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Dr. Stefan Müller: Talks With The Member Of The Board At Expert International

Talks with Dr. Stefan Müller

Talks with Dr. Stefan Müller, a member of the board at Expert International GmbH as well as the Chairman of the Board and CEO of expert SE, our partner from Germany.

Being the CEO of expert SE, Dr. Stefan Müller is known and valued as a top manager who always looks ahead and actively promotes further developments and innovations with ability to analyse complex issues in a very goal-oriented way of working.

  • Take us through the journey that has led you to your current role?

expert and me not only share a business relationship of more than 20 years, but also our 60th birthday this year. expert has therefore been part of my life for a long time and could almost be considered as a part of my DNA by now.

After my studies in mechanical engineering and my subsequent doctorate, I worked as a shareholder and later as an entrepreneur as managing director in the consulting and software industry focusing mainly on manufacturing companies.

I joined expert SE in 2001 as a member of the Executive Board of the departments IT and Logistics and have been Chairman of the Board since the end of 2018. Since then I also became member of the board of Expert International.

 

  • Describe what are your three biggest accomplishments?

There are three accomplishments of the entire expert team, that come to my mind.

The development of the strong expert network through intensive communication with our retailers and industrial partners having a strong focus on our customer.

To have build a strategy that includes a strong digital approach. Giving the examples: the development and integration of a uniform ERP System and the uniform approach of our local online-concept.

To strengthen our competence in logistics over all those years and to set an important foundation for the future with our new expert fulfillment center

 

  • Congratulations on the strong presence of expert SE at IFA in Berlin. What was your biggest takeaway this year?

The major topics of the IFA reflected the global and political situation. Lifestyle and comfort, sustainability and energy efficiency were at the forefront and are also playing an increasingly important role in experts portfolio and orientation.

My personal take-away is, in my opinion, the IFA celebrated a successful comeback after the Covid-19 break. The retail supports the concept. The number of visitors and the high presence of companies and corporations underlined the relevance of the trade fair. The personal exchange and dialogue with the suppliers is irreplaceable for the preparation of our seasonal business and therefore IFA is still a must for the industry and our cooperation – every year!

We are proud of our committed network that has been formed over the past 60 years. Entrepreneurship, courage, a clear idea of the business and – of course - a small portion of luck are our main factors of success – and will be in the future despite all the challenges.

  • How is expert SE preparing for the future? Do you think that development in the German market will be different from other markets? How your new Fulfillment Center will support this preparation?

Due to the globalisation, the German market will mainly develop similar to most other markets. Everything evolves around creating the perfect customer experience.

One of the topics to set up expert Germany for the future is the development and support of our employees in stores as well as in our headquarters. They are one of the major touchpoints of our customers and the heart of our organisation.

Another strategic topic for us is the increasing market penetration and brand awareness. We will continue to pursue our growth strategy in the coming years. This is evidenced by the recent takeover of six Alphatecc stores as well as the expansion of our existing cooperation with famila as a small-scale concept.

Furthermore, we will be continuously tapping online potential. The core of all our online activities is a clear focus on local allocation and regionality to benefit our retailers and add turnover to their stationary sales.

The commissioning of our expert fulfíllment center complements our strategy and provides the basis for delivering our products faster, more sustainably and more efficiently to our retailers and therefore improve the customer experience. Among others it enables flexibility in terms of ordering behaviour, product fluctuations or special promotions.

 

  • How does the current challenging economic environment impact expert SE?

The global development definitely has an impact on us and was therefore an important topic of our Annual General Meeting and trade fair held at the end of September. On one hand, our suppliers raise their prices. On the other hand, the costs of the retailers themselves are rising. Furthermore, the purchasing power of our customers declines, because they are also affected by the increasing costs.

We have been dealing with this development since autumn of last year and support our retailers in the best way possible to make use of saving potentials, but also in taking advantage of earnings potentials.

The focus on high-margin industrial partners and supplementary product ranges such as balcony power plants and energy efficient products are examples of how we align our product portfolio in regards of the economic environment.

We want and we will show that stationary retail in combination with a complementary online-business is the concept of the future. The personal exchange is still an irreplaceable part of a satisfied customer experience.

  • What major threats or opportunities do you foresee for expert SE?

As mentioned above, the current economic situation definitely brings challenges. As expert Germany, we are still confident and currently see no danger of imminent insolvencies of our stores, who will master the current challenges in the best way possible.

The recent years brought a shift in our lives for all of us. We learned to appreciate the advantages and convenience of the digital world, but we also experienced (maybe more than ever) that the personal interaction is still key. The profitable connection of off- and online business will continue to be a challenge in the future. However, the regional roots of our retailers and stores is one of our fundamental advantage and thus our chance. expert is regionality. Proximity to the customer is a lived practice for us and not just a promise.

 

  • As the CEO of expert SE, what is your ultimate goal for the future of the company?

My goal is to continue and expand the already 60 years long success story as the most successful cooperation in our industry.

We are proud of our committed network that has been formed over the past 60 years. Entrepreneurship, courage, a clear idea of the business and – of course – a small portion of luck are our main factors of success – and will be in the future despite all the challenges.

As a cooperation, we want and we will show that stationary retail in combination with a complementary online-business is the concept of the future. The personal exchange is still an irreplaceable part of a satisfied customer experience.

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