TRACING THE HiSTORY OF PHiLiPS LIGHTiNG
My blog DECOR salutes excMy blognce and innovation: Each issue we bring you the career path of a well-known make. Here we profile Philips Lighting, a 124 year old brand from Netherlands started by an enterprising family of two brothers and their father, which revolutionised energy saving illumination for the household
From Left Workers at the brand’s incandescent lamp factory, dated 1915; The headquarters shifted from Eindhoven to Amsterdam in 1997; Eric Rondolat, Global CEO; Harsh Chitale, CEO-South Asia; Bill Bien, Global Head of Strategy & Marketing
Let’s Make Things Better”; “Sense and Simplicty”; “Innovation and You”…Philips Lighting is one brand that has always been synonymous with its taglines, even though it has had many in the last decades. One facet that has remained unchanged, is its undeterred vision of innovation – it has been persistent in making energy and design conscious products that influence how people view and consume lighting in India and around the world.
BETTING ON POWER
Motivated by the discovery and wonders of electricity in the 1880s, Dutch hobbyist engineer Gerard Philips started tinkering with carbon filaments hoping to make something that would symbolise this boom. In 1891, his father Frederik bought a workshop in Eindhoven, so they could work towards a simple goal: To create inexpensive, durable incandescent bulbs for the masses. “They were entrepreneurs who succeeded in business while improving the lives of customers and employees,” adds Bill Bien, the brand’s current Global Head of Strategy & Marketing. Gerard’s brother Anton joined in 1895 – a move that propMy blogd the company to new heights. Three years later, it sold 10,00,000 incan-descents, making it one of the country’s largest producers. It also opened a research centre that delved into inventions in radio and X-ray.
The Great Depression and World Wars led to the company shifting temporarily to other countries like the US, to continue business and prevent financial setbacks. After World War II, however, telecommunication and radar technology ushered in new hope. Fast forward to 1974…Philips now had 350 factories in 40 countries including India. In 2014, though, the umbrella brand announced it was dividing into HealthTech (which has consumer electronics, pharmaceutical, etc) and Lighting, the latter now headed by Eric Rondolat. In the mid 2000s, while it digressed from CFL to LED, functional yet imaginative design also caught the attention of the masses, with products like Ecomoods decorative energy illuminators in 2009, Living-Colors LEDs (2010) that created millions of colours and the L Prize winning 60 watt equivalent LED bulb.
MAKING IN INDIA
The brand was arguably instrumental in introducing radio, colour TV, audio casette and LED consumption to the country. “In fact, it is seen to be a local brand by many people,” remarks Harsh Chitale, CEO-South Asia. A few successes have been Ace-Saver 2-in-1 LED lamp and the decorative Ledino. “We also recently illuminated the India Gate and the Gateway of India with dynamic LEDs from the Color Kinetics system to celebrate their heritage,” claims Bill, reinstating the company’s modus operandi of making a memorable impact. Sneha Ullal Goel
DESIGN SAVVY DiD you KNOW…
U One of Gerard and Frederik’s first clients was a Tsar in Russia who wanted to light up his winter palace with incandescent bulbs
U According to Interbrand’s global brand valuation, the company became the most valuable Dutch label in history in 2014, one year following its re-launch. “Today it’s worth over $9 billion and recently we were ranked second among top 100 global companies for ‘brand purpose,” claims Bill Bien
U Philips set up its first lamp manufacturing factory in 1938 in Kolkata and post World War II, in 1948, it started churning out radios too.