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Not at any price

Interview with CEO Bernd Eckl

With the war in Ukraine, rising costs, and regulation, the current pressures on companies are varied and great—also and especially for medium-sized companies. An interview with CEO Bernd Eckl about integrity, bureaucratic requirements, and potential in the BLANC & FISCHER-Group.
Mr. Eckl, what role does the Russian market play for the companies of the BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding today?
Last year, we decided to discontinue our activities in Russia and have closed the only Russian site, a sales location.
How serious is this decision?
Essentially, the Russian market is very appealing for our business groups, as there is purchasing power and demand for premium products for the kitchen there. However, in view of the Russian war of aggression, we are no longer addressing this potential and the further expansion of local business. We made the decision quickly and clearly. Business performance is important. But not at any price. The suffering of the people of Ukraine leaves us stunned and concerned.

Sustainability is part of our corporate strategy for good reason.

Bernd Eckl
CEO of the BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding

What effects are the rising prices having on the companies of the BLANC & FISCHER-Group?
The global uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine and the associated aspects of rising energy and raw material costs, supply chain problems, inflation, and interest rate rises place a double burden on us: on the one hand, due to the negative effects on our production and rising costs, and, on the other, because construction activity in western countries is cooling down significantly as a result. With weakened construction activity and overall economic uncertainties, demand for kitchens and kitchen equipment is also falling. In the German market in particular, the entry-level price segment is under great pressure. That’s why we are pushing ahead with our positioning in the premium segment and, where possible, passing on price increases to customers.
Many medium-sized companies are sounding the alarm about too much bureaucracy and regulation. How do you feel about that?

We have to be careful about making sweeping statements. But take, for example, the legal requirements for due diligence in the supply chain, sustainability reporting, or the regulation for medium-term energy supply security measures: I have to admit that such complex requirements represent an immense effort for a medium-sized company like us and can leave us paralyzed to some degree. And they weaken us in international competition. 

Please don’t misunderstand me: for us, sustainability is not a trend to simply go along with half-heartedly. Sustainability is part of our corporate strategy for good reason and we will consistently align our business group with sustainable criteria over the years to come. I am also personally committed to this course. Nevertheless, it is a matter of fact that the multitude of regulatory requirements are affecting medium-sized companies at a time of major and simultaneous crises.

Where does untapped potential lie for BLANC & FISCHER?
Our expertise at the cooking and water hub is unique and enables well-thought-out and networked solutions in the kitchen. With our design and technology expertise, we can make the lives of users noticeably easier, and customers are also willing to pay for this added value. But of course we also do our homework, put the corporate structure to the test, and lay the foundations for efficient processes. We will leverage the advantages offered to us by the common umbrella of the BLANC & FISCHER Family Holding even more effectively.

Sustainability Report 2023
as a PDF

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