“Due to the increase in terrorist activity over recent years, the focus on and need for security has increased significantly, and public buildings, schools and monuments in particular are seeking new solutions,” explains Managing Director of the French company Pierre-Henri Pontieux. “Even traffic is affected. The security market has, as a result, become very dynamic. There are four big players – ourselves included – all of them Italian. There is also increasing competition from internet sellers.”
Founded in 1981 by Francesco Bonolo and today a member of the Somfy Group, the Italian company originally focused on the home security market, and today this still forms the largest part of the business.
Among the many products in the company’s Home portfolio are automation systems for gates, garage doors, roller shutters and windows, as well as home remote control systems and control panels. In the meantime, Bft has added two new areas of activity: Building, and Urban.
The Building team deals with business and public sector properties, and offers automation products for gates, doors and windows, as well as access control systems which allow programmed access rights covering an entire site, road barriers, parking and traffic bollards, parking management systems, anti-terrorism bollards and all the associated controls.
Urban (or Tertiary) solutions are designed for town and city spaces, roads and motorways, and focus on traffic and parking control and anti-terrorism measures. Many product types – parking bollards and automatic gates for example – cross all three segments, with individual products tailored to a particular use.
All of Bft’s solutions incorporate the latest technology. “For professionals, we have interconnected communication systems which enable remote control of their own access systems,” explains Mr. Pontieux. “We have developed an interface which works with all systems, not just our own. Home owners benefit from our ‘smart home’ technology, through which garage doors, lights, and heating can be controlled with a smartphone. 256 different modules are available and operate simply via plug and play.”
Bft supplies its products B2B via professional installation companies, wholesalers, door and gate manufacturers who integrate its automation systems into their finished products, and other professionals who are involved in access and security activities. Bft France is one of 26 international subsidiaries in the Bft network; all products are manufactured at the company’s production site in Schio in the Italian province of Vicenza.
The French firm, headquartered near Lyon, is responsible for France and the DOMTOM region, and boasts approximately 3,000 customers. “The number fluctuates by 500 or so, because small installation firms sometimes buy from us but also source other products via the internet,” the Managing Director admits. “We have a network of 80 installers who are all trained in our products, provide technical support to end users, and also help us with product optimization.”
Due to the increase in terrorist activity over recent years, the focus on and need for security has increased significantly. Pierre-Henri PontieuxManaging Director
Bft France has seven agents across the country with showrooms, technicians and small warehouses. In total, the French company employs 64 staff and achieves turnover in the region of 20 million EUR per year. The Bft group as a whole turns over around 125 million EUR annually.
Bft prides itself on its premium-grade, high-tech digital products. “We have the right solution for every situation,” underlines Mr. Pontieux. “Our products offer all the advantages of digital technology. I think another factor in Bft’s success is the fact that, via our local offices, we are very close to our customers and they receive comprehensive face-to-face training. We are one of the few companies in the sector today with a physical presence, but we believe strongly in this business model and intend to maintain it, despite the high operational costs.”
Bft’s slogan is ‘Be ahead!’ and that is precisely where the company plans to remain in the future. “We want to reinforce our position in the Home market, where there is always potential for growth,” Mr. Pontieux sums up. “We’ll achieve this through further innovation and new products and functionality. The Urban segment is another important focus for us. Again, there is huge potential here. We have already taken part in many public sector tenders and will continue to do so. Ultimately, over the next ten years, we want to grow Urban so that it represents 40% of our overall business.”