After successfully completing the first year of its strategic plan, Franjo Bobinac, Gorenje’s President and CEO, said that the company finished the first half of 2017 with revenue growth and much stronger profitability. We asked Mr Bobinac, who recently accepted a new five-year term in his current role, to tell us more about the company’s plans.
The second half of the year is usually even stronger in terms of sales, and we are quite happy with the development of business and orders for Gorenje. The battle for the markets and market shares of course continues and nothing can be taken for granted. There are a few tasks that remain to be done, but we are on the right path to achieve our strategic goals.
Everyone talks about digitalisation… How important is this theme for you in both your products and your company itself?
Extremely important. Digitalisation is in progress at Gorenje Group at all levels, from manufacturing to R&D, and of course sales and marketing where we have taken many steps forward in recent years. In addition to a range of digital services we are developing, our digital strategy places particular stress on the development of smart or connectible domestic appliances as a part of a smart home; moreover, a digital environment has been customary for many of our business processes for some time. We are reinventing the traditional home appliances by optimising the user experience.
In terms of product development, connected appliances are increasingly important. What is your “state of evolution” in this respect?
At IFA, we are presenting many new developments from the field of smart appliances. We will show our product highlights and use many cutting edge technologies to interact with the visitors and to engage them. The focus will also be on artificial intelligence as we première Gorenje’s personal shopping bot Anna, which IFA visitors will have the opportunity to meet and greet for the first time. In autumn, we are launching a line of smart connectable appliances under the Atag brand, later to be followed by the Asko and Gorenje brand appliances.
WE ARE REINVENTING THE TRADITIONAL HOME APPLIANCES BY OPTIMISING THE USER EXPERIENCE
Your focus seems to be more and more on premium product lines. Is this so… and if so, why?
With the new strategy, we are focused even more decisively on global growth with the more profitable premium brands and products. Only five years ago, these products accounted for about 20% of our total revenue; today, this figure is at 30%. At the same time, share of small domestic appliances in our total revenue is rising as well.
In terms of branding, is Gorenje doing anything new or different this year?
Since we launched our brand promise Life Simplified we are integrating it into all aspects of our business, not only branding but also product development and design. At IFA, Gorenje is present with a “Time to reconnect” story, which is an upgrade from the last year. We are showing how the right userfriendly appliances can seamlessly integrate with our busy everyday lives, making our household chores easier, our to-do lists shorter, and our life more pleasant, more carefree, thus leaving more time to spare, to enjoy, to reconnect.
I know R&D is extremely important for you. What developments are occurring in this department?
Over 3% of Gorenje Group’s annual revenue is invested in the development of new products. We export as much as 95% of our appliances, therefore all our products are developed for the global market and in line with the latest trends in the home appliances industry. Often, especially in design, we at Gorenje are also the trendsetters in the industry.
Photo: Franjo Bobinac, President and CEO, Gorenje