An interview with Dr. Ralf Bartsch (BHB)
Since December 2018, the ‘Handelsverband Heimwerken, Bauen und Garten – BHB’ (Trade association for home improvement, building and gardens) has a new executive spokesman: Dr. Ralf Bartsch. The speaker of the executive board of Brüder Schlau GmbH & Co. KG has already been active on the BHB board for years, including in the position of chief financial officer of the industry association.
Dr. Bartsch, the companies of the DIY store trade were able to increase sales in 2018 in comparison to the previous year both in Germany, as well as in Austria and Switzerland. Nonetheless, you call upon the DIY stores to further hone their profiles. Why?
Dr. Bartsch: That is right. First, as in other industries, we are finding that customer needs are changing. In times in which one can comfortably shop from the sofa at home, our traders must offer their customers a clear added value, so that they continue to willingly and frequently visit our stores. Depending upon the trader, this can of course be very individually designed. The area structures of the traders organised with the BHB e.V. differ greatly and are adapted to the respective strategic orientations of the companies. However, what applies to all is that the areas need to become more multifunctional if they also want to offer customers a true shopping experience in future. This can extend from event zones, test and hands-on areas to integrated hospitality lounge concepts. In whatever manifestation, this is oriented, as I said, to the variously pronounced sales concepts. Of course, the assortments must also adapt to the areas. High quality products, combined with rounding off commodity groups and the appropriate accessories – and that all in an attractive atmosphere: that will be the concept of the future.
Whether for lawn care, irrigation, sun protection or barbecuing – smart gardening themes are playing an increasingly important role. What does the increasing digitalisation of the garden assortment mean for the services offered in the DIY store? Do you see this development as more of a challenge or a chance?
Dr. Bartsch: The latter, without a doubt! With a broad and deep selection of appropriate smart garden products, our garden centres have the possibility to prove their assortment and their consultation competency. Individual consultation truly plays a key role here. Some buyer groups demonstrate a certain aversion to the digitalisation of their to date more analogue gardens. This also has to do with the different technical standards according to which the smart applications function. Our competent specialist personnel can lessen this aversion in individual discussions and encourage potential buyers to gather experiences and try things out with innovative digital products, whether lighting, irrigation, barbecue, etc. Our garden markets ultimately also ensure that these have become more affordable through the procurement of larger numbers of units.
Are you also personally enthusiastic about smart gardening ideas? Is your garden already networked or are the plants still receiving analogue care?
Dr. Bartsch: In my leisure time I really enjoy nature and the beautiful environment. As a trader primarily concerned with the design of living spaces, this predilection is of course also transported into the garden. And just as our living spaces are being changed by digital technology, gardens are also changing, so to speak as an extension of one's own living room. This is also the case for my family. My wife is currently responsible for beauty, and I for the rough work … we still need to assign the competence for smart gardening.
Further information: bhb.org