GE Paeksaek Appliances Co., Ltd., South Korea's sole official distributor of U.S. home appliance giant General Electric Co. (GE), is eyeing to chalk up 25 billion won (approx. U.S. $21.6 million) in sales this year, up from last year's 20 billion won (approx. U.S. $17.3 million).
"We expect the year 2004 to be a difficult year," said Chang Cheol-ho, CEO of GE Paeksaek Appliances. "But through distinguished, focused, and strengthened customer relations management-based marketing activities, we expect to post 25 billion won in sales this year."
Mr. Chang said GE and his company have been making inroads into the high-end, premium segment of the domestic home appliance market and plan to continue that strategy this year. GE's products are sold at prices two to three times higher than home appliances made by Korean electronics firms.
"Increasing the share of premium home appliances, such as side-by-side refrigerators, by local electronics makers will provide us with more opportunities to make further inroads into the local home appliance market,'' Mr. Chang said. He said side-by-side models now account for 58 to 60 percent of the local refrigerator market, which was previously dominated by the top-mount type fridges, and this will give a boost to GE's home appliance sales in Korea.
Mr. Chang said his company will, rather than trying to immoderately expand market share, exert efforts on heightening added value of the products sold in the Korean market.
Chang predicted that the local refrigerator market will reach between 1.58 million and 1.6 million units this year, of which more expensive side-by-side models would make up 900,000 units of the total. Import brands will only make up 20,000 to 30,000 units of the total domestic refrigerator sales. GE's products account for half of local imported refrigerator sales.
He said the key to expanding its sales this year is in how efficiently it makes inroads into the local built-in home appliance market that is estimated to reach 600 billion won this year.
"The distinguished strength of GE's home appliances, especially refrigerators, are in its durability," Mr. Chang said. "Our customers use our product for 30-40 years." The average lifespan of refrigerators made by local electronics firms is 7 years.
The company has unveiled four high-end premium refrigerator models, including GE Profile Arctica Stainless Steel refrigerator, two side-by-side refrigerators, and a standard-level home bar refrigerator. Its 753-liter and 703-liter Arctica Stainless Steel refrigerator models adopted the CustomCooling function, which reportedly enables customers to freely control specific sections of the refrigerator for various purposes such as thawing frozen meat.
Mr. Chang said the company's annual sales would further hike to 30 billion won (approx. U.S. $25.98 million) to 40 billion won (approx. U.S. $34.6 million) in the future on the back of increased premium product portfolio.
However, Mr. Chang said GE has no plans to roll out home networking-enabled home appliances yet. (Korea Times)
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