Matt Broadway, European president of the company which makes the popular Shark vacuum cleaner, said he plans to replicate the business’s huge growth in the UK and North America in mainland Europe, including France Germany, Spain and Italy.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Broadway said: “A few years ago we were predominantly a North American-focused business. The UK was one of the first international markets that was invested in outside of North America. Now we need to replicate that growth in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and all the other markets, which is a major focus now.”
The key to SharkNinja’s European growth at a time of huge uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union, according to Mr Broadway, is to adopt a UK-led strategy from its new headquarters in Leeds.
The company moved from Wakefield into 16,021 sq ft of office space at Thorpe Park earlier this month.
It helps that the company doesn’t ship goods between continental Europe and the UK. It manufactures its vacuum cleaners (Shark) and kitchen worktop appliances (Ninja) in China and ships them directly to the UK and Europe.
“As long as people can continue to fly and things can continue to move, I don’t think it (Brexit) will be a major hindrance,” Mr Broadway said. That cross channel piece, which is where I think there’s likely to be the most disruption if there’s a no deal Brexit, is not something that will impact us.
“Obviously if a no deal Brexit led to an economic downturn, or a drop in consumer confidence, that would clearly present a problem.”
He added: “We’ve still got a lot of confidence in UK consumers, UK retail and the UK economy. The same in Europe. France and Germany. They are some of the largest economies in the world and for two brands as big as ours not to be represented there doesn’t make sense. So we’re going to do it come what may.”
The new Thorpe Park office will act as the European headquarters. “What I don’t want to be doing is replicating HR, finance and IT all over Europe. I want to have a regional head office based in Leeds that can do as much of that work as possible,” said Mr Broadway.
He added: “We’ll have the necessary sales and marketing teams market by market but it’s a core part of our expansion plan for the UK to be a regional head office out of which we lead our charge into the European market.”
The company, which has a European turnover of £250m and plans to double it to £500m, employs 104 staff in Leeds and is in the middle of a drive to recruit a further 14. It also employs over 100 staff in its research and development centre in London.
The company’s ability to turn a product from an idea into a product on the shelf in six-to-eight months, gives it a huge advantage over its competitors, Mr Broadway said, and is part of the reason for its rapid growth, as well as its ‘obsessive’ testing process before launching a product.
Last year, Shark overtook Dyson was the best-selling corded upright vacuum cleaner brand, he said. The company has 60 per cent market share in the corded upright vacuum cleaner market and about 18 per cent market share in cordless vacuum cleaners, he added.