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Viking Assumes Midwest Distribution

Greenwood, Miss.Viking Range, which is moving to factory-direct distribution, has assumed control of its Midwest fulfillment from Distinctive Appliances Distributing.

The move, effective immediately, creates a new subsidiary, Viking Range Distribution Midwest, and relieves Distinctive of the Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio markets.

“We are reassigning the distribution of Viking products in the Midwest in order to sharpen our focus on better serving Viking dealers and consumers in this territory,” said Viking sales and service VP Rusty Gibson. “The experienced team we have put in place at Viking Distribution Midwest will continue to strengthen the Viking business and dealer support in this area as we move forward.”

Gibson continued, “We look forward to working directly with our dealers throughout the Midwest to improve the Viking presence in their showrooms as we prepare to launch many exciting, new Viking products in the coming months.”

Viking began moving to factory-direct distribution last spring, and has since dismantled its two-step distributor networks in the Southwest, West Coast, Northwest and Midwest. The strategy was struck by parent company Middleby, a manufacturer of commercial foodservice equipment, which acquired Viking last February for $380 million and later acquired four of its distributors for $15 million.

While “sharpening its focus” is the company’s oft-repeated explanation for the new policy, retail analyst David Strasser of Janney Montgomery Scott has suggested that another goal may be to bring Viking to national big-box chains, which was precluded by its franchise distribution network. If true, Viking would follow the path of other once limited-distribution luxury brands like Bosch and Dacor into mass channel retailers like Best Buy, h.h.gregg and possibly Lowe’s and The Home Depot.