Andrei Bgatov has been recently appointed channel director at Indesit Company with the responsibility for the independent channel. He believes that he inherited “a very successful business” from his predecessor Geoff Woodman – widely known and highly respected by independent dealers. Therefore his strategy for the future is one of evolution rather than revolution (despite his Russian roots).
The Indesit strategy
I ask Andrei what is the direction of the Indesit distribution strategy at present. “We no longer can focus on logistics only. The physical network must collaborate with all other business functions to optimise customer services. We continue to invest in our home delivery platform and extend the value added services while improving customer service.
“We are committed to maintaining the number one position in the independent sector in terms of quality of service. We will continue to listen to independent dealers via QMI forums to improve all areas of the logistics process. Our commitment in this partnership is to deliver the unique personal touch service that is associated with our internal logistics operation, which has always been our tradition.”
Support for independents
Even the results of this year's Awards clearly showed that Indesit has 'a special relationship with independents'. I ask Andrei what the company does to maintain this. “We have the biggest team of regional sales managers dedicated to the independent channel. We've relaunched the Hotpoint Centres two years ago, and their members receive newsletters with the latest product news, consumer and staff incentives, PoS material, displays, exclusive products and offers, and a dedicated Hotpoint Centres phone line. We provide them with a home delivery service – we can turn around orders in 48 hours.”
The training challenge
Many independents believe that manufacturers do not provide them with enough training – both product and sales-skills specific. How is Indesit addressing this?
“Our training teams call on independents every six weeks. We also provide regional training evenings across the country. We try to make these events fun by splitting people into activity groups to learn about the products and introduce a competitive element into it. In addition we hold two-day training events in Peterborough. This is a hands-on opportunity for them to be able to see and touch the appliances, we even ask them to have a go at cooking!” explains Andrei. What are Indesit’s plans in the future in this respect?
“We are looking at e-learning opportunities and testing these with a company at present. If successful this will provide customers with access to training modules online. We are hoping this will be up and running later this year.”
Helping with stocking
How does Indesit help indies manage their stock and potential problems with space?
“We have increased our total stock holding in the UK after the expansion in our central warehouse at Raunds from 300,000 sq feet to 450,000 sq feet. Customer-Net enables all our customers to utilise this warehouse space as their own and offer consumers a choice of nearly a thousand different products.
For customers who have their own warehouses and for whom the frequency of deliveries is key to keep stock at an optimum level, we are able to provide a 72-hour service.”
Finally, I ask Andrei how he perceives his role within the independent channel.
“I see my contribution to the sector as a pair of 'fresh eyes and ears' to spot opportunities for growth and improvement. I'm looking forward to meeting with as many customers as possible over the next few months.”
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