The secret to success? A powerful product and a talented team
08th December 2020
This week we spoke to Howard Grindrod, vice president of Leeds-headquartered Hisense UK, alongside Bill Goodwin, a partner at Ward Hadaway.
In the series ‘Inspiring Growth’ Yorkshire Post Deputy Business Editor Greg Wright talks to companies leading the way in the region.
“We provide both aspirational and functioning goods that are desired by people in equal measures,” says Grindrod. “Whether it’s a laser TV, pyrolytic oven or washing machine, we aim to provide the highest quality product we can.”
Seven years ago, Chinese-owned Hisense entered the UK market by establishing a base in Leeds. It originally employed five people from the area and focused on selling white goods only. Fast forward to 2020, after successive years of continued growth, the UK business is set to expand by 30 per cent as it cements its position as a mid-to-high end consumer brand. Following a corporate acquisition of appliance company Gorenje, Hisense UK now provides a much wider product range including electronics, dishwashers and ovens.
“Despite establishing the UK business when we were coming out of the last major economic crisis – the 2008 financial crash – we stuck to our quality-centric strategy and continued to grow as a result,” says Grindrod. “Selling superior products and providing first-rate service by our brilliant people is what we do. We don’t divert from this – it’s the vital ingredient to our success.”
When the pandemic hit, the 50-strong Hisense team switched to home working overnight; something no employee had done before. The company has always had a strong digital presence, but lockdowns and less instore shopping has seen Grindrod focus more on digital, improving Hisense’s website and partnerships with retailers online.
“All of our employees have been working from home since March,” explains Grindrod. “And they’ve adapted amazingly well to this given our sales strategy changed extremely quickly to align with the ‘stay at home’ message. With people at home a lot more, they’ve had time to think about their next in-home purchases. Online selling has become a much greater focus – our sales have increased – and we’ve seen our brand awareness improve too.”
As 2020 has seen Hisense UK’s digital presence strengthen – like other businesses across the region – is this is a sign for future growth?
“Digital is a strong retail channel to any business – it makes up 60% of our sales,” says Grindrod. “But I wouldn’t dismiss the role bricks and mortar plays in growth plans either. The remaining 40% is driven through physical stores.
“High street shops play a key part in any retail strategy and while digital will always remain strong, nothing replaces seeing that physical product in store. No business can adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy – we need variation in our shopping environments and our shopping experience. While the final delivery might be made online, the actual decision-making process very often starts offline. Physical shops boost online sales – they’ll always have a unique role in retail.”
Bill Goodwin explains why Hisense’s unwavering focus on quality has supported its rapid growth to become a distinguished UK brand.
“Hisense retains high quality standards across every single aspect of their business and it’s certainly paying off. By focusing on excellence, having in place an agile strategy that can respond to the most unexpected situations, and investing in a talented, innovative workforce, Hisense inspires growth and innovation. Grindrod and his team have definitely earned their place in this year’s Fastest 50 for an impressive fourth year in a row – they’re an asset to Yorkshire’s thriving business community.”
Hisense UK has just announced a two-year agreement with Leeds United to become an official club sponsor. The new partnership will see Hisense support the newly promoted team with extensive branding and see the company’s award-winning televisions installed at Elland Road and the Thorp Arch training ground.
Grindrod adds: “The Leeds United partnership highlights just how important Leeds and the wider Yorkshire region is to our future growth. We’re looking to expand our team in the next few months, hiring approximately 10 more people from the local area. Our continued success is down to two things: our product and our people. Without quality, innovation and passion in both, we wouldn’t be where we are today – and that’s why we’ve established ourselves as a trusted household brand not just in Yorkshire but across the UK.”
This article originally appears in The Yorkshire Post on 8 December 2020.