A major restructure of Whirlpool Oceania’s local business is set to affect as many as 50 of the company’s staff across Australia, the company’s national sales manager has today confirmed.
On Friday, Whirlpool announced that it would begin transitioning to a sales agency model, with all Whirlpool-branded appliances set to be sold through sales agent Castel Electronics as of 8 July 2013. Whirlpool Oceania managing director Sanjay Prasad said the new “partnership” would allow Whirlpool to distribute its products “more efficiently and cost effectively resulting in a greater value for the customer”.
Speaking today to Appliance Retailer, Whirlpool’s national sales manager for Australia, Stephen Hunter, confirmed that, of the “approximately 62” employees across the whole of Whirlpool Oceania, “the move to a distributor affects approximately 50”.
“It’s massive,” he said. “Some are retained, we are working with Castel to take on some of our staff, and those talks are in progress, and others will be displaced.
“There’s no indication of the numbers, but Castel Electronics are very keen and there are some gaps in their sales and structure that they’ll be considering and reviewing over the next few days, and those wheels have already started.
“There are divisions that remain [at Whirlpool], including product development, New Zealand sales, the commercial laundry business and the global IKEA business,” he said. “Whirlpool Australia as an entity remains at the office in Burwood, and they’ll be looking after those divisions of the company.
“Castel have been appointed very clearly as a retail distributor of Whirlpool brand product.”
The process of transitioning to the new agency system has already begun, with staff given a “transition date” of 8 July 2013, territory managers staying on until around 12 July 2013, and some staff staying on to help with the transition of national and state accounts.
Hunter said both companies were working to find the best outcomes for affected Whirlpool staff, but that he personally had faith the local team would be in high demand.
“The Whirlpool sales team, I would say, would be the most awarded in the industry. They’re great people, they’ve got long-standing reputations, I think they’ll get snapped up pretty quickly.”
Hunter also reassured retailers that the changes would not significantly affect how they dealt with the Whirlpool brand day-to-day.
“During the transition Whirlpool Corporation will continue to honour any contractual commitments with the trade and there shouldn’t be any interruption to the transactional business with Whirlpool whatsoever. So it’s business as usual, with a change to the name on the invoice.
“The integrated service and warranty and so on is all being handled, as you would expect from Whirlpool as the number one whitegoods company.”