The Slovenia Times

Interview: Gerald Schmidt, CEO BSH Hišni aparati, d. o. o.



You reported a more than 20% increase in revenue in 2011. What is your recipe for success, it is obvious that this is an excellent result when considering the general crisis?
Our story of success, if we say so, is based on our focus for producing quality and innovative products, as well as creating good working conditions for our employees. Our small home appliances compete above all in terms of innovation and quality which is appreciated by customers globally. Around 90% of our Nazarje production is exported making us less vulnerable. If the economic situation in some markets is not so good, we have always been able to compensate with better performing markets. The increase in revenue is also a result of our appliances with higher added value - fully automatic coffee machines and our multi beverage appliances which represent our main focus for the future. Our innovative, technologically-advanced and user-friendly appliances will continue to drive our competitive edge in the market.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth in the next few years?
In the coming years we plan to restructure our production toward the development and production of appliances with higher added value, especially advanced small home appliances and appliances for coffee and hot drink preparation. The first step toward this was made in 2011 with the launch of a new high range coffee-maker line. The opening of the new line marked our strategic focus on the production of premium coffee makers where we plan to increase coffee machine production by 30%.

You invested a lot in so called "green technologies". Are consumers prepared to pay more for "green" products when there are an enormous number of much cheaper products available?
BSH Group is the largest manufacturer of home appliances in Europe and one of the leading companies, in its industry, in the world. One of our central concerns is the development of energy efficient and environmentally friendly home appliances. For years we have been working consistently to decrease the amount of energy and water used by household appliances. Our products contribute to environmental and climate protection and with further improvement in the next 15 years we will manage to achieve enormous savings of up to 70% of energy consumption in each product group of our appliances.
Research shows that consumers are more and more aware of the importance of energy efficient home appliances. Not only because of the higher cost of electricity, but also because of quality of life and the environment which indirectly is also affected by the use of all environment-non friendly technology. We think and hope that, in the future, more and more people will start to realise that energy efficient home appliances, which are in the higher price ranges, are actually a mid -term investment and contribute to a better quality of life.

You are the second largest manufacturer of home appliances in Slovenia, following Gorenje, which is moving production out of Slovenia. Can we expect that BSH will also do that?
No. Relocation to low cost countries has never been an option for BSH. We have been present in the Slovenian market for years now and are overall very satisfied with our development. For us it is easier to convince our owners that we can be even more successful with our expansion in the future. We have a stable business operation and last year we invested EUR 7m into development and more than EUR 11m into investment. This is part of our ongoing investment cycle where we have committed to an investment of EUR 25m within 4 years. For that commitment we received EUR7.8m of non-refundable funds from the State/Government. The commitment toward the State was exceeded last year.

Last month the German-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce announced that German companies are more and more concerned about the business environment in Slovenia, in which areas would you like urgent change?
We would be happy if the State would create a friendly tax environment and infrastructure for normal business operations. The first step should be financial consolidation of the State budget.


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