Amica, the largest manufacturer of domestic appliances in Poland, commanding a 12.6% market share (followed by Electrolux with a 11% market share) with subsidiaries in Germany, Russia, Romania, Czech Republic and Denmark, entered the UK market in 2006.
Founded in 1945, in Wronki, western Poland, a cooker manufacturer Predom-Wromet, adopted the Amica brand in 1992 and became a private enterprise in 1994. With the construction of hob, cooking and washing machine factories and the acquisition of a number of European brands, the manufacturer gained a strong presence in the main DA product sectors in Poland and its overseas markets, reaching sales turnover of €300 million in 2008. Employing 2,000 people, Amica manufactures annually 900,000 cookers (freestanding and built-in; constituting 67% of its production output), 575,000 hobs, half a million washers and washer/dryers and 450,000 cooling appliances. Its core brand Amica is targeted at the mid-market customer segment in Poland, Western and Southern European market. Its other brands – Hansa, Gram and Premiere – are aimed at the Scandinavian and German markets, with Gram being the most prestigious one.
Simon Freear, country manger for Amica in the UK, describes the unique features of Amica’s products: “The company is passionate about quality and performance, so everything they do is designed to incorporate as much quality and longevity as possible. Every single product in the Amica portfolio is fully run tested during production. That kind of attention to detail is unheard of with brands that operate in the mid market. So reliability and performance are our USPs, together with after sales service.” During the tour of the washing machine factory in Wronki we were able to see for ourselves that every appliance was quality tested.
To ensure that after sales service matches the quality of its products, Amica contracted GDHA to service its appliances in Britain. Moreover, to make servicing easier, Amica’s washing machines, for example, have a removable front panel which allows direct access to the appliance’s working parts without taking a whole cabinet out.
Philip Mayer, Amica sales development director, proudly showed us Amica’s testing chamber for cooling appliances where in temperatures ranging form 10 to 43ºC the operational controls of fridges and freezers are tested to suit the varying climatic conditions of its export markets.
It is perhaps not surprising that Amica has been honoured with the Product of the Year Award for 2008, for the second year running, by the Polish edition of the Reader’s Digest, as well as taking the title of the Most Trusted Brand in the household appliances category for the seventh consecutive year.
The sponsorship of KS Amica Wronki football club, which twice won Poland’s National Cup and trains nearby, further strengthens Amica’s brand in Poland.
Amica is also very proud of its environmental credentials. The company operates an Environmental Management System based on EU quality norms which means that environmental considerations are incorporated into every stage of the manufacturing process – from design to the final use. For example, due to the modern technology, Amica’s factories have decreased the use of water and energy, as well as limiting the amount of waste and sewage produced. Moreover, all the appliances manufactured in Wronki are A or A+ energy rated.
Filip Mayer, asked about Amica’s place in the Polish white goods market, said the company’s brand reputation is comparable to that of Hotpoint in Britain although Amica customers tend to be slightly older as they grew up with the brand. However the company plans to attract younger consumers by equipping their products with the latest technologies and modern designs. For example, it is now heavily investing in induction and in its Scandinavian market, Amica sold more induction hobs that ceramic ones.
In Britain however, “many of our customers are younger – in the 25 plus age group – and they are drawn by the style of our products, the two year guarantee and the price versus features ratio, “comments Simon Freer.
Amica in Britain
Confident in the quality of its products, Amica decided to enter the UK market in 2008. Simon Freear explains the rationale behind this decision: “The UK MDA market is one of the largest markets in Europe and it is also within a couple of days logistically from Poland. Until recently, we focused on the eastern parts of Europe, Germany and Scandinavia; it made sense to enter the large UK market with our wide, high quality range of products.”
So how does Amica plan to compete in the already crowded UK market? “Our strategy is to grow our business through the independents by offering them a range of reliable, high quality products with features that they can easily sell, combined with a two-year guarantee and a great after sales service,” explains Simon.
Amica’s products are distributed through Portway, Inmans and Refrigeration Norwest. “Amica already uses a solid network of distributors; tactically we may choose to grow this for built-in, and to plug some gaps in particular regions like Scotland and Northern Ireland,” adds Simon.
Amica’s latest products on the British market are the Navigator range of washing machines and a range of fully-integrated dishwashers. The 6kg, A+ rated washing machines are equipped with intelligent Full Control Assist technology – a digital navigation system which makes them easier to use – 33cm porthole with raised drum and 20 programmes, including a 19 minute super short wash. The AAA-rated, 60cm dishwasher has 12 place settings and seven wash programmes. It operates at 49dB and consumes 16 litres per load, reflecting Amica’s concern for the environment and comfort of its customers.
After all “Amica is not going after market share in Britain but wishes to gain and grow long-term customer loyalty,” comments Simon Freer.