50 years of BSH Home Appliances
The BSH of today and tomorrow is based on 50 years of history in which it was the driving force for technological as well as social development. In the year of our 50th anniversary, we want to invite you to get to know our history better. Check out this article which was first published on the Bosch History Blog.
Since BSH was founded in 1967, its washing machines, refrigerators and freezers, vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, kettles, irons, and many other products have become part of people’s everyday lives. BSH was created as a joint venture by Bosch and Siemens. Both technological companies had decades of experience in manufacturing household appliances. Bosch had been making refrigerators since 1933 and started adding food processors, freezers, and washing machines to its portfolio after the second world war. Siemens had already launched a vacuum cleaner, described as a “dust removal pump”, on the market before the first world war and began manufacturing household appliances in large quantities in the early 1920s.
Whereas products such as these often seemed beyond reach before the second world war, more and more people were able to afford household appliances during the years of the German economic miracle, and the sector started to boom. Soon, Bosch food processors and refrigerators were just as much a part of modern households as cookers, washing machines, and even radios and televisions – known as “brown goods” – from Siemens. However, the boom soon showed signs of tailing off in the early 1960s. The market was saturated and there was stiff competition in the sector. This led those responsible at Bosch and Siemens to start considering joining forces in household appliances in the early 1960s. After intensive negotiations, the two partners founded Bosch-Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSHG) in 1967. They each held a 50 percent share of the new company. BSHG had the main task of coordinating the two companies’ household appliance business. It did this behind the scenes, as the global brands Bosch and Siemens were meant to still be perceived as separate. To start with, the workforces were still employed by the parent companies, with just a small team working directly for BSHG.
Bosch refrigerator, 1933: Copyright: Robert Bosch GmbH – Company Archive (Signature 6 001 05871)
Integration and consolidation
The consolidation of BSHG, which had to bring two different corporate cultures together, took place step-by-step. The immediate priority was to find a sensible way of coordinating the range of products and manufacturing activities. Refrigerators and dishwashers were produced by Bosch in Giengen and Dillingen, while Siemens manufactured washing machines and cookers in its Berlin and Traunreut factories. Vacuum cleaners were made by Siemens in Bad Neustadt. During the 1970s, Bosch and Siemens increasingly pooled functions in BSHG, which gradually took over the factories and was soon responsible for customer service, accounting, market research, and preparing accounts. In 1978, BSHG moved into its own administrative building in Munich’s Hochstrasse and that same year completely took over the workforces of Bosch and Siemens. An in-house newspaper called “inform” was launched for associates in 1978 that is still published to this day. It reflected the independent identity of BSHG that had evolved since 1967. By the beginning of the 1980s, at the latest, it could be said that BSHG had been widely consolidated. By then, it had long since proved the right decision for the two parent companies to found a joint venture, as apart from a few periods BSHG had achieved an almost unbroken growth in sales and profits since 1967 and held its own in a difficult market environment.
Strong brands among global competition
The keys to the success of BSHG were its innovative strength, the continuous expansion of its brand portfolio, and systematic internationalization. Constructa was already part of BSHG in 1967. Siemens had acquired the company, which had been renowned for high-performance porthole washing machines since the 1950s, in 1961 and incorporated it into BSHG. BSHG bolstered the brand portfolio by adding the renowned German cooker constructor Neff in Bretten and household appliance manufacturer Gaggenau, a pioneer in high-quality fitted appliances, in 1982 and 1994 respectively.
Having initially exported to international markets, in 1976 BSHG took the plunge into foreign investment by acquiring a majority holding in the Greek household appliance manufacturer Pitsos. The full-on drive toward internationalization commenced in the 1980s. BSHG founded a number of foreign sales and customer service companies and acquired a stake in the Spanish household appliance manufacturer Balay, for example. From the 1990s on, the company – renamed BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH in 1998 – established sales companies and factories in numerous European countries, Asia, and North America. BSH also acquired Thermador (United States), Ufesa (Spain), and Coldex (Peru), all firmly established manufacturers in their own countries. It continued its internationalization drive into the new millennium, setting up further factory locations in Brazil, India, Russia, and Slovenia. Nowadays, 41 factories and development and technology centers belong to the BSH global network.
The year 2015 represented a milestone in the recent history of BSH, when Siemens AG sold its stake in BSH to Robert Bosch GmbH in the spring. Since then, the company, renamed BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bosch Group. BSH is now the biggest household appliance manufacturer in Europe and the second largest in the world. With a workforce of 58,000 manufacturing a wide range of cutting-edge household appliances, in 2016 BSH generated 13.1 billion euros in sales. The latest technological developments, such as Home Connect, which makes it possible to network household devices and control them with an app, point the way forward in this field and demonstrate the innovative force of BSH.
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