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Dutch agent splits with Indian supplier -- Parting of the ways

There has been another parting of the ways for Indian wind turbine maker Vestas RRB (VRRB) just short of a year after its split with the Vestas concern. Dutch firm Windbrokers -- the sales agent for VRRB's 600 kW turbine in Europe, the US and South America since May 2006 -- is ending its co-operation with RRB because of "recent experiences" with delivery of the first VRRB turbines.

"Regretfully we are forced to assess that the Indian organisation cannot comply with the demands set by our markets," said Windbrokers' Dick Vermeulen in a public statement. Product price rises passed on by VRRB mean that the price-performance ratio of the 600 kW machine "can no longer be considered competitive."

Vestas RRB strongly refutes the accusation that it has not complied with contractual obligations. Admitting that Windbrokers' decision "came as a bit of a surprise," VRRB's Sarvesh Kumar says his company is far from the only one to have been forced to increase prices substantially in recent times, with all turbine suppliers hit by rising material costs. But price increases were not applied to existing orders, says Kumar.

"Windbrokers has not been able to sell anything," he says. "Only five months back they gave their first two orders for 600 kW machines followed by another one in March 2007. We have already delivered one and the other two are ready for delivery. We will fulfil our commitment as soon as we receive the 90% payment owed to us."

According to Kumar there have been five to six changes in the senior level management at Windbrokers in the past year and to blame VRRB for "lack of communication" is far from fair.

The Indian wind industry has rallied behind VRRB, saying that Windbrokers' public statement risks destroying the Indian company's export market. Kumar remains confident. "The market knows us for over two decades and Windbrokers' words have no meaning given that they themselves had written to us on their complete satisfaction with our product," he says. As for the immediate future: "I will deal only with an established company that is a developer and not a broker."

Vestas relinquished its 49% stake in VRRB to focus on selling larger machines to the Indian market (Windpower Monthly, October 2006).

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