11 months ago

Week-end Edition - Day 2 & 3 - IFA International

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  • Berlin
  • September
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CLEAN LIFESTYLE Adapting to Customers’ Needs The famed German brand Kärcher caters increasingly more for the consumer market Hartmut Jenner Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board, Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG In 2014, we achieved, with 2.12 billion euros, the highest turnover in our company's history From being known primarily as a high-pressure cleaner company in the past, Kärcher has, in recent years, been undergoing a major transformation. But how could one best describe the company now? We put the question to Hartmut Jenner, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board - Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG… As it so happens, we were associated almost entirely with our core product in the past. Not without reason - after all, Kärcher invented the first European hot water high-pressure cleaner in 1950. In the past 15 years in particular, we have continuously extended and even tripled our range of products to now more than 3,000 products. Today, Kärcher is a leading supplier of cleaning technology for private and professional use worldwide. In 2014, we achieved, with 2.12 billion euros, the highest turnover in our company's history and set a new record with sales of over 12.72 million machines. What are your key strengths and differentiation factors? There are numerous factors that have contributed to Kärcher's success. Consistently focussing on our customers and their needs is one of the most important factors. In this way, we adapt our cleaning solutions to the diverse requirements of our customers globally. For example, for the Japanese market we have developed a particularly compact and quiet high-pressure cleaner to suit the confined living conditions of the people living there and their consideration for one another. We invest above average in research and development and have more than 900 employees in this area. In 2014 alone, we applied for 58 new patents - more than ever before - and launched 120 new products on to the market. What key innovations are you presenting at IFA? An important innovation this year is the further development of the Window vac, one of our top selling products. In 2008, we created a completely new market with the first machine in this class, and thanks to continuous further development and a high standard of quality, we have continued to make our mark in this product group. In addition, our Smart Home solution for the garden will take centre stage at IFA. With this, we are now also entering the future consumer market of connected machines. For contract cleaners and professional users, we have been offering such solutions with our fleet management system since last year. This enables the management of entire machine pools and the current location or machine status to be determined via an online platform. And what’s your roadmap for the next few years? Where is all this headed? Kärcher is a family-owned company with a long-term strategy. The fact that we do not maximise our profits in the short-term or think in quarterly reports gives us plenty of room for manoeuvre. To maintain our steady course of growth in the coming years, we invest with foresight and intensively deal with future scenarios and megatrends. For example, the increasing networking of machines, people and systems will revolutionise the cleaning machine market and change entire business models. The market for cleaning technology as such has significant growth potential, since numerous cleaning problems still exist, even in the strongest industrialised countries. There is hardly any other area of human activity that is still so strongly characterised by manual work. Think of your own home: dusting books, curtain care, cleaning lamps, and so on, are tasks that can only be undertaken by people. All this means new sales channels. What new kinds of retailers are you looking for at IFA? At the IFA, our main customers are consumer electronics retailers who mainly sell machines for interior cleaning such as steam cleaners. This event is becoming increasingly interesting for other retailers such as DIY stores and so-called pure players. We will therefore be presenting for the first time this year at the IFA our complete range of consumer products, which includes high-pressure cleaners, steam cleaners and solutions for the garden. How important is IFA when it comes to your global marketing? With regard to global marketing, the IFA is an important event, since this trade fair is considered internationally as an important platform for the industry. Brand formation and product presentation start with leading trade fairs such as the IFA. A globally aligned marketing concept from campaigns in all channels, measures at the point of sale, packaging design, etc., is our way of increasing awareness of the Kärcher brand and our products. Hall 4.1 Stand 213 IFA International • Saturday 5 th & Sunday 6 th September 2015 33

IFA International