Panasonic terminates cooperation with Gorenje – Velenje-based company announces continuation of investments in development of new products
Robotized Gorenje factory in Velenje (Photo: Rok Rakun)
Serbia associates household appliances with Gorenje and Gorenje with washing machines, as shown by a survey the company conducted in the country.
However, the Slovenian producer of household appliances has been in public focus these days due to the news saying that Panasonic has terminated the cooperation in production of washing machines and refrigerators with Gorenje. Slovenian media report that, according to some analyses, Gorenje's sales might drop by a tenth due to this, whereas the Velenje-based company denies this and claims that this autumn's sales revenues have been excellent.
When asked by eKapija whether Panasonic would nevertheless maintain its ownership in Gorenje, the company says that “a sale of Panasonic's 10.47% stake in Gorenje has not been mentioned”.
– Further cooperation will be conducted in the niche market of built-in devices for Panasonic. The scope of the cooperation with Panasonic, the production of washing machines and refrigerators, amounts to around 1.5% of Gorenje Group's total turnover. We seek to compensate for the sales by cooperating with other clients in the current markets and potential new ones – they explain at Gorenje.
Shortly before the information was disclosed, eKapija had the opportunity to visit the Velenje factory and talk to Franjo Bobinac, president and CEO of Gorenje. He said that he believed that a greater cooperation with Panasonic would be good for the Velenje-based company, but that it wasn't possible at the moment, as the Japanese company had decided to redirect the investments from household appliances to other industries”.
Gorenje employs 11,000 people and has factories in Slovenia, Serbia and the Czech Republic. In Serbia, the company employs 2,300 workers and has production facilities in Valjevo, Zajecar and Stara Pazova and a tool workshop in Kragujevac. The Velenje company, as Bobinac says, is not planning to open new factories at the moment, but will expand the production in the existing ones. He couldn't, however, specify the details at the moment.
President and CEO of Gorenje, Franjo Bobinac (Photo: Rok Rakun)
– Competition for markets and market shares is part of our everyday lives and nothing can be taken for granted. There are still plenty of tasks to be done, but we are on the right way to achieving our strategic goals. In the first half of 2017, Gorenje Group realized a growth in revenues and profit. Despite this success, our key challenge in the second half of 2017 remains the realization of the planned sales, especially in the highly competitive markets of the Western Europe, the cost-effectiveness regarding the growing prices of raw materials and components, the cost of labor pressures, as well as an enhancement of the efficiency of supply management, which will lead to a reduction in the financial leverage by the end of the fiscal year. We expect the third quarter to be especially challenging, due to two summer months, during which the consumption is lower as a rule – Franjo Bobinac.
Gorenje exports 95% of its products to 90 countries in the EU (91%), America, Australia, the Middle East and the Far East. All its products, the company points out, are developed for the world market and are harmonized with the latest trends in the industry of household appliances. Gorenje also has research and development centers in four EU countries, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and the Netherlands, where R&D activities for all categories of Gorenje products are carried out.
Focus on premium line products
With its new strategy, Gorenje focuses on a global growth of more profitable premium brands and products. Only five years ago, these products made up around 20% of their total revenues, Bobinac says, whereas now they account for 30%. At the same time, the share of small household appliances in Gorenje's income is also growing, and they “round up the offer of the main devices in the markets in which the Gorenje brand has been recognized”.
As Bobinac announces, the launch of smart Atag brand connectable devices, presented only a week ago at the Atag fair in Duiven, is planned for the end of this year. They are to be followed by devices from Asko and Gorenje lines.
– Along with the range of digital services we are developing, our digital strategy entails placing a lot of attention on the development of smart and connectable household appliances. A digital environment has characterized a large number of our business processes for some time now. We are thereby reimagining traditional household appliances by optimizing user experience, enabling users to experience greater freedom and flexibility. Connectable devices do not require a lot of attention, enabling the user to focus on more important things – Bobinac adds.
Gorenje Group invests over 3% of its annual income in development of new products. The key innovations in the first half of 2017 are the new modular platform for built-in refrigerators and freezers of Gorenje and Pelgrim brands and the new modular platform for Gorenje stoves. There's also the new Gorenje Retro Special Edition refrigerator, developed in cooperation with VW. Furthermore, a new design of household devices from the designer line Gorenje by Ora Ito has been presented. Regarding the premium brand ASKO, the latest line of ASKO Pro Home clothes washing and drying machines awarded at the Red Dot competition, called Connected Life-Connected Appliances, was presented, as well as ASKO Craft and PRO series of ovens, dishwashers etc.
The entire group is currently undergoing a digitization process on all levels, from production, through research and development, to sales and marketing, and the achievements in this field were presented by Gorenje at the IFA fair. Among other things, a shopping bot and personal shopping assistant called Anna, to whom the visitors had the chance to say hello for the first time, was presented at the fair. The Gorenje chatbot and and personal shopping assistant Anna was created to be easy to use above all. While waiting to start a conversation with the visitors of the official Gorenje Facebook page and the Gorenje webpage, Anna's job is to simplify user experience and help and provide information to those who want to buy something or learn something more about Gorenje's products. In the process, the visitors will also discover plenty other things about Anna, for example, that she can provide help regarding a product's functions, product registration etc.