Husqvarna to help SA grow green shoots in recovery
CAPE TOWN - HUSQVARNA South Africa, a subsidiary of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of forest, park, garden and construction products, plans to contribute to the revitalisation of the economy by appointing local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for selected products.
The company also plans to diversify into quality, affordable products for emerging farmers, newly appointed managing director Pieter Smuts said on Monday.
These plans come following significant growth over the past three years, as well as a few “silver linings” during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said while there had been a possibility that business could come to a standstill during the March and April pandemic lockdown last year, Husqvarna 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 homeowners 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, was now responsible for Husqvarna’s dealership network in South Africa and in a number of other African countries.
These covered not only Southern and East Africa where Husqvarna was a market leader, but also West Africa and the islands of Mauritius, Madagascar and the Seychelles.
A key trend emerging in their markets was an increased number of small growers, especially in the forestry sector, he said.
“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,” he said.
“We are looking at the specific needs of that 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 said.
New affordable products such as tillers, generators, water pumps and pressure washers would adhere to the same quality and safety standards for which the Husqvarna brand was well known, he said.
Smuts is also looking to establish a strong sales network throughout Africa. This would be similar to the revived dealer network that kickstarted Husqvarna’s recent growth in South Africa.
In the last two years, the company’s South Africa’s dealership network grew significantly in number and geographic footprint.
“If we look at our sales figures, this has had a significant impact on our growth,” he said.
A far slower and meticulous process, had been the appointment of locally based OEMs for selected products.
The first OEM was appointed last year with a second possible OEM addition currently undergoing quality checks required to meet standards set by Husqvarna globally.
“It is an extensive process because Husqvarna cannot compromise here. It took a year to get the first local OEM appointed,” he said.
Husqvarna South Africa had a testing team that not only carefully checked certain products from Husqvarna’s large global product range for use in South African conditions, but also tested new products for global use.
Husqvarna Africa also expected to play a major role in cementing the Swedish multinational’s role in Africa. Smuts was already part of a global marketing team at Husqvarna that focuses on opportunities for growth in emerging markets.