Simon Shaya, general manager and president, Grohe East Mediterranean and MEA, talks to CID about the sanitary ware manufacturer’s Middle East aspirations
What are Grohe’s plans for the UAE?
The UAE is very important for our business. In the last four or five years, Abu Dhabi has transformed. Abu Dhabi is stable and the emirate has a vision that has embraced its real estate developments. The Emirates, starting from Dubai, wouldn’t have reached where it is today without a vision.
This year hasn’t been easy for us in the region, but we are very happy to speak about growth compared to 2010. But it has been a challenging year.
The project market in the UAE is still vibrant and there is a demand for the newly-designed Grohe products.
What are UAE customers asking for?
The Middle East doesn’t have a specific product portfolio – we use the European portfolio and we are embracing most of the launches that are part of the European product programme. In general, the Middle East is a very advanced market – what is being demanded here is being demanded in Europe.
Innovations are very important for our company and in the last four or five years we have revamped 70 to 80% of our portfolio. It now contains products that are based on new technology and new ideas. Grohe recently unveiled some exciting digital products – digital showering and digital kitchen faucets – and these will be launched in the UAE shortly.
Please elaborate on these digital products and explain why they are special
Our digital showering products allow a customised showering experience. To start with, ladies and men have different requirements and each households has different patterns. Luxurious showering is important in our daily lives and is part of our enjoyment.
The digital controllers can adjust the water flow, temperature, music, smell, lighting – all from a couple of touches. You are not just taking a shower to clean up, you are taking it to enjoy yourself.
Similarly, people are using their kitchens for more than just cooking – they live in them. With our digital kitchen faucet, the instant boiler can get hot water off the tap. It’s a great solution for cooking and preparing tea or coffee.
We are launching smart products within an industry that was not really known for highly technologically advanced products.
How is Grohe promoting sustainability in the region?
The UAE is pushing sustainability, as we can see from projects such as Masdar. At Grohe, we are conscious about saving water, using less packaging and using materials that don’t harm the environment. We try and limit the carbon footprint wherever possible. For instance, by using local suppliers. We were recognised by DEWA for our water saving fixtures and we want to take our achievements around the Gulf to increase awareness about saving water while not compromising on luxury.
Are your products compliant with green building rating systems?
A lot of projects require LEED certification and we have won many jobs because our products are LEED certified. We have launched a range of products – called EcoJoy – that allow water saving.
What are your expectations for 2012?
Economically, the bad times are behind us and I am expecting a good 2012 around the Gulf and the UAE. I believe that things are heading in the right direction.