As the market leader of the combi oven world, it might be tempting for Rational to sit on its laurels and watch the sales roll in. But it has been making waves recently, with the sales operations of its sister multifunctional cooker brand Frima being brought into the main division’s fold, and last December appointing a new MD, Simon Lohse.
When Catering Insight spoke to Lohse, he emphasised that he will simply help Rational to continue on its successful path, rather than instigating sweeping changes. “Nothing’s broken, so it doesn’t need fixing,” he said. “I will be taking the successful platform forward. Rational is a fantastic brand with a market-leading position and a well-established relationship with dealers.”
Citing bringing the Frima brand together with its parent company as a big attraction to him taking on the role, he detailed: “As MD I now have responsibility over Rational and Frima branded products.”
Accordingly, Frima UK’s former MD, Graham Kille, has now taken the position of technical sales director for the Rational group across all products, working closely with dealers and consultants, and reporting to Lohse. The merged responsibilities extend to director level throughout the group in the UK, with Lee Harding also moving into a national account director role, from specialising in the London and South East region. However, regional sales managers will still specialise in either the SelfCookingCenter or the VarioCookingCenter.
“It means that the Frima brand has all the backing, full office and marketing support from our Luton headquarters,” detailed Lohse. The firm has already recruited six extra regional sales managers to support the Frima brand, and the whole transition period should be complete by the end of the summer.
So what changes can dealers expect to see? “We’ve got more people on the ground to give a higher level of support,” according to Lohse. Furthermore he revealed that Rational is further developing its Deal loyalty programme. “In the UK, distributors have only had the one standard up until now, they are either a Deal partner or they’re not. But we will be developing bronze, silver and gold levels to give a bit more of an aspirational element to it.
“The levels will be based on the training a dealer has received, its presence and reach in the market, as well as volume of sales. It’s really about the commitment the dealer is showing towards the Rational brand and we are recognising that within the grading of the Deal partnership agreement. It will be clear as to how dealers can move up that ladder and what we expect to happen in the next 12 months to get to the next level. We will support them to do that.”