Monograph of coproduction companies: Misfat
The study of the Mediterranean Coproduction Observatory dedicated to Tunisia’s potential for coproduction development will be published in March 2016. This study features several monographs of European companies involved in coproduction operations with Tunisian companies and vice versa. Before the release of this report, IPEMED presents the monograph of the Tunisian company Misfat, an IPEMED founding member, which invested in and purchased the French company Solaufil.
Misfat - Solaufil: an unusual example of successful North-South coproduction
“This is the story of a Tunisian SMB which was struggling to internationalise and managed to do so via the acquisition of a French SMB. This is also the story of a French SMB which could no longer thrive in a competitive international environment and adopted a competitive cost structure by collaborating with a Tunisian company. The result was the creation of wealth and employment on both shores of the Mediterranean. “
Amin BEN AYED, General Director, Misfat Group
Created in 1979, Misfat is currently the Tunisian leader for car filters, achieving about 80% of its turnover in Europe. The Tunisian company is an example of South-North coproduction: the company succeeded in entering and progressively establishing itself on European markets, especially via the acquisition of the French company Solaufil.
Solaufil is a French family business funded in 1960 specialised in the production of car air filters. In 1994, the automotive supplier Mecaplast acquired Solaufil and in 2001, it took over 15% of Misfat in order to diversify the range of car filters developed by Solaufil. In 2009, as Solaufil presented internal difficulties, Misfat decided to acquire the whole company as Mecaplast had disposed of all its shares in Misfat.
Misfat’s objectives were clear: (i) breaking away from the subcontracting situation in which the company found itself in Tunisia, (ii) taking advantage of the famous brands distributed by Solaufil (Lautrette and Mecafilter), (iii) using the logistics and distribution channels of Solaufil in Europe and (iv) completing Misfat’s range of products with Solaufil air filters.
Following this acquisition, Misfat did not express any intention of relocating Solaufil’s production in Tunisia or Morocco. On the contrary, its managers reorganised the company by dividing the tasks according to the comparative and technological advantages of each site.
Thus, Tunisia hosts a production plant based in Jedaida (Ariana governorate) as well as research and development centres. 850 people are employed in Tunisia, 85% of Misfat total staff, covering all qualification levels. This way, Misfat benefits from a skilled workforce in Tunisia - from workers to engineers - at a competitive cost.
On the other side of the Mediterranean, Solaufil employs around one hundred people. Instead of being made redundant, employees were progressively directed towards higher added-value positions. The company also made significant technical and technological investments. This successful strategy aimed at making costs in France more profitable by improving the site’s productivity.
In this regards, Misfat deployed 15 automated lines in Tunisia against 5 in France. The company develops large ranges with significant economies of scale in France and smaller and more costly ranges in terms of marginal costs in Tunisia. Thanks to this production flexibility, Misfat can work with both small-scale and large-scale markets, which shows the complementarity of the value chain.
Misfat’s strategy is profitable both in terms of turnover and activities as well as employment. Since 2009, the production volume doubled in France and elsewhere. The number of employees increased from 81 in 2009 to 92 in 2014 in Solaufil, and from 650 to 900 in Misfat. Solaufil’s turnover increased from €23 million to €23.7 million; that of Misfat rose from €18 to €27 million.
Taking advantage of this positive dynamic, Misfat group invested €10 millions in the building of a new plant in Tunisia in order to develop new products, partly thanks to Solaufil’s expertise. The company is also investing €5 million for the implementation of a research and development centre in Tunisia.
The acquisition of Solaufil by the Tunisian group Misfat is following the dynamic of South-North investment development, which offers great prospects although it is not yet generalised. This example shows that it is still possible to develop European so-called “activities in crisis” thanks to an optimised repartition of the value chain on both shores of the Mediterranean.