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No brakes on growth at Brembo

By Anna Stewart, CNN
updated 8:57 AM EDT, Fri April 5, 2013
  • Brembo is a world leader when it comes to high performance brakes
  • Brembo's sales come from Germany, dwarfing the share for Italy, at 15%
  • Lombardy is regarded as one of the four motors of Europe, a highly industrialized region

(CNN) -- Bright, shiny and emblazoned with names like Ferrari and Lamborghini -- these brakes are almost as stylish as the cars they're hidden within.

Brembo is a world leader when it comes to high performance brakes, with a high profile at Formula 1 and other motor car racing events.

Now it's broadening its target market to expand its German footprint.

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"When we entered the crisis in 2009 we had a strong brand, we had good products, but we were suffering," managing director Andrea Marescotti told CNN.

"We lost 25% of the sales in 2009 and we realized that by being too focused on the top luxury end we were exposed to the crisis," he said.

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Now Brembo makes brakes for Audi and Mercedes-Benz, both premium auto-makers in Germany, the company's largest export market.

Almost a quarter of Brembo's sales come from Germany, dwarfing the share for Italy, at 15%.

Grown from a workshop in Lombardy in 1961 by the chairman's father, Emilio Bombassei, the business is now an export powerhouse with annual revenues of $1.8 billion.

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Lombardy is regarded as one of the four motors of Europe, a highly industrialized region that powers its country with export-led companies, many family-born, like Pirelli, Campari and Luxottica.

Brembo's total sales increased 10.7% last year, far outpacing the 7.8% drop in car sales across Europe shown by European Automobile Manufacturers' Association figures.

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According to Marescotti, family-born businesses like Brembo are the backbone of Italy, and a reason not to worry about the political malaise hovering over the country.

"There is really a multiplicity of medium and small companies with brilliant entrepreneurs with good managers, and they are global today, they are international and really competitive," he said. "German-makers are already utilizing this capacity of our Italian companies."

Brakes like Brembo's aren't just designed for slowing down; they're also designed for speed and efficiency, to save drivers valuable milliseconds.

In the Lombardy region of Italy, family-born businesses are similarly shaving off under-performing markets, and designing their products with German customers in mind.

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