By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: Fisher & Paykel has today released its annual report to shareholders, providing interesting analysis of the brand’s progress over the last year, and insight into the broader industry as a whole.

Stuart Broadhurst, managing director and CEO of Fisher & Paykel noted that “fiscal 2011 was a positive and productive year for the company,” with strong cash flows, a reduction in debt and an improvement in gross margins for their appliances business.

Crunching the numbers on the year that was, Broadhurst reported that “overall the Australian home appliances market grew by 3.4 per cent in unit terms during the 2011 financial year.” In addition, F&P’s revenues in Australia increased by 5.2 per cent, but “volume growth was partially offset by price reductions due to strong competition and the strength of the Australian dollar.”

He noted that, while the company’s financial goals were “not yet being met,” they had a focus on “generating a healthy total yield for shareholders” and improving the standing of the brand.

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Setting the roadmap for F&P’s growth into the future, Broadhurst noted that the company would need to focus on five main things: “Business excellence, delivering customer benefits, organisational capability, disciplined market growth and cost reduction”.

These objectives involved the creation of a business excellence framework based around “best in class processes,” as well as a customer focus that used customer data to drive improvement and create products that exceed expectations. Broadhurst said the company also aimed to “create the right environment and retain the talented people needed to achieve our goals.”

In the longer term, F&P would be concerned with the development of a “unified global brand” which would solidify market presence, and achieving the goal of F&P and Haier becoming “the dominant player in the Australian market.”

Broadhurst concluded that “given the cost disadvantages of our relatively small scale, [F&P] Appliances must continue to optimise costs across all aspects of the business to remain competitive.” With a “lean thinking” approach, the brand could stay a strong player in the market.

Looking into the long term, Broadhurst reported the company’s strategic partnership with Chinese manufacturer Haier was progressing well, with the company entering into a “long term agreement with Haier to supply technology and components”.

F&P has begun distributing Haier products in Australia and New Zealand, with positive sales results according to Broadhurst. F&P branded products are being distributed in China, but Broadhurst reported that “sales into the specifier, designer and architect market have been slower than previously expected” as some products are still awaiting Chinese standards approval.