In 1962, the Müllers welcomed a new baby to the family, whom they named Stefan. That same year expert SE, one of Germany’s leading consumer electronic companies, opened its first store. Unknown at the time, the two would cross paths in a significant way some 40 years later.
Müller joined the company in 2001 as an executive board member, focusing on IT and logistics. Today, Müller oversees more than 400 locations across Germany as the CEO of expert SE, a position he has held since 2018.
Like a neighbor
"Proximity to the customer is a life practice for us, not just a promise," Müller says. According to the CEO, expert SE uniquely provides customers with a trusted local merchant backed by the technology and logistics capabilities of a global enterprise.
"It’s the strong roots in these communities and the attention to personal experience that our customers find unique about expert SE," he adds. "We are part of their neighborhood."
Müller explains that this neighborhood mindset results from the distinctive corporate structure: expert SE is essentially an association of independent, regionally based retailers who join forces. This structure entails the multi-generational ownership of many of its members who sustain the bond between them and their regional customer base.
"They are family entrepreneurs; they care for their people," he reveals. "This is at the heart of the expert SE family and what we do. We support families and aim to strengthen them; these values are our foundation, even at the corporate level."
This hyper-local, people-focused backbone proved valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with expert SE’s strong digital operations footing, which had been built over many years.
"Online and multichannel is not the core competence of traditional retailers," he points out. "We have a complete digital business implemented from our headquarters to our shops and even further to our industrial partners."
Invaluable during the crisis, this strategy remains a strength of the brand today.
"Whether in stores or online, we want to address the customers where they are, bringing the whole digital world with us," he says.
National perspective, local focus
While ‘bigger is better’ and ‘more is more’ are at the core of many corporate strategies, for expert SE, growing market share requires a slightly different approach.
Müller believes the company’s expansion in Germany should maintain expert SE’s core strengths of being a truly local brand, which generally means staying outside of mega-cities like Berlin and instead working with stores footprinted around 1,500 square meters.
expert SE is further increasing its market penetration with takeovers of specialists stores, which included six Alpha Tecc locations in October 2022.
"We will continue tapping into online potential, but that is a bit more complex for us than for many other businesses because our retailers are independent," he confirms, adding that many of its customers have had long-standing relationships with the locations, some over a few decades. These well-established relationships are at the core of the company’s brand.
"expert SE is what it is today thanks to our intense connection with the people and communities we serve," he says.
Müller adds that robust supply chain practices will be essential to support this continued growth.
"We only control a small part of the whole supply chain, so we must forge long and deep relationships with our industrial partners. Maintaining well-established partnerships with companies such as De’Longhi, Miele, Samsung and so on is a pillar of our company," he says.
"We prioritize strong dialogue between ourselves and our industrial partners as to how we can continue to improve our business on the whole."
Through it all, Müller keeps a laser focus on the customer and the excellence of the expert SE employees who serve them.
"Every part of our strategy revolves around creating the perfect customer experience," he explains. "We are a retail company with a dominating focus on our shops. We are close to our customers as well as to the development of and support for our employees; they are the most important touchpoints for our customers."