INTERVIEW #8: HORIBA Brussels Office
“HORIBA is very positive and active in taking part in various FP7 projects across the EU. The company views it as an opportunity for technical solutions finding as well as for business match-making. We are often invited to participate in these projects by our clients, who are FP7 project members, when specific measurement know-how is required. The advantage for us is the possibility to deepen the working relationship with our customers in the EU.”
GBMC Interview (2015) with:
Mr Akihito Nakai, Manager,
HORIBA – Brussels Office, Belgium,www.horiba.com
Interview conducted by Philippe & Motoko G. Huysveld
and written by Motoko G. Huysveld.
According to Mr Nakai, HORIBA’s business is closely linked to Corporate Social Responsibility, in that the company helps businesses to make sure their products meet the regulatory requirements. It is indeed necessary for companies to be aware of any changes and developments in EU regulatory standards in order to conduct their business according to these changes. He also points out that, due to the sensitivity of the tools necessary to conduct their business, HORIBA is required to be located close to its clients.
From the mid-1990’s, strategic M&A activities improved the sales and profit balance among business segments until 2009, when the global crisis hit. Therefore, as he explains, “the challenge, for us, is to create a stable growth in the Medical-Diagnostic Instruments segment that will generate profits and will support the entire corporate group when downturns in the highly volatile Semiconductor segment and in the Automotive Test Systems segment occur at the same time.”
Operations and Investments (Acquisitions) in the EU: 1,730 employees (in 2013)
European Sales increased thanks to corporate acquisitions: 23% of the company sales in 2012 came from the EU region. The group invested in companies with unique technologies, like Jobin Yvon SAS (friendly M&A). After being approached by the French company facing financial difficulties in 1997, HORIBA became interested in this particular company for technological reasons. The group have also acquired ABX SAS (Montpelier, France) in 1996 in the Medical sector, as well as Schenck (Germany) in 2004 in the Automotive sector.
As a result, the company has the following sites in Europe:
- Montpelier (France, M&A with ABX SAS in 1996) for Medical business.
- Grenoble (France) for Semiconductor business
- Saclay (Paris area, Jobin Yvon) for Semiconductor and Scientific business
- Longjumeau (France) for Semiconductor and Scientific business
- UK for Automobile, Process &Environment, Semiconductor and Scientific businesses.
- the Czech Republic for Automotive business
- Germany (M&A with Schenck) for Automotive, Process & Environment, Semiconductor and Scientific businesses.
In his view, rather than putting focus on reducing costs, HORIBA analyses business requirements and work efficiency as a whole. Therefore, the quality of the staff available in each country also reflects in their choices. The percentage of local staff in the group is high: 55.1% in Asia, 31.3% in the EU and 13.6% in the USA (Dec 2013).
Importance of Research:
The group R&D expenditure is 8.58% of net sales. The new R&D Center in Saclay-Paris was opened in October 2012 as a core product development facility in Europe (for optical analysis instruments). The new facility serves as HORIBA European Research Centre, building on the local teams of HORIBA Jobin Yvon, a world leader in optical spectroscopy.
Finally, Mr Nakai comments that, “in general, the skills and the quality of the R&D workforce are key factors in HORIBA’s investment decisions, more than the costs, for the production lots are usually relatively small. The French R&D workforce is excellent and also, the long-term employees in our UK operations are indispensable.”
In 2010, the President of HORIBA, Mr Atsushi Horiba was awarded the “Légion d’Honneur” by the French government. It is the highest award in France. He had been awarded “L’ordre National du Mérite Officiel” in 1998 as well.
Dr Masao Horiba founded HORIBA Ltd, as a pioneering venture, in 1953 in Kyoto (Japan) while he was a student at Kyoto University. Already in 1945, he had set up the HORIBA Radio Laboratory in Kyoto and built the capacitor needed for the high-speed calculator (computer in today’s terms) for nuclear physics experiments. This capacitor became known for its functions and quality, and HORIBA decided to start manufacturing it commercially. The company was established and took its first steps as a manufacturer of measurement instruments. HORIBA is also famous as a maker of pH meters.
Nowadays, HORIBA is a global group of companies providing an extensive array of instruments and systems covering various applications. The 5 Business Units are: Automotive Test Systems, Process & Environmental Instruments & Systems, Medical-Diagnostic Instruments & Systems, Semiconductor Instruments & Systems and Scientific Instruments & Systems.
Worldwide employees are 5,530 of which 31.3% are in the EU (Dec 2012). Group turnover was 117.6 Billion JPY in 2012, distributed equally among EU, US and Asia. The company’s Global Market shares are: Emission Measurement Systems: 80%, Stack Gas Analyzers: 20%, Mass Flow Controllers: 43%, Raman Spectrophotometers: 30%, Gratings: 35%.