GE Appliances (GEA) has thrown down the white-goods gauntlet.
On the second anniversary of its acquisition by global powerhouse Haier Group, the iconic majap maker has declared its intention of becoming America’s leading major appliance business, pushing aside Whirlpool and further distancing itself from Samsung, LG and Electrolux.
No timetable was given for the foray, although GE outlined a five-year plan that includes “ambitious” investments in new technology and products, and expanded plants and distribution, thanks to the deep pockets of its corporate parent.
“One of the most liberating things about being part of Haier is how they are helping us realize our potential and their desire to see GE Appliances grow,” said president/CEO Kevin Nolan, who assumed the corner office last year. “Haier encourages us to think differently about our future and how we serve our consumers and customers. We now think of ourselves as a two-year-old startup born of more than a century of industry expertise and backed by the world’s largest appliance brand.”
Specifically, capital improvements are planned for the company’s nine U.S. manufacturing facilities, including a software upgrade — to Haier’s Brilliant Factory platform — that makes more useable, real-time data available on mobile devices to help improve production efficiency and product quality while reducing costs.
GEA, along with its strategic partners, also plans to expand its distribution network with new facilities in Dallas, Denver, Atlanta and Northern California, and will follow Haier’s lead by building its position in IoT-capable products.
On the organizational side, the company has also followed in Haier’s footsteps by decentralizing operations into “microenterprises” — independent business units designed to be more nimble and responsive to local markets and consumers.
The new operational approach has also been applied to GEA’s once top-down branding plan, which now employs distinct go-to-market strategies that better align each badge (Hotpoint, GE, Haier, GE Profile, GE Café and Monogram) with its respective consumer segment.
“We’re free to reinvent our business to achieve growth and industry leadership,” added Nolan. “Our goal is to become the leading, most consumer-focused and contemporary appliance business in America.”
GEA faces stiff competition in its quest. While Haier lays claim to world’s largest appliance maker by unit volume, Whirlpool and its cadre of majap brands still holds that title in dollar sales.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Samsung and LG Electronics continue to saturate the U.S. market with innovative, tech-savvy products, and last year dethroned Whirlpool brand to take the top two slots in first-quarter market share.