By James Wells

SYDNEY: Fisher & Paykel Chief Operating Officer, Mike Church has told what the 20 per cent holding by Haier means to his company, and most importantly retailers.

Church said the deal puts a lot of speculation about the business to bed.

“For our staff and customers, it offers a sense of stability,” he said.

“We have quite a high bank debt based on the closing and relocation of local plants and that’s primarily what has necessitated the extra debt.”

Church agreed that the time had come to realise that manufacturing products in Australia and New Zealand was hurting the company’s profitability and relocation was absolutely necessary for the future of the company.

“For our long term future, we have known for some time that we needed to be manufacturing in competitive countries just as all of our competitors are.

Church said he is excited about the opportunities the Haier investment provides Fisher & Paykel.

“Firstly, the cornerstone investment is important. We are delighted to have a genuine global player like Haier involved with F&P. We are obviously keen to continue with our innovation and culture as this is very important to us and Haier understands this,” he said.

“The mutual benefits are quite exciting. What it does is it internationalises the opportunity with Haier marketing Fisher & Paykel in mainland China and that has tremendous potential for our company, and we will also share in research and development. There will also be logisitics and procurement expansion opportunities worldwide as part of the cooperation agreement in terms of ODM (original development management) and OEM (original equipment manufacturing) potentially in the US and Europe.

“We have had a relationship with them for three years, we have had cooperative arrangements with them on an OEM basis with the supply of dishwashers. We have also had visits to their facilities in China and relationships have been built on the basis of that."

Church said that while there is no exact time frame for the transfer of Haier products into the Fisher & Paykel marketing and distribution strategy, the agreement is effective immediately.

“Now that we have these matters resolved, it is going to be full steam ahead."