Bissell aims for big sales gains, expanded range in ’09

By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: US floorcare giant Bissell is planning to double its business here within the next year, and is set to expand from wet cleaning into other cleaning products to help it do so.

Speaking in a face to face interview with Current.com.au, visiting Bissell Sales, Marketing and Product Development vice president, Jim Krzeminski, said the local arm aimed to build on its first year of full ownership and grow from here.

“Even the first few months were a bit rough, but we made it through 12 months and … we’ll do twice as much this year in actual turnover than we’ve ever done in the history of Bissell,” he said.

Later in the interview, he went further, saying that, “I think we’ll double and triple the size of this business if we do stick to the Bissell strategy and what we’ve done in the US. We’ll do that here and other parts of the world”.

That strategy, he said, was simply to be customer focused.

“It’s one thing to open up – we’ve done a terrific job of distribution – I think our trade customers have been open and very supportive, as we bring [in] a new category that is incremental. For them, deep cleaning has never been really nurtured here – I don’t think we’ve done it as well as we could have, so they’ve been kind to us, but sooner or later, you just can’t rely on displays in store.”

As a result, greater efforts would be placed on advertising and other promotional tactics, such as a possible localisation of the company’s PetWash strategy in the US, which put real owners’ pets on PetWash boxes.

“Don’t use a US pet on the front of your box. You’ve got a few unique breeds of Australian dogs,” said Krzeminski.

Another part of the expansion strategy would be the first non-wet cleaning products, he revealed, with the Versus bare floor cleaner and Rug Stick rug-oriented model both due next year.

“The Versus will be quite clever – it’ll be for bare floor cleaning – both corded and cordless. Clever, [in that it uses] patented technology that does a better job on a bare floor. Large objects, small objects, edge cleaning, because typically, people pick what they’re going to be good at, but the consumer wants to know ‘Why can’t we get one that’s good at cleaning bare floors, as opposed to cleaning certain debris on bare floors, or I still have to sweep around the edge?’”

The Rug Stick would be aimed at people who wish to clean their rug quickly prior to deep cleaning it.

Krzeminski did admit the company’s multiple ownership changes locally had harmed the brand, but confirmed it would remain in Bissell’s hands from here on in.

“Here, now, our goal is to build a sustainable that will last forever and that’s going to grow. We keep customers for life. It’s not ‘Who owns Bissell this year?’ Bissell owns Bissell from now on, and we’re going to treat it like we treat our brand around the world. Treat our customers well. Start there.”

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