Business News

Husqvarna invests in diversification and development


Locally based Husqvarna has enjoyed significant growth – even during the pandemic.  They’re growing into Africa, helping to revitalise SA’s economy and seeing a growth in the number of small agricultural growers.

Husqvarna South Africa, a subsidiary of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of forest, park, garden and construction products, will contribute towards the revitalisation of South Africa’s economy through the appointment of local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for selected products as well as diversification into quality, affordable products for emerging farmers.

According to newly appointed managing director, Pieter Smuts, these forward thinking moves come on the back of significant growth over the past three years as well as a few “silver linings” during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that, whilst there was a possibility that business could come to a standstill during March and April 2020, Husqvarna instead benefited from a significant sell out of its manual and petrol sprayers which were used for sanitisation and saw sales of garden equipment improve as home owners began doing their own gardening and updated their equipment.

Smuts, who began restructuring the business in South Africa when he was appointed country sales manager in 2018, is now responsible for Husqvarna’s dealership network not only in South Africa but also in a number of other African countries. These cover not only Southern and East Africa where Husqvarna is a market leader but also West Africa and the islands of Mauritius, Madagascar and the Seychelles. 

 

One of the key trends that is emerging is an increased number of small growers, especially in the forestry sector, he says.

“From an agricultural point of view, we are moving into small scale farming and trying to help up and coming farmers. The future will come from these farmers and so we have to shift our focus. We need the product range that aligns with this growing segment. We are on the ground, looking at the specific needs of that segment of the market that doesn’t have the cash flow to buy big tractors and equipment. In the forestry sector, in particular, emerging farmers cannot afford a large harvesting machine and still need chain saws,” he explains.

 

The addition of new affordable products such as tillers, generators, water pumps and pressure washers that adhere to the same quality and safety standards for which the Husqvarna brand is well known and respected supports this growing market.

 

Smuts is also looking to establish a strong sales network throughout Africa. This will be similar to the revived dealer network that kickstarted Husqvarna’s recent growth in South Africa.

 

In the last two years, South Africa’s dealership network has grown significantly in both number and geographic footprint. 

 

“If we look at our sales figures, this has had a significant impact on our growth. I always believe that the more we put Husqvarna in customers’ hands, the more we will sell because the best marketer is a happy customer who talks to others,” he says.

 

An equally important, though far slower and meticulous process, has been the appointment of locally based OEMs for selected products.

 

This is an important means of contributing to economic recovery in Africa while growing Husqvarna’s competitive edge locally.

 

The first OEM was appointed last year with a second possible OEM addition currently undergoing stringent quality checks required to meet the exacting standards set by Husqvarna globally.

 

“It is quite an extensive process because Husqvarna cannot compromise here. It took a year to get the first local OEM appointed,” he confirms.

 

Smuts says that Husqvarna South Africa is very aware of these high standards as it has a special testing team that not only carefully checks certain products from Husqvarna’s large global product range for use in South African conditions but also tests new products for global use.

 

“In a single country, we have very different weather patterns, so we can do tests in vastly different areas – for example, on the Highveld and down at the Coast. We have access to very hot, very cold and very dusty conditions all at the same time. Sweden, on the other hand, is cold and does not have dusty conditions which are very important when testing two stroke machines. That’s why we play a big role in Husqvarna’s testing in South Africa,” he says.

 

Husqvarna Africa is also expected to play a major role in cementing the Swedish multinational’s role in Africa. Smuts is already part of a global marketing team at Husqvarna that focusses on opportunities for growth in emerging markets.

 

Managing Director of Husqvarna South Africa, Pieter Smuts

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *