INTERVIEWS

Senior vice-president at Havells Sylvania



We’ve always competed with the Big Three
Historically we’ve been a lamp competitor to the Big Three. We invented the mains halogen sector and we attacked. The issue is that the market is changing and lamps are not so important. Fixtures are far more important going forward, particularly with the advent of LED. Most of our focus is on developing and growing our  xtures business, so we don’t really look to directly compete against GE, Osram and Philips, because they’re very lamp-orientated. Of course our aspirations are to be as big as Philips.

New players just won’t have the pedigree
We’ve been making fixtures for 40 to 50 years, as has Philips, but we’re the only two manufacturers in Western Europe that have been doing that. For Osram and GE it’s a new experience, and they just won’t have the pedigree and the capability. If you want to sell  xtures it’s not just about having the product, it’s about having the access to market.

With fixtures GE and Osram have a lot of catching up to do
Our biggest issue is about taking our brands and spreading them across Europe. Seventy per cent of our turnover is UK. We’ve got dramatic growth in France and Holland and we’re addressing Germany, so we need to spread across Europe. People like GE and Osram are going to have a lot of catching up to do in terms of brand awareness or fixtures.

The lamp market is changing
T5 is probably going to carry on for some years to come. It’s hard to beat the ef ciency of a T5 lamp and the initial cost is always going to be much lower than LED. The same with ceramic metal halide – it’s a great source, it’s continuing to develop. But the majority of the discharge lamps are going to fall out of the market. The lamps market is changing dramatically and LEDs are going to come in and take over more and more applications.

We’re very good at optimising the best LEDs on the market
One of the benefits we have is that we can choose who we work with. Our strategy is to work with the best suppliers of LEDs and then to take the LED and to optimise it. We’re very good at taking the best LEDs in the market and optimising them for the application. That’s our skill – our skill is not in developing the LED in the first place.

Some companies push LED where it’s not best for the application
Some of the big manufacturers are trying to accelerate the penetration of LED because it’s in their own interest to do it. We’ve seen it before. I think they’re pushing LED into applications where LED is not the best light source. It will be in time, but it isn’t at this moment. There are many people out there who are paying very high initial costs for products where the payback period is  ve or even ten years, based on the energy saving, if there even is an energy saving.

The big drive is away from halogen
The drive to get away from halogen is to get away from the light source that is producing 10-12 lumens per watt and to use a light source where you can get between 50 and 70 lumens per watt, so obviously you are using 3-8W rather than 50W. Ultimately clients have to make the decision We have to explain why a client should use LED rather than conventional light sources, and then we have to explain why he’s better off using a bespoke fixture. Ultimately he has to make the decision. The issue is we don’t always deal with the same type of clients. An architect has one objective and the consultant supports him. When you get to the contractors, they’re looking for something more fit for purpose, and they’re normally on a budget, so very often the thing gets compromised.

Use technology where it’s appropriate
It’s our role to make sure the client is aware of what the options are and help him make those decisions. Also, let’s be realistic – in many cased LED is not the right light source, although some of our competitors are trying to force it into the market. Our position is to use the technology where it’s appropriate.

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