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Whirlpool India shifts focus to AC, microwave segments

C.R. Sukumar

Hyderabad , June 28

HAVING suffered a severe pressure on margins due to multiple factors in the last accounting year that lead to a net loss of around Rs 34 crore, Whirlpool of India Ltd, the Rs 1,558-crore home appliances major and market leader in the domestic refrigerator industry, is now contemplating a significant shift in its focus areas.

The company, which has been concentrating mostly on refrigerators and laundering machines, is eyeing the huge air-conditioner and microwave market in the country for its future growth and comfortable margins.

A senior Whirlpool official told Business Line that enhanced competition, significant price erosion, particularly in the refrigeration segment, and a steep rise in input prices of commodities have put the company's margins under severe pressure.

To mitigate the impact, the company has been taking stringent cost control measures, new trade management strategies and increasing efforts to implement lean management programme and eliminate wastage in all areas of manufacturing.

To maximise the benefits and to promote further exports, the company has also converted its Pondicherry facility into an export-oriented unit.

On the outlook for the current fiscal, he said by extending the `fast forward ice system' across product segments in the refrigerator range, the company was able to consolidate its market share.

Having launched highly successful premium range in `no frost' refrigerators in the previous accounting period, the company now finds a strong opportunity to improve share in the `no frost' segment. Whirlpool is also planning new product launches extending the benefits of the premium range across the complete `no frost' range.

Stating that the new range holds plenty of promise for the coming years, he said there were a few more new product launches with consumer-relevant, innovative solutions that were expected to help the company grow its volumes, revenue and margins in the coming year. "The air-conditioner category, with an industry size of Rs 1,500 crore, presents a big opportunity. The microwave business, given the extremely low penetration levels, has a large potential in terms of growth," the official said.

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