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K/BIS 1999 Showcases Upscale Introductions

The appliance industry’s largest exposition of the year — the 1999 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show — kicks off in Orlando, Fla., on April 16, offering a look at advances in white-goods technology for today and tomorrow.

As in past shows, the emphasis will be on upscale appliances geared toward the lucrative remodeling/replacement market. Retailers attending K/BIS — and more and more dealers show up every year — can expect to see a flock of new refrigerators with improved water filtration and storage flexibility, enhancements in cooking appliances including higher-powered gas ranges and cooktops, refinements in both horizontal-axis and agitator-style washers, and dishwashers designed to accommodate virtually any type of cookware, serving piece or glassware.

In addition, at least two key manufacturers are bringing new colors into their appliance lines: Whirlpool with the neutral Biscuit shade its Kitchen-Aid division unveiled at last year’s K/BIS, and GE Appliances, with a similar neutral it calls Bisque.

Here’s just a sampling of appliance introductions at this year’s K/BIS:

In addition to a collection of products in its new Bisque color, GE Appliances will take the wraps off 16 new dishwashers in its Profile and Profile Performance series. The units feature a high-tech wash system with three wash arms, high-powered rotating spray, sanitizing cycle and triple filtration system, plus redesigned interior.

GE will also be highlighting the speed-cooking oven it unveiled at the January Builders Show (see related story below).

Among Frigidaire Home Products’ K/BIS entries will be new refrigerators with an improved PureSource Plus ice-and-water filtration system, said to remove more substances than previous filters. The system now includes signal lights on the refrigerator door showing the status of the filter.

Some side-by-sides in Frigidaire’s Gallery and Professional Series also offer a new Smart Fit adjustable shelf that can move up to 3 inches vertically while loaded, for storage flexibility.

Also on view from Frigidaire will be a new dual-fuel slide-in range targeted at a $999 retail price point, an enhanced sealed-burner system for gas ranges that offers up to 13,000 Btu of cooking power, and smoothtop ranges and cooktops using a new ceramic material in a “true white” color.

Frigidaire’s Tappan division will unveil the Millennia product line — its first new line in five years — featuring eight redesigned gas ranges with sealed burners and sculpted control panels, plus complementary refrigerators and a dishwasher.

Whirlpool executives are heading for Orlando to show off a new series of Whirlpool Gold appliances in the company’s Biscuit color.

Other introductions include a full-size dishwasher that has earned the Energy Star rating and a Eurostyle microwave oven called The Edge, plus several new Whirlpool Gold 24-inch-deep side-by-side refrigerators designed for the builder market.

Whirlpool’s KitchenAid division will be at K/BIS with a new line of gas and electric ranges. Electric units include a new simmer switch and warming element, plus a hidden baking element in the oven. Convection cooking has also been moved down the line to lower-priced models.

New KitchenAid gas ranges offer 14,000- and 12,500-Btu burners plus a 600- to 750-Btu simmer burner. The company is also one of just a few to offer gas burners set into a Ceran cooktop.

A highlight of the Maytag exhibit at K/BIS will be the Gemini twin-oven electric range the firm introduced last month (see story on p. 33). Company executives are also likely to be talking about Jenn-Air’s speed-cooking concept, announced late in 1998 and expected to be introduced initially as part of an electric range.

BSH Home Appliances — now marketing the Bosch, Gaggenau and Thermador brands in the U.S. — will bring a number of new products to Orlando, including redesigned 30- and 36-inch gas cooktops offering up to 12,500 Btu of power; 27- and 30-inch convection ovens with two-speed fans; and a downdraft cooktop ventilation system that rises from flush with the counter to 9 inches high.

Fisher & Paykel is expected to show its first branded refrigerators, in both side-by-side and bottom-mount configurations, at K/BIS. Company execs are also likely to be telling show attendees about their first line of cooking appliances for the U.S. market, due here later this year.

Dacor will be at the show with new appliances that include a five-burner gas cooktop and a New Wave micro-wave oven.

Asko will offer a new EasyControl washer/dryer pair, the washer featuring increased capacity and larger door opening and the dryer with ButterFly drying system, designed to move clothes more efficiently from front to back to reduce wrinkles.

Also new from Asko will be a stainless-steel-fronted dishwasher with controls hidden in the top of the door.

And Sub-Zero is expected to take the wraps off a new entry in the wine-storage category at K/BIS.

For details on all the new appliances premiering in Orlando, see the April 26 issue of TWICE.