Options checks out Liebherr’s flagship store in Singapore.

SINGAPORE (Apr 3):  When Liebherr, a specialist in cooling appliances, opened in Singapore earlier this year, Options had the privilege of a private walkthrough with Gian Paolo Glückler, General Manager of Liebherr-Singapore Pte Ltd, Appliance Division

The shop and office spaces are designed to offer customers a peek into the world of refrigerators and wine chillers. As we walk through, Glückler stops to highlight key points such as the various sizes, finishes and added design elements that we may have missed. One example is the “fully tropicalised system” that prevents vapour build-up behind the fridge which can damage your cabinetry. Glückler also points out the much-coveted kitchen island that can include a fridge built into its design.

Last but not least are the wine chillers in all sizes to accommodate the dimensions of your home. In fact, all the appliances serve a gamut of home sizes, from small HDB flats or condo units to larger landed properties and the kitchens of restaurants, says Glückler. If lifts are not able to accommodate the size of the appliance, a crane is hired to help. It is this confidence in the products that won the company contracts to provide cooling systems for projects such as Midtown Bay and Meyer Mansion by Guocoland; Sloane Residences by Tiong Seng; Dalvey Breeze by KOP and Low Keng Huat; and Leedon Green by Hongkong Land and Yanlord Land.

Cooling systems may seem like a far cry from Liebherr’s beginnings, which was in building cranes and other heavy construction equipment. However, it was a natural progression for the company, founded in 1949 by Hans Liebherr and still family-owned, to move from building homes to cooling systems — because homes nowadays need refrigerators. “People are actually surprised when they hear that we do appliances... The founder’s expertise is in engineering and he helped rebuild Germany after the Second World War,” Glückler says.

At the time, when Hans learned that one out of every 10 homes in Germany had a fridge, he realised that there was a market potential. Taking the next step to furnish each home with a refrigerator, he built his own factory to manufacture the cooling appliance in the southern part of Germany. That was how the refrigeration division was started. “We are a German company with headquarters in Switzerland,” Glückler concludes. The Liebherr Group now comprises over 130 companies in more than 50 countries on every continent.

The company notched up a turnover of €10,551 million in 2018 — breaking through the €10 billion barrier for the first time in its history. The company is not about to add more products in its current stable, says Glückler. “Liebherr only does what they’re best at as a technology leader and quality leader; in order to achieve this, you have to specialize in a certain product. If you do ovens, hobs, extractors, fridges — you’re not the best at anything,” he adds.

The 70-year-old company has only just entered the Singapore market. What took so long? Glückler answers: “We have been present in the Singapore market for 15 years through a distributor, which is not uncommon when you are starting a new market. Singapore is growing and we have to be present to handle a big local market.” In order to grow, Nagel adds, they needed to change from a distributor approach to a direct approach — this is what the end-consumer expects. “They want to have a direct contact to the brand; for example, the showroom is one platform to do that. Same for developers — they normally don’t accept operating through distributors. They want to have direct access to the principal.”

At the moment, the market is equally divided between selling to developers and homeowners, says Glückler. The success rate Liebherr has had with developers comes as the company understands refrigeration and is able to help the developers plan and install appliances as well as give suggestions on choice of cabinetry. For homeowners, Liebherr is here to help you through the process, says Glückler, adding: “We go through with our customers on their needs, how big is the family and find out about their lifestyle.” It is a 360-degree approach and the company makes sure our customers get a proper consultation, delivery and service, adds Glückler. 

 

KEEP YOUR COOL WHEN BUYING YOUR FRIDGE

Getting a fridge can be daunting – it is a big-ticket item that is on 24/7 in your home. Here are some tips from Glückler to help you.

  • It is an item that holds food, so it has to be of high quality. A good fridge is much better when it comes to preserving the vitamins and nutrients of the food.
  • It should not come as an afterthought. There are some homes where the fridge does not fit properly and leaves gaps between it and other furnishings.
  • Refrigerators can be very flashy or completely invisible, so always check your design option.
  • Measure the depth. People tend to measure only the height and the width. “I’ve seen fridges protruding [out of the design] by 10cm,” says Glückler.
  • Take note of the number of persons in the household. Glückler has seen people with fridges way too big for a small family.
  • If your diet includes a lot of vegetables, make sure you have vegetable drawers that are zero degrees with biofresh technology.
  • If you throw a lot of parties, look for an integrated icemaker that gives you a constant supply of ice.