China's biggest appliance brand, Haier, attracted some interest in 2005 when it placed bids for Maytag. Whirlpool placed the winning bid eventually, but Haier still has global ambitions, and when the company celebrated its 21st anniversary on Dec. 25, 2005, the company announced a new global development strategy. As of the beginning of the year, Haier had 11,976 service centers and a 45,800-member sales network around the world, and it exported products to 160 countries.
Chairman and CEO Zhang Ruimin said at the event: "What we have done over the past 5 years is to expand overseas from our base in China. But our new strategy will require us to take root in global markets and forge our brand globally."
Hair said it expected U.S. $12.8 billion in revenue in 2005, most of that in China. The company's reported estimated overseas revenue of $2.8 billion, 40 percent more than 2004.
During 2006, Haier expanded in several markets, including opening new retail outlets in South Korea. The South Korea consumer electronics market has been mainly dominated by two Korean giants, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. Haier opened its South Korean branch in 2005 and introduced low-priced air conditioners and other home appliances on the local market. Haier expects to record about 10 billion won (approx. U.S. $10 million) in sales this year. Haier worked in 2006 to open 600 planned Korean dealerships and 200 service shops.
In March, Cuba took delivery of its first shipment of Haier energy-efficient refrigerators, according to National News Agency CUBA, with plans to buy 300,000 units to be sold at subsidized prices to Cuban consumers.
On July 4, 2006, Haier launched its U-Home home automation initiative, with a "U-home U-life - Haier Network Home New Standard Release Conference" in China. The system also went on sale in the Beijing Haier An Zhen Store.
The initial retail roll-out took place in Beijing. Haier President Han Zuo described the new home networking and control system as an innovative new mode of home operation. "It will drive new development in the industry, and upgrade people's living standard and quality."
Haier also opened its U-home laboratory for reliability and compatibility testing of Haier U-home products and applications, such as family network gateway devices, wireless modules, networked home appliances, medical treatment monitoring, family intelligence terminals, home sensors, and video monitoring. The lab is equipped with advanced testing equipment, such as network analysis instruments and a frequency spectrograph.
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