How important is internationalisation to Gira?
Simone Kulla-Wolinsky: International positioning is an essential means of maintaining our competitiveness and ensuring our future viability. Around 90 percent of the market potential for building automation and smart home technologies is outside Germany. The emerging markets, which include countries such as China, are of particular interest to us because their flourishing construction sectors offer the opportunity for long-term growth. By contrast, only moderate growth is possible in the German market, because both we and our competitors already have high levels of market penetration.
What are the greatest challenges here?
Simone Kulla-Wolinsky: The technical requirements for products vary from one market to another and we have to work with different installation standards, such as the British standard. In addition, the electrical voltage is not the same all over the world. Sociocultural factors are also involved, such as varying tastes, different relationships with design and individual installation and operating preferences, all of which we have to take into account. Within our own organisation, we need to increase awareness of internationalisation. This includes ensuring that we have enough international employees and considering legal issues and the company cultural fit when we hire new staff. We also have to adapt our structures to meet the requirements of international business and to accommodate a much larger volume of orders from outside Germany, for example from projects in China and the UK. Areas such as customs and freight management will become much more important in future. It is essential that the employees at our headquarters in Germany are aware of the very different requirements of foreign markets and the special factors involved in doing business internationally. We need to take a more international approach.