Zanussi offers more than 3,000 products.

Leading kitchen equipment maker Zanussi Professional has reiterated its commitment to invest more in the Middle East and open new facilities to increase its market penetration.

Zanussi Professional is a unit of the Electrolux Group, the world's leading maker of home appliances. Zanussi, with 50 years of experience in the catering industry, offers more than 3,000 products designed for complete kitchen installations.

Dr Detlef Munchow, president of Electrolux Professional, says the Middle East is a key market for Zanussi and the company has seen good growth in the region in recent years.

Zanussi plans to launch a unique facility in Dubai where a live kitchen will form the core of its regional office, early next year.

The facility will hold demonstrations of Zanussi products for the benefit of customers, end-users and technicians. It will also serve as a training centre for sales and technical staff from the Middle East, India and Africa.

The new facility will be the third of its kind, after ones in China and Singapore.

"This is a new concept. The office will be around the kitchen, a live kitchen. It will be a training centre and not a showroom," says Marco Guerretti, managing director, Middle East region.

He says innovation is one of the main goals of the company and it spends 7 per cent of the total turnover on research and development. "Our labs are very active in looking for exclusive solutions," Guerretti says.

"The company has experienced a growth of 25 to 30 per cent year on year during the last three years in the Middle East. We have the right strategy and are investing more money in the region," he says.

Zanussi has launched a massive direct mailing campaign in the Middle East for its Active range of products, says Bertil Andersson, general manager Middle East, based in Dubai.

The company has 11 distributors in the region and the highest number of showrooms in Saudi Arabia. "Our concept is to be close to the market via our distributors, create a stock for fast-moving equipment and speed up the procedures for unit sales," he says.

Both Guerretti and Andersson lay a great deal of emphasis on the company's e-business portal The portal provides the facility to check stocks in real time, place orders directly and check the status of an order. It offers a complete solution from proposal to delivery.

Dr Munchow says the company is creating value for partners, service agents, chefs, restaurateurs and consumers ands he stresses the need for the company and its partners to abide by the brand promise and to position the brand correctly. "We are unique, we have a broad spectrum of products for the gastronomic sector," he says.

Electrolux Group which had about 15 brands, some with identical products, has in recent years reduced the number of brands to three - Electrolux, Zanussi and Molteni. Electrolux is targeted at the higher end of the market such as hotels and big catering services, while Zanussi products are meant to serve the gastronomic sector.

Zanussi had posted an 8 per cent growth in 2001 despite worldwide economic slump after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US and enjoyed the strongest December ever last year.

The company reduced capacity in 2002 January expecting a downturn, but its growth continues.