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Ambassador projects, expansion Russian team

Philips exploits potential of LEDs in Russian market

"It is a challenging sector with enormous opportunities", says Wim Steeghs, Business Manager Horticulture LED Central Eastern Europe at Philips, when asked about the potential of using LEDs by Russian growers. This large LED manufacturer is aiming to open up the market for LEDs in Eastern Europe. "LED is booming in the horticulture markets in Europe." In order to exploit the potential of this market and to manage all projects, they have just expanded their Russian team with a Key Account Manager.

Maciej Krol, Alisa Shlyuykova (the new Key Account Manager) and Wim Steeghs of Philips at the FlowersExpo Moscow.

Interested, but hesitant
LED lightning is increasingly being used by growers all over the world. However, in Russia, it is still something new as the majority of the growers still grow under HPS lamps. Therefore it is an interesting market for Philips to enter. According to Wim Steeghs, the Russian growers are interested in new techniques like LEDs but are not aware of the advantages. "There are even rumours that LEDs are not beneficial. These rumours came into existence as some random LED suppliers installed the hardware without having the know-how of making them work - meaning knowing how to create the correct hardware and using plant specialism to make it work. So, some Russians are not eager to try it again", says Steeghs. For this reason Philips has been participating at the FlowersExpo for several years now. "We know the advantages of LEDs. We have 9 years of experience from all over the world.”

Ambassador projects
In order to show and prove the advantages of using LEDs over HPS, Philips is starting up so-called Ambassador projects in Russia. With these projects, they partner up with growers and install LEDs in their greenhouse and - this is according to Steeghs the key to success- will support them during the entire cultivation process. In the Krasnodar region, for example, they installed LEDs at a big cucumber grower. They do not have a trial running yet for flowers. They are looking for partners. "We have contacts with a lot of flower farmers and we met some interested growers at the FlowersExpo. In the Benelux we already have more than 5 hectares with TopLight HighOutput in roses. In Russia however, we need to be patient and should not rush into a project. There are some requirements; it is important to know if the grower really wants to participate, if they are capable of handling high tech equipment and of course if they are able to reach a required payback time"

According to Steeghs, "Even though LEDs will save money in the end -and it has a relatively short payback period (about 2-4 years)-, it remains a large investment. On top of that, financing a project does not seems to be that easy in Russia.

Expansion Russian team
Philips approach is to work in a triangle of knowledge. A key account manager, an application engineer and a plant specialist. All three will make a project successful in this approach together with a partner. The triangle/ team is now in place for Central Eastern Europe with an expansion of the team in Russia.
So, to exploit the potential of the Russian market and to manage future projects, they expanded their Russian team with a Key Account Manager; Alisa Shlyuykova. She will not only supply the hardware itself, but is also invest in transferring her knowledge about LEDs to the Russian growers. Shlyuykova studied at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands and has done several projects in Russia, the Netherlands, Belgium and several other European countries. Now, she will bring it over to the Eastern European countries, where she already has experience in developing new businesses. "So, the next step is to teach the local partners how to sell it, how to install it and how to maintain it. As a Key Account Manager, you have to know a bit of everything; the hardware, plant specialism, finance and sales", says Steeghs.

For more information
Wim Steeghs
Email: [email protected]