BEKO Country Manager Gürhan Gunal on the Challenges of Being the New Player in the Appliance Market

European brand Beko—with Country Head Gürhan Gunal at its helm—strives to make itself at home in every Filipino household amid a competitive playing field.

Based on data from Statista, the revenue in the household appliances market amounts to USD$8 billion in 2023 (around PHP 455.22 billion)—and is even expected to grow annually by 3.89% from 2023 to 2028. This is why in the country, there is a healthy mix of both local and international appliance brands—many of which are established, while some are new players.

A notable entry is the European powerhouse brand Beko. The company has over 60 years of operational experience in the appliance industry, is the fastest-growing brand in the European white goods market, and is ranked number 1 in terms of market share in that entire continent as well. Currently, it boasts a presence in 152 countries, including the Philippines.

A Challenging Start

Getting a foothold on the Philippine industrial market, however, has proven to be extraordinarily difficult. “Our journey started in March of 2020—literally just weeks before the pandemic hit. We had barely set up [the] office, and I had just started recruiting the initial members of my team when the lockdown was imposed,” recalls Beko Pilipinas Corporation Country Manager Gürhan Gunal.

With minimal stocks in its inventory and having yet to establish brand awareness, the company found itself in a predicament. “Challenges are inevitable in business and we had to rise above ours. Our first introduction to the market was through our corporate social responsibility initiatives. Beko supported government feeding programs by donating refrigerators, chillers, and ovens. We are very fortunate to be fully financed by our parent company Arçelic during the lengthy period when virtually no sales were made,” Gunal adds.

Three years forward, the Beko team has made strides in establishing a solid trade partnership with SM Home Appliances—expanding the metro as well as provincial dealers network, and setting up the after-sales arm to provide technical service to customers nationwide. 

Beko Pilipinas Corporation’s Country Manager Gürhan Gunal
Positively Persistent—Beko Pilipinas Corporation’s Country Manager Gürhan Gunal considers the ability to observe carefully (in order to asses business difficulties and come up with timely solutions), listen intently (to better formulate strategies), and embody excitement for the work (to accomplish more and influence others) are the top three qualities that a business leader must possess.

Man on a Mission

Gürhan Gunal is of Turkish descent and has been working for the Koç Holdings Corporation for the last fourteen years—plus, he was a licensed football player in his hometown Kadikoy. Gürhan learned the ropes of running a business very early on as he and his sister assisted in running his dad’s textile shop. Then he went to college in the US where he took up International Business in California.

To augment his finances, the enterprising boy got side hustles as a pizza delivery guy and a secondhand car salesman. After graduation, Gürhan went back to Turkey and had short stints in companies until he joined the Koç Holdings Company—of which Beko is a part. The Philippines is his 4th international assignment.

“Our aim is to penetrate the market with Beko and our sister brand Hitachi—acquired in 2020,” Gunal explains. “Beko offers a European lifestyle, while Hitachi is powered by Japanese technology. Both are premium brands with unique features and capabilities.”

“The Philippine market is still in its primary stage with only 1 out of 4 households owning a refrigerator. As a new player, we intend to capitalize on this opportunity and grow our single-digit market share,” he goes on to add.

As for the next big appliance, he candidly reveals, “I see the demand for major home appliances doubling in the next five years. And my bold prediction is that dishwashers will be the next must-have home gadget in Manila. For the busy, the condo dwellers, the newlyweds, the young—time is very important and they can’t be bothered with house chores.”

Gürhan Gunal on What it Means to be a Leader

A typical work day starts with Gunal getting ready while his daily waker upper anthem Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” plays in the bedroom. By 8 AM, he has picked up his first cup of coffee and is already reviewing his emails in the company headquarters in BGC.

Being a leader is not for the faint-hearted, but for a strong and driven person like Gunal, it was a role he readily embraced. “I am a team player—I must be, in order to succeed,” says Gürhan simply.

For this country manager, an effective company leader must be able to do the following:

  • Communicate clear goals and set measurable targets, which are aligned with the overall company strategy.
  • Establish performance standards and hold his team accountable to meet them. This involves setting performance metrics, providing regular feedback, and conducting performance evaluations.
  • Recognize and reward exceptional performance to motivate employees.
  • Delegate tasks to subordinates based on their skills and give sufficient support.
  • Encourage further learning through training opportunities, mentorship programs, and skill-building initiatives.
  • Exhibit professionalism, integrity, and a strong work ethic in the workplace.

Dynamic Products Backed by Smart Technology

When it comes to advancements in design, functionality, and technology, Beko goes head-to-head with the best brands globally. “We bring the same exact quality machines sold in Europe to the Philippines,” he expresses. “Ultimately, it all comes down to the product and we have an extensive catalog of household tools in our roster all manufactured using the latest available technology there is.”

In fact, it is important to note that Beko is the most awarded appliance company in Europe. From 2021 to the present, the brand has garnered at least ten accolades from notable organizations like Real Leaders Award (sustainability), iF Design Award (cooling technology), and Twice Picks (also for cooling technology), to name a few. The company even invests heavily in R&D, enabling it to introduce new products and upgrades in as fast as 3 years.

According to Guran, “The role of smart technology in the modern home and how Beko meets this demand is laudable. From refrigerators that have the ability to preserve vitamins in fruits and keep produce fresh for 30 days (Harvest Fresh tech simulates the natural 24-hour sun cycle), freezers that keep meat at just the right temperature so it can be consumed at its optimum taste (Nutri Freeze allows soft freeze at -3 degrees Celsius for easy cutting, preparation, and cooking), high efficiency industrial-sized ovens that can roast a whole lechon to palm-controlled airconditioning units (Home Whiz Tech), 6 wash settings table top dishwashers, and hygienic washing machine and dryers (Steam Cure tech)—we have the lot.”

Beko Pilipinas Corporation’s Country Manager Gürhan Gunal
A Commitment to Healthier Living—Inspired by a passion to impact people’s lives through its technologies, Beko offers a wide selection of home products designed to democratize the healthy lifestyle vision.

In the Now: Upcoming Trends in Modern Appliances

Beko acknowledges that customers look for the convergence of aesthetics and functionality at the point of purchase. Appliances must not only be useful, but they must also blend well with the overall look of the home.

With open spaces becoming more of the norm in home designs, appliances are no longer hidden in the kitchen. It must look appealing and also reflect the personality of its owner. To this end, colors, finishes, and size (integrated, customized, compact) come to play. For example, whereas black was frowned upon before, Beko now offers black refrigerators, ovens, and hoods.

Award Winning Home Essentials from BEKO
Award Winning Home Essentials—Appliances of old used to last for decades but these days, despite advancements in technology, customers are lucky if the ref, oven, or aircon can last more than five years. This, perhaps, should be the acid test in choosing what machines to buy and from which brand. Beko offers a 12-year warranty on its pro smart compressors.

In addition, “AI is the next big thing that will hit the appliance industry,” says Dyeun Zapanta, the Marketing Head of Beko. “It has already been introduced in Europe. But here in the Philippines, we want to educate the customers as technology comes with a price.”

“The features in our current products are enough for our needs. The role of simplicity in use cannot be downplayed. Yes, there’s smart connectivity but consumers, especially older people, tend not to use it. So they end up paying more but using it less,” he adds.

Streamlining Your Home Life—Customers must consider durability, efficiency, functionality, and sustainability when choosing appliances.

Sustainability is also a trend that more and more brands are adopting. As the effects of climate change are already apparent and energy costs continue to rise, eco-friendly features are a way to reduce corporate and consumer carbon footprint. This includes delayed start times, fast cooling that shifts to energy-saving mode, quick cooks that use less gas, and other efficient measures that will heighten—not lessen—performance.

The Beko Way

Staying true to Beko’s slogan “Live Like a Pro,” Gürhan Gunal prioritizes health and well-being as much as his passion for work. “I’m excited to go to work every day! It’s a new market for us and the subsidiary has the full support of Arçelic. There’s much to be done, for sure, and my team and I are up for the challenge.”

“We are here to stay and grow as we introduce more remarkable products to the public. I also take time to recharge. On my off days, I play football, swim or watch movies. Every three to four weeks I go back to Turkey to visit my wife and adorable daughter. I love my work. I love my family. It’s a good life,” he ends.

Now, that’s a pro!