In a move designed to "strengthen the corporation's core businesses" while continuing its emphasis on product innovation, Maytag has realigned its operations into four business segments, bringing major appliances and floor care together under a single umbrella. (See TWICE, September 20, p. 6.)
"This internal re-alignment will enable us to take our innovation strategy more widely across the corporation at the same time that we improve our operational excellence," explained Lloyd Ward, Maytag's chairman/CEO.
The new arrangement will enable the company to "streamline decision-making and brand focus, extend our innovation strategy into new global and digital markets, [and] create the framework to partner with other leaders in technology and R&D with a clearer line of sight around rapid deployment of innovation," Ward said.
The new structure links major appliances and the Hoover floor care business in a single Home Appliance Solutions operation.
Within that group, former Maytag Appliance president Bill Beer is now president, major appliances division, while Keith Minton, who had been president of The Hoover Company, is now president, floor care division. They will co-manage Home Appliance Solutions.
The other strategic groups are Commercial Appliance Solutions, Worldwide Solutions (to tackle the global market) and Emerging Business Solutions, which will explore marketing strategies and initiatives including e-commerce, as well as "new product categories, new brands and potential acquisitions," Ward said.
At the center of the four groups is the Maytag World Innovation Network. Under development for the past 15 months, the network is described as an integrated set of relationships with outside companies, focused on product and marketing research and innovation.
Ward said the company plans to build a North American innovation center to provide engineering and product prototyping as well as cost analysis for innovative products.
A similar center is now under construction in China with joint-venture partner Rongshida.
The realignment was announced after Maytag's stock took a sharp dip in mid-September, although the move had been planned for several months, according to Ward.
Acknowledging that Maytag has been losing market share in its lower-priced appliance brands while gaining share in the premium white-goods market, he said, "Our continued success requires that we develop more fully our ability to bring new waves of innovation across every product line in every business and execute our business model with excellence."
Ward described the realignment as "a significant step to improve the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of innovation and our focus on operating excellence." -- Cathy Ciccolella