By James Wells

MELBOURNE: Teac has officially announced it has ended its relationship with Hisense in Australia within the same week the Chinese company has finalised its purchase of a quarter stake in Electrolux’s disgraced refrigerator manufacturer Kelon.

Teac and Hisene reached a mutal decision to cease the distribution deal earlier this year while Teac was in administration.

According to Teac chief operating officer, Bernhard Kotarski, the decision to drop Hisense provides Teac with a single brand strategy.

“The decision allows TEAC Australia to concentrate on TEAC branded products aligned to its overall company strategy to build TEAC’s reputation nationally as a leader in the innovative and competitive consumer electronics industry into the future,” Kotarski said.

“This strategy commits the company to further progress into advanced digital technology categories, with particular emphasis on flat panel television, in order to forge a premium brand position for the new-look company.

“At the same time, TEAC Australia will continue to focus on further developing its position as market leader in its traditional brand strengths of Audio Systems, portable and other digital products. TEAC already holds a leading position in digital set top boxes, audio systems and portable products. In mid-2004, Teac signed Hisense to an ongoing agreement to supply 4:3 televisions, DVD players, plasma televisions and LCD televisions.

The Hisense business was headed-up by Andre Iannuzzi, who rejoined the company after attempting to launch the IDTV interactive internet set top box device for televisions in 2002.

In 2004, Iannuzzi wanted to capture market share lost by Haier after it completed its exclusive arrangement with Retravision.

“We are targeting ‘higher’ technology products,” Iannuzzi said at the time.

By the end of 2004, Retravision Western Australia, Retravision Victoria and Retravision Queensland were selling Hisense-branded products.

Since ending its distribution agreement with Teac, Hisense has purchased a 26.43 per cent interest in Kelon worth $US85 million, according to the Shanghai Daily.

Kelon, who is an active OEM business partner of Electrolux Home Products in Australia, was disgraced last year when the company’s former chairman, Gu Chujin, and six other executives were arrested for embezzling company money.