“Lebanon is our main and first partner when it comes to expanding into another part of the Middle East or Arabian countries”
- Mr. Bjorn Tiebing, International Sales Manager
Why did you choose Lebanon as a market?
We saw a good business opportunity in the Middle East, and the question was where to start. Since we are operating with Swiss mentality, which means we are very straight and very exact in every detail, we are looking for people who are reliable, trustworthy, and this was our first issue.
The Lebanon market, itself, so small it may be, but it is one of the biggest of our distributor operations and we do not think this is just chance. Lebanon, like Switzerland is a small country, but it is a big market when it comes to several details, and this comes from the quality mentality. And this quality mentality is what we found by experience and even since we first approached our partners here in Lebanon.
What is it like to work here in Lebanon?
Punctuality, precision are very important for us as Swiss. People trust in the quality, the ingredients, and every detail in the process and the people who are selling it. This is what we expect from our partners as well. We expect our partners to do the very best.
For an international company it is sometimes difficult to receive what you are looking for, in many different ways.
Planning is important, and for a sales company, it is not always easy, because the environment is always changing quite, quite fast.
We try our very best in sales to react to changes in the environment to make happen what we have planned, and as you can imagine, you normally find an attitude, a mentality to over promise, under deliver. The more South you get in Europe, the worse this mentality becomes.
What is absolutely outstanding in the Lebanese market and one of the reasons we keep staying in the market and want to stay much longer is that if our partners here plan ahead, they deliver.
This is because they do their very best.
What makes Lebanon an important market for you?
There is a trust relationship that has been built over the years (over 35 years), and this trust has never been compromised. Lebanon is our main and first partner when it comes to expanding into another part of the Middle East or Arabian countries. We do not ask anyone else. We first ask our Lebanese partners for their advice and their support. Lebanon is a hub for the Arab region.
Our partners have always over delivered, even in the bad times the country has been going through.
Why do you think that the Swiss-made components of your products are appealing to this market?
Our products are made in Europe. A good part is made in Germany; another part is made in Italy. The best parts are made in Switzerland. All the electronic parts are made in Switzerland: The timer, the high-tech Navigenio hotplate. Everything that depends on precision is made in Switzerland.
The fact that we are producing in Switzerland gives us a high-end image not only to produce, but to sell. Our products are so reliable and such high-end quality that we used to give (up until the late 1990s) life-long warranties. We had to reduce it to 30-year warranties because many countries do not allow us to give life-long warranties. So we give the maximum that the legal environment allows.
Why do you think that Lebanese buy your products?
Lebanese wish to be very precise, at least more precise than many other countries.
Chile is considered the Switzerland of South America; Philadelphia is the Switzerland of the United States, and we consider Lebanon to be the Switzerland of the Middle East, when it comes to precision.
Coming from a specific niche market selling pots and pans; this is a lifestyle product. Some seem to think that cooking products are a necessity but we are a lifestyle company. The selling experience with lifestyle products especially when it comes to cookware is absolutely stunning especially in regards to the enthusiasm of our customers. Of course it also comes from the enthusiasm of our consultants and sales consultants. All over the world our customers are very enthusiastic about our products, but in Lebanon, the enthusiasm is on a much higher level. They are more intense. Even during cooking demonstrations, you find that Lebanese are so interested in looking inside the pot, even if they know exactly what is in there and they know the recipe by heart. There is an intense curiosity. In other countries, people keep a bit of a distance.
Due to the importance of family in Lebanon, there is a bigger interest in cooking, and an interest in our products; this will make our business easier.
What makes Lebanon an important market for you?
Lebanon is our hub for the Middle East, greatly influenced by the experience we have made with our partners, who really uphold precision. Lebanese are excellent problem-solvers. The educational levels of people is much higher than in many other countries, so people are eager to learn more and are open to other ideas, which may be also caused by the necessity to know at least two languages here. This sort of determines the level of openness they need to have and the level of education that they need to have, so you would expect more than from some other countries.
Lebanon is truly the Switzerland of the Middle East, not just because of its snow-capped mountains, but the precise way they do business.