Haier hints at new categories for Australia

By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: Chinese appliance giant Haier, who has a 20 per cent stake in Fisher and Paykel, has told Current.com.au that there is a possibility it will enter new categories in Australia in the next year.

Haier operates out of Fisher and Paykel’s Lidcombe base and is currently securing a firm foothold in the whiteware category by utilising the New Zealand company’s infrastructure, a relationship that is working out well for both parties, according to Philip Carmichael, Haier Asia Pacific president.

“We have almost doubled our SKUs this year. We’ll have to double it again to really be in the mainstream of the market,” Carmichael told Current.com.au during his visit to Sydney for the Forbes Global CEO Conference. 

“We’ve got a huge product portfolio but our main emphasis and our main focus, and where we are worldwide number one is in the whiteware business.”

Haier already distributes flat screen TVs in the Malaysian market against stiff competition, and Carmichael said there was a chance the brand could diversify its product range in Australia as well.

“It’s a possibility, we’re always looking at the possibilities…you’ll have to watch this space.”

Carmichael said the working relationship with Fisher and Paykel was an exceptionally positive one, and that Haier was not looking to raise its stake in Fisher and Paykel.

In an attempt to combat the negative public sentiment that has in the past stained the perception of Chinese products in Australia, Carmichael describes Haier DNA with three words: after sales service, innovation and quality.

Using a colleagues iPhone as an example Carmichael said, “It’s not important where it’s made; it’s important who makes it. Part of our challenge is to make sure people know that not all Chinese companies are the same and not all Chinese whiteware companies are the same either.”

“We are actually the highest priced product in our category in China. When people think of Chinese companies they naturally think of low priced products, or inexpensive brands and that maybe the wheels are going to fall off quickly – that’s not the case with us.”

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