With a comprehensive portfolio of foodservice appliances to its name and the support of a dedicated global chain unit behind it, Electrolux Professional is champing at the bit to show multi-site operators how it can meet their equipment needs. FEJ took a trip to its HQ to talk business.
Darren Lockley pauses for thought for a second. FEJ has just asked him what his company’s definition of a chain account is today and the head of Electrolux Professional’s UK and Ireland business takes a moment to ensure his reply is furnished with the context it commands.
“It is something that evolves, rather like the market itself,” he responds, pointing out that many would-be chains now appear on Electrolux’s radar at the point of preparing to open their first one or two stores rather than a lot later down the line as they might have done in the past.
“I think that when we started looking at the chain market, we would define it as 20 sites across more than one territory, but there is now a huge opportunity within the chains to look at the ones that have planted the seed and are growing fast. There is an opportunity for us to be the supplier of choice very early on.”
Lockley was promoted to the Electrolux UK hotseat less than 18 months ago and quickly identified the chain market as a central pillar of its growth strategy. It is a policy that fits neatly with the way that Electrolux’s worldwide model is developing. “Globally, the initiative of working with chains has been accelerated over probably the last four or five years with the introduction of a chain unit. Now, in the UK, we work with them and independently of them. It affords us what we call a ‘glocal’ approach — we have a global chains business but obviously we are also looking to develop our local chain accounts.”
He continues: “Without being specific on numbers, the chain business is a big part of our planned growth. Ultimately we believe we have a very attractive offer, not just in terms of the products but the people and skills that we have locally to support those along with the back-up of the global chain business unit.”
Electrolux’s blueprint for growth is conceived and executed from its headquarters in Luton, where its foodservice operation — until two years ago based in Birmingham — is now under the same roof as its commercial laundry business. The site is also home to a £250,000 ‘Centre of Excellence’, where customers can view all of its latest equipment up close and experience its live kitchen facility, while a nationwide network of dedicated distributor partners provide project and fulfilment expertise.
While sectors such as casual dining present exciting opportunities for Electrolux, dealing with multi-site operators is nothing new to a brand whose foodservice offering spans the full cooking, refrigeration and warewashing gamut. New Thermaline cooking suites, E-flex glasswashers and Prostore refrigeration cabinets represent some of the more recent enhancements to its range.
It has a strong footprint in the pub sector, supplies large swathes of the coffee shop market and retains longstanding relationships with catering and facilities management companies. Globally, meanwhile, some of the world’s most high-profile fast food operators are using its appliances. Its HSG Panini grill, which proclaims to be 75% faster than a standard sandwich grill, is just one example of a product line that has gained credence in such environments.
Without being specific on numbers, the chain business is a big part of our planned growth. Ultimately we believe we have a very attractive offer, not just in terms of the products but the people and skills that we have locally to support those”
Lockley is well aware that Electrolux is not the only brand courting the attention of chain buyers, but says the company can offer a number of advantages that others can’t — not least the ability to provide a full suite of core kitchen products from one source.
“What we are trying to do as an organisation is to make sure we are easy to deal with and we believe we can do that by consolidating all the equipment for any multi-site customer. If we can supply good quality equipment with the right back-up and resources and service and technical support then there shouldn’t be a reason why people wouldn’t want to work with Electrolux. Consolidating with one supplier, through a partner, means that whether it is chef support, technical support or something else, there is only one point of contact.”
Electrolux’s Centre of Excellence has proved an invaluable tool for helping chain customers carve out their propositions and push new equipment boundaries. “Menu development has been a key priority for certain chain accounts,” reflects Julie Fell, marketing manager at Electrolux UK. “As manufacturers, I think you can be quite guilty of only thinking about what the product does whereas the customer is actually thinking about what they are putting out on a plate for the customer. That is where we have got really good expertise and support from our chef team. They can look at it right from the outset to understand what the customer is trying to achieve and work through that process.”
This also feeds back to Lockley’s earlier point that Electrolux has the resources to be able to tailor or adapt a product to an operator’s precise needs. He says the beauty of having access to a global chain unit is that his UK staff can act upon and expedite bespoke demands.
“If you look at some of the main chain accounts we are dealing with, there is evidence in those accounts of products that have been developed specifically for their requirements. Sometimes it is the only product, other times it is an addition to the existing range that we have. I would suggest that probably at some point, if the business case has held up, we are either in discussion about or have created a bespoke product for a chain account, even if it has just come down to a modification of an existing product to make it meet the demands of that customer. Recently we had a delegation of people from R&D over here to visit 10 or 11 sites owned by one of our chain accounts to see where we could support them in creating a new product to make them more efficient.”
Recently we had a delegation of people from R&D over here to visit 10 or 11 sites owned by one of our chain accounts to see where we could support them in creating a new product to make them more efficient”
Asked what he considers to be the defining trend shaping the market, Lockley draws on a comment that a customer made about its expectations of new equipment. “Their quote was that they want ‘consistency delivered faster’,” he says. ”Speed, reliability and consistency in terms of the end-result really do matter, but not to the detriment of the quality. And I think that is what the market is demanding.”
Electrolux Professional UK offers solutions in the following areas:
- Modular cooking
- Industrial cooking
- Pro Thermetic boiling and braising pans
- Libero line plug-in equipment
- Refrigeration equipment
- Food preparation
- Dishwashing equipment
- Servery equipment
- Stainless steel fabrication
- Laundry systems
Warewasher wins prestigious 2015 design prize
Electrolux Professional has won a prestigious Red Dot Design Award for the second year in a row after impressing judges with its Green & Clean hood type dishwasher. Following on from the success of its Thermaline suite in 2014, which landed a Red Dot ‘Best of the Best’ award, the warewasher came up trumps for its high quality design.
An international Red Dot jury, composed of accomplished designers, design experts and specialist journalists from all around the world, evaluated 4,928 innovative entries from 56 countries before reaching their decisions.
“We are honoured to receive the prestigious Red Dot Award: Product Design 2015”, said Darren Lockley, head of region for UK and Ireland at Electrolux Professional. “This award is a welcome addition to the exceptional recognition achieved by the Thermaline M2M — Made to Measure last year, and clearly shows how Electrolux Professional can make the difference and successfully measure itself against the best in the industry for its design excellence”.
The 2015 competition will culminate in a gala dinner in Essen, Germany at the end of June. The winning products will then be presented at the Red Dot Design Museums in Germany and Singapore.
Electrolux lays foundations for global growth
Electrolux’s Professional Products division typically accounts for around 5% of the Swedish appliances manufacturer’s turnover and bosses at the firm recently hailed the “solid development” of the business during the first three months of the year.
Foodservice equipment and laundry revenues rose 3% year-on-year, taking its first quarter sales to SEK1,424 (£117.5m) and giving it a solid platform on which to build.
It stated: “Overall market demand for professional foodservice and professional laundry equipment improved somewhat year-over-year in the first quarter. Market demand was unchanged in Western Europe while demand in the US and emerging markets displayed growth year-over-year.”
Electrolux said it continued to gain market share, particularly in MEA, while sales rose in Western Europe. Core markets such as Southern Europe and the Nordics also performed well. “Sales growth in emerging markets was primarily the result of the group’s strategic initiatives to grow in new markets and segments, in addition to new product launches,” the firm said.
Operating income grew 34% to SEK170m (£13m) while operating margin increased two percentage points to 11.1% as a result of higher sales volumes and increased operational efficiency, it said.