The Executive Interview: Roland Gerke, President and CEO BSH Home Appliances Holding (China)

BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSH) is Europe’s largest producer of home appliances and one of the leading companies in the sector worldwide. China is currently its second largest market and will become its largest in the coming years.

Roland Gerke has been living in China for nearly 15 years and has been President and CEO of BSH Home Appliances Holding (China) Co., Ltd (BSH China) since April 2002. In January 2011 he took responsibility for strategy formulation and execution, management of subsidiary companies, and development of the whole industrial chain for BSH China.

Roland-GerkeIn what ways has the business landscape in China evolved since you’ve been operating here?

We experienced continuous fast development after entering into China in 1994, with extraordinary growth, for example, from 2001 to 2012 where we had, on average, a double digit increase in turnover.

Our company has developed in a way that followed China’s socioeconomic developments. In the first phase from 1994 to 2004, we concentrated on the build up of our production facilities and sales and customer service network to cover the major urban areas in all provinces.

After 2004, during the second phase, we expanded our value chain to strengthen our R&D capability, develop products adapted to the Chinese market, enhance our technological lead, and structure our investments through the founding of our holding company. In 2011, our holding company was recognised as a regional headquarters and now provides services to the Asia Pacific region, such as product development and IT services. The BSH development path mirrors the economic development of China in general and is therefore also strongly supported by the Jiangsu Provincial and the Nanjing Municipal governments.

How important is it for you to develop products specifically for the Chinese market, and how important is innovation?

BSH pays strict attention to technology development and innovation. It is our aim to introduce the latest technology, products and lifestyle choices to consumers around the world and in this way provide better user experiences to our customers.

Our BSHAppliancePark in Nanjing has a central R&D centre that employs more than 350 highly qualified people. As one of BSH Group’s most important R&D bases in the world, the centre is responsible for developing innovative, high quality home appliance products with advanced design. It undertakes research and development not only for the Chinese market but also for other markets worldwide.

How do you deal with the issue of counterfeiting?
We firmly oppose counterfeit products which will seriously harm consumer interests. We will actively work with the relevant government departments to support their actions to crack down on counterfeit goods and contribute to the protection of the legal interests of consumers.

What CSR initiatives has BSH China taken?

We seek to live up to our social responsibility by extending a helping hand to people in need as well as supporting social and cultural projects. Through our products and actions we would like to make a significant contribution to sustainable development in China.

We are regarded as a major employer and customer in most aspects of our operations. Consequently, we have an impact on the local communities in China with such initiatives as the I-Green Education Program and the Creative Old Products Recycling Project. We also believe it is our responsibility to support as many charitable causes as we can, and have made donations to the John Rabe Foundation, the Foundation Project for Poverty Alleviation in Yulong and the drought areas in Yunnan to name just a few.

How important is the Chinese market to the future of BSH worldwide?

We are optimistic about the China market in the medium and long term, since, for example, the increasing levels of urbanisation, the rapidly improving living conditions and the changing lifestyles provide good opportunities for home appliance manufacturers. Our goal is to make every effort to meet our customers’ requirements and to provide a satisfactory user experience for our consumers.

The Chinese home appliances market will continue to grow and will eventually become the biggest market in the world. Our strategic position in China is improving every day. Today, China has become one of our most important research and development centres, production bases and markets.