Systems giant Legrand picks UAE as launch pad for Synergy

New line from Legrand injects excitement and style into British standard range of wiring accessories

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By  Eudore Chand Published  March 26, 2005

Key Market|~|CEO-Gilles-Schnepp.jpg|~||~|Earlier this month, one of France’s 15-most influential CEOs visited Dubai in the UAE to attend the launch of the company’s new range of products. The fact that Gilles Schnepp, the vice-chairman and chief executive officer of electrical products and systems giant, Legrand, felt the need to drop his busy schedule and fly down personally indicates the importance with which the French company regards the UAE and the neighbouring Gulf market. Although the Middle East accounted for just 2.3% of Legrand’s almost US $4 billion sales in 2004, the critical perception of the Middle East at the company’s headquarters in Limoges in France is such that Dubai was picked as the venue for the roll-out of Legrand’s new British Standard line-up, Synergy. It fact Dubai was chosen ahead of any major market where the standard is applicable — even the UK has not yet had the honour. “The Dubai market is booming. The growth here is so much that we decided to unveil the Synergy range here before the UK,” says Schnepp. “We saw a 78% growth in the GCC last year, and we aim to double our turnover in the Gulf in two years’ time,” added Jean Paul Leduc, Legrand’s vice-president for international sales. Jean Jacques Humbert, export director, explained that Legrand sold products worth US $85 in 2004. The target for 2005 was $100 million, but the French giant is hoping to do much more, and is banking on the Synergy line. The new range was unveiled to a gathering of over 400 assembled guests from 32 countries. Legrand felt that it was time to combine elegance, functionality, utility and safety in order to update the British Standard products and make them more appealing and safe to use. The result is Synergy, developed after exhaustive interviews with users and marketers in the Gulf. The development and launch of Synergy is based on the predominant use of the British Standard as the reference standard for wiring accessories in more than 30 countries from the British Isles to the Middle East, Africa, India and the Far East. The Synergy range comprises switches and sockets in three lines: economy, high and luxury. With traditional and modern influences, the range showcases a host of new designs with evolved features such as the white plastic cover plates with new rounded edges, LED display, laser marking and the patented three-pin safety shutter protection mechanism that will not open if a pen or similar instrument is inserted into the neutral pin.||**||Quality Control|~|Synergy-Switch.jpg|~||~|All Synergy products have been tested in Legrand’s laboratories in France during the development stage to check their conformity with the highest international standards, says Thierry Gouatarbes, Legrand’s head of the Synergy project. The products were approved after they successfully passed the entire set of standards tests such as ASTA, which examines and certifies product performance as per established references, and also audits production sites to ensure that standard procedures are being applied in production. Giving the reasons behind Dubai’s selection as the venue for the launch of Synergy in the Middle East, Mohammed Ahmed Yahia, general manager, Legrand Middle East, said: “Over recent years, Dubai has become symbolic of the growth and development within the GCC.” Recognising the pressing need for change within the worldwide British Standard offering, Legrand embarked on a plan to introduce new ranges that were in line with progressive market expectations, yet had no impact on the price. Development of the Synergy range can be divided up into four main stages: strategic analysis and orientation; product development; production; and market deployment. Stage I: Chief amongst the key decisions was the product offering and issues relating to the allocation of resources, including the financial investment needed for such a launch and the manpower required. Stage II: This stage was devoted to product development, involving decisions on the design and specifics of each item in the range, as well as production tools. Quality is central to the Legrand operation, and the same attention to detail — which adds to the foundation of a quality product — was brought to bear in the process of design and in the selection of the different moulds and machines that assist in the production of the new range. In a dramatic deviation from any British Standard-compliant product currently available on the market, the Synergy range showcases a host of new designs, with evolved features such as the white plastic cover plates with new rounded edges, allowing a soft glow to penetrate the contoured front-plate for location or power indication. Even the sound of the switches was scientifically tested to create something that was pleasant to hear. While earlier interior designers have been compelled to specify different ranges in each area of the house, the consistency that Synergy offers in terms of design in all its finishes will now make it easier for planners to maintain uniformity across individual rooms.||**||Aesthetics and Style|~|Warehouse-in-Verneuil-Franc.jpg|~||~|The aesthetic quality of the new range is also apparent in the clever design of the mechanism. The central philosophy which guides the design of the Synergy range is ‘the harmony between form and function’. Innovation can also be seen in the mechanism behind the cover plate, which incorporates advanced safety and energy conservation features. Stage III: Production on the Synergy range commenced in autumn 2004, an immense undertaking orchestrated by the Legrand headquarters in Limoges that saw the roll-out of the Synergy range, including the manufacture of 1350 different product references as part of the launch phase. The organisation of the product development and production sites are certified ISO 9000 or are engaged in a similar approach. This means the product development and production teams are audited every year to examine the methods and their implementations, as well as the tools of production. Stage IV: The market deployment of the Synergy range was tested in November 2004 in Cyprus. Feedback received in the months that followed has been very good, with innovation in design, along with the strength and quality of the mechanisms and their usability hailed as some of the range’s best features. Legrand manufactures a total of 130 000 items, grouped into 80 product families. It employs around 26 000 people worldwide, is present in 60 countries and sells in over 160 countries. It has a global market share of 6% and is product leader in its sector in 24 countries.||**||

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