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Preview Edition - IFA International

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Exclusive Interview Haier – A Word from the Top… Interview with the new European CEO of Haier about the company’s new EU roadmap. Interview With the reorganisation of Haier in Europe, the Chinese electronics giant also named a CEO for the territory, covering not only Western Europe, but also Eastern Europe and Russia. Based at the company’s headquarters in Paris, René Aubertin tells us that he is also on the board of Haier group worldwide… the first non-Chinese to take such a role… I’m very proud of this… and it’s a very good sign that Haier wants to mix what we call the local management and the Chinese culture. It’s a very strong sign of increased openness, and it proves that Haier is now becoming more of a global company. How difficult is it to impose a brand like Haier in Europe where there are some very firmly established brands in the same field? The challenge is very easy to understand, and we are addressing it by creating a broader offering. We have always had a lot of entrylevel models. But step-bystep we are now launching more and more innovative and ecological products. On the cooling side, we have a very original product design-wise, which allows us to compete with the major A-brands existing in the market. So more and more, in addition to entry level models, we propose what we call step-up models, as well as premium models, meaning that now Haier is covering the full spectrum of the market with a very consistent product proposition, a consistent range, and products in which the customer can find a unique selling proposition coming from Haier. What does your daily job entail? My daily work firstly concerns the products and relations with the factories. I am working on building a very strong marketing team in order to take the best of the Haier industry and research and development power. Haier dedicates 4% of total sales for research and development, which makes us very strong in this area. And I’m here to customise the product for the European market, whether it is Eastern Europe, the continental market or the German market. This is mainly my first job. My second job is to manage what we call the European key accounts, because I have some sales organisations in the various countries, but of course I also need to speak with the major key accounts existing in Europe. What will be your key product lines this coming year? The key product line, first of all, is our White Goods: cooling and washing. In cooling, we have a very strong range, because we have customised products for the European style. This product is produced in our own factory in Italy, which is not the case for a lot of our competitors. It’s very important that today we promote this factory. It is very close to the market, which is very important for flexibility and the fact that we understand the customer needs. First of all, we have cooling, secondly we have a washing product, and these are our two pillars. Then comes TV, because today we are developing a very nice TV range, both designwise and technology-wise, oriented towards LED backlighting. We are mainly selling medium size TVs, as we cannot compete with the major TV brands on the very big sizes, but our product is well accepted by the market. Thirdly, we are developing more products like air conditioning, which are products between B to B and B to C, and we are even launching a new water heater that uses solar panels. We have seen another major Asian electronics manufacturer that last year named a Frenchman as its European president. This was never the case before with any Asian companies, but it seems to be a trend now… Yes, there is a different way to manage European people than people from other countries. So it’s very important that I try to take the best of what our Chinese pillars will give to us, and to adapt the product to Europe. I think that’s a key factor of success. And as you said, some of our competitors are doing this… bigger than us. Looking forward to the IFA show, what sort of presence will Haier be having at IFA this year? First of all, our booth will be bigger, so we’ll have more surface for IFA. We will try to show a lot of product range in the wide booth area, and we’ll also have an exhibition in the TV area, in order to show our new TVs for next year. Our main product will be available within this range, then there is a very strong range of cooling and washing products with a new design in washing, dishwashers and washing machines, and we plan to show some new product categories that will be seen for the first time at IFA. René Aubertin European CEO of Haier Haier dedicates 4% of total sales for research and development, which makes us very strong in this area… IFA International • Monday, 30 th August 2010 17

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