Steam experts

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Polti is the European leader in steam-powered domestic appliances. David Thompson, Polti’s UK commercial director, told Anna Ryland how the company is planning to ensure that its eco technology is more widely adopted by British consumers.

The origins of Polti date back to 1978 when Franco Polti developed Vaporella, a steam iron with a boiler for domestic use, and brought it out to the market. It was the first in a portfolio of products which use steam alone for a variety of cleaning tasks around the house. Polti, with its head office in Bulgarograsso in northern Italy, remains a family business. Mr Polti’s daughter Francesca now manages the company but Franco Polti is still involved in running it.

The company’s European subsidiaries are located in France, Spain, Portugal and Germany, and its products are distributed in 30 countries worldwide.

The majority of Polti’s products are still manufactured in Italy which allows the company to maintain their high quality.

The Polti brand has been present in the UK already for a decade but only three years ago the company set up its own UK subsidiary. In February this year, the company’s UK HQ and distribution facility was relocated from Leeds to Manchester. At the same time Polti expanded its UK business operations adding a sales team, after-sales support, marketing and finance functions.

The unique features of Polti’s products include the use of concentrated dry steam, flexibility of their applications, constant steam and constant refill systems. Vaporetto and Lecoaspira have been awarded the British Allergy Foundation Seal of Approval for their hygienic properties.

“The ethos of the company is based around the natural power of water,” stresses David Thompson. “We consider ourselves the founders of the steam generator category, therefore Polti wants to have a strong presence in this market, also in the UK.”

Historically Polti had been perceived in the independent channel as an expensive brand. “That’s why we needed to be able to offer products with a variety of price points,” says David.

“We have recently extended all our categories. Our iron portfolio now covers products from £89 to £289, in steam cleaners we start now from £45 and go as far as £349; while the Lecoaspira range begins at £369 and goes up to £599.

“We wished to have good, better and best range of products so regardless of what the customers’ budgets are they can buy Polti appliances.”

This was a strategic move for Polti. “To become a serious player in the UK we need to have products to sell to the existing customer market. The six-week turn around of the new products (they will be available in the UK in August) reflects the company’s commitment to the UK market.”

New to the Vaporella range are the Vaporetto 850 and 1400 models, equipped with a ceramic soleplate. “We are closely monitoring customer expectations so our 850 model retailing at £189 has 5 bar pressure, 150g/min steam speed and continuous refill.”

David feels that the company now needs to focus on building brand awareness in the UK. He thinks this should be achieved first in the multiple sector and such outlets as John Lewis; and independents will soon benefit from it. At the moment the company is extensively using television shopping channels to create customer awareness of the brand. However, at the same time David promises Polti’s support for independents’ local promotions and campaigns. N

Vaporella – a steam generator iron. The power of the appliance is at the tip of the sole plate where dry steam is forced onto fabric. The temperature of the sole plate is relatively low – the effectiveness of the iron is due to the power of the steam.

Vaporetto – a steam cleaner for most surfaces around the home: carpets, tiles, toilets, cooker hobs and garden furniture. The dry steam is heated to around 120°C at 4 bar pressure and at a speed of up to 110g/min.

Vaporetto Lecoaspira – a dual action cleaner. It combines advantages of steam cleaning with the benefits of wet and dry vacuum cleaning. The appliance can also be connected to a steam iron.

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