Daher is a long-established business from over here with big ambitions over there. The Paris-headquartered family firm – whose roots stretch back to the 19thcentury and with a portfolio that spans aerostructures and aircraft parts, supply chain management and the TBM turboprop – is at its home show to talk about its “Going West” strategy. This entails doubling its North American revenues through acquisition and organic growth over the next few years.

The USA currently accounts for about one-fifth of Daher’s €1.1 billion ($1.23 billion) sales. Much of that comes from the fact that four in five of the company’s TBM fast single-engined turboprops are sold there. But Daher has also been increasing its stateside industrial footprint since 2010. Two years ago, the company won its second tier one deal with Gulfstream, adding design and manufacture of the wing-to-body fairings for the G500 and G600 to its contract to the build landing-gear doors.

As a private company – the founding family owns 87% of the business – Daher does not provided a detailed breakdown of its finances, but is happy to talk about broad ambitions, broken down into five-year horizons. “In 2007, we set a target of achieving €1 billion turnover and in 2012 we began investing in manufacturing excellence, inspired by the automotive industry,” says chief executive Didier Kayat. "Our on-time delivery for our biggest customer – Airbus – went from 85% to 99.7%."

All change

Having achieved these goals, Kayat now says Daher will reveal "its next major transformation" later this year. Although it is short on specifics, stateside expansion is likely to be at the heart of it, and acquisitions are possible. "We have nothing specific on the radar but it would make sense to look at the USA," he says. "One thing we can be sure of, the global consolidation in the supply chain that has been taking place will continue, and we will want to be part of that."

Daher’s North American presence includes an aerostructures factory just over the Mexican border in Nogales, and a sales and servicing centre for TBMs in Pompano Beach, Florida, opened in 2015. The latter doubles as the US headquarters for its aircraft business unit, which manages six other independent distributors within the territory. It also has facilities near Gulfstream’s campus in Savannah, Georgia and in Querétaro, Mexico, for Airbus Helicopters.

It is for the TBM brand that Daher is perhaps best known in the aviation world. Daher bought the Tarbes-based Socata business from EADS in 2008, initially naming it Daher Socata but later dropping Socata entirely. It immediately began investing in the product, replacing the TBM 850 in 2014 with the TBM 900 – introducing composite winglets and aerodynamic tweaks. Daher has since replaced that model with the $3.9 million list-price TBM 910 and the higher-spec, $4.2 million TBM 930.

The aircraft business continues to perform strongly for Daher. In 2016, it shipped a total of 54 units including the 800thTBM since the first version of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-powered design, the TBM 700, began production in 1991. While the TBM brand has always had a strong appeal – particularly to owner-flyers – its acquisition in 2008 vaulted it from being a neglected corner of the multibillion-dollar turnover EADS empire to a significant unit within Daher.

While TBM may be its flagship brand, most of Daher's aerospace revenues come from its less visible aerostructures, logistics and components activities. Aerospace accounts for 80% of group turnover, with much of the rest from engineering and logistical support contracts for the French nuclear industry. On aerostructures, as well as Gulfstream and Airbus, Daher is a major supplier to Dassault, manufacturing fuselage sections for the 5X, 7X and 8X, as well as parts for the Rafale fighter.

On the services side, it provides logistical support for Airbus Helicopters' four European plants, as well as at Turbomeca's three French factories. Daher's involvement in designing, manufacturing and certificating complete aircraft makes it unique among its aerostructures competitors, argues Kayat. "We have knowledge of everything that happens on an aircraft," he says. "We are also the only one with a business model that has 50% in supply chain services and 50% in manufacturing."

Into interiors

Daher also says cabin products is becoming a "strategic business". Last year, the company made a major move into the fast-expanding aircraft interiors market with the acquisition from LISI Group of its floor covering business, and exhibited at the sector’s key show, AIX in Hamburg, this April for the first time. Although Daher already manufactured interior fittings, the €16 million-turnover former LISI business – was a "missing link", says Kayat. "We are convinced we can grow it further."

Daher’s heritage and family ownership give it "long-term stability and visibility in terms of strategy", says Kayat, with the owners having resolved never to sell more than 50% of shares. Kayat became chief executive in 2016, but has been involved with the company for 20 years, initially as a consultant. "When I started working with Daher, we were 450 people with a €70 million turnover," he remarks.

Source: Flight Daily News