State-of-the-Art Office Case Studies:

Offices Supporting Management

SEB Professional

Interview conducted in August 2019

*This article is based on research conducted at an earlier date; some details may differ at the present time.

A New Office with Dedicated Showrooms for Brands as a Sales Tool

With a history of 166 years and the top market share, WMF has led the industry of commercial coffee machine manufacturing, development, and sale. In 2019, it integrated its management with a French company and changed its name to SEB Professional Co., Ltd. This process included relocating the head office and building an office designed to improve operational efficiency. In this interview, we asked about the concept of the office and its new functions.                https://www.wmf.com/de/

 

Rika Hinata

Noriyuki Tachi

Representative Director and President
SEB Professional Co., Ltd.

Rika Hinata

Shuichi Maeda

Senior Manager and Business Development
Sales Department No. 1, Sales & Marketing Division
SEB Professional Co., Ltd.

Rika Hinata

Madoka Tsutsui

Manager
Marketing Department, Sales & Marketing Division
SEB Professional Co., Ltd.

 

Break area

Showroom

Brief Memo

  1. Leading the industry in market share of commercial coffee machine manufacturing, development and sale
  2. Plumbing requirements made finding the right office tricky
  3. A relocation project team made up of members from each department
  4. Improving office functionality with multipurpose showrooms
  5. The new office showrooms have significantly impacted visitor numbers

Leading the industry in market share of commercial coffee machine manufacturing, development and sale

In 1853, a metalworking company called Metallwarenfabrik Straub & Schweizer was founded in Geislingen in southwestern Germany. In 1880, it was newly established as Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik (WMF). During World War II, the head office building was built with an investment worth nearly 100 million yen at the time, and through efficient management, it has helped the German economy develop. The head office building still stands as a historical landmark.

In the 1920s and 30s, WMF began manufacturing and developing coffee machines. The first coffee machines were not button-operated, but rather large machines with valves operated one by one using steam and pressure. Sales restarted in the United States in 1945 and spread to other countries. Sales in Japan began about 40 years ago when few competitors were offering commercial coffee machines.

In 1994, the company released Bistro, the prototype of coffee machines still sold today, and began to introduce at restaurant chains. Around this time, large 24-hour "family restaurants" began appearing. In 2005, the company released Presto, a smaller version of Bistro, which brought coffee machines to not only large restaurants but also smaller establishments with limited space. Improvements in operational efficiency drew attention, and the business grew rapidly. The company achieved the top market share. In 2005, the company began selling coffee machines manufactured by the Swiss company, “Schaerer.”

After coming through the global financial crisis, selling coffee at convenience stores, mainstays in everyday life, began to boom in 2012. The spread of reasonably-priced coffee drove up demand for coffee machines. Now, the company offers an even richer menu.

“I think functionality, operability, and compactness are the main factors behind the spread of coffee machines," says President Tachi. "If you want to enjoy coffee, the taste of regular drip coffee is fine, but if you want a latte, the true flavor comes from combining coffee concentrated like espresso with steamed milk. It is with that in mind that we work to develop machines that produce good flavor every day."

As the menu of coffee machines on offer expands, restaurant adoption will also spread to ever more diverse establishments. Right now, demand from Japanese restaurants such as sushi shops is also on the rise.

Plumbing requirements made finding the right office tricky

Before moving, the company occupied an office building in Nishi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku, but was considering relocating due to the deterioration of facilities as the building aged. In December 2016, amid consideration, it integrated its management with a French company, Groupe SEB, which owns cooking utensil brands such as T-fal. This added momentum to the relocation plan.

“With our corporate branding getting an overhaul, we needed to redesign the concept of our office and showroom. It was time to reset everything,” says Tachi.

There was also a mission to solve management issues. One of these was security.

“Our previous office was small, so where we met with visitors was inside our working area,” reflects Tachi. “That meant that every time we had a meeting, the visitors entered our working area. That area contained unreleased information, making it a vulnerability in terms of security, which was something we had to improve."

Another issue was related to expanding the business. According to Tsutsui, “The previous office only had a showroom for one of our brands, WMF. In the future, however, we have to focus as much on our other brand, Schaerer. Therefore, we needed to prepare a dedicated showroom.”

Creating a showroom for each brand required a larger area than the previous office. So, in October 2018, SEB Professional asked Sanko Estate, one with whom has a long relationship, if it could find a new location.

Tachi says, “Building new showrooms in the new office was a major goal of the move. However, it seemed impossible to do additional plumbing work in regular office buildings, and we struggled to get the approval of the building owner. We asked Sanko Estate to expand the search area and carefully look for a property.”

It was then that they found a property that matched the conditions for size, rent, transportation access, plumbing, and more – an office building located in Tsukiji, Chuo Ward, completed in 2002, that required earthquake reinforcement. It was a perfect destination for the company.

A relocation project team made up of members from each department

After agreeing on occupancy terms with the building owner, the company signed a lease agreement. A schedule was formed to start interior design at the end of February 2019. Sanko Estate's PM team was appointed to take charge of every aspect of moving the office (supporting interior design, construction and relocation as well as managing costs and the schedule).

“It was a tight schedule, so I wanted to reduce our workload by outsourcing management of the entire project,” says Tachi. “Several interior design companies competed for the job, and we were able to select the company whose proposal best matched our ideas.”

“We’d just completed our corporate design manual, so we had them make a matching design proposal. By referencing that material, we were able to move forward," adds Tsutsui.

A project team was also formed from within the company. Because each department had completely different needs, members with different perspectives were chosen one by one from each department to exchange opinions on an equal footing. President Tachi says he made an effort to maintain distance from the project team.

He says, “If I got involved, I might have influenced everything down to the smallest detail. But since the office is for employees, I strongly felt that they should think about it for themselves."

Employees were surveyed to clarify desires regarding the relocation. The responses were aggregated, analyzed, and reflected in the office design. The team endeavored to make decisions as much as possible in the meetings, complete tasks one by one, and make smooth progress.

“We took in as many requests as possible and then scrutinized them based on importance and cost. There were several ideas that we had to pass on this time. We also replaced with ready-made furniture some parts we originally planned to make," says Tsutsui.

The new office was completed at the end of April. As scheduled, the company moved in over a long weekend and officially opened for business on the first day back, May 10, 2019.

 
 
 
 
 
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