Husqvarna: Leading Global Manufacturer of Garden Equipment and Power Tools

Husqvarna is a cut above the rest

The Husqvarna Group is the world’s largest producer of chainsaws, lawn mowers and other petrol and electric-powered garden equipment such as trimmers, leaf blowers and garden tractors

The company is also one of the leaders in cutting equipment for the construction and stone industries. Husqvarna’s product offering covers a wide range of applications for both consumers and professional users within three product areas: Forestry, Lawn and Garden, and Construction.

Caraline Robinson, operations manager for Husqvarna’s manufacturing site in Newton Aycliffe, UK, believes Husqvarna’s range to be superior to the competition and was happy to tell MTE more about the products Husqvarna produces: “From Aycliffe we sell a variety of garden care products for the general consumer market, specialising in electric hover and wheeled-rotary lawnmowers, garden-vacs, trimmers and hedge trimmers, amongst others, sold under the Flymo brand. Husqvarna is perhaps best known for chainsaws and rider products, which are manufactured in Sweden. We also have a factory in Italy that produces our petrol range of products, mainly wheeled rotary mowers.”

Continuing, Caraline talks about the importance of manufacturing efficiency: “As we are always under pressure to produce our products for less, manufacturing efficiency is highly important to our business. We have worked with NEPA (North East Productivity Alliance) in recent years to help with this, and our production engineering team are always looking for new ways to eliminate waste movements in both our moulding and assembly operation. Investment in a large conveyor system to transport components in our moulding division has improved operator utilisation, as this leads to a better balance of work for our operators. We also take the opportunity to automate operations where this is practical, as we have 35 Fanuc robots offloading components from machines in our moulding division.”

She adds: “From a manufacturing viewpoint, we are moulding components for external customers as well as for our own use. Some of these customers supply other sectors such as the car industry. Our own products are highly seasonal with the main moulding and assembly period being between January and June, so we are also always on the look out for counter seasonal products, which would fit with our business.”

In the UK, Husqvarna’s main customers within the gardening sector who sell the Flymo brand include nationwide retailers such as B&Q, Argos, Homebase and Focus. 2006 has seen the market for Husqvarna’s products grow in Europe, with countries such as Austria and Switzerland achieving particularly strong results. Husqvarna is constantly developing new products and these products perform well, sales-wise, around the globe. However, in the UK, the company must show restraint, only offering products to the market when customers are ready for them. This is because, unlike the rest of Europe, the UK market is seasonal and extremely competitive. Indeed, there has recently been a big downturn in the price people are willing to pay for garden products. Despite this, Husqvarna currently has a market share of around 48 per cent in the UK both by volume and value.

Worldwide, Husqvarna’s operations have shown stable growth and high profitability for many years. The company’s objective, or rather business plan, is to develop, manufacture and market mainly power products for forestry and lawn and garden maintenance, as well as cutting equipment for the construction and stone industries, while achieving good growth and high profitability. To realise this goal Husqvarna wishes to become the global market leader in the product areas and market segments in which it operates.

In June this year, Husqvarna was spun off from Electrolux. Caraline tells us more about this development: “Electrolux used to manufacture and sell both indoor and outdoor products. Husqvarna was the brand name and manufacturer of professional outdoor products. We are now two totally separate companies: Electrolux is responsible for indoor ‘white goods’; Husqvarna is responsible for both professional and consumer outdoor products, which includes Flymo.”

She continues: “The Flymo brand has been built on quality, innovation and product features such as the vision window and the Easi reel. These are featured on our best selling range of Vision Compact hover mowers and Roller Compact wheeled rotary mowers. One of Husqvarna’s main strengths is the quality of their professional products.”

2006 also saw Husqvarna launch the Packa- Mow lawnmower and move production of the Automower to Aycliffe. “The Pack-a-Mow lawnmower easily unpacks from and packs into its own grass box – in fact, it is a unique product in the marketplace for people with limited storage space,” says Caraline. “Automower production also transferred to Aycliffe for 2006 from Husqvarna Sweden. Working within a boundary wire this automatic lawnmower has a random cutting pattern, which ensures that the entire lawn is maintained. It continuously cuts a tiny amount of grass leaving the cuttings as it goes. What’s more, it detects when its battery charge is low and automatically finds and docks at its charger to recharge itself.”

With thoughts on the company’s future, she concludes: “The main market for the Automower is Europe, although it is available in the UK, and this year has been launched in the USA. Two new versions of the Automower will be available early 2007, both manufactured here at Aycliffe. Innovation is key to maintaining success – we are able to create something new, something different. We hope to continue this tradition in the future and achieve even greater success.”

Products: Garden tools
Sites: Global
Employees: 350 permanent, plus 250 seasonal