Berlin, Germany

Panasonic has entered into a “strategic partnership” with Slovenian appliance company Gorenje, global owners of the ASKO brand.

The alliance is described as “longterm” and will be built on two key areas: joint research and development and the sharing of manufacturing for three selected categories — washing machines, refrigerators and built-in ovens. Dishwashers, which is a core strength of Gorenje through ASKO, is not mentioned.

As part of the alliance, Panasonic has purchased a minority stake, believed to be around 13 per cent, in Gorenje for 10 million euros.

“Forging a strategic alliance with a corporation of such reputation as Panasonic is a historical milestone for Gorenje and an important step in the pursuit of our strategic policies,” said Gorenje president and CEO Franjo Bobinac.

The first steps in this partnership will be the joint development of new washing machines for the European market, Gorenje manufacturing Panasonic-brand refrigerators, the joint distribution of Panasonic-brand built-in appliances and the production of built-in ovens by Gorenje.

“Panasonic is a global leader with a tradition spanning nearly 100 years and a strong commitment to investment into green innovation,” said Bobinac. “Gorenje, still committed to its stand-alone longterm vision, has an in-depth knowledge of the European market and its consumers, and fosters a focus on design, innovation, and quality.”

This partnership gives Panasonic much needed access to and credibility with European appliance dealers as it looks to significantly grow its share in kitchen and laundry appliance; to offset the losses coming from slowing sales and margin erosion in Panasonic’s traditional core competency, home entertainment.

“Gorenje’s commitment to developing innovative, design-led and high quality products make it the ideal partner for Panasonic,” said Laurent Abadie, chairman and CEO of Panasonic Europe.

“We are looking forward to working together to build a solid and longterm platform for growth that will propel both organisations to new strengths within the European home appliance market.

“By combining our complementary product and manufacturing technologies, sales channels and marketing expertise, we look forward to bringing advanced, smart and ecologically responsible appliances to consumers across Europe, including Russia, in the coming years.”