Source: Yicai

(Yicai Global) June 5 -- Asian-Pacific markets, including China, are becoming drivers for the growth of BSH Home Appliances Corp. (BSH).

BSH, which stems from a 1967 joint venture between Robert Bosch GmbH [GR:RBOS] and Siemens AG [ETR:SIE], is Europe’s largest home appliance business.

BSH is optimistic about China’s intelligent home appliance market, Michael Schoellhorn, the firm’s chief executive, told Yicai Global. 

The phase II project of its Chuzhou, Anhui province-based refrigerator factory with BSH’s USD73 million (CNY500 million) investment went into operation on June 1. The firm also announced it will invest another CNY600 million to build a new oven factory.

“As the largest single-country market of BSH, our business in China achieved a sound performance in the fiscal year of 2016, and we will continue to increase our investments in this market,” Schoellhorn said.

BSH’s turnover from the Chinese market accounts for roughly one-seventh of its global turnover, he said. “But more importantly, as for our digitalization for the Internet of Things that is being processed, Chinese market is of great significance, for consumers here are eager for digitalized products, and are quite open-minded for them,” he observed.

BSH’s exploration of digitalization in its Chinese market lies in intelligent manufacturing and intelligent products. Zhou Xiaotian, the senior vice president and chief operating officer of BSH Home Appliances Holding (China) Co. said. The firm has achieved communication among most machines in the new Chuzhou refrigerator factory, enabling analysis of product quality using Big Data.

As for their intelligent products, in the future, BSH will enable consumers to operate their home appliances in a smarter manner. Apart from traditional mechanical controls, there might be more mobile control or gesture control approaches, Schoellhorn predicted.

The company also plans to achieve remote maintenance in future. “A slight problem in products could be solved directly by systems, online after-sale maintenance, and the Big Data in our center,” Zhou added.

Its refrigerator business is a major support for BSH’s business in China, of which the focus has shifted from traditional to intelligent refrigerators. “Though China’s refrigerator market is not so powerful on the whole, the trend of upgrading is evident,” said Karsten Ottenberg, board chairman and president of BSH Home Appliances Holding (China) Co.

In addition to refrigerators, BSH is also actively developing such new products as dishwashers, steamers and ovens in China. Ottenberg said that, “According to our estimation, the retention rate of products of this category is under 1 percent in China. As this category is a totally new one, there is significant room for growth.” He is also optimistic about China’s clothes dryer market.

Thus far, local manufacturers produce around 90 percent of BSH’s products sold in China, with imports accounting for only ten percent. These imported products will also be localized or customized properly in line with Chinese users’ habits, Ottenberg said.

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