As previously reported, Miele’s success in New Zealand has led to a change in structure, one that means Miele in New Zealand will no longer be a satellite of Australia and will have its own General Manager.
As part of these changes, in mid-October Auckland welcomed some of Miele’s top players, in the form of Miele Co-Proprietor and Executive Director, Dr Reinhard Zinkann, Executive Director with responsibility for Sales & Marketing, Dr Axel Kniehl, Regional Senior Vice President AMANZA, Christian Gerwens, and ANZ Managing Director, Sjaak Brouwer.
Sitting around a table at the Miele Experience Centre, Wares had the chance to find out a bit more about Miele’s specific plans and general outlook.
The New Zealand business has been going “very well”, says Dr Zinkann and Miele is “happy with what has been achieved in every sense”.
“The brand and the business have been run successfully and have grown so well that we decided to invest further and to make it more independent by having a different organisation from next year on.”
The New Zealand operation “has been growing substantially, to the point where it needed additional management focus,” says Sjaak Brouwer, adding that the NZ operation having its own GM within the ANZ management team is an “historical moment”.
More attention for New Zealand
Says the incoming GM, Steven Bellamy (until next year Miele Australia’s Operations Director ): “I think the key focus is that there is a strong platform already there and a strong strategy in place” adding that now there may be more ability to “move a little bit quicker”.
Reading between the lines, this means more autonomy and making more of what’s already in train.
In which respect, Sjaak Brouwer notes for the record that retiring National Sales Manager, Brian Scott, has been “instrumental in the fantastic growth” seen in New Zealand and that he’s done “a fantastic job in growing this business to where we are today”.
When we met, the senior Miele team had already been talking with key local retailers, all of whom, says Dr Kniehl, were “very happy” with the new scheme.
“As always, with a smaller market next to a very big market there is the concern that you might not get the same attention and I think they are very pleased by the fact that we are sending the signal that we are significantly increasing the attention that we are giving New Zealand,” he says.
New Zealand is also receiving further investment in the form of a new Key Account Manager to see to the day to day running of the business and further increase brand awareness by investing more and driving the existing programmes harder.
In terms of making more of what the New Zealand operation already has in hand, Sjaak Brouwer says although Miele is “very proud” of its current relationships, there is still “a lot of potential in those partnerships.
“It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality in these partnerships. It’s not about opening another 10 or 15 stores … it’s also about balance.
“With our agency structure we can clearly see where we are and how our business is concentrated and we are pretty happy with the structure we have today because it still offers a lot of potential,” he emphasises.
On the back of this, Sjaak Brouwer adds Miele’s outlook for the next year is “very promising – we plan to continue growing at the pace we are seeing today which is definitely double growth for next year.
“That means we will be outpacing the market but that is because we invest a lot in the brand, we have new products in the pipeline, we’re investing in point of sale… there is still so much to do!”
Anticipating Blizzard conditions
Some of these new products include the new Blizzard bagless vacuum and the “2 in 1” integrated rangehood & cooktop (a “simply superior” solution says Axel Kniehl), both of which have sold out elsewhere at launch.
The highly anticipated Blizzard vac is due here in March.
Stating for the record that Miele remains committed to bagged vacuum product and “will never give it up”, Dr Zinkann says Blizzard’s European launch not only surpassed Miele’s expectations, but also its production capacity.
“It was so successful that we could not launch it in roughly half of our subsidiaries because we were sold out in Germany immediately. In the major European countries it was [woosh] like that, incredible, as if the market had been waiting for a superior solution.”
Anticipating the next question, Dr Zinkann adds: “Did it take away business from our bagged vacuums? Yes but to a very low extent.”
Axel Kniehl says that globally bagged:bagless is more or less 50:50, but Miele is seeing growth in bagless, even in markets where handsticks have been putting bagless under significant pressure.
“Many markets which we have entered with Blizzard are actually growing while the total market is actually declining,” he says.
“So we are making the market again, which is exciting!”
What about the “Amazon effect”?
We’d be remiss if we didn’t take the chance to address the current Gorilla in the room – Amazon…
Sjaak Brouwer makes no bones that the pureplayer will have some effect in Australia: “No doubt it will change the retail landscape … But it all starts with the consumer…
“For us we are still looking at the options and how to approach it. We have all sorts of opportunities to go after and we have also proven that we can be really good partners with [Amazon] in some of the markets in which we operate in. Germany is a great example.”
Axel Kniehl explains: “In other markets related to our industry Amazon is performing very differently in different markets. Amazon is doing very well in white good in Germany but is non-existent in France for example.
“It has a lot to do with delivery and the complexity which is significantly different when you talk about brown goods or mobile phones and electronics. The expectation from the consumer side is also very different. So, in the long run, Amazon has other categories which may be much easier and faster…”