CORONA, CALIF. — TCL, a brand most closely associated with advanced but aggressively priced TVs, is planning to enter the U.S. appliance waters.
Having established a foothold in the U.S. TV market, and disrupted the Ultra HD category, the Chinese manufacturer is now reviewing plans to bring TLCbranded majaps to these shores within the next few years.
The announcement followed Whirlpool’s incursion onto TCL’s turf with its recent $552 million acquisition of Hefei Sanyo, China’s third-largest majap maker.
“As we continue to invest in the TCL brand, it only makes sense to support additional categories under this marketing umbrella,” said Chris Larson, sales and marketing VP at TCL North America. “You will see the TCL brand offered anywhere we can use our manufacturing abilities to offer world-class product innovation with a value that appeals to the American consumer.”
Fueling those ambitions is a massive, $1.2 billion majap plant now under construction in Heifei, China. The fully automated production line will be capable of pumping out 3 million washers and refrigerators annually by next year, and it will increase capacity to 8 million units by the time it’s completed in 2017.
TCL said the plant will be the largest appliance factory in Asia and was conceived to meet rising worldwide demand for white goods.
“TCL has seen major growth in white goods, and this will allow the brand to keep up with this demand and also enter new markets, including North America,” said chairman/CEO Li Dongsheng.
TCL, which stands for “The Creative Life,” also operates what it described as the world’s largest LCDpanel factory, China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT), and already produces appliances for offshore markets.
In the U.S., the company will find a contentious majap marketplace as Electrolux prepares for its merger with GE, Samsung and LG continue to make aggressive inroads, and Whirlpool is out to defend its No. 1 spot.
TCL will also face increased competition from a fellow Chinese resource: Haier, the world’s largest majap maker by volume, whose reinvigorated U.S. subsidiary is coming to market with a recently reformed team and a revised merchandising strategy.
Still, the company already demonstrated its commitment to this market last year by licensing the branding rights to the former Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, since renamed TCL Chinese Theatre.