A board talk with Alberto Bertoz, CIO

Alberto Bertoz is Chief International Officer (CIO) and member of the Executive Committee since 2018.

"The product heroes of the line, the new Grand and PowerSteam, received a great reception, exceeding the expectation of design and performance lovers, setting V-ZUG in the forefront in both the visual and cooking results perspectives."

The new Excellence Line was gradually introduced in the international markets last year. How have they reacted to the new product line? 

The launch of Excellence line at Salone del Mobile Milano has been a great success. We have experienced great feedback in all respects, particularly for the sleek minimalist design and the personalization options available in the user interface. The product heroes of the line, the new Grand and PowerSteam, received a great reception, exceeding the expectation of design and performance lovers, setting V-ZUG in the forefront in both the visual and cooking results perspectives. All Regions have then executed market-specific launches and introductions of the Excellence line, receiving orders in excess of our already challenging expectations. I trust that Excellence line, alongside our customer centricity and utmost attitude to serve dealers and customers the best we can, is paving the way for V-ZUG to further grow in the International markets in which we are present.

What did the launch mean for dealers? 

Our dealers are very fond of the Excellence line and have provided for extended opportunities for display of products. Their enhanced confidence in V-ZUG means that they are more prone to recommend our brand, our products and services as a superior offer, meeting the most demanding expectations in the market. We are seeing an increase of demand for product introductions and demonstrations at retail level, as an increase of interest for upper-premium multi-family projects: real estate developers are looking for brands, products and services able to lift the perceived value of their real estates and see in our value proposition fitting material for this purpose.

What do you personally like most about the new steamers and ovens? 

The user interface is fascinating. I really believe that the way it’s designed now offers a lot of flexibility for our users, as the operating system can be fully personalised. The user can select recipes and set favourites right from the home page, using the same logic as a mobile phone. And with the V-ZUG App, we also have a digital experience that completes this amazing individual user experience.

Where do you see the biggest challenges for our company and for international business?

One of the biggest challenges is to be able to react to opportunities and problems. We come from a corporate culture that is focused on the Swiss market. Initially, we tried to sell the same products with the same business model abroad. Then we tweaked the model and the brand positioning and things started to move in the right direction. Now we are at a point where we should be closing gaps faster: we need to improve, be less process-oriented and more focused on problem-solving and meeting the expectations of our customers.

How would you like to contribute to the success of V-ZUG? 

The long-term goal is to grow the international business at a similar dimension to the Swiss market, and in doing this we will naturally contribute more to diluting our fixed costs and hence also supporting our domestic market. I think we are done with the very difficult phase of getting things moving and I’m confident that this growth will continue. We have managed to attract some excellent people to our organisation and we have a good project pipeline. By growing internationally, I hope we will learn some lessons and go through some experiences that will also prove valuable in the Swiss market: in one way or another, I can see a lot of influences from our international practices in the current campaign.

What is your vision and where do you see V-ZUG in the future? 

Over time, I want us to keep building awareness and closing gaps so that we naturally become the brand of choice for designers around the world. Because we are a truly special Swiss brand, we have excellent products, we treat partners and customers personally and individually, and we care about sustainability. We have all the cards in our hand to stand out and become the brand of choice for the discerning customers seeking excellence and having the means to afford it.

Would you personally describe yourself as a visionary? 

This word is way too big for me! But let me say that the reason I applied to work for V-ZUG was because I saw that the potential of the brand was way beyond what the company was doing at the time. I had the vision to build superior showrooms and set the brand up to succeed in the upper-premium market internationally. I was lucky enough to find people who shared this vision and were willing to jump in, because it takes an entire team to really bring a vision to life. I would describe myself as an engineer by education, and a marketer by heart.

How would your best friend describe you?

 I think there would be some people saying the word ‘crazy’. Sometimes I come out with strange ideas and not everyone can envision and digest them. I am the guy who comes up with ideas beyond all expectation. I’m a little bit extravagant. But the majority will also say that I am very fair and that I value people. I grew up in a small village in the north east of Italy where we only speak the local dialect. I didn’t grow up in a culture that praised diversity, but I was very lucky to live in different parts of the world, meet different people and appreciate different cultures. I would like to think that I have remained a village guy at heart while growing as a global guy in my head.

The view into the future shapes our daily endeavours. But let’s look back: What is the best moment in your V-ZUG career? The one you will always remember… 

The opening of the ZUGORAMA Shanghai in November 2014. I took over the responsibility for the market just a few months before. ZUGORAMA was already close to completion. Everything worked out in time and we received a visit from Mr Buhofer in the October before. He said it was okay, but I didn’t see any excitement in his eyes – probably because he sensed I wasn’t excited myself. I called a couple of architects and asked: ‘Can we do something? It’s not staging the brand properly!’ I found an architect from Argentina, who may well be even crazier than I am. She said: ‘either we destroy everything and build it up again another way, or I’m out’.  I took a huge risk, but we started the drawings with pencil and paper three weeks before the opening, then having three different contractors working 24/7. It’s fair to say I didn’t get much sleep during this period! We built the entrance three days before the opening and we were still painting the day before. But we did it! This was a great feeling and a defining ‘can do’ moment for me. It was like after running a marathon: your body is exhausted, but your mind is full of energy. To me, that showroom was the first one showing respect to our brand and I believe that many things that we now consider ‘normal’ for V-ZUG are the consequence of that bold move.

"We are a truly special Swiss brand, we have excellent products, we treat partners and customers personally and individually, and we care about sustainability."

About Alberto Bertoz 

Alberto Bertoz studied Electrical Engineering in Turin (I) and Business Management in Trieste (I). After working for 7 years in the Polytechnic University of Turin, he spent the following 7 years working for Marcegaglia Home Products, where he led Product and Business developments within the home appliance industry. Part of V-ZUG since 2012, he held several roles in Asia, starting operations in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, before being appointed Chief International Officer and member of the Executive Committee in 2018, taking the lead of International Markets. When he’s not travelling around the world, Alberto Bertoz lives in Immensee, overlooking Lake Zug.