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Zoran Đurić, General Manager at Miele Serbia

Forever Better

It seems that the home appliance market has never been richer. However, it’s safe to say that the offer has not been complete until the world’s leading premium home appliance manufacturer – Miele – joined the Serbian market. Miele was founded in 1899 in Germany. However, the first Miele showroom in Serbia was opened in Belgrade in 2012, when the company started its successful business activities in our country.

Zoran Mircetic

We talked to Zoran Đurić, General Manager at Miele Serbia, about the brand that proudly expresses its motto “Immer besser”, i.e. “Forever Better” and is Germany’s favorite brand. We also talked about the products that set the standards in terms of durability, performance, energy consumption and design, as well as the company’s business results and operations in Serbia.

Mr. Zoran Đurić, General Manager at Miele Serbia speaks

for Profit magazine.

1. Mr. Đurić, what was your career like before you became General Manager at Miele?

As we all know, life can be quite unpredictable, which means that some business opportunities and challenges arise when we least expect them. That’s what happened to me with Miele. My long-term plans were directed towards eventually taking over the family business, but when I was given the opportunity to join the Miele team, my career took a completely different turn. Miele has been a synonym for quality for over a century, but when I joined the company, the brand needed to be treated as entirely new on the market and the whole system had to be set up so as to fit in with all of the company’s standards existing in Germany, as well as other countries Miele operates in. In the beginning, I was responsible for organizing the Service Team, after which I became Regional Manager and Sales and Distribution Network Manager. That’s how I arrived at my current position at Miele.

2. Miele has indirectly been present on the Serbian market for more than 15 years. However, Miele home appliances have only become available in official Miele retail stores after the company had officially entered the market. What is Miele’s current position on the market?

Miele has a long tradition in Europe, especially in Germany, where the home appliance manufacture was founded as a family business by Carl Miele and Reinhard Zinkann back in 1899. However, even though the brand was sought after in Serbia by those who were informed about the quality of Miele products, until a few years ago there was no specialized Miele appliance store offering our clients a wide range of products, excellent service and a different shopping experience compared to what they are used to. We can now proudly say that there are two Miele showrooms in Belgrade, where, in addition to a wide range of Miele appliances, the customers can also get advice from our colleagues on which appliances will best suit their needs and lifestyle. Not only do our showrooms offer an extensive product range, but they also allow our customers to learn about our company, talk to sales associates and get detailed information about the appliances they need. We are aware of the fact that Miele is a relatively new brand on the Serbian market and that there is still a lot of work ahead of us, and we are satisfied with our business operations so far. However, our goal is to bring our brand even closer to our consumers, show them the benefits our brand offers and explain to them why investing in quality still pays off.

from archive Miele

3. Miele is a company that has been setting the technological and quality standards for decades. What does the company motto “Immer besser” (“Forever Better”) mean to you?

Our clients set higher standards for Miele compared to other brands’ products, but we look at that as a challenge that we never fail to master and that is appreciated by our clients. Improvements are part of our day-to-day activities and they enable the company to move forward every year, not only in terms of quality, but also innovations in our product range, which clearly reflects the company motto – we will do whatever it takes to be “immer besser” (forever better) than our competitors, but also better than we already are.

For me personally, “Immer besser” means going a step further from what our customers are already expecting – and not just in terms of appliance quality, but also in terms of the quality of seamless repairs and services.

4. Technological progress is evident in many industries, which means that new trends and new technologies have settled into the home appliance market as well. Miele not only keeps pace with the progress in that area, but is also considered a company setting the standards when it comes to technological innovations. How difficult is it to keep up with this kind of home appliance technology?

MIELE has indeed always been the company setting the standards in terms of technological innovations, using electronic components in its appliances and diagnosing malfunctions electronically, while other brands still relied solely on mechanical components. We pioneered the implementation of home appliances into smart home systems and patented a series of solutions which were later adopted by other brands.

Even though Miele has stood for durability and reliability on the home appliance market for decades, if we wish to retain our current position, we must move ahead in sync with technology. Therefore, Miele is also the leader in the areas focusing on the future, such as Smart Home or Industry 4.0. Similarly, innovative business models have found their place alongside traditional ones, which is also the case with electrical appliances for the home, business or medical environment. For this reason, Miele is currently making its new business support system stronger with progressive ideas and technologies. As one such model, Miele opened a subsidiary – Miele Venture Capital GmbH, in order to make the capital available for new projects and ideas. That way, Miele Group is able to focus its projects, collaborate with start-ups and concentrate on finding creative solutions compatible with Miele products, services, values, and also business models and production processes. Within this subsidiary, the collaboration projects vary from joint development projects, management support, to direct ownership shares. Miele Venture Capital GmbH is only one way Miele fosters business development, and all with the aim of offering the customers maximum comfort and efficacy in the use of appliances in line with the technological progress.

from archive Miele

5. Miele is a synonym for quality and the only manufacturer in this industry that tests its products for a service life of 20 years. What is your opinion on the constantly decreasing service life of most appliances available on the market?

As the customers already know, a product’s service life is often proportionate to its market price. It would certainly be unrealistic and unjustified to expect a cheap, yet high quality appliance. However, clients seem to be having more and more problems with malfunctions and frequent repairs of relatively new appliances – situations that lead to failed expectations on the customer’s side. At that point, many customers start to think about investing their money in an appliance or a brand that will fulfill all their expectations, and we try to meet their needs and give them exactly what they need at that moment. We help people see the purchase of home appliances as an investment that is going to be worthwhile long-term.

As you said, Miele is the only manufacturer in this field testing every single one of its products for a service life of 20 years, while manufacture takes place in Germany, which is also a rare occurrence, for example, due to the expansion of the Asian labor market. Our clients already know all that and they have been loyal to Miele appliances for years, precisely because they are certain that what they are purchasing is a top quality product with a fully justified price in every respect.

6. You brand is known for its timeless elegance combined with minimum home appliance energy consumption, but Miele also has a Professional line for commercial use.

Quality and durability are the common denominator in all our product lines, including products for commercial use, because we know how important it is for professional catering and other facilities to be able to do the laundry, iron, wash dishes, and perform other maintenance tasks in an energy efficient and reliable manner. Miele Professional lines allow the clients to find precisely what is most important for their business, whether they have a small or a large laundry room. Energy efficacy of Miele appliances is a crucial argument for choosing our brand, but we must also take into account the numerous programs our appliances come with, which allow for their customization in line with the individual customer’s needs, as well as the fantastic design and production quality scaled to commercial use.

from archive Miele

7. What makes the brand Miele different from the competitors? Which products do you primarily focus on and why?

I will tell you what we often tell our customers – whichever Miele appliance you choose, top quality is guaranteed. However, the quickest and easiest way to discover the quality and use value, as well as the huge difference compared to other brands whose appliances you have used before, is to try our washing machines and dryers, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners. Miele entered the market with these products, and the years of specialization and application of the most sophisticated technical solutions have made these home appliances Miele’s trademark.

Miele’s product range includes cooking and baking, as well as steam cooking appliances, refrigeration units, coffee machines, and, as I already mentioned, commercial dishwashers and dryers, thermal disinfection and sterilization machines used for medical and laboratory purposes – Miele Professional.

8. The brand Miele has received numerous recognitions and awards, both for product design and by the consumers themselves. How important are these recognitions for your business and which ones are you especially proud of?

Miele is a brand that is successful and recognized all over the world, but what we primarily take pride in are satisfied customers. In addition to various awards, we are especially excited about the fact that Miele has repeatedly been voted “most trusted brand” in Germany, the brand’s home country, by the customers themselves, i.e. readers of the Readers Digest magazine. Miele received numerous awards as “Superbrand” Germany, and was also awarded by the German Kundenmonitor (customer monitor) as the brand with the highest level of customer confidence. When it comes to the Professional line, what matters most to us is the result of an independent research showing that as much as 97% of customers said that they would choose MIELE again.

Zoran Mircetic

9. How do you see the white goods market, both in Serbia and worldwide, in the next 5 years? What are your long-term, primary, and strategic goals and expectations for the oncoming period?

In addition to the first Miele showroom in New Belgrade at Bulevar Zorana Đinđića 64a, a new showroom was opened in Belgrade, at Balkanska 2. In these showrooms, the customers have a chance to test all appliances and check the performance and quality of Miele products right there and then, as well as to learn more about Miele technology and our business philosophy by talking to our sales associates. A period of more intense distribution and service network development is ahead of us, which will enable us to offer our customers and clients the best post-sale service. When it comes to global business operations, the previous period was full of innovations and contributed to company growth. This means that, for example, a sale of 900,000 washing machines is planned for this year, which is why Miele announced the opening of another washing machine manufacturing plant. On the other hand, our professional programs are moving along at the same pace as home appliances, which makes every new model even more perfect by adding new programs that are even more cost-effective and modern.

10. What sales scope and increase did Miele achieve during the previous year? What is the situation like on the local market?

In 2015 and 2016, Miele reached a turnover of EUR 3.71 billion from sales outside of Germany, which makes around 70% of total sales. Miele is represented in almost 100 countries by its own commercial entities and importers. Miele is currently owned by the fourth generation of its founders, and employs 19,000 people worldwide, 10,500 of them in Germany.

When it comes to Serbia, we are very proud of the truly great sales results, even compared to economically stronger markets, which clearly points to the fact that our customers are able to evaluate and recognize quality. Year by year, we see a double-digit growth of turnover, and the number of Miele Serbia’s employees has doubled since this company branch was first opened. Because of all these positive results, our representative office was entrusted with managing the Montenegro market in 2013 as well.

11. How do you spend your free time, how do you deal with the everyday stress?

Stress is, unfortunately, something we deal with every day, but I find that spending time with the people I love and doing sports helps me relax and release tension, both from the body and from the mind. I try to go to the gym three times a week, but my obligations often prevent me from maintaining continuity. In spring, when the weather becomes nicer, I enjoy riding my bike, but I especially look forward to winter as I am a huge fan of skiing. Recently, however, I have found a new way to deal with stress – something even more efficient than skiing – my twins, daughter and son, who currently take up most of my free time, and also make me simply forget about stress.