Markt&Technik: For many market observers, the news of the full integration of Hameg into the Rohde & Schwarz structures came as no great surprise. What’s the current state of play?
André Vander Stichelen: We’re in the middle of the integration process right now. All employees, customers, and suppliers have been informed. The goal is to liquidate the Hameg GmbH during the current Rohde & Schwarz financial year – meaning by June 30, 2016 at the latest.
What’s changing for customers?
We already consolidated the distribution channels of both units some time ago. This means that customers can continue to obtain the products via the usual channels like mail-order and specialist distributors as well as from the Direct Sales team at Rohde & Schwarz. The contacts remain the same – including product management. The Hameg.com website and the Hameg support hotline are being redirected seamlessly to Rohde & Schwarz.
What’s happening with the Hameg brand?
Hameg no longer exists as a separate brand. The ex-Hameg products have now been fully absorbed into the Value Instruments range marketed by Rohde & Schwarz, where they form an essential part of the portfolio that we’re also constantly expanding.
For some time, Hameg was seen as a “cheap brand” at home mainly with amateurs and electronics buffs. Will this clientele be put off by Rohde & Schwarz’s big name?
The image of Hameg products has changed greatly since the takeover by Rohde & Schwarz in 2005. Today, our Value Instruments address both home users and the entry-level segment with professional customers. We already have a large installed base on the training side as demand for cheap products is strong in that segment. That said, though, we are of course delighted with every single customer we have – no matter whether they are electronics buffs, professional developers or engineers.
Isn’t it dangerous to remove such a well-established brand from the market completely?
Well, we in Germany grew up with this brand, of course. Yet the Hameg name is best known in central Europe and less so in other parts of the world. Rohde & Schwarz, on the other hand, is globally established, standing for high quality test & measurement systems. In order to exploit this level of awareness outside of Europe for the Hameg products as well, we carried out a slow transition of the brands, from Hameg to the dual label and finally the sole Rohde & Schwarz label, and integrated the Hameg products in the Value Instruments range from Rohde & Schwarz. In terms of the brand name, the transition was already completed some time ago.
What does Rohde & Schwarz hope to gain from this?
The Rohde & Schwarz name is not associated enough with the entry level yet. Our name stands for attributes like quality and reliability. Nonetheless, the “expensive” label still casts a shadow over us, even if this is often not at all justified if you look closely and compare. We aim to correct this image with our Value Instruments. The integration of the Hameg portfolio will no doubt be helpful in this regard. In the final analysis, what we’re looking to do is to offer high quality products at competitive prices across all segments – from entry-level and mid-range through to high-end devices – and hence to feature highly in customer awareness.
Do you expect to increase your share of the market?
That depends on more than just our price policy. Let us take the example of oscilloscopes. In 2010, Rohde & Schwarz entered a market that was only growing minimally. It is only possible to gain market share here by squeezing others out. In turn, this will only succeed if you can provide technologically sophisticated products geared precisely to customer needs. And this is exactly what we’ve done. From just two products at first, we’ve massively expanded our portfolio to now offer models with over ten different types in three scope series together with a variety of application packages and accessories. We intend to continually extend the Value Instruments portfolio as well in the same way, enabling us to hopefully gain market share for the firm.
What strategies are you employing in this context?
Rohde & Schwarz traditionally takes a very long-term approach. To stay with the example of the oscilloscope... when we entered the market five years ago, our competitors didn’t exactly start panicking. Our portfolio was too small and we weren’t well enough known in this market. All that has changed. These days, Rohde & Schwarz is always included in the industry benchmarks. Putting it simply, while we used to operate completely under the radar of our competitors, today we’re right in the thick of the action. Nonetheless, we’re well aware that you can’t achieve in five years what others have built up over 50 years. This holds true for Value Instruments as well. Here, too, there are well-known vendors who have set the ground rules for this market. Although we have to play by these rules, we’re well on the way to making a name for ourselves in this segment as well. We’re sticking with it, constantly and persistently, as you would expect from Rohde & Schwarz.
What are your next goals?
The overarching goal is to grow – both organically and by means of add-on acquisitions. We want to tap new markets and expand our international operations. To achieve this, we need to extend our dealer network and maybe step away from the well-worn paths at times as well. This is where we benefit from our independence. What we can’t find on the market, we can finance for ourselves. Do you have any concrete plans here? Well, we’re open for pretty much anything …
The interview was conducted by Nicole Wörner.