Interview: Gorenje’s Boštjan Pečnik talks Hisense alliance and bold future of appliances market

By Jean-François Pieri

Boštjan Pečnik, Executive Vice President of manufacturer Gorenje discusses the companies alliance with Hisense and the key developments of the home appliances market ahead of 2022.

How has Europe’s major appliance industry fared amid the pandemic?

Following the first half of 2021, there was a positive development in all the European markets. Market demand is still strong in the second half of the year and above our expectations. We expect it to continue during the Christmas period. On the cost side, like all industries, major appliances are also facing a raw material price increase and the growth of logistics and energy costs. Consequently, this is also driving a price increase for the end users. There’s also the challenge of shortages of some materials and components like microprocessors. But I think this price increase will be done step by step and it will not immediately affect performance over the Christmas period.

Which of your recent products have been the most game changing?

In this Covid period, end consumers are searching for appliances that improve convenience. They are looking for appliances that are more environmentally friendly. Therefore, the most interesting ones are those that allow connectivity with smart functions and automation, and also energy efficiency, hygiene and function support. Supporting healthy lifestyles like steam cooking is very interesting. In general sustainability is becoming more and more interesting and important. Legislation in some areas, let’s say it is supporting the launch of sustainable products. But we are also seeing our end consumers really starting to care about sustainability in a positive way. And of course, this is good for our environment.

How have your product lines evolved during the collaboration between Hisense and Gorenje? Has the integration been easy?

We are constantly improving our product competitiveness by adding new products and new product platforms to our product range. We are of course also using product synergies inside Hisense Group, especially in the field of refrigeration and laundry appliances. In 2021 all our main product lines have been growing, which is a good sign. We are aware that good products are key to succeeding on the market and therefore we are increasing investment in R&D. The majority of our integration activities were done in 2019. On the sales side, there’s been the consolidation of sales business units on the European markets, in R&D and product management areas, the implementation of global organisation, and the responsibilities for product development. On the production side, the biggest benefit of this integration has been the integration of global sourcing.

(Photo: global.hisense.com)
So global sourcing has been the main strength of your alliance with Hisense?

It is definitely one of our main strengths. In this time of Covid it has been even more important. In terms of branding, sourcing has been very important. R&D capability is also definitely one of our main strengths, particularly the development of electronics and connectivity. In the field of products, I would also mention our big sized refrigerators, especially for the Gorenje brand, and kitchen appliances for the Hisense brand, because they complement each other’s ranges. On a global scale, we also have new market access and the synergies that come out of that. There’s also our marketing resources and sponsorship of big sporting events like the UEFA Euro 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022. In terms of branding, we have a clear strategy for the brand portfolio on the global market, and in the field of major domestic appliances, we will further develop Hisense, Gorenje’s brand, and in the premium segment, the ASKO brand.

(Photo:  #UpgradeYourHome campaign, global.hisense.com)
Are you launching any new products in preparation for the holiday season?

Yes, we are launching a lot of new products. If I start with refrigeration, we will be launching our new wi-fi combi and a retro style combi, our flagship product. Our new laundry products with a refreshed look and improved performance are also important. The biggest novelties are a totally new plug for built-in ovens for the Hisense and Gorenje brands we call Celsius cooking. It’s a premium induction smart cooking ecosystem. That brand will also be launched during this period, and many others will follow in the first quarter of 2022.

Finally, what are your mid-to-long term goals in Europe?

We are improving our position in all product categories and we will continue to strengthen our market position. Our goal is to become one of the leading manufacturers of major appliances and solutions in the global market. And as I mentioned we will further develop our brands Hisense, Gorenje and ASKO.

For more information on Gorenje, click here. Listen to Mr Pečnik’s full IFA Tech Talk, the Official IFA Podcast interview here and also available on:

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