Trusted lighting partner switched on to growth

LED light maker ROBUS is winning the battle for talent, propelling it to record results, writes Lorraine Courtney

Mick Slein, chief executive, ROBUS

ROBUS had a record sales year in 2021, Mick G Slein, chief executive, said.

“This was a fantastic result, given the pandemic and global supply issues. It is a testament to our culture, strong management, and strategy during these uncertain times,” Slein said.

“We have invested significantly in our digital and IT infrastructure as part of our ongoing digital transformation project, launching new websites, an ecommerce platform, and making huge improvements to our underlying IT systems to create a scalable digital ecosystem which will meet our ambitious growth plans.”

ROBUS became a carbon neutral business in 2022, offsetting its carbon footprint, in addition to the positive impact the company has on the environment by the nature of the energy efficient products it sells.

Slein said that the firm had got involved in the Best Managed Companies programme as it offered great recognition for its superb people. “We also felt that being recognised by such a strong global brand in Deloitte that it would enhance our reputation with all our stakeholders, as well as helping to attract top quality talent, which we have been able to do.”

Winning an award for the seventh year was a great recognition of the work staff did, Slein said. “At ROBUS we are passionate about our People First management initiative, we continue to invest in our people because they are the lifeblood of our business.”

“We actively promote our status as a Best Managed Company in our recruitment process and have been told by new recruits that it had a significant impact on their decision to join the company. We also want to share and gain insights from other companies across a broad spectrum of industries to ensure that we are at the forefront of best practice and market trends.”

ROBUS was founded by Slein in 1984 and remains a family-owned business to this day. Its HQ and Irish distribution are located in Dublin 12, and the firm also has offices in Britain, China and Australia. ROBUS sales teams are active in 40 countries worldwide. It employs 250 talented people globally. “We have a large sales team that work across the UK, Ireland, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand,” Slein said.

“Our HQ and distribution centre employs about 100 people in functions such as new product development, technical, lighting design, IT, purchasing, finance, marketing, customised conversions, warehouse and logistics. Our China office employs 25 people who manage our supplier relations in China where most of our products are manufactured. We also have a smaller ROBUS HQ in Australia which manages the business in Australia and New Zealand.”

ROBUS is a leading global LED lighting brand. “We develop, manufacture, and distribute LED lighting products around the world to over 3,000 stockists. At ROBUS, we are driven by our vision of being customers’ most trusted LED lighting brand. To achieve this, we drive a culture of continuous improvement with our people and create a ‘best in class’ mindset across our business.

“Our ROBUS products are sold exclusively through the electrical wholesale channel. We sell to over 3,000 stockists in 40 countries around the world.”

Like most business, ROBUS had faced a number of challenges during the pandemic, said Slein. “We initially had wage cuts because of the uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic, which we were able to pay back later in the year as a result of our very strong sales performance. Strategically investing in stock early in the pandemic put us in a stronger position than most of our competitors [and] when the supply chain issues out of China began to affect our industry, we were able to capitalise and grow our sales.”

Costs have been a major focus, with significant increases in raw material prices in China and skyrocketing shipping costs putting pressure on margins during 2020 and 2021.

“Thankfully, the outlook for shipping rates for the rest of 2022 are positive when compared to 2021.

“The cost of living crisis is challenging for both our business and employees, with rising material prices, energy costs and general inflation. We will continue to focus on our cost base and introduce measures to reduce our energy consumption, such as a solar field planned for later this year on the roof of our Dublin distribution centre.”

Slein said that ROBUS had ambitious growth plans for the coming years. “This includes some potential acquisitions to support our overall strategy.

“We will continue to live by our values and strive to reach our vision of being our customers’ most trusted LED lighting brand. With our digital transformation and ERP reimplementation projects, we are building the foundations to substantially grow the business,” Slein said.