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Research Innovation Focus
Research Innovation
David Hart was appointed managing director of Kubota UK
and Ireland just over 12 months ago after 28 years in the
John Deere organisation, working in both manufacturing
and sales. David has a clear vision of his role: "It's a
tremendous opportunity to build the brand here. Kubota
is already a global brand, though more focused in the
East than the Western hemisphere, apart from North
America where the company has achieved great success.
Much of the business up to now in Europe has been
in grounds-care and small excavators. There is now a
great opportunity to grow the agricultural side of the
business in Europe and especially, from my viewpoint,
in both the UK and Ireland. If you look at total global
turnover, Kubota is a massive business, second only to the
leading agri-machinery manufacturer. My remit includes
grounds-care products as well as agricultural machinery
and construction equipment which represents up to fifty
percent of turnover. We also have a large-scale engine
manufacture and sales business. That means there are
four strings on our bow across the UK and Ireland and
my job is to oversee all four in these islands. There is now
also a broader European dimension. Previously each
country negotiated directly with Japan. Now there will be
a European Holding business in which I also have a role."
Reacting to customer demand
Cognisant of the fact that there is growing demand
in the agri-sector for larger horsepower tractors,
Kubota have moved to accommodate that demand
by significantly lifting the horsepower of their tractor
o erings: "We have moved up to the stage where we
are producing 180 horsepower units. That larger range,
the M7, is built in France, so very much designed around
the European requirement. Below that horsepower our
tractors are coming directly from Japan. Our other big
initiative has been to take the reliability which we have
in our Japanese manufactured products and transfer
it into those machines we are building in France. That
is no small achievement, given the very thorough
nature and reputation of Japanese manufacturing. It
has to be a sustainable product model and we aim to
give good customer satisfaction in the process."
De-risking tractor purchase
The Kubota chief insists that the Irish market is very suited
to the company's tractor o erings: "With our tractor
models running right up to 180 hp, we are now o ering
up to five years maintenance and warranty and what
customers are looking for is a total farm solutions package,
which we can o er. That eliminates worries around
breakdowns and other negative surprises for the customer.
The farm machinery industry in general is starting to
move in that direction so we are well placed to meet that
Organic growth
David Hart knows his market and has a clear view of
Kubota's positioning in that market: "There are some gaps
in the Irish market in terms of dealerships that we intend to
fill. We are not looking towards a top four position in the
market in the short term. We would prefer to organically
grow the dealer network and customer base rather than
chase market share for its own sake. From my previous
experience I have seen some of the most successful
dealerships start from a low base and grow over time into
very successful businesses." Looking at the bigger picture,
David has a clear ambition for Kubota UK and Ireland:
"We need to grow brand recognition for Kubota. Having
a partnership with the very recognisable and dependable
Kverneland brand does help and we will leverage that
connection. There are new areas which we intend to
exploit including the marketing of Kubota implements."
Brexit uncertainty
Brexit, in some form, looms, a fact fully recognised by
David Hart: "It is causing stagnation across all industries.
The current environment is not suited to longer term
planning and we need certainty. The issue that worries me
most is any indefinite continuation of this uncertainty. That
just makes a bad situation worse and is having a negative
e ect on output and sales in our economies. Despite all of
the understandable negativity, I do believe that if we can
get some reasonable solution to Brexit, that Ireland is in a
good position to capitalise by selling more produce into the
UK. The relationship between the two countries especially
in terms of agriculture and food production remains very
close. What we emphatically don't want is a hard border."
This year marks 40 years of Kubota's
presence in the Irish and UK agricultural
machinery markets. Here, Matt O'Kee e
talks to David Hart, Managing Director
of Kubota UK and Ireland about the
company's focus and the market trends
In the driving
seat at Kubota
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