American company Kohler, a global leader in the design and manufacture of kitchen and bath products, marked its 145th anniversary and 12th year in the Vietnamese market through a strategic partnership with official distributor RitaVõ on November 29. Việt Nam News spoke with Ms. Angel Yang, President, Kohler Kitchen and Bath, Asia Pacific.
Ms. Angel Yang, President, Kohler Kitchen and Bath, Asia Pacific
Can you tell us a little about Kohler?
Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin, Kohler Co. is one of America’s oldest and largest privately held companies comprising more than 35,000 associates. With more than 50 manufacturing locations world-wide, Kohler is a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath products; engines and power systems and decorative products, cabinetry and tiles, and the owner/operator of two of the world’s finest five-star hospitality and golf resort destinations in Kohler and St. Andrews, Scotland.
Kohler has consistently been offering new standards in design, craftsmanship and innovation. The brand’s reputation is rife with compelling accomplishments and bold innovations that stem from a heritage centered on living on the leading edge of design and technology.
After 12 years in Vietnam, how does Kohler see the market?
Vietnam is our leading market in Southeast Asia with average growth of 30 percent a year. Vietnam has a middle class population that is growing at the fastest rate in Southeast Asia. The customers pay a lot of attention to design, colour and technology.
This group of consumers leads to demand for luxury goods and individualistic lifestyles, which results in the development of luxury industries, contributing to Kohler’s growth in future since they will spend more and trust international brands.
In the next three to five years, the Vietnamese real estate market is forecast to grow steadily, thanks to consistent macroeconomic policies, so we have reason to expect consistent growth in the market.
Thus, Kohler expects Vietnam to remain the leading market in the region.
What is Kohler’s investment strategy in the Vietnamese market?
In every market, Kohler has a long-term commitment, and the Vietnamese market is no exception. We have invested in people, business and partnerships. We will definitely continue to build the team, build the partnership. With support from our team, our partnership, we will expand our presence, showrooms, products, design, and technologies.
Kohler's principle is to maintain high quality standards for all products and services to ensure absolute satisfaction for customers. While bringing to customers technologically advanced products with beautiful designs, we also regularly organise conferences and communications activities to showcase the latest trends in technology and design to relevant Vietnamese stakeholders, like developers, architects, interior designers, etc. Some notable examples are the LEED conference on green architecture, inviting Vietnamese representatives to join Kohler’s global events and regular product-training seminars.
Also, for young people and students studying architecture, interior design and art, Kohler regularly organises activities and online creative design competitions. There is also the Kohler Bold. Art. exhibition regularly opened free to inspire art lovers in Vietnam.
What are the difficulties and challenges that Kohler faces in Vietnam, and what are your future development plans?
We have seen more opportunities here than challenges. We feel that in the luxury segment we are definitely doing very well and are the number one. We are talking about five-star hotels and luxury residences, but we would like to further bring value to the medium-income segment, where RitaVõ Depot will help us with many products for Vietnamese customers.
We would like to continue to grow together with our partner.
Our difficulty does not come from competitors, but customer satisfaction. As the quality of life is constantly improving and consumer perception is enhanced, the criteria for choosing high-class luxury bathroom products are also getting stricter. Our top concern is to constantly improve quality and bring to our customers the most technologically advanced products that satisfy their demand.
Our motivation is to constantly innovate and develop new designs, technology and materials to improve customers’ experience with Kohler’s products and services. We will put in more efforts to develop luxury bathroom products like intelligent toilets, bidet seats, digital mirror cabinets, whirlpools, etc.
Representatives of Kohler and RitaVõ congratulated the strategic partnership during 12 years
Why did Kohler choose RitaVõ as the distributor here?
Kohler is the world’s leading manufacturer of bathroom and kitchen products with strengths in R&D, which brings to the market products that integrate art and technology with the same stringent standard for every product and service it offers. RitaVõ, with its market and consumer insights, a good distribution network, rich experience in the luxury goods industry, and loyal customers, helps promote awareness of the KOHLER brand.
One important thing from Kohler’s perpective is to have a passionate partner. One who has passion for the business and our brand is the right partner. Twelve years ago Rita Võ was still very small in comparison with other companies, but it had passion. This is the reason why today we still collaborate with Rita Võ. I think passion and consistancy are the two things that bring us together.
Actually 12 years is a very short time and just the beginning, and we will still have a long way to go with our wonderful partnership. We do think we will have another 100 years together. Kohler builds friends and partnership. We really hope that RitaVõ and Kohler can continue to work together for a long time. In the US, we have had some partners for over 100 and in Hong Kong for over 80 years, and I hope we will have the same good, long relationship with Rita Võ.
During this anniversary we also launched Jacob Delafon, a luxury bathroom products brand from France. Our new generation of intelligent toilet: EirTM also is introduced in this occasion. I would like to thank our partner RitaVõ. They give us their best showroom in District 2, HCM City, for us to display all our best, luxurious and beautiful products. Besides, with the RitaVõ depots, to be opened soon all around the country, we will also have an opportunity to display our mid-segment products, and more Vietnamese customers can experience and touch our products. Usually our products do very well in the luxury segment in five-star hotels and luxury residences, and now we hope all can enjoy our products in future.
Can you tell us more about the products?
The Jacob Delafon brand was introduced in the northern market in 2016, and has received positive feedbacks from partners, developers, architects, designers and consumers. So we decided to bring it to the southern market.
Jacob Delafon, founded in 1889, has always been considered the "French-style bathroom" thanks to luxurious products meticulously crafted to create a unique bathroom space. For 130 years elegance has been the overall theme of the Jacob Delafon collection. Jacob Delafon is a combination of the three most popular French styles: atelier vintage, mechanic chic and classic.
Besides, for KOHLER, EirTM is a combination of art and technology. Their free-standing nature allows flexibility in installation, the curved design makes them comfortable for sitting and ion-based water purification technology and antibacterial UV lights make them hygienic. EirTM is efficient, only using 2.6 or 3.8 liters for a single flush, perfectly suitable for environmentally friendly projects and green buildings.
KOHLER EIRTM intelligent Toilet
Why did Kohler bring the French-style product to Vietnam?
Vietnam is dramatically influenced by and has inherited a lot from French culture. Definitely, there is a value and we want to bring French-origin brands to the market and feel Vietnamese love them. The blend of French and Vietnamese architecture has resulted in the unique Indochinese architecture, unlike anything else in the world
It appears as if the French and Vietnamese share many similarities, as the newfound architectural style was warmly welcomed and became part of the country’s heritage. There are French-influenced streets, government establishments, the state treasury, banks, schools, museums in HCM City, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Da Lat, etc.