Dear BEYSAD readers,
We spend lots of effort in the interview section of our magazine, as it hosts the interviews made with the main industry officials. In this issue, we have made an interview with Ms. Neriman Ülsever, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Indesit Turkey. I was very excited about this interview even when we decided to meet Ms. Ülsever. When I learned that she was kind enough to accept our interview, I became even more excited. I am sure you will find the interview very useful, too, and learn about the professional experience of a successful businesswoman. We are pleased to share with you the details of this outstanding professional life. We would like to thank Ms. Ülsever a lot for her sincerity, as she has given very clear and useful messages to the supply industry and spared her time for this interview in her busy schedule.
Could you please briefly tell us about yourself and your past professional career?
I graduated from the Boğaziçi University in 1975. I started my professional career at Turkish Airlines and between 1986 and 1994 I worked as a member of the senior management at companies active in the banking, manufacturing and retail industries. In 1994 I began to concentrate on Human Resources and I specialized in Human Resources and Management Consulting. I joined Indesit Company Turkey in 1995, when the firm first entered the Turkish market. I worked as an HR Director based in Switzerland in charge of Eastern Europe and International Markets between 1999 and 2002 and based in France in charge of Western Europe markets from 2001 to 2004. During the period 2004-2006, I served as the HR Director of the Global Business Organization based in Italy. In the 2006-2010 period I worked as the Global HR Director of the Indesit Company based in Italy and a member of the Executive Board. Since 1996 I have acted as a member of the Board of Directors at Indesit Company Turkey and in 2011 I was appointed as the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Indesit Company Turkey. At the same time, since May 2011 I have been working as the Head of Human Resources Department at Sabancı Holding.
What are your evaluations about the current position of the white goods industry in the Turkish market? What is the role of Indesit Company in this development?
Thanks to its recent performance Turkey has become the largest appliance manufacturer in Europe. This is partly the result of the fact that the economic crisis in 2009 did not hit the Turkish market as severely as it did the European countries The Turkish appliance sector's growth rate of 20% in 2011 and increase in the employment and export figures helped Turkey join the group of fast growing economies and paved the way for further positive developments in its appliance industry. In 2011 the export volume of the Turkish appliance industry grew by 5.2% over 2010. According to data from TÜRKBESD (Association of Turkish White Goods Industrialists), in the first nine months of the year 2012 the export volume grew at 15% and reached 11,9 million units, while the production output increased by 9%. That import figures were behind the export figures further strengthened the industry remarkable performance.
As Indesit Company, we can state that we have reaped our own fruits amidst these positive developments. In addition to Turkey's improved economic environment, the policies that we have developed to make best use of this environment have ensured our success, too. As a result of these activities, we closed the year 2011 with a market share of 14% in Europe and 6% in Turkey. One third of our growth figure of 8.2% in the Middle East Region came from Turkey in 2011. We have further expanded our operations in Turkey in 2012 and increased our market share to 9%. One of the main reasons why Turkey matters a lot for Indesit Company is that the firm operates a refrigerator plant in Manisa. In 2011 the refrigerator plant in Manisa manufactured more than 1.3 million refrigerators, of which more than 1 million units were exported. Thereby, we obtained an export revenue of above USD125 million and became the leader of our industry. Our success was endorsed with the award given by the Aegean Exporter Unions. With its great potential Turkey is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Therefore, as Indesit Company we will continue to invest in the Turkish market as far as we can, as we care a lot about our presence here.
It is pleasing to see that a Turkish professional has worked for Indesit Global for many years at senior positions and even served as the head of the human resources department within Indesit Company and you were the country manager as a Turkish national. We have heard many people in the sector saying you are behind all these positive developments that Indesit has achieved recently in Turkey. You must have seen a potential in the Turkish market, otherwise all these attempts would not have been made. What precisely is this potential?
It would be unrealistic to assume that Indesit Company as the second largest European appliance manufacturer has made this progress only thanks to my efforts. Success is always the outcome of teamwork. We have been successful, as we must have proceeded with the right teams and right strategies.
As regards the Turkey's potential, throughout history Turkey has always served as a bridge between countries and cultures due to its geographical location, cultural heritage and its potential. This has of course influenced Turkey's political, economic and cultural interactions with other areas, as well. Having a multi-cultural society means you will be one step ahead in getting to know other cultures and adapting to their way of living. Combined with the cultural diversity that we have, Turkey's capability to carry out manufacturing activities at world standards makes us different from other countries.
Turkey's growing economic environment, its advantageous position among the emerging economies of the region and world, its dynamic and young workforce and the remarkable performance of the industry professional have paved the way for Turkey in assuming an improved economic position.
You say your dream is to establish a washing machine plant in Turkey and Manisa is the right location for this purpose. Can you please tell us a little bit Indesit Company's new investment plans in the Turkish market?
In view of the Turkey's great potential, it would be a smart investment for Indesit Company to open a production plant in Turkey. At the press conference that we organized to announce Turgay Dağ's appointment as the country manager, I mentioned about my dream to establish a second plant in the Turkish market. However, there are not any concrete steps taken for this purpose. In the medium-term we desire to double our presence in the market and achieve organic growth and for this purpose we will continue to make continuous investments in the Turkish in different areas. As Turkey continues its stable growth, I believe it will be easier for us to take actions will have my dream come true.
Indesit Company's brand strategy is changing. Is there a special reason for this process? What are your new strategies?
Indesit Company operates in the Turkish market with the brands Hotpoint and Indesit. The Hotpoint brand targets large families as well as consumers who prefer more functional products and demand effective result, in addition to caring about design and latest designs, whereas the Indesit brand targets consumers who live faster and in a minimalist style, who prefer easier and more entertaining options and seek appliances that make life easier with their efficiency. Thereby, we mix the functionality of Indesit with the design and advanced technology of Hotpoint and meet the demands of all consumer groups.
The Hotpoint brand also helps us demonstrate our family-oriented focus in order to address one of our important consumer group. For instance, in the past period we organized a contest entitled "Family Portraits." Organized with the involvement of Steve McCurry, who is a renowned photographer due to his work named "Afghan Girl", this contest covered the whole Europe. As a result, a family from Turkey won one week New York and as a gift Steve McCurry took a photo of the family.
As you might know, Indesit is the official sponsor of three giant European football clubs: Milan, Arsenal and Paris Saint-German. We organized an event entitled Indesit Football Talents in the past period. The contest attracted lots of attention not only from the world but also from Turkey. As a result of the contest made via social media, the winners had a chance to play football with the stars of these famous football clubs at the Emirates Stadium in London.
At the traditional dealers event that we made in Antalya this year we announced our brand transition, which means we will carry on our operations under the name Hotpoint. Our surveys have shown that consumers perceive the word “Hotpoint” as being more technological and innovative and as a brand that would better meet the needs of the consumers in the future. This is the reason behind this change and we now name ourselves as Hotpoint. We use the brand Hotpoint in all communication materials and store design. However, in some countries including Turkey where the brand recognition of Ariston is high we will continue to use the “Hotpoint-Ariston” logo on products. When the time comes, we will start to use the brand Hotpoint alone on these products, too.
We also aim to double the number of Hotpoint concept stores by 2016. The number of existing Hotpoint concept stores is close to 70 now. We will maintain continuous communication with our channels and ensure we reach this target rapidly. We have recently opened a Hotpoint concept store in Mersin. We opened the same stores in Adana and Diyarbakır before then. Being present in all the points in Turkey and establishing close communication with our dealers are very important for us.
We will continue to carry out activities relating to the brand identity and position of Hotpoint and Ariston brands. We will make investments in these areas for our Hotpoint-branded small household appliances that will be offered to the market in 2013.
As a company you have big goals. Whereas you have increased your market share from 6% to 9% this year, in 2016 you aim to be the third largest company in turkey with a market share of 14%-15%. Can you please elaborate on your activities in these areas?
As of 2012 we have reached a market share of 9%. The growth rate that we aim to achieve as of yearend 2012 is 22% and we are very close to this target. The Manisa refrigerator plant assumes an important role in terms of our growth strategies. One of the 14 production plants of Indesit Company, the Manisa refrigerator plant is a giant base exporting 75% of its production output to 26 countries.
By the end of 2016 we will have invested EUR65 million for all the marketing activities. We desire to double our size in the market. In 2013 we will enter the small household appliances segment for the first time. A very dynamic market segment, the small household appliances category will have boosting effect on our growth strategies. Combined with the outcomes of this initiative, increasing product diversity and new stores will significantly contribute to the growth of Indesit Company.
Expanding the dealer network must be one of the important steps of this process. Can you please give us information about developments in this respect?
Dealers are of vital importance for Indesit Company, as they play a key role in driving our growth. As part of our corporate culture, we do not aim to sell more products to our dealers as a result of our communication with them, but to help them make more sales. Therefore, training of the sales personnel who assume important role in increasing sales is crucial. By the end of this year we will have given trainings twice to almost 300 of our 800 active dealers.
Moreover, we will soon launch our dealer portal which we have specially developed for our dealers in the scope of our B2B strategy in order to better communicate with them and create a shared follow-up and order system. Making the order mechanism easier, this portal will allow dealers to follow up products online and reach details about them. Thanks to our delivery-to-home project ordered products will be directly delivered to the consumers without arriving the dealer site.
While taking initiatives for dealers, it is also important to improve our sales force that directly work together with the dealers. In this respect, Mr. Turgay Dağ has made great contributions. When Mr. Turgay Dağ started his role as the Sales Director, the sales force only used laptops for communications purposes and it took 25 minutes in average to connect to the company from the field. In order to shorten this duration and create a more effective communication between the field and sales force smart phones were distributed to the whole team and we are now distributing tablets to the team members so that they can quickly access all the sales in any part of Turkey. Thereby, when sales personnel in Indesit visits a sales point, s/he can examine all the activities in the store one by one thanks to his/her tablet that detects the GPS signal at the store and can see all the data such the names of products that should be on display and sales performance.
In order to further improve this system, we aim to design a new project for each sales point in 2013.
I believe these initiatives can be taken not only via money and hard working but also with quality human capital. We know that you employ 61 R&D engineers, which demonstrates your strengths in human capital. We would like to benefit from your knowledge and experience in the field of human capital. Can you please tell us about your human capital strategies?
Indesit Company has medium- and long-term strategic HR objectives at global scale. The central HR department generates new projects in all HR functions such as recruitment, employer brand management, training and development, performance management, skills management and internal communication and these are implemented in our growing organization in Turkey together will all the other countries.
In the scope of the Employer Brand Project that aims to boost the image of the company in the international arena in the next three years, particularly in the eyes of university students, the company will give renewed messages and implement strategies for this purpose. Our main messages in our communication tool that was launched through the website http://careers.indesitcompany.com/tr/as of March 2012 are as follows: “We are international”, “We are innovative”, “We are sincere and we value open communication” and “We do jobs that we love”. These four main messages are very much aligned with the perspective of the young people. Our motto "Shape Your Career” encourages young people to choose lines of businesses that will help them understand their potentials and improve themselves continuously with international rotation programs and development initiatives. We underline that we are a company where they implement their ideas in a dynamic and sincere work environment.
In line with our HR group policy we care and implement international work rotations in order to support our employees' professional improvement and ensure local knowledge and practices improve thanks to sharing of international knowledge and best practices. InIndesit, Induction, InTune, InSpire and InVision are international training programs where all our employees from different territories and functions meet and create their business networks. At the same time, our trainings that involve business simulation improve their technical and soft skills.
We value internal communication, too. Indesit Web TV, Insight Portal and Flashnews are internal communication tools ensuring all our employees learn about what is going on in a different location or at their own office.
Can you please tell us about your R&D activities?
The R&D unit of Indesit Company based in the Manisa refrigerator plant started their activities in 2006 with 12 people. This unit has today transformed into an R&D center where 61 specialists and engineers work and in February 2011 the centre was officially certified as the 84th R&D center operating in Turkey.
Indesit Company has six R&D centers in total. In addition to our R&D centers, we have an Innovation and Digital Design Center that carries out activities in order to meet the needs of consumers in the future. All our R&D centers employ a total of 650 engineers.
Every year we allocate 3% of our turnover to R&D activities and increase the number of patents by 20%.
Last year we made an investment of EUR90 million and renewed 60% of our products and offered 350 new products to the market. For our Hotpoint built-in line that was launched at the same time with Europe and Russia as a result of our investment, we went through an R&D process of 18 months and made a total investment of EUR10 million. Likewise, with our Aqualtis series that we have renewed with an investment of EUR21 million, we have transferred the Hotpoint difference to built-in product groups.
R&D activities have particular importance in the design process. This unit assumes a vital role for Indesit Company that aims to make difference with its design.
We are about to finalize our works for the Turkish White Goods Supply Industry Strategy Paper and Indesit Company Turkey - with the leadership of Mr. Turgay Dağ and his colleagues - has provided BEYSAD with valuable support in this process. After finalizing the Strategy Paper, we will take actions to make it a living platform and update it annually. What are your expectations from the Strategy Paper? Which topics should certainly be included in it?
As we are all aware, in the scope of the Vision 2023 initiative people from all the sectors prepared long term analyses in order to create the future Turkey. The biggest goal of all these initiatives is to create effective behaviors that will pave the way for shaping the future in a collaborative manner as desired. These initiatives and technology groups generate data that will reveal the opportunities for Turkey as well as means for turning these opportunities into advantages. The white goods sector is one of the flagship industries in Turkey. The entire consumption can almost be covered with the local production output. Besides, Turkey is a very important manufacturer for the European market. In order to maintain and take further this position, Turkey mush have long-term strategies.
Although manufacturing is made locally in the sector, there are still many imported intermediate goods. The raw material polyurethane as well as most of the compressors and electrical components are being imported from overseas markets. It is time we started manufacturing these technological products, too. Moreover, transportation expenses constitute a trouble for the whole industry. Unfortunately, road transport is still used very widely both for domestic and overseas transports. With long-term plans and collaborations with universities and public bodies, the necessary actions should be taken.
It would be very useful to learn from your experience in different countries and industries. Can you please make a comparison of the Turkish and overseas appliance industries?
The Turkish supply industry has made a remarkable progress. Today, our supply industry firms are in a better position compared to those in most of the European countries. The costs are lower compared to Turkey; however, there are still many areas of improvement for us in terms of technological products. I assume Turkey has the capacity to manufacture 10 million residential refrigerators. Although the production volume is very high, compressors - which normal people call "engine" - used in refrigerators are still in the category of import input. Our supply industry firms should combine their forces in order to manufacture such parts.
What are your opinions about BEYSAD and what do you expect from BEYSAD? What can BEYSAD do as a supply industry organization for main industries in addition to Strategy Paper?
The Turkish market hosts very important appliance manufacturers. The most important reason why Turkey has stood out with its appliance industry is the performance of the white goods supply industry firms. That this big group is organized in a professional structure and keep abreast of technology and new trends for their further improvement is very important. BEYSAD apparently assumes a leadership role in this respect. As far as I am concerned, together with the automotive supply industry, white goods supply industry firms possess a strong association.
Being able to work together is very important. There are things that we learn from one another. If we wish to maintain our leadership in the European appliance industry, we have to work together more. R&D activities are usually carried out by main industry firms and the consequent data are transferred to the supply industry. However, the supply industry should focus more on R&D.
Once we improve our technological activities and make them available for the purpose of economic and social benefits, we gain new capabilities and enhance our competitive strength.