The world might be its oyster, but for one innovative company, the UK is the pearl within, HELEN COMPSON hears.
SUEZ – Water Technologies & Solutions has a 10-year plan in place to become the world leader in environmental services by 2030.
But, said Ana-Rita Dias, products commercial director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, within that ambition lies a commitment to the UK that is unswerving.
The roots run deep here, thanks in no small part to its acquisition of GE Water in 2017.
She said: “Besides the depth of knowledge and experience that brought on board, SUEZ itself dates back to 1858. It started in France, but quickly moved to Britain.
“There’s no-one here from 1858,” she laughed, “but there is a lot of experience in this country. We have evolved with the UK market in general and grown with the water industry in particular, there’s no doubt about that.”
Offering a comprehensive set of chemical and equipment solutions and services, SUEZ has 450,000 business and industrial customers and 90,000 staff globally.
It also has an annual research and development expenditure currently running at €120m.
The company has four divisions, of which SUEZ – Water Technologies & Solutions is one. It has 10,000 members of staff operating across five continents, including Europe.
The company’s ambitions are shaped by predictions that there will be three billion more people living on this planet by 2050 and that, as a result, the demand for water will increase by 55%.
SUEZ specialises in the innovative technology, predictive analytics and solutions needed to meet the challenges posed in both the water and waste water industries.
The accelerating global demand for energy is counterbalanced by stringent regulations on water and solid waste discharge, among other things. SUEZ develops and continually refines cost-efficient and compliant water treatment technologies for its power-producing customers.
Another area of expertise is brought to bear helping the water utilities comply with strict regulatory requirements too, its services ranging from the deployment of filtration technology to the electro-dialysis that desalinates brackish water.
Besides having the equipment and chemical solutions necessary to deliver clean drinking water, SUEZ’s municipal water treatment solutions not only enable the safe discharge of treated water, but also new possibilities for its reuse.
Ana-Rita said: “Specific areas of investment in the UK include having ensured the vast majority of our products and services can aid water companies in gaining and retaining Drinking Water Inspectorate certification.
“We made that investment to make sure we could answer any requests from any company in the UK that wanted a drinking water solution.”
The company also employed more than 100 field service representatives who, between them, covered just about every water municipality in the country. “We feel strongly that the UK deserves that level of investment,” she said.
SUEZ had also poured €30m into expanding its European manufacturing hub in Hungary by a good third.
It was a major facility that covered the whole world and it was based in Europe, she said. “That in itself is a big investment in Europe and it is going to be there supporting UK customers as well.”
The UK was actually home to a considerable number of the company’s global managers, and Peterborough, where she herself was based, hosted the headquarters for its European rental business too.
She said: “We have equipment inside trailers and containers and we rent those to our customers for between one and 10/15/20 years.”
Ana-Rita had long worked for GE Water when it was taken over by SUEZ two years ago. “What is so refreshing is the strength of SUEZ’s commitment to providing sustainable solutions to our customers,” she said.
“For me it still feels very new, but for my SUEZ colleagues, it’s in their DNA!”