The Hindu Business Line

Whirlpool plans pan-India rollout of premium washing machines, fridges

Good response to product range in Bengaluru; soon to be available in other cities

- MEENAKSHI VERMA AMBWANI

Leveraging on its global networks, Whirlpool India has recently made a foray in front-loading washing machines and bottom-mounted refrigerat­ors. For starters, the company has been test-marketing these products in Bengaluru and after fine-tuning its strategy, now plans to roll them out across the country.

Sunil D’Souza, Managing Director, Whirlpool of India, told BusinessLi­ne: “We had no play in these segments so far. Leveraging on our global network, we have recently introduced our “Made-inEurope” front-loading washing machines and bottom-mounted refrigerat­ors. We were test marketing them in Bangalore and have got an overwhelmi­ng response. We will next make them available in Chennai and other cities in the South and then roll-out these products across the country.”

Premium products

D’Souza said the company will continue to introduce such premium products. “Our research tells us that Indian consumers desire the same kind of features like the European consumers. So this is a powerful product propositio­n. We are bullish on these segments,” he added.

Front-loading washing machines is one of the fastest growing segments in the category. Bottom-mounted refrigerat­ors are still a niche segment, but the company wants to be ready with the right products as this segment expands.

Talking about demonetisa­tion impact, D’Souza said: “November was softer than expected. But December is shaping-up better than November. We are already seeing some pockets in the North improving, especially because of the wedding season. Due to a more organised retail structure, the Southern region has been less impacted compared with the North and the East.”

“India is a growth story for Whirlpool and we remain bullish on the country’s long term growth potential,” he added.

The company also recently forayed in the nascent air-purifier segment. “We will continue to focus on strengthen­ing our position in washing machines and refrigerat­ors segments. Besides, we also see potential in air-conditione­rs, air purifiers and water purifiers,” he added.

Built-in appliances s

With the launch of its brand “KitchenAid”, the company is also looking to tap the premium builtin appliances segment, besides the mass premium segment through the Whirlpool built-in appliance range.

“With entrance of our new premium brand ‘KitchenAid’, Whirlpool shall offer a varied range of built-in appliances under two brands – Whirlpool and KitchenAid.

“The premium market for builtin appliances in India is estimated at ₹220 crore in 2018 and with the addition of KitchenAid Built-In Appliances, we expect to capture around ₹75 crore in this market,” D’Souza added.

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