Häfele CEO warns global market has entered “era of instability”

Gregor Riekena, chief executive of Häfele Group, believes the global kitchen market has entered a new “era of instability”, fuelled by the unique challenges of the last few years.

Elaborating on his view, he explained that “Before Covid, we had about 10 years of stability. However, that age is now over, thanks to things such as Covid, politics and technology. There are also threats to logistics, such as the recent problems with using the Suez Canal as an important trade route for businesses. With the rise in global awareness thanks to things like social media, this is also a more stressful time.”

He added that, “from a sociological perspective, there are so called ‘tipping point’ moments that can’t be anticipated, so we need to be ready to respond to further problems when they develop”.

However, he also offered advice for other business leaders in the current age, saying that “there is no road map for the way ahead. However, culture and positive management can be your compass”.

Riekena went on to say that he believes the way for business leaders to respond well to these problems is by promoting a healthy environment within their companies.

 “Fostering a family-feel culture keeps people with your companies, which will help you and your team come up with long-term solutions to these problems”, he said.

Riekena believes this is important because “cultures grow over decades and can transcend these periods of instability. People have a longing for togetherness, so we have made a special effort to make company culture part of our strategy going forwards.”

Despite the current challenges, he is still optimisitic about the future of Häfele Group, as well as the overall health of the sector. “I’m confident that this will work out”, he said, continuing, “We need realistic but ambitious goals in these times, but with optimism, I think we will continue to prosper.”

He discussed his views as part of a recent conference held at board manufacturer Egger’s headquarters in Austria. Along with Riekena, senior leadership figures from both Egger and Blum discussed what they feel are the biggest industry challenges affecting the current market.

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