Gulf Importers

3M’s abrasives drive business

An application of the company’s Cubitron II abrasives

Abrasive systems continued to dominate 3M’s automotive aftermarket sales in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, accounting for 40 per cent of the turnover in 2015 and the UAE recording most sales, the US-based company reported. 

“In order to become market leaders, we have consistently invested in technology and R&D to ensure our abrasive systems meet individual needs while also increasing efficiency, reducing costs and maintaining quality standards, which we will continue to do in the future as well,” said Nicholas Brunet, the company’s Middle East regional business leader, Industrial Business Group.

With some 1.7 million collisions occurring in a year in the GCC alone, 3M’s collision repair solutions are among the more useful products in the market.

Another 25 per cent of 3M’s automotive aftermarket business in the GCC states comes from value-added systems within the vehicle appearance market including products such as polishing lubricants and paints while autocare solutions such as window cleaners, windshield wash and tyre shine make up 10 per cent.

3M’s automotive aftermarket industry recorded in 2015 a compounded annual growth rate of over 5 per cent. The company expects demand to grow by 1.4 per cent in 2016.

“In the longer term, demand for light vehicles will resume faster growth on a positive economic outlook and light-vehicle sales should reach 1.85 million units in 2021. As we see car maturity increase, we will also see greater gains for us as a company. We remain engaged with our end user and are quick to change course if we see certain trends. I guess that’s the best part about being connected,” said Brunet.

Brunet: working hard to maintain market share

Brunet: working hard to maintain market share

Eighty per cent of 3M’s automotive aftermarket sales comes from the UAE. “3M owns the largest market share for the industry in the region, which is roughly 22 per cent of the market share of the UAE, making them market leaders in the automotive aftermarket division. 3M plans to increase this to 30 per cent in the coming year or so through the introduction of new products, which will aim to considerably decrease the amount of time that cars are in the shop,” said Brunet.

“3M will also empower body shops with total value added systems and process intensive training to increase productivity and record maximum output, which will help to not only increase market share but also maximise sales and ensure customers are happy.” 

The company is encouraged by positive signs in the region.

“As the market continues to recover from socio-economic conditions, we at 3M have continued to invest in good talent in order to prepare for the upturn. Our customers are cautious and holding on to their vehicles longer during this period of uncertainty. However, we are noticing a steady pick up in the process as cars owing to the recent Ramadan offers at various showrooms. In the second half of the year, we are optimistic to see sales increase, particularly with key programmes being initiated in line with our abrasive systems business,” Brunet observed. 

While 3M products are available at various outlets, 99.9 per cent of body shop owners drive its business in the region, and 75 per cent of them are key end-users, the company says. Through the experience of its key end users, the company is introducing products and providing solutions for them to meet the demands of more difficult applications. In an effort to strengthen its relationship with the end user, the company has focused on a “customer first” approach this year, which it says will add value to the business. 


“As a long time market leader, we will continue to innovate and apply science to our products to increase market share, while also working closely with our customers to develop a product portfolio that is not only suitable to the cars of today, but also applicable for those 10 years down the line. We would like to be at the forefront of all new science, technology and innovation, and are positioning ourselves in line with the various strategies in the region to ensure success,” commented Brunet. 

The company recently launched the Cubitron II abrasive range of products that includes discs, belts and wheels and which helps reduce production costs, saves time by cutting faster, lasting longer and requiring lesser grinding pressure.  When compared to traditional abrasives, Cubitron II abrasives significantly reduce time and cost of application to the end user. According to 3M, applications that currently take one week to complete can now be completed in one day with Cubitron II abrasives. The product has been well received in the market and 3M sees its adoption and acceptance driving growth in 2015-16 and beyond with significant increase in sales recorded till date. End users are noticing the value of the Cubitron II abrasive range reducing the output with as much as 30 per cent recorded in some cases, it says.

New 3M products with ground-breaking technology will arrive in the region in 2017, which the company says will positively change its direction and path in the automotive business and offer a stronger foothold for the brand in the automotive market. These include paint enhancement products, masking technologies, scratch-resistant material and self-healing films. 

“Through our decades of global expertise and learning from the region, we are aiming to bring new initiatives to the GCC, which will facilitate and contribute to long-term growth of the industry as a whole.

The GCC market is a key market for us, and we will ensure we contribute to development, maturity and long-term growth,” said Brunet.