Hanergy plans big retail push for solar products

Updated: 2015-03-31 14:16

By DU JUAN(China Daily)

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Hanergy plans big retail push for solar products

A thin-film battery production line of Hanergy Holdings Group Co Ltd in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, September 30, 2014. Hanergy plans to open 60 stores and user-experience centers in the domestic market. [Photo/IC]

Hanergy Holdings Group Co Ltd, China's biggest thin-film maker, is opening a slew of retail stores in the domestic market to cash in on its three-year cooperation with Sweden-based retail giant Ikea Group in Europe.

Toby Ferenczi, chief executive officer of Hanergy Solar UK, told China Daily that the channel partnership between Hanergy and Ikea is the first of its kind, which has achieved success in Europe, and can be copied in the domestic market.

"Up to 70 percent of the population in Europe visit Ikea every year, which made our booth in Ikea an educational center, in addition to sales and services function," said Ferenczi.

After three years of retail experience in Europe, the Chinese company recently launched retail stores selling thin-film solar panel-installed products as well as services in Chengdu and Guangzhou.

Hanergy said it plans to open 60 stores and user-experience centers in the domestic market, covering 21 provinces and cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, and a flagship outlet in Chengdu this year.

Ferenczi said that in Europe, Hanergy has teamed up with Ikea stores in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Switzerland, providing one-stop solutions to families seeking thin-film solar products for more homes.

"There are several advantages in partnering with Ikea. In addition to the big number of visitors, it is also an opportunity to help their customers get to know about our products," he said.

In Europe, though people know that solar products are environmentally friendly, many think they are expensive. Through regular interactions at the Ikea stores, Hanergy has helped dispel these doubts and raised awareness on the cost-effectiveness of its products, said Ferenczi.

According to him, families can halve their electricity bills after installing solar systems. "As cost-awareness increases, so will the markets and customers," he said.

In China, Ikea has installed grid-connected on-site solar power generation projects which provide power to its stores. But customers will not see any thin-film solar products within the stores.

The biggest problem for promoting thin-film solar products in China is that most Chinese people live in apartments in big cities, while the solar systems usually need to be installed on roofs of houses or villas to realize efficiency.

"I would like to try small high-tech products such as tents or backpacks that are equipped with solar panels to charge my phone or for lighting, but I'm not ready for the roof installation even if I own a house because it's still in the early stages of development," said Lin Bo, 30, a customer who expressed interest in Hanergy's products at a retail store.