teams and they had to work harder, including on weekends. But this project has made the whole company very proud. Indeed, in our business, it is hard to do better than the Soccer World Cup!

Who were your main interlocutors for the implementation of such a contract? Was it different from working with your regular distributors or resellers?

The local decision-makers were the Russian Ministry of Sports and the FIFA. We had some direct contacts but most of the time, the requests were made through our local partner. As I told you, we value all our customers. When a municipal school wants to change its basketball equipment it must have it in place for the start of the school year, so we pay attention to all our customers and respect the deadlines for all our orders. However, in the case of the World Cup being broadcast live to hundreds of millions of people around the world, it was obviously not an option to be late on the schedule. But I am convinced that it is the care given to all our customers that has made us capable of it.

Is this major international success destined to be replicated? What part of your total revenue does export represent?

Yes, this success is obviously intended to be replicated. The spotlight that the World Cup has put on us has given us great international visibility. Our capacity for innovation, adaptability and the quality of our equipment have been made visible to everyone. As a result of this, we received many requests. For example, we delivered field benches for stadiums in Cameroon while the country was to receive the African Cup of Nations.

We definitely were identified as a potential player for major sporting events, which gave us the opportunity to be invited to Qatar, for example, with the French government, to make a presentation to the Supreme Committee in preparation for the 2022 soccer World Cup.

We already had a strong international presence with an export share of 15% of our turnover, but following the World Cup, we saw an increase in international demand of more than 20%. Strategically, we knew that our growth was mainly intended to be international. We are still able to gain market share in France, but as a national leader, it is clear that the development is more to be done on an international level. Europe is a privileged market for us, but we are also very focused on Africa, where very attractive projects are being developed with accelerated infrastructure modernization.

In addition, our label Origine France is a real commercial advantage, including internationally. Indeed, this label guarantees that at least 50% of the cost of a product is totally French. This includes raw material, labor, etc. and it provides our customers with the guarantee that our equipment is manufactured in-house and that we control the entire supply chain.

You have been manufacturing and supplying sports equipment for nearly 40 years, how have you seen the role of sports facilities in urban planning evolve in recent decades?

Sport is increasingly seen as a recreational activity and an essential element of public health. In urban planning projects, sports facilities are integrated from the very beginning. We are therefore responding more and more to projects while they are still in their initial stages. This evolution has led us to rethink the design of our equipment. Indeed, more and more infrastructures are open access and must meet new safety and durability requirements. Equipment maintenance and management is also an essential part of our collaboration with our customers. We have implemented solutions to guarantee the traceability of products and equipment in order to facilitate their maintenance. We are far from the planned obsolescence!

As for safety and environmental issues, we are taking these issues into account right from the design and manufacture of our equipment. For example, we have eliminated chemical solvents a long time ago and all our waste is recycled.

With this historical perspective, how do you view the place of sport in people's daily lives? In your opinion, has it evolved? In what sense?

The role of sport has changed a lot and many of the young people have a regular sporting practice. Once again, sport is widely recognized as a determinant of health. Sport is also a very good way to live and convey essential values. Sport is about setting challenging goals and, with effort and patience, achieving them. At Metalu Plast we help everyday athletes achieve their goals. These values related to sport are shared by Metalu Plast. I am thinking in particular of the sense of effort, excellence, surpassing oneself or team spirit. These are the values that have enabled all our employees to rise to this great challenge that the World Cup has represented for us

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