Perfect Mix for Brand Building
Today Wilfa is the market leader in small kitchen appliances in porto finoli the Nordic countries, selling to all major retailers in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. It is also attacking export markets with gusto, launching Wilfa Germany GmbH in 2020, and opening distributors in the UK, the Netherlands and Poland, and in Spain, France, Switzerland and Austria in 2022.
Hof joined Wilfa, which is based in Oslo and was founded in 1948, after graduating from the Norwegian School of Business and Economics and the University of Trier. His first role was working as a controller in Hong Kong to learn how the factories that sold Wilfa’s products operated. When he returned to Norway he worked as a product manager, then as a key account manager and also as a marketing manager.
This wide range of roles has given me a complete understanding of the entire company, says Hoff, which I’ve used to build businesses where others haven’t been able to see opportunities. With a good understanding of consumer needs, our retailers’ needs and how our factories operate, I have been able to discover new categories, develop products at a rapid pace, and assure our retailers that we are the experts they need. Will be heard. It gives us great opportunities.”
Those skills were needed when the company’s then-CEO left, taking one of his agencies with him. “Since I had a good sense of what was possible, I quickly brought on a new agency to turn it around,” says Hoff. Within a few years, Wilfa had built the new brand to become the market leader, only for the brand’s owner to decide to do it all himself. Again, Wilfa found a new agency for Dyson, taking that brand from a three percent market share in 2015 to more than 50 percent in 2019. Once again Dyson decided to do its own marketing and distribution, and Wilfa lost about 50 percent of its business.
We have built several market-leading brands from zero
At this point, says Hoff, “we decided it was time to build our own brand instead.” The company launched the E-way electric scooter, kitchen knives and a complete assortment of pots and pans under the name of EGO and several other new Wilfa products. “As of 2020, we had nearly 100 percent recovery on turnover and we delivered higher EBITDA than we did in 2019,” says Hoff. “So now our strategy is not to take too much risk in foreign brands and we only take outside brands when there are categories that we cannot do ourselves.”
Wilfa, says Hoff, “is highly focused on the customer experience. While most of our competitors are making just another coffee maker, we ask ourselves, ‘How can we help consumers make better coffee?’ What are the pain points they know, or don’t know about, when making coffee?’ Then we enlist category experts, our brilliant engineers and best-in-class team to figure out how we can avoid these pain points.
“This means that our products often contain a smart solution that helps the consumer make better use of our products. We also focus less on the cost of the product when creating a solution, so we often go for a more advanced product. But we do it to make the best product on the market. This has helped us win 32 ‘Best-in-Test’ awards in 2022.
“The reason we believe we are the best in TEST is that we go to extreme lengths to make the best possible product without focusing on the price. This way we ensure that the product is tested as much as possible before launch. It is as good as it can be.
Wilfa still sources and distributes “already produced” products like many of its competitors, but we do this less and less because we do not believe this is a sustainable situation for the future with private labels and Chinese factories . Straight to market, Hoff says.
“What sets Wilfa apart from other importers is that we always strive to develop the best products, and we love to challenge the market leaders of each category. We’ve partnered with Oral-B on Electric Toothbrushes, Coffee Maker But Moccamaster has done this to challenge Kenwood on kitchen machines and we will continue to do so to give consumers the best possible product. Wilfa is already the market leader in several categories such as Waffle Maker – nine years in a row – Coffee Maker , Coffee Grinder, Ice Cream Maker, Ice Cube Maker, Blender, Sandwich Maker, Stickmixer and Humidifier.
Morten Hoff, CEO of Wilfa AS
“Another thing that sets us apart from many of our competitors is our strong focus on the tangible environmental changes in our products. This is why we implemented the FSC [Forest Stewardship Council] paper on all our instruction manuals, gift boxes and mastercartons, we changed our products to be better so we extended our guarantee from two years to five years, we removed 18 tons of Styropore, became an environmental lighthouse and now We are carrying out a full life cycle analysis on our products to see how we can become carbon-neutral by 2025.
“We have built several market-leading brands from scratch. Unfortunately, while doing so, brands seek to own up to themselves. This has led Wilfa to quite a bumpy journey with some years of good profits and other years of heavy losses. It has given me a better understanding of sales, margin, cost implication and how to avoid such challenges in future.
“Also, working with global leading brands has given us a good understanding of the market, how large corporations do business, and we are trying to take the best from that and apply those lessons across our organization. Wilfa is likely the most agile company in the industry, and we partially take advantage of operating like larger companies, and combine this with the flexibility of a smaller company. And we work with a very flat organizational structure, everyone can give their input on things, so we can make quick decisions.
“Since we have a lot of new people and we work in a changing industry, I have had to be very involved in operational tasks. I am a leader who is very involved in all the details. This especially During the past few years, as we’ve hired a lot of new people into our organization to help us achieve our goals, we try to divvy up each project to each employee, for the entire organization. Present an overview of our strategy so they can understand their role in the bigger picture and what their contribution is. We also openly communicate to all employees where we are, what the challenges are and how we are addressing them do.
Our products often contain a smart solution that helps the consumer succeed
“We always have a good discussion about the potential and risk before going into a new project. All category managers should make business plans, which we carefully go through and check with our experienced country managers. We ensure that costs are under control, as well as secure market potential.
“Our strategy plan is very detailed with concrete estimates and timelines. Progress is measured in our management meetings to make sure we are on track, and if we need to make modifications, we do so in the management group. We are clear about our financial goals, environmental goals, product innovations, guarantee costs, customer satisfaction KPIs, brand awareness and brand preference, forecasting and employee satisfaction. These goals are broken down into more concrete projects and each Employees are given tasks within a specific timeline with concrete KPIs and bonus models to motivate them to work together against our common goals.
Hoff is committed to a role that remains more hands-off than many company owners: “With the great opportunities that lie before us, I believe my main task is to ensure that we have the financial strength to organizational resources and competencies and the strategic plan to make it a reality. I will still remain fully active, as this sets me apart from many other CEOs in the industry. This has always given me a unique understanding of how our suppliers, what’s going on in the industry, our customers and the organization.
Despite all the problems with the global economy, Hof is realistic but optimistic: “Of course, we are also challenged by the current situation. The cost of goods is very high, the price of raw materials is rising, and with the current situation in Ukraine and the increase in prices for electricity, gasoline and other goods, the market is quite difficult. However, he adds: “In 2021, we had a turnover of €55m, and we aim to reach €100m for 2025.
“We believe that this will be primarily driven by new markets, new categories that we will launch and take market share by launching more and more interesting products. We will expand our range of products from mechanical products to apps with consumer-friendly solutions. -based products.