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Interview with the Commercial Director of the company «Weber-Stephen East» Mr. Dmitry Itsko

Interview with the Commercial Director of the company «Weber-Stephen East» Mr. Dmitry Itsko 28.03.2012

«To be able to cook on the grill — an art» — says commercial director of the company «Weber-Stephen East," Mr. Dmitry Itsko.

BBQ Expo: Please tell us about your company.

ID: Our company is a representative of the American company Weber-Stephen Products Co, the world leader in the production of grills, which exists in the market for 60 years.

We are working on the Russian market for three years. During this period, the number of points of sales Weber, in comparison with 2009 has increased by several hundred. You will find our grills in large networks such as OBI and «Leroy Merlin» and in the stores garden furniture, garden tools, etc. Since this year we start to open Weber flagship stores, each store will have ca. 100 sqm. exhibition space. It’s really a big breakthrough for the Russian market, in which the culture of grilling can speak with great reserve. However, we see the great interest of Russian consumers to our products. More and more people understand the beauty of cooking on our grills.

Products of Weber refers to a segment of «above average» and «premium». Price starts from basic models with a small four thousand, whereas the full model of a coal grill will cost around eight thousand. For those who are accustomed to teams of barbecue for 300 rubles, the price of our products may seem excessive. But at a minimum study the issue becomes clear that Weber grills are more appropriately compared with the more complex products. Weber specializes in all types of grills: coal, gas and electric. We also produce a huge number of accessories: how to use the grill and for cooking elaborate recipes.

What is important, Weber-Stephen Products Co — is a major driving force for the development of the market grills in the U.S. and Europe. In Russia, this situation develops. Our company has a very strong position in the market, we went there with a wide range, big ambitions and capabilities. Our objective in Russia not only be the leader in selling grills, not only to engage in sales. strategy of our company — to create a culture of barbecue. To do this, we participate in mass events, we help our business partners to organize a barbecue party. Finally, we are the only company in the world, which has its own network of academies grill on which everyone can learn to cook on the grill. While we are only at the start of this project, however, for example, in Germany, each year more than 10,000 people participate in such events. After all, able to cook on the grill — it’s an art. Weber offers more than a hundred of accessories for those who want to cook more complicated dishes than just grilled meat or chicken.

BBQ Expo: Dmitry, how would you rate the condition of the Russian market of equipment and supplies for a barbecue and grill?

FM: At the moment I would rate the Russian market in the first stage of development.

First, there are thousands of people are owners of our grills and they are actively talk about their benefits to their friends and acquaintances. Secondly, as I said before, more and more potential customers are thinking about grills. The breakthrough for the gas grills market was in 2010. Now we can talk about sustainable demand, increasing every year, many times. In the U.S. and some European countries, gas grills are sold by the piece, even more than coal — they are much easier to use. You press the button, turn the knob and five minutes later the grill is ready. We are only at the beginning of this path, however, confident that the movement will be rapid and dynamic.

Finally, electric grills — thanks to Weber consumers that they are able to cook real barbecue at his balcony, without resorting to questionable cheap devices that now bear the name «electric grill».

Market trends, in my opinion, are as follows. The Russian market in the next 10 years at least will rapidly develop in the upper-middle segment of the grills. The market will grow by 100–200% per year. Chain stores now find it necessary to have a wide range of Chinese coal and sometimes gas grills. The more the ordinary consumer will be familiar with the possibilities of the grill, then they buy a more expensive and durable model. For example, Weber grills are on average more than 15 years if used properly. Not for nothing, we give a limited warranty for 10 years for coal-fired grills and up to 25 years for gas.

BBQ Expo: Dmitry, tell us about your plans for 2012.

ID: Our goal for this year — to complete the formation of large pool of network clients and begin to build cooperation in the direction of quality and size of your presentation. For example, hundreds of OBI in Germany have 50 sqm. space for Weber Grills. Our task is to begin to shape this trend in Russia. It is also very important for us brick and mortar store format. We are planning this year to start cooperation with about hundred of these stores.

BBQ Expo: Dmitri, why did you decide to take part in the exhibition Barbecue Expo Moscow 2012?

FM: For the past two years we have built a solid base for further cooperation. We started working with major clients and contacts who are on the surface. Now our task is to carry out detailed work with potential customers who are just thinking about expanding or diversifying their businesses. We want to show their products to potential partners, to tell their conditions of work, which, incidentally, on the market — better than average. The best way for that is a specialized exhibition like Barbecue Expo.

BBQ Expo: What are you going to exhibit at the show? Are there any special deals for visitors?

FM: We are planning to put a balanced range. The people who will visit our booth, will get all necessary information they need. On the other hand, we see no point in overloading the booth with all nomenclatural units of Weber, whose number — more than a hundred. Our task is to leave people with a full understanding of the issue, but not with a headache from information overload. As for the deals — work with partners such as Weber, in the early development of the giant grill market — this is a special offer!

BBQ Expo: What kind of visitors you would like to see on the stand?

FM: First of all, of course, we are interested in potential partners. People who are interested in developing their retail business, and they are looking for new ideas. However, we will be glad to virtually every visitor, as any man — is a potential buyer of grills. And if more visitors will stop at our booth, more customers we get at the output.

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