Unic discusses its synergy with Electrolux Professional and why it is eager to become the standard for both traditional and fully automatic coffee machines under the one brand.
When guests visit the Unic stand at HostMilano in October, one of the largest Hospitality, Restaurant and Catering (HoReCa) exhibitions in the world, they will witness a new look and feel to the 100-year-old brand. They will embrace the heritage of the French-based espresso machine manufacturer, and get a glimpse into the future possibilities of the company under the direction of Electrolux Professional.
“Host is a very international exhibition which will be an opportunity for us to expose and show the entire business community that Unic has turned a new page in its history,” says Philippe Zavattiero, President Business Area Food Preparation and Beverage – Electrolux Professional.
“It will be the first Host exhibition since the global pandemic. We do believe it will be a fantastic edition with lots of activities and people looking for partners to do international business with.”
To fully appreciate Unic’s new chapter, visitors to Host Milano can expect to see a very active booth that displays Unic’s Tango XP and other traditional machine lines, and workshops to demonstrate their ease of service and repair.
“Visitors can participate in workshops to see how quick it is to change the electronic dashboard or access the brewing group and grinder inside the machine. We will have a workshop pulling back-to-back espresso shots from automatic and traditional machines, and have guests taste the same coffee from both machines,” says Zavattiero.
“I think we will see some very surprised faces and good reactions about the cup-quality from our fully automatic machines. After tasting our coffee I believe we will convert some people from traditional machine users to fully automatic ones.”
Visitors can even use visual reality goggles to immerse themselves into the magic of manufacturing with a virtual factory tour.
“We are not an artisanal company, but we continue to have home-made products made by people and not made by robots. It means we have a direct interaction between people and product,” Zavattiero says.
“We also want to clearly demonstrate that Unic has a strong heritage, which we want to preserve, and we want to continue to build its future based on the foundations of product, technology, and cup-quality. It’s time to write a new page, a new chapter in Unic’s 100-year-story, and expand our business with strong partnerships.”
Those partnerships are set to strengthen under the guidance of Unic’s parent company, Electrolux Professional. Until 2019, Electrolux Professional was part of Electrolux home appliances. In 2019, the company’s shareholders decided to spin-off Electrolux Professional in order to accelerate its growth.
“It was a significant step within Electrolux Professional’s history to develop a completely independent company,” says Zavattiero.
Electrolux Professional is organised by business areas, including food and laundry, one of the most significant and historical foundations of the company, and more recently, the beverage sector.
The strategy of Electrolux is to provide a full system of equipment for hospitality business through various acquisitions. This first occurred through United States-based company Grindmaster Cecilware, a strong player in the cold beverage dispensing market, which Electrolux Professional acquired in 2016. The second, was Italian manufacturer SPM Drinks Systems in 2018, focusing on frozen beverage and ice-cream dispensing. The third, was the acquisition of French espresso machine manufacturer Unic in 2019.
“We bought Unic for two main reasons: we were looking for a strong company with long heritage that performed well with a large product portfolio, and a company with which we can create synergies,” Zavattiero says.
He says Electrolux Professional recognised the position of Unic in the specialty coffee segment, and approached the acquisition with full support of the Unic’s development.
“We didn’t want to change the brand. It is clearly an asset of the company. We identified that Unic represents high quality in terms of technology and the coffee it produced. But, it was a little old fashioned in terms of design, and not very active nor dynamic from a marketing point of view. This was not a problem for us, because it is the strength of Electrolux. Unic was the perfect match we were looking for.”
Using the expertise and support of Electrolux Professional, Unic’s logo underwent a refresh, as did the design of its machines, starting with the Tango XP series of fully automatic coffee machines: the Tango XP Duo, Tango XP Solo, and Compact models. Zavattiero says the new Tango XP product line is a clear example of the innovation possible thanks to a passionate team.
“In terms of the speed and trends of the market, we do believe that fully automatic coffee machines are the future,” Zavattiero says.
He adds that Unic is equally determined to continue a strong presence in the traditional machine category. As a result, a design refresh has been undertaken on Unic’s Traditional Classic line, of which a prototype will be unveiled at HostMilano.
“There are many strong companies offering only fully automatic coffee machines, but we want to be different. The key is to have your own personality and be different to your competitor,” Zavattiero says. “We want to become the company offering the best in-class for both traditional and fully automatic coffee machines under the one brand. We do believe the quality of the product we have today, and those we offer customers tomorrow, will be best-in-class in terms of service ability, connectivity, and in-cup quality, which is clearly what people are looking for.”
In both cases of redesign, Zavattiero says the Unic team has worked hard to achieve a “family feeling” with design similarities.
“We are not in competition between these categories. We have the possibility to offer the two best options for whatever the customer is looking for. Regardless of their choice, they want a good quality coffee which we can deliver,” Zavattiero says.
Part of that delivery includes accelerating Unic’s market reach beyond Europe, where it is recognised as a specialist of coffee, and into the Asia Pacific and North America where it can leverage Electrolux Professional’s position as an international business.
“Through Electrolux Professional, we will be able to target large chain accounts and larger hotel chains. We do believe that customers who are already Electrolux customers in the food sector, will also become Electrolux customers for beverage and coffee,” Zavattiero says.
After 25 years working with Electrolux Professional in its electronics division, Zavattiero is excited about the company’s next phase, and the passion his staff have for the global coffee industry.
“The beverage market is very challenging with lots of competitors, and it’s moving faster and faster. We believe there is a lot of good opportunity we can capture, but we have to be fast because our competitors are not sleeping. If we want to convert customers to our technology, and to attract them to Unic, we also have to be better, and we will,” he says.
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This article was first published in the September/October 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.