New GDHA boss on ‘difficult’ mission to fix UK business

The new managing director (MD) at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances (GDHA) has admitted that “difficult” changes must be made in its UK business to get the firm behind British cooker brands Belling, New World and Stoves back on track.

In an exclusive interview with kbbreview, Mark Davison, who joined GDHA as MD in December last year, said that under his steer, the firm was developing a new three-year business strategy to halt the decline of the business against a “tough and subdued” market backdrop.

This, he said, would involve “a big challenge in terms of the culture of the company” and its operations.

“We need to move on. We need to be more modern and we need to operate more efficiently,” the former sales and marketing director at Aga Rangemaster told kbbreview. This he said was currently more of a concern than the lack of clarity over the UK’s post-Brexit future.

He said: “I’m not so concerned about it at the moment – especially given where we are. We’ve got to sort out our business in the UK and, over time, we’ve got to grow our international business. With the pound being weak at the moment, it’s probably better for us to grow our export sales.”

Davison said the firm’s iconic range cookers – particularly Stoves – would be the focus for ambitious growth plans, involving stealing his former employer’s market-leading position within two years.

“Being blunt, I want to take market leadership from Rangemaster.”

GDHA has recently invested £2 million in a new collection of British-made Stoves range cookers that includes Bluetooth connected technology and comes with a free downloadable app that lets consumers use their smartphone or tablet to control the oven timer.

Davison, who used to work for Proctor and Gamble, said: “Stoves is a brand we’re going to focus on more and more – it’s a more than able competitor to Rangemaster, but we need to invest more in the brand with consumers.

“Our new products are market-leading, both from a quality and features point of view, and we’re more than doubling the size of the Stoves range cooking SKUs – there’s more choice for retailers and consumers.

“We’re going to be the first brand to have a connected app on range cookers, so you can set and control the timer.

“The new Stoves products will move us on to a par with – if not ahead of – Rangemaster.”

The firm announced earlier this year that it was reducing its 1,000 strong workforce at its Prescot factory by a third. At the time, the firm said it would exit loss-making segments of the market and outsource the manufacture of certain products.

But in the interview, Davison said the firm remained committed to manufacturing its iconic range cookers in Prescot, but said: “Everything else that we currently make – or buy – will either be exited, or externally sourced.”

Davison said driving export sales, particularly in Europe and Asia, would also be a focus as he strives to grow GDHA’s business outside the UK.

“British design and British manufacturing still has some resonance and helps you win business in certain parts of the world,” he said.

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