Beijer Ref CEO Per Bertland is convinced that the rest of the world will follow the path that Europe is taking towards natural refrigerants.
Beijer Ref CEO Per Bertland (l) and COO Simon Karlin (r) inspect the production line at SCM Ref BV, a Beijer Ref company, in Eindhoven.
Beijer Ref ’s twin status as a wholesaler and manufacturer of HVAC&R technologies puts it in a unique position to stay ahead of the competition as different parts of the world transition to natural refrigerants. Accelerate magazine, produced by shecco, publisher of this website, sat down with CEO Per Bertland to hear about the company’s vision.
The Beijer Ref group, headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, is one of the world’s biggest distributors of HVAC&R technologies. Its 416 branches and 1,200 suppliers offer some 200,000 products to 100,000 customers around the world.
The company’s expansion strategy is twofold. “One aspect is to enlarge our geographical landscape. The other is to harmonise our product portfolio and our production,” Beijer Ref CEO Bertland told Accelerate.
“The idea is to produce as an OEM in several sites around the world, and to sell the portfolio everywhere.”
At first, Beijer Ref focused its expansion on Sweden and the wider Nordic region, only later extending its acquisitions to the rest of Europe. Today, its outlook is global.
“We see Italy as our R&D hub. We specialise on CO2 there. In the Netherlands, it’s ammonia, and in Sweden, we focus on propane. The idea is to have three main manufacturing centres, specialised for each natural refrigerant,” Bertland explains.
Beijer Ref also has manufacturing operations in Sydney, Auckland, Wuxi, Bangkok and Johannesburg. “We want to take our European knowhow to other parts of the world,” Bertland explains.
“I’m convinced that the rest of the world will follow the path that Europe is taking towards natural refrigerants,” he declares.
“I expect natural refrigerants to take a bigger market share worldwide. Europe will be the leader, and the rest of the world will follow. That’s our conviction.”
– Beijer Ref CEO Per Bertland
Green and global
Asked how backing natural refrigerants will help his business, he replies: “There are two reasons to do it – one, purely commercial, if that’s a direction the market is going. Two, it’s good to contribute to creating a greener world.”
“We already have the technology knowhow. We already have the product portfolio. We already have the market distribution. And we already have the production facilities. To be successful, we simply need to implement all this around the world,” he explains.
Bertland is optimistic that natural refrigerants will grow. “I expect them to take a bigger market share worldwide. Europe will be the leader, and the rest of the world will follow. That’s our conviction,” he says.
Beijer Ref is therefore keen to enlarge its natural refrigerant portfolio. It is this desire to be at the forefront of new technology development that drives the company’s expansion.
“Acquisitions are arguably the most important pillar of our strategy,” Bertland says. “We’ll continue to make them.”
The acquisition of Heatcraft Australia in March 2018 is a typical example. “We were in Australia before, but not China or Singapore. So Heatcraft Australia fitted both aspects of our strategy – we enlarged our geographical reach, and we added new production facilities to harmonise our product offer around the world.”
Indeed, Bertland describes Australia as Beijer Ref’s biggest emerging market for natural refrigerant technologies.
“We’re successful in Europe with our CO2 transcritical booster solutions, where we're one of the market leaders," the Beijer Ref CEO explains. “Now we’re bringing that technology and our expertise to our factories in Australia.”
This desire to offer natural refrigerant solutions worldwide is also driving Beijer Ref to expand elsewhere.
“We have the same idea for China, for Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia, and for Africa,” Bertland says. “We think [natural refrigerants] will come, and we’re ready now.”
This is a shortened version of an interview that first appeared in Accelerate magazine. Click here to read the full version.