LG & Samsung Building U.S. Appliance Presence
Apr 7, 2004
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Korean companies LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics plan to sell more appliances in the U.S., using their know-how to bring new features to refrigerators and washers.

Both companies showed off their products at a weekend kitchen and bath industry show in Chicago, IL, U.S.

LG, whose brands include Goldstar and Zenith, introduced a U.S. $1,600 three-door refrigerator with a pullout bottom freezer. The company also sells a $3,000 side-by-side fridge that has a television screen and radio, and an $8,000 Internet refrigerator that takes pictures.

"We want to be a strong high-end niche player in home appliances," said Michael Ahn, president and CEO of LG Electronics U.S.A.

He said LG, whose newer microwaves have built-in toasters and coffee makers, also plans to focus on front-loading washers and dryers. Its Tromm laundry products have child locks and sensors that adjust water level and dryer heat.

For the time being, LG appliances will be sold at Best Buy Co. and regional chains as opposed to bigger retailers.

"We are building our brand and our resources are limited," Mr. Ahn said.

Samsung, meanwhile, is expanding its retail partnerships beyond Best Buy to warehouse clubs, said Stephanie Kivett Ohnegian, director of home appliances at Samsung's U.S. arm.

Over the next 18 months, Samsung plans to introduce dishwashers, ranges, and front-loading washers and dryers that use less energy to the U.S. market. The company also makes a $5,000 Internet refrigerator that has a detachable screen.

"The convergence of electronics technology with appliances is a natural progression and it will become more and more popular," Ms. Ohnegian said.

Samsung's growth strategy includes collaboration with U.S. companies. For instance, Samsung has an agreement to produce washers and dryers for Maytag Corp.

"We've established a lot of partnerships in the United States, which helps us learn the business," Ms. Ohnegian said.

Lisa Smith, business general manager for appliances at Best Buy, said the Samsung and LG appliances would likely appeal to younger, technology-savvy consumers. "That's enabled us to offer a few things that are different" from other appliance retailers, Ms. Smith said. (Reuters)

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