18 A lasting legacy

Miele is a company built on strong principles, with its ‘Immer Besser’ approach to business – which means ‘forever better’. “There is no point being second or third,”

according to John Pickering, MD of Miele GB, Ireland and South Africa. This drive helped steer the company through an uncertain year and it is now focussed on the future with some impressive ambitions, as Jack Cheeseman finds out.


espite the turmoil caused by the pandemic, Miele reported that it had a strong and successful 2020; it had been “a roller coaster ride”, the company said, with a dip in

sales between March and May last year, followed by strong demand during the summer and an “outstanding” second half. Vacuum cleaners and refrigeration were

standout categories for the manufacturing giant and other successes include the Generation 7000 range of built-in appliances, plus Miele’s upgraded laundry care portfolio. Speaking to ERT in this rare and highly

exclusive interview, John Pickering, Managing Director of Miele Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa, says the pandemic has dictated a year of significant change… “Apparently we’ve had about 10 years of change in just one year.” When asked how business has been recently, he simply replies: “In a word, volatile!"

He adds: “Managing a business through such

uncertain times has been a real challenge. But we are very lucky and grateful for the support we continue to get from our electrical retail trade customers; they have been there since the very beginning when Miele launched in the UK and we would not have a business without them. “The test has been how we look after each

other as well as maintaining business continuity during these times,” Mr Pickering goes on. “I believe that some good has to come out of this in terms of what we have learned, as an industry and for us as a business.” Miele is guided by its core values

encompassing not just product development but how the company looks after its customers. For example, it is quite often recognised for the quality of its hands-on training, but of course from April last year things had to change; instead, Miele switched to online formats and held training over Skype and Microsoft Teams.

“We learned very quickly that we had to adapt

and use our existing and any additional resources as best we could to help support the trade, and we had some fantastic feedback,” explains Mr Pickering. After previously spending 23 years in the

FMCG sector (13 of those at Mars most recently), Mr Pickering brings a wealth of international experience in what he calls a “ruthlessly competitive” industry. He took up his role as Head of Miele GB in August 2018 – moving from one family, privately-owned business to another; these companies have the DNA of the owners imprinted in them, he says. “I heard one of the owners say once ‘it is my

name above the door’ and therefore it’s not just about business and profit, it’s about reputation and legacy.” These are two things Mr Pickering says he is hoping to build on at Miele to create an equally as strong future for the company.

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