August 2, 2021
Bernard Otulakowski, UK managing director, gives us an update on life at SieMatic and the current state of play with its dealerships.
Q: You’ve been with SieMatic for over 40 years, what makes you so loyal?
A: It’s the qualities of the brand that reflect my personal values – the company has always been a perfect fit. Initially, we were one of the first German kitchen manufacturers to enter the UK premium market and produced designs that others aspired to imitate. There must be an original to have a copy, and each brand paid compliment to SieMatic’s innovation by following our lead.
Q: How have you and the SieMatic dealer network navigated the past 12 months?
A: There’s no hiding that the pandemic presented incomparable challenges, but our dealer network has stayed strong, and their grit and determination has ensured their prosperity. We kept close to our partners throughout the lockdowns to overcome the untrodden territory together, with constant advice, communication, and training. A key element to success was looking at the business from a new perspective and being willing to pivot, adjust, and improve – whether a showroom revamp, a reassessment of processes, or realignment of marketing campaigns. We have been praised for our consistency of product supply and continuity in communication.
Q: Can you tell us what else is happening at SieMatic?
A: It was important to get our own house in order, so there has been a multimillion investment into setting up a dark factory, with increased robotics for greater accuracy in manufacture, and improvements in sustainability practices. Secondly, the personnel adjustment meant a new management board was employed, who work as like-minded entrepreneurs. The target market for the brand has broadened due to digital advancements, so the lifestyle focus conveys a new language to appeal to the younger, design-led audience. This has accelerated SieMatic’s digital focus and formed the ground on which the new digital lead acquisition programme is based. The brand invested in a professional CRM system to allow our dealers to effectively control and streamline the communication with clients.
Q: What do you look for in potential studio partners?
A: We like to work with people with an entrepreneurial mind-set, who can adapt to the evolving shape of business. It’s important to be receptive to new ideas, to be digitally savvy, and an excellent communicator to contribute to improvements and fresh ideas. Of course, design flair, personal style, and courageous belief are desirable traits to synergise with discerning clientele. We look for long-term partnerships where the studio name advances into a brand in their region, which, paired with SieMatic’s global brand awareness, creates the harmony for success.
Q: What support is available to dealerships?
A: Like consultants, we work closely with our partners to proactively identify areas of the business that could be enhanced or improved. Training is also a significant topic, which SieMatic takes seriously through its Academy. This year it has launched an online service that comprehensively educates designers through live webinars, online modules, and pre-recorded videos.
Q: In light of new trends and changing market dynamics, what advice would you give to retailers?
A: The pandemic has made people reassess their lifestyle, the balance of work, and realise how important home life is. Business now has a different viewpoint, and retailers should be open to change, with the flexibility in place to pivot in a new direction should the need arise. Success will be driven by a digital approach, through data-driven decisions founded by a well-thought-out strategy. Weak players will disappear, so offering a customer experience that is second to none has never been more important.
What SieMatic studio partners say…
“I have sold SieMatic kitchens for over 40 years and the brand still continues to go from strength to strength. A strong brand is exactly what kitchen specialists and customers need when trading times become uncertain.”
Mark Wolstencroft, owner, Mark Leigh Kitchens.
“SieMatic is investing in the brand, which is exciting as we benefit from the advances in product quality, brand awareness, and lead acquisition. It’s come at a time when Kitchen Gallery is expanding and the support we receive from the UK team is invaluable. I’d encourage anyone who is serious about working in the high-end kitchen market to consider no one else.”
Tahir Mahmood, owner, Kitchen Gallery.
For information about becoming a SieMatic partner, please call 0161 7680 989 or email [email protected]