By James Wells

AUCKLAND: Fisher & Paykel Appliances chairman, Gary Paykel, has announced that new cooking products from the former De’Longhi-owned Elba cooking factory will be available early in 2007, contradicting claims made earlier this year by COO, Mike Church.

In an interim report to shareholders, Paykel said that the purchase of the Elba cooking factory earlier this year for $A132 million will lead to the introduction of new products to the Australian market next year.

“Work has commenced on implementing manufacturing synergies between three cooking facilities in Italy, the USA and New Zealand. These will be realised over the next 12-18 months,” Paykel said.

“Fisher & Paykel branded product for sale in New Zealand, Australia, Italy and USA is expected to be available from the Elba factory early in the new calendar year,” he said.

In early August, Fisher & Paykel chief operating officer, Mike Church, said he expected to introduce the first 90cm cookers into the Australian market by the end of the year.

“The Fisher & Paykel manufacturing facility in Dunedin does not make 900mm built in and freestanding cookers and we have been missing out on the market,” Church told in August.

“Although the Elba acquisition is primarily about sales in Europe and the UK, if we can secure some products for Australia, I see that as a real plus. I see the 900mm category as the obvious opportunity – there is quite a nice market for that now.

“We may also being in a 600mm product as a built in and freestanding as well but this has not been confirmed at this stage.”

Church also said that the Fisher & Paykel products sourced from the Elba factory will look very different from the De’Longhi products and there should be no conflict between the two companies in the local market.

In his statement Paykel also commented on the introduction of the new AquaSmart energy efficient top loading washing machine and the new Ice and Water refrigerator as well as the upcoming release of the Project Luna gas cooktops.

“These have been received positively by the trade and are expected to further drive sales, particularly in the local markets of New Zealand and Australia. These new products will be released to the wider markets in the new financial year,” Paykel said.