Geberit is set to reinforce its leading position in the Asian market with the appointment of a new Managing Director for Southeast and Northeast Asia. Rachel Lee-Leong speaks to Stefan Schmied about the company’s leading edge and its strategy for staying ahead.
20 May, 2014
As far as anniversaries go, the 50th anniversary of a concealed cistern is an odd one to celebrate. But that’s exactly what was on Geberit’s agenda last week, and for good reason too.
Geberit’s concealed cistern is one of two key pillars of its business (the other being its piping systems). Ever since its first concealed cistern was introduced in 1964, Geberit has been consistently delivering elegant sanitary solutions that streamline the appearance of bathrooms. Today, over 60 million concealed cisterns have been installed globally.
“We’re very good with the interface between what’s behind the wall and what’s in front of it. Behind the wall, it must be easy to install, and in front, it has to be well designed for the end-user. Managing this interface is not easy but it’s something we’ve continuously developed over the last 50 years,” explains Stefan Schmied, Geberit’s newly appointed Managing Director for South and North East Asia – he was previously head of the Gulf Region, and head of strategic marketing and planning at the Swiss headquarters prior to that.
At Geberit’s celebrations at the National Design Centre, a first-generation model of its concealed cistern was put on display. Most significantly, it doesn’t look too different from the current model of concealed cisterns that Geberit produces. “It’s evergreen,” says Schmied smilingly. “We always do sustainable innovations, adaptation – new push plates, easier installation, etc.”
The same approach of continuous development and improvement is being taken for its electronic bidet system, Schmied shares. Though not a new product, the AquaClean Sela is enjoying renewed efforts to introduce it to the market, both in Singapore and globally.
“If you look at Japan, every other house has an electronic bidet. People know that cleaning with water makes sense, but it takes a while to help people understand how technology can help. [The electronic bidet system], for us, is clearly a third [branch] of growth – it’s a sustained development of what we do,” says Schmied. He is quick to add, however, that its electronic bidet system is a value-add to its core product of concealed cisterns.
As much as Geberit knows its position in the market is a strong one, it is not planning to rest on its laurels anytime soon. Other new products such as the Monolith, an exposed sanitary module that is incredibly sleek, help Geberit reach out to the consumer market, which now still makes up a small segment of its business.
Still, it is the contract market that remains its backbone. Regardless of nervous talk in the market about an economic slowdown, Schmied is confident in the company’s products, especially in light of selected sectors of the market – “hospitality looks very promising.”
“Even when things are slow, it’s just a bit of a bump, things get delayed. But they still proceed, and overall, it’s fine.”
Schmied says that growth opportunities show themselves when attention is paid to the different nuances of specific markets in Asia. “There are all these different parts that I’m getting a feel of. There are many interesting developments, in terms of construction and tourism – a lot to do and I’m looking forward to it.”
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