Exclusive: New Asko MD reveals future direction

For Australian operations.

In the first of a two-part interview, new Asko Australia managing director, Kevin Ke, told Appliance Retailer about his passion for the local industry and outlook for the future.

Ke joined Hisense Australia as managing director in 2009 when Hisense was in its early stages of testing and exploring elements of the market to determine the best way to grow a business and importantly a branded business. “At that time, and even today, most Chinese manufacturers were more OEM oriented. A decade ago, Hisense acknowledged this and wanted to explore more value added services and build a brand to grow the business,” Ke said. “There is no doubt that this is the overall goal of the company, and following the acquisition of Asko, is why I was given the opportunity to lead Asko Australia.”

He said to be a Chinese brand is a long, serious, and at times risky commitment and a lot of money is required to achieve results.

“With the Hisense acquisition of Asko everyone within the organisation recognised this as a perfect fit and something that Hisense values. Following changes to the management locally and globally, it is important to communicate a number of key clear messages about the future of the business.”

Asko’s place inside the Hisense group will receive a strong commitment to maintaining investment in R&D, product and marketing. It will be run independently and there are no plans to merge Asko and Hisense businesses into one team either locally or globally. “We are going to be independent, full stop, Ke said.

“What I want to share with our partners and retailer, is that we are going to keep running a pro-forma agency business because this is good business strategy for them and does not tie up their cash flow.”

When it comes to brand positioning, Asko Australia intends to consolidate its current position, and push further into higher ASPs, moving from a premium to luxury level.

“There is a huge opportunity here as the market is skewed to heritage brands. While I respect these brands, we want to differentiate ourselves by delivering better value for money and more choice at premium price points to excite retailers and consumers,” he said.

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