Viking Range, one of the pioneers of commercial-type cooking products
for residential use, is plowing through the new product waters at a
fast clip, introducing more than 40 new products in the first 3 quarters
"Viking is continuing to aggressively introduce and market new additions
and extensions to our product line," said Viking Range Public Relations
Director Jane Crump. "We are very optimistic about 2004. The high-end
business continues to be good, and we anticipate a good 2004."
The top-end business is going great guns north of the border, as
well. "The majority of the market still is commodity-driven; there
is still a huge volume there," said Mr. Elsey of EFC. "But in terms
of ... profitability, the direction and the growth will be in the high-end,
commercial-oriented designer kitchens. That hasn't changed for a couple
of years now. There's real growth there."
Third-quarter results were kind to Whirlpool Corp., as the appliance
industry pillar announced net earnings of $105 million, compared to
$101 million in the third quarter of 2003.
Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.-based Whirlpool expects full-year shipments
of its products to increase by about 3 percent overall in 2003, bolstered
by a 3-percent increase in fourth-quarter shipments.
The company cited strong consumer demand for products such as the
Duet washer and dryer pair in the third quarter. Whirlpool also touted
is KitchenAid Pro Line major kitchen appliance line, including built-in
refrigerators and ovens, cooktops, warming drawers, and dishwashers "with
a professional look and performance." The company also reported better
sales in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
"We expect that our focus on global innovation and distribution will
help drive continued improvement in the company's performance throughout
the remainder of the year," David R. Whitwam, Whirlpool CEO, said.
As for fellow appliance heavyweight Maytag, the owner of three of
the U.S. industry's key brands - Maytag, Amana, and Jenn-Air - is looking
forward to a robust 2004. "Economic indicators show steady growth in
housing starts, and interest rates remain low," Maytag Public Relations
Manager Jill Spiekerman told APPLIANCE. "We expect the industry to
be up approximately 3 percent this year and would anticipate similar
performance in 2004."
Maytag aggressively pushed new products into the market in 2003,
including the Maytag Neptune TL, a top-load version of the popular
machine the company introduced 5 years ago. In the TL, the company
is boasting the industry's first agitator-free washing machine that
employs a new tumbler design that turns clothes gently under a shower
of water and reportedly can reduce energy and water use by 65 percent
and 50 percent over traditional machines, respectively.
Jenn-Air was busy, as well, expanding its line to include entertainment-theme
products such as warming drawers, icemakers, and wine chillers. Staying
with the entertainment theme, Jenn-Air also introduced a 1.2-cu-ft
wall oven that can be installed in rec rooms and bars while handling
most day-to-day items.
Within the Amana line, the company introduced additions to its line
of Easy Reach Plus bottom-freezer refrigerators and a line of freestanding
ranges with a more contemporary design.
"There's a widespread sense that the economy is picking up steam," Ms.
Spiekerman said. "Leading economic indicators are starting to show
that a 2004 recovery is very possible. Plus, the Federal Reserve's
commitment to low interest rates should keep the refinancing and housing
markets strong. As a strong housing market and an increase in consumer
confidence can be two of the most important factors in appliance purchases,
we believe we have reason to be optimistic in 2004."
Sweden-based Electrolux reportedly is enjoying success with its Frigidaire
refrigerator line. "Electrolux also has added easy care stainless steel
to Frigidaire refrigerators," said Electrolux spokesperson Jacob Broberg. "The
new finish resists fingerprints and retains the true stainless steel
look and feel. Consumer research proved correct, as these products
have been strong performers since their introduction."
Mr. Broberg said a new range of Electrolux-branded products is key
for the company in 2004. Taking the lead from international influences,
the company is going to offer the Trilobite, a robotic vacuum cleaner,
to the North American market in 2004. Electrolux also plans to offer
North American customers a new wall oven that features what Electrolux
calls the "coolest oven door in the industry," which uses an all-glass
"The expansion of product offerings and market coverage with the
Electrolux brand is a key focus [for 2004]," Mr. Broberg said. "We
have started to build Electrolux as our master brand. Strong emphasis
on responding to trade partner coordination is another key."