2013 has been a big year for Dyson. The brand has launched a raft of new vacuum, Air Multiplier and Airblade products, and played host to Sir James Dyson for the February launch of its first water-based commercial appliance, the Airblade Tap. Overseeing all the action has been the company’s new managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Glenn Andrew.
After joining Dyson just over 10 years ago, the Briton has done the rounds at Dyson globally. Joining the company as group finance director in 2003, Andrew has also worked in supply chain management, set up the company’s Canadian business and oversaw the global Airblade business for five years.
Crossing the equator at the start of this year, Andrew took the reins of the Australian business, which has seen its fair share of chiefs. Following the 15-year tenure of MD Ross Cameron, the company was briefly led by ex-tobacco executive Michael Read, and then Ed Culley from Dyson UK, before Andrew was appointed.
Andrew is positive about the state of the Australian business — currently the fourth largest of Dyson’s regional businesses worldwide, after the US, Japan and the UK — but he says innovation is vital to maintaining a competitive edge.
“It’s a challenging environment to work in, but Australia is one of our most successful markets,” he said. “2013 has been a very exciting year for us, and we’re still hungry for more.
“We’ve probably launched more technology in 2013 than we’ve ever done in a single year before. Australian people are very keen to get their hands on the latest technology, being early adopters, and that fits us very well in terms of the speed at which we continue to innovate and we continue to generate new ideas.
“I think there’s still a lot of opportunity in the floorcare and seasonal categories as long as we continue to innovate and develop new technologies that work better. I think if we keep old technologies that are outdated and don’t perform well, then the category doesn’t really have any growth in it.”
With the brand firmly positioned at the premium end of the floorcare and seasonal categories, Dyson doesn’t pay much attention to cheaper rivals, preferring to focus on its own product development pipeline.
“I strongly believe that people want the best technology and the latest products that work better,” he said. “And if they are unfortunately convinced by something that doesn’t work better, they will quickly work out they’ve made a poor purchase.”
The one instance in which Dyson will turn an eye to a rival brand is “if it’s breaching our intellectual property”, according to Andrew. While he wouldn’t comment on Dyson’s recent legal stoush with rival brand Samsung, Andrew said the company spends AUD $2.5 million a week on research and development and would therefore continue to “vigorously protect” its intellectual property.
Court cases aside, the Dyson gaze is largely turned inward on its own developments. According to Andrew, this is an ethos that retailers can also adopt.
“The retail environment in Australia is hugely competitive, but actually that’s no different to anywhere else in the world,” he said. “The retailers that will do well are those that focus on the people who shop at their store, their consumers, rather than necessarily worrying about what the competition is doing.”
To help them in this regard, Dyson works closely with its retail partners on creating a unified and slick brand message in-store.
“The in-store and retail environment is still very important in Australia, so we’ve continued to invest significant resources into our retailers’ in-store environments…putting shop-in-shops into our retailers’ stores, and training store staff so that they’re able to explain Dyson technology to the people that come into their stores.”
With 2013 coming to a close, the changes at Dyson Australia are far from over. The brand recently welcomed a new communications executive to the local team — another recruit from the UK office — and farewelled its long-serving marketing manager Karen Gentles and PR communications manager Erica Galea.
Dyson is now in the process of hiring for the newly created roles of sales director and marketing director, as well as growing its team with further support staff.
Asked if these changes were representative of a broader shift at Dyson, the new MD became philosophical about the future.
“We always look at how we do things better,” he said. “It’s about making sure we’ve not only got the right technologies and the right products, but also the right structure and the right people to be successful.
“We never look forward 6 or 12 months; we’re always looking forward 3, 5 or 10 years. We will constantly challenge ourselves to make sure that we are structured well to support those new products and that growth for the future.
“The future for Dyson here in Australia and for Dyson globally is very exciting.”