Handicare’s CEO and president Staffan Ternström has reiterated his admiration for the group’s UK dealer partners after it was revealed that the manufacturer’s trade division grew by 26% last year, making up around a quarter of Handicare’s British sales.
Mr Ternström praised Handicare’s British dealers for their role in the “pioneering” UK market and said that the stairlift and mobility group will continue to make “meaningful investments” in its trade network.
The group has recently been piloting a number of schemes with key UK partners, including a commercial training programme, which has helped some dealers to increase revenues by up to 90% in the last 12 months.
Handicare turned over £62m in the UK in its last financial year with around £16m coming via its trade network. Sales among its select partners grew 22% while elite dealers grew revenues by 40%.
Mr Ternström has been with Handicare for nine months and sees British dealers as an important pillar for the group which must be continually developed.
“The UK is the most mature stairlift market in Europe and it’s also one of the areas with one of our biggest market shares,” he told AMP at Handicare’s annual dealer partner conference, which took place yesterday.
“I think the great thing in the UK is that we pilot things. We’ve piloted things like the partnership programme and commercial training here and people from the US have been able to take the learnings to improve [their businesses].
“I think the UK market is the ‘pioneer market’ for us. It’s the most mature and it’s where we develop concepts.”
Referring to the growth in trade sales, Mr Ternström said that UK dealers are beginning to represent a “pretty decent portion” of the Handicare business and are becoming increasingly important.
“The dealers are extremely important and when you look at the commercial training we piloted and you look at the evidence behind it, there were six dealers who achieved a 90% increase in revenue and when you look at the pure pound size in that then it’s a very impressive number.
“[Commercial training] is a very meaningful investment in our dealers. And other things like transferring leads in both directions, we’re testing many of the things that other people would see as barriers.”
Aside from its commercial training programme, Handicare recently launched its PS4D system, which allows much quicker stairlift surveys and the 1100 stairlift, which is also designed to save dealers time thanks to easy installation and maintenance.
Mr Ternström added: “I think we can help [dealers] to save time and make them more effective. What’s very important for us is, over time, to provide a high quality product that is easy to install and ultimately more robust. We make a very first pass yield product.”
Aside from product launches and new training initiatives, Handicare’s managing director, Clare Brophy, has been helping to lead an effort to develop a partnership between the company’s trade network of dealers and its direct sales arm, Companion.
Mr Ternström said that Ms Brophy has been “very successful” in creating the unique partnership, which in other businesses would be “extremely difficult”.
The group hopes that Companion can work closer with Handicare’s dealer partners and begin to refer leads in both directions for a commission.