Maytag Investing In Core Competencies

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NEWTON, IOWA — Speaking to a group of financial analysts in Florida earlier this month, Maytag CEO Len Hadley discussed how increased investments and productivity would get his company through the industry's economic doldrums.

"Maytag is concentrating on delivering sequential quarterly improvement in business performance in 2001," he said. "At the same time we're putting money into the organization to build key areas of our business … Our intent is to put the foundations in place so that when the economic and industry winds shift, we are fully ready to participate and reap the benefits."

For example, Hadley said the company is raising its spending on research and development, as well as national advertising. As for growth initiatives, Maytag is investing in global procurement, logistics and e-business, he said.

"Our objective in procurement is to develop a small, highly competitive international supply base that can reduce our costs by more than 5 percent annually," he noted.

On the logistical front, Hadley said Maytag is working with a third party to build a nationwide transportation infrastructure to deliver direct to retailers, builders and consumers. This initiative is expected to be fully implemented in 2002, and should improve service and reduce inventories, he said.

Online, Maytag has integrated itself with retailers and consumers in what Hadley called a "seamless supply chain on the Internet." Using cart-to-cart technology, a consumer can visit Maytag.com, choose a product and then purchase it from about 3,000 participating dealers.

"So far, use of the cart-to-cart program has exceeded our expectations, and this method of appliance purchasing is likely to grow in the future," he said. He added that more dealers will likely join the site throughout the year.

Hadley also discussed some of the company's newer products, including the extra-capacity Wide By Side refrigerator/freezer, and said more product introductions are planned for later this year and early in 2002.

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