Axair Climate has recently added Fujitsu to its distributor portfolio in the UK. Here Paul Kingswell, sales director (below), sets out the reasons
AXAIR Climate, one of the UK's largest independent distributors and part of the Swiss-based WMH Group, has recently embarked on an aggressive expansion plan to increase market share substantially during the next three years.
The packaged product range has been strengthened with the addition of the Fujitsu split and VRF systems.
Axair is already the exclusive distributor of Fujitsu in Germany. Clear synergies exist between Germany and the UK. The company's SAP global IT system was already programmed to handle transactions; Germany already has years of experience on the product; and technical knowledge and support will now be a shared function between the UK and Germany.
Why not a Chinese product?
Axair has been promoting Chinese products into the UK for the past four years. These were budget R407C fixed speed compressor systems. Until recently they seriously undercut Japanese premium brand products on price and offered a genuine low cost alternative for customers wanting a no-frills product.
However, during the past 12 - 18 months the war for market share between the prime brand Japanese manufacturers has led to such high levels of price reduction that today there is little or no price differential between Japanese and Chinese brands.
Today's Chinese product using R410A and inverter technology is simply no cheaper than its Japanese equivalent. The Chinese are not yet able to sell high-tech environmentally-friendly R410A inverter systems in sufficient quantities to give the economies of scale they have enjoyed in the past with R407C systems.
And while we may consider premium brand manufacturers still to be Japanese the reality is that many of these products are already manufactured in China or Thailand so enjoy low manufacturing costs, while retaining the high quality we have come to expect from Japanese manufacturers.
So consider the end-users choice: a prime brand product from a strong, recognised brand such as Fujitsu or Hitachi; or an unknown Chinese product which will save only a few pounds. It's a clear decision: the prime brand will always win.
Axair Climate's strategy for the next few years was therefore simple to establish: continue to offer strong, established brand names with Fujitsu and Hitachi.
Many people may be surprised that Axair is continuing to promote Hitachi products alongside the new Fujitsu range. They should not be, as this is a logical move. Axair Climate recently received an award for 30 years as a Hitachi distributor. It has unrivalled experience with the products. The Hitachi Set Free VRF system is a well established range, its comprehensive R410A inverter outdoor range competes well with the market leaders. Success with the product has been through specification work, where consultants and end users alike recognise the brand strengths; namely quality, longevity, and strong after sales support through Axair.
It is intended to increase market share in the packaged equipment arena by, first, increasing Hitachi VRF sales; secondly, maintaining sales of Hitachi split systems to the existing client base; and, thirdly, by successfully launching the Fujitsu brand as Axair's principal range of split systems.
In the Applied area, the market share with the Hitachi Samurai chiller is growing strongly, and will continue to grow. The product has class-leading, low-operating costs which make it extremely attractive to end users, who themselves are under pressure to reduce energy consumption. Combined with the even more efficient next generation Ichiban machine, available this year, sales will continue to soar.
Fijitsu universal floor/ceiling air conditioner
Blue Box also has a new range of energy efficient R410A chiller products; plus rooftop packages, close control equipment and condensing units. The Blue Box range offers bespoke solutions and capacities not catered for within the Hitachi applied product range.
Axair is the manufacturer of the well-known Defensor and Condair brands.
The AxAir objective is to be a solutions provider; able to offer equipment from the smallest split system to chillers in excess of 1MW.
The Axair sales effort is focused towards end users and specifiers. The product ranges are not sold on initial capital costs. Axair approaches both end users and specifiers who will recognise the long term benefits of its products: low running costs through high COPs, inherent reliability through high manufacturing standards and lifecycle costs through effective service and maintenance.
Its extensive product portfolio is therefore supported through a network of highly experienced installation and service contractors. As with any engineered product, high installation and maintenance standards are essential to ensure long term reliability. So Axair Climate works alongside key account contractors to ensure best practice is utilised on all installations. These are contractors who have attended manufacturers training courses, are approved by consultants and end users, carry relevant insurance, have their own labour rather than sub-contractors and are financially stable. These are the contractors which Axair Climate considers to be partners and they complete the distributor/contractor/end-user relationship triangle.