(Yicai Global) May 28 -- Whirlpool Corp. plans to cut up to two of its four home appliance brands in China this year in order to capitalize on increased consumer spending nationwide and improve its market influence.
The Michigan-based firm will decide which marques get the axe based on performance this year, Whirlpool China Co. President Ai Xiaoming told the 21st Century Business Herald. The plans to streamline coincide with the firm opening a new global research center and China headquarters in Hefei, capital of Anhui province in the east of the country, on May 24.
Whirlpool will continue to increase production in China and hopes to become the country's third-largest appliance maker, Chief Executive Marc Bitzer said at the inauguration ceremony for the new buildings. That would put the company on par with the likes of Qingdao Haier Co. and Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai, which is chaired by one of China's best-known female entrepreneurs Dong Mingzhu.
The firm declared in 2014 that it planned to become one of the country's top white goods makers within 10 years, but has so far failed to deliver on that promise, losing CNY97 million (USD15 million) in China on more than CNY6 billion (USD939 million) in revenue last year. To make matters worse, the China Securities Regulatory Commission launched a probe into allegations of falsified bookkeeping at the start of this month.
Whirlpool has not achieved the same dominant position and influence in China as it has in Europe and the US, Bitzer admitted, saying the firm will ramp up investment and effort to improve its brand in the Asian market. It currently owns four brands in China: Whirlpool, Sanyo, Diqua and Royalstar.
The firm already has research and development centers in the United States, Brazil, Italy, Germany, India and China, and the latest addition will specialize in washing machines, fridges and microwaves.
Editor: James Boynton