The Business Year

Pedro Martin

General Manager, Signify Mexico

Miguel Millet

Commercial Director, Millet Glass Industry

Located in a region experiencing a construction boom, Mexico is the go-to choice for companies looking to expand their presence.

In 2018, Philips Lighting changed its worldwide name to Signify. What does that mean for your operations in Mexico?

PEDRO MARTIN The main reason we changed the name is because lighting business has undergone a major shift. Traditional light bulbs are a consumable commodity that you have to replace every six to 12 months. On the other hand, today, a good quality light-emitting diode (LED) is a 10-year infrastructural decision. The second aspect is connectivity, where for example we have the IoT now, which means we can do many things with LED technology. Those two major changes required us to reinvent the company and refocus it to a new market. So, we changed the name to Signify, which is now listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Signify is an independently listed company, and our name change reflects the reinvention we went through to reflect the present market reality.

What role does the company intend to have in the international glass market and what kind of projects does it collaborate on?

MIGUEL MILLET We are investing heavily in a new facility to boost our global presence. We already have a nationwide and international presence, and are looking forward to increase our market share. We undertake different projects, from large residential projects to high-end structures. The difference between producing for the low-end and high-end segments is that while the low-end segment involves a large volume of standard glass with no specific requirements, the high-end segment requires higher-quality glass and specific requirements such as aesthetics and insulation properties to address sunlight and external noise. Due to our experience and capacity, we are able to focus on high-end projects. We are currently working on projects all over Mexico. We also work on projects in the US and Central America.

Since 2016, over 50% of lighting sales from Signify worldwide were LED-based. How does the Mexican market compare to these global figures?

PM Bearing in mind that Mexico is a particularly contrasted market, we are still growing our LED sales. For example, in Mexico we have around 220 million points of light in households, 15% of which are still incandescent lights, which are inefficient and expensive. So, Mexico still offers a major opportunity. A significant chunk of our local business, more than 50%, is LED, and we are trying to move the market to LED because of its benefits. Notably, the situation is changing as the use of incandescent bulbs and halogen lamps is banned as of 2019, which means florescent and LEDs are the only two kinds of lights permitted in Mexico.

What is your outlook on the demand for construction over the next couple of years?

MM Based on real state insight, I foresee an excellent future. With the global population rising, the demand for housing will fuel construction for years to come. More number of tourists continue to flock to Cancún, Los Cabos, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, and the US, which means more hotels are being built. Millet Glass Industry was a small local business that grew out because of the tourism sector, supplying glass to hotels in Cancún. These projects made us well-known in Mexico’s hotel market.

How much infrastructure is needed to fully implement smart lighting projects? Where does the local market currently stand in terms of IoT lighting integration?

PM The infrastructure and connectivity are ready; 80% of the 65 million cellphone users in Mexico have a smartphone. What we need are products that utilize that connectivity. Alexa and Google Home have entered the Mexican market recently and Signify is fully integrated with these voice assistant systems. This means the era of interconnected lighting and other features is here. Notably, we have an ecosystem of third-party developers, called Friends of Hue, developing apps that work with our connected lighting system. One example concerns video gamers, where Hue lighting synchronizes with the action happening on your screen to create a more immersive experience. Another good example of this smart technology is being used in the University of Dubai. The classroom lighting is all connected to the students’ smartphone apps and can detect how many people are in the room and adjust the air conditioning accordingly.

How much will you be producing at your new plant?

MM The production capacity will be 4,500 tons a month whereby we will be almost tripling our actual production. We are one of the biggest players in Mexico, and with the new factory we will become one of the largest glass companies in Latin America.



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