Heating Up

Ariston Thermo Middle East marketing manager on the latest technology

INTERVIEWS, MEP

Ariston Thermo Middle East marketing manager Emanuele Stano explains why the water-heating market in the region is hotting up.

What is Ariston Thermo’s history in the Middle East?

The Ariston Thermo Group, formerly the Merloni TermoSanitari Group, has been operating in the Middle East region for more than 30 years, together with our partner Paul Weil Company LLC, which operates in some of the countries of the region. We entered the market with our historical core business product, electric storage water heaters, and have sold several million of them in our long presence in the market. Nowadays Ariston has a unique recognition in the market thanks to the proven quality shown over three long decades. In the last five to six years we have also launched new product lines such as gas boilers and solar systems.

How important is the MENA region to the global group?

We have launched our different product lines in the 13 countries that we are managing from our Dubai offices. These do not include North Africa; but from Dubai we also cover the Levant countries, KSA, GCC, Iran and Afghanistan. The Ariston Thermo Group has a total turnover of above US$1.8 billion, with a global sales network which distributes in more than 150 countries. It is the most international player in its sector, with almost 50% of sales coming from outside EU countries.

What products and services do you offer here?

In our product portfolio for the Middle East region we offer different models of electric storage water heaters with capacities from 10 to 3 000 litres. We are also commercialising instantaneous electric and gas water heaters, gas storage water heaters, gas boilers and solar systems. In 2010 we are launching a revolutionary range of sanitary water heat pumps, and as per the evolution of our water heater range, in accordance with the latest European directives on energy saving, we are introducing a comprehensive new product range with new aesthetic and technical features.

Can you tell us a bit more about your Nanomix innovation?

This provides more hot water in comparison with a traditional water heater of the same capacity.

Specifically, a special water inlet pipe guarantees 10% more hot water output. It is based on improved mixing efficiency: during a water draft, normally the cold inlet water ‘disturbs’ the hot water inside the tank, so that the outlet water temperature will go below the comfort value of 40°C.

The special inlet pipe keeps the cold and hot water layers well-separated, so that the water draft can last longer (the outlet hot water will reach later a temperature below 40°C).

Your affiliation with Europe obviously means the latest trends and developments get introduced to the MENA region quite quickly?

Exactly. With six million water heaters produced a year, and 19 factories all over the world, the group must always respect the latest and strictest regulations coming from any of the major markets.
The Middle East market, being supplied from the same factories which manufacture goods for Europe, offer only CE-certified model ranges, which comply with European regulations in terms of safety and performance.

Do your products have to be adapted at all for local conditions?

Our product lines have been calibrated on the most extreme conditions to satisfy the market demands coming from any of the 150+ countries where we sell our goods. In our region, only KSA requires a special safety valve to respect the SASO regulation. Therefore we have a specific full line of products equipped with this accessory for our Saudi customers.

What are the main markets you serve?

We have dedicated sales teams for projects and retail. With the booming growth in the real estate market over the last decade, a big effort was placed on tender sales, and this guaranteed us the biggest market share and premium recognition today. We can answer the demands for any hot-water requirement, from domestic use to industrial. Nowadays the opportunities are coming from the ‘green’ technology approach in new buildings, but also from neighbouring regions such as Eastern Africa and Central Asia.

What gives you the edge in such a highly competitive market?

Thanks to our presence over the last 30 years and the recognised quality of the products, Ariston continuously increased its presence in this market, with several competitors appearing and disappearing in terms of the competitive scenario. In the water-heater sector, Ariston is the major player in the UAE market, with internal marketing estimations giving us a market share about three times larger than our nearest competitor.

What are some of the major trends impacting on the market here? Are green building and sustainability major drivers?

As a group, yes, this is a focus, with big investment in solar systems, heat pumps and energy-saving appliances. In the Middle East we are in the starting phase, with a lot of interest being expressed in solar. It will still take some years to reach a mature market level in this regard. Sensitivity to energy efficiency has still not matured here. I am sure this will happen in the next few years.

The low cost of electricity is not pushing users to save on energy consumption. However, the government is putting much effort into this new green trend, and the results will soon become apparent, with solar systems becoming more and more popular in both domestic and commercial buildings.

How has the economic downturn affected business regionally and globally?

Of course, the second half of 2008 and the whole of 2009 presented us all with a challenging scenario. From this altered economic perspective, new opportunities emerged, and if markets such as Dubai showed a slowdown, others such as Abu Dhabi, Qatar and KSA kept on at high levels, guaranteeing an overall good performance for the area. Emerging markets are still showing strong growth. Globally this has been the occasion to revise some procedures in order to consolidate the growth of previous years and to be even more competitive as soon as the markets again start pulling in the sales.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

In our sector we probably still have to face the impact of the stopping of many real-estate projects in the region. Few new construction projects have commenced in the last 18 months, and this will mean little demand for water-heating appliances during 2010 and 2011. However, as stated, this will be compensated for by new markets that we are exploring, along with new opportunities arising from the new product lines that we are launching.

Latest technology for the Middle East

The Ariston Thermo Group has launched a new range of electric storage water heaters (50 to 100 litre capacity) in the Middle East. Anticipating continuous technological innovation, and in respect of the latest European standards on energy efficiency, the Ariston worldwide product offering has been updated. Commercialisation of the updated range in the Middle East began in January 2010.

Technical specifications such as the heating element power rate, voltage, tank working pressure and external dimensions have not been changed at all. However, building on the strong foundation of the renowned quality of Ariston products, certain improvements have been introduced to all models in the range.

These include Nanomix technology, which guarantees improved performance due to new internal components, a new unbreakable external thermometer, new finishing technology for the external casing, new Italian-designed aesthetics and more resistant carton boxes.

The new PRO ECO model, thanks to electronic control, presents a wide range of features, including the BEST control system, the ECO function for energy-saving, a front LED control panel with a ‘smart’ thermometer, an ABS safety package that includes active electric safety, an anti-overheating system, an anti-dry heating function, an auto diagnosis function and an anti-bacterial function.

Titanium Plus glass-lined is offered on the PRO ECO model.

The existing Ti Tronic and Ti Tronic BEST ranges will be replaced by the new PRO ECO range. The existing SG R range will be replaced by the new PRO R range, while the existing SGHP range will be replaced by the new BLU R range.

The Ariston Thermo Group, a global leader in heating and hot-water products, has a leading position in three key sectors: water heating, central heating and air-con, and components. Its range includes wall-hung and floor-standing boilers, water heaters, solar systems, heat pumps and air-con.

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