Please take us through the company’s journey.
Wellington has been evolving rapidly, it started as a motor company in 1996 and has since evolved into a refrigeration hardware company and now into supplying Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to the food and beverage market. We understood early on that a commercial refrigerator is more than just an equipment that keeps food and beverage cold. It is a vital point of sale (POS) and touches both the retailer and the consumer. It is a POS device that can be connected to the Cloud, optimised to improve operational and sales performance and can be designed with a reduced energy footprint. Over the last seven years, Wellington’s strategy has focused on developing products and solutions that help customers optimise their refrigeration fleets.
What are the growth drivers of commercial refrigeration?
Our growth in commercial refrigeration is largely driven by ensuring that we meet and exceed the needs of our customers as well as staying ahead of electronics and digital technology trends which are being adopted rapidly by large food and beverage brands, and retailers. Our food and beverage customers are focused on improving the energy efficiency of their cooling solutions at the right cost and are increasing their efforts to acquire technologies that will help them connect their point of sale coolers directly with consumers. They are leveraging connectivity and software solutions to improve sales revenues and reduce equipment costs.
What products are offered by the company for commercial refrigeration?
Wellington offers a wide range of products and solutions segmented under three business categories; ECR Energy Efficient Motors – led by the class-leading ECR2 motor and ECF2 fanpack, helping customers reduce the energy footprint of their refrigerators; SCS IoT solutions – led by the SCS Connect Cloud connected refrigeration controller, providing connectivity, asset management and data services to improve the performance of a customer’s refrigerator; and iPX Proximity marketing solutions, connecting POS equipment to consumers and providing powerful consumer insights to improve sales. Revenue from our ECR2 and SCS Connect solution has increased fourfold in the last two years as the company has diversified into new markets such as supermarket display and food service.
What kind of technological innovations would you like to incorporate in your products and services to make them more energy efficient?
Our SCS controllers are bluetooth iBeacon enabled and will eventually expand into new IoT connectivity technologies such as LPWAN and other IoT focused cellular technologies. Our hardware is designed to control next-generation high efficiency componentry like Variable Capacity Compressors (VCC), ETX expansion valves and variable speed fans. We are utilising wireless technologies, near field communication (NFC) and QR code technologies for consumer engagement. Our future software innovations will be focused on analysing the ‘data lake’ from large fleets of connected refrigerators and using that data to optimise fleet performance. Our EC motors are being designed to further improve efficiencies at a lowest total cost – with ease of fitment and long lifetime paramount.
How do you see the acceptance of your products in the market?
Our products are widely used by global food and beverage brands across the carbonated soft drink market, beer, dairy and ice cream, and other refrigerated food brands. International supermarket chains continue to deploy our energy efficient motors in their display cases and quick serve restaurants in their food service equipment. Acceptance is increasing as the markets’ focus turns increasingly to energy efficiency and POS equipment productivity.
What are the expansion plans?
The majority of our revenue growth, currently running at between 20 percent to 30 percent annually is organic. In 2018, we completed our first acquisition of Australian proximity marketing company iProximity. iProximity’s digital marketing tools are now an integral part of our IoT platform offering. The beverage market is a core market for us, and we are working on growing in other refrigerated and ambient food markets. Our growth will come mainly from growing within food and beverage, expanding into adjacent markets such as food quality and loss, as well as the food service market. We continue to make investments in EC Motor products, IoT and software platforms, and are expanding our product range outside of the refrigerated beverage market. Further acquisitions that complement our product offering, and support access to new markets are not off the table as we continue to grow.
What are your suggestions to potential clients?
We take our lead from clients and are customer driven in all we do. We look for our customers’ suggestions on where our products and service investments should be focused. We do believe that the world is becoming more connected, more worried about the integrity of the cold chain as food and beverage is delivered to the consumer and is putting much more focus on the consumer’s experience. So we always present technology options to customers to help them understand how our technology is developing and how we can help them improve in these areas.
What is your outlook for this industry?
We see the outlook as very positive. Urbanisation is driving increasing demand for chilled food and beverage and that comes with a need for improved integrity in the cold chain. This in turn drives growth in the retail sector as well as cold food chains. Increasing environmental regulations, energy prices and load on energy infrastructure will also continue to drive energy efficiency demands in equipment such as refrigerators. We see the format of retail changing, an example is the Amazon Go model with 100 percent connected cashierless retail and with other retailers deploying smaller format neighbourhood stores that are tailored to the community. These factors will result in increasing investment in connected and energy efficient commercial refrigeration and innovation in POS equipment generally. This increased investment, combined with the evolution in available technology options, will cause food and beverage brand marketing teams and equipment buyers to increasingly focus on improving their equipment ROI via digital enhancements including productivity improvement, consumer engagement, and food safety monitoring; a trend which we are already seeing.