Racing and aluminium - Both materials of performance
|Paddock talks to Laurent Schmitt,
CEO of Aluminium Bahrain BSC
We produce and sell aluminium. Aluminium is a material of performance and we also want to promote aluminium as well as promoting the company on the track.
When did you start your partnership with the Bahrain Grand Prix?
The partnership with Formula 1 and the BIC was signed in early 2010, before the 2010 Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Do you have a timescale for the deal?
The partnership is for three years.
Did it involve finance?
It is not only a partnership with Formula 1; it is 365 days a year. Formula 1 is of course a major event; it gives us the chance to invite our customers over from every part of the world. Because Formula 1 is international and such a big and famous event we can invite people from Europe, people from Asia, people from all over! It is a nice opportunity to build up our business relationship and it is a nice business event for the company.
What about the employees?
We buy 3,000 tickets so we give the employees the opportunity to participate. We have 2,700 employees.
Do you have any sort of hospitality programme?
This is something that we will develop. Not for the time being, but it is definitely something we look to discuss later on in 2012. Of course the facilities of the BIC are really suitable for that.
Formula 1 Grand Prix – Do you have any advertising in the city or is it just together with the BIC?
We have a few adverts in magazines, for example in Gulf Air Magazine, so we do stuff related to Formula 1 but not so much with billboards in the streets.
Do you have any hospitality suites at the event?
We have a dedicated lunch for 70 people, saved for the most important attendees. We also have another separate lounge, but with the tickets that we purchase we get to invite far more people than just those who attend the lunch.
So looking at Bahrain, how important is ALBA to the local economy?
We produce 881,000 tonnes of primary aluminium. We are the fourth largest single site producer. The two first are Russian smelters and the third is in Dubai. But we are very close, the first three are one million tonnes plus and we are very close with nearly 900,000 tonnes. We have 2,700 employees and about 900 contractors in addition.
Are you the biggest employer in Bahrain?
Maybe the second. Oil and gas are slightly higher. Aluminium Bahrain represents 65% of the exports, without counting oil exports.
Where do you see the future? Is there any future scope to get bigger?
Yes. The Gulf is an aluminium friendly region. You need energy and here you have access to competitive energy. Bahrain for the last 40 years has been a really strong supporter and developer of the aluminium industry.
Close to 900,000 tonnes is produced and almost half of this production is transformed on the island. So we have been taking our aluminium, the hot liquid metal in slabs and transforming it into semi-finished products. This is quite a unique situation. Our next growth step is and expansion that we are preparing, of 45% of our capacity. We just have to gain approval from the Board of Directors to proceed by the end of this year which means the first production of the new production line could be created at the end of 2014, early 2015. It will be a huge step and it is what we are focusing on at the moment.
You have a partnership with the circuit; do you sponsor any other projects in Bahrain?
We have many activities and sponsor many local associations in schools. We also have been a part of the Bahrain Air Show. We try our best to promote Bahrain through different international conferences. Aside from that we also have our own community service activities, particularly in our region. We also sponsor the Baseball League in Bahrain and the Bowling League. We try to be there and help everybody.