India is on top of the list of countries for Whirlpool International to do business in and is a very important player in the global marketplace, Jeff Fettig, the chairman and CEO of Whirlpool Corporation, said on Tuesday.
Addressing a group of international media personnel at company headquarters to celebrate the centenary of his enterprise, Fettig said Whirlpool Corporation invested more than $110 million when it entered India through a joint venture route in 1987.
"This was one of our largest investments. India has always been an important growth market for Whirlpool and the opportunities for Whirlpool in India are huge. We have a very good market position of number two in the market and we are the only profitable company in the home appliance industry in India and are very happy with our performance," he said, paying a glowing tribute to India's success story.
"We believe that Whirlpool India's talented people are the best in the industry. Whirlpool is the most preferred brand in India, with over 93% consumers showing a preference for the Whirlpool brand. We are the only home appliance specialists in the market, as we only focus on solutions for the home. Whirlpool is the home expert," he said.
Fettig said his company does not make mobile phones and is not concerned about the number one or two position in India, in an obvious reference to Samsung and LG, his main competitors in India. "We are not opportunistic sellers," he said.
"We are happy with the performance of the Whirlpool brand, which is very strong; and our product portfolio, which is quite broad so that it can address the needs of multiple segments of the Indian market," he added.
Whirlpool India makes air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, microwave ovens and water purifiers. The three-door Protton World Series refrigerators in 300 and 350-litre capacities have achieved rapid success in capturing an over 30% market share.
Whirlpool has one of its global "Centres of Excellence" for design in India. "This is where we design products for the Indian market. We have a deep understanding of our consumers and utilise our local design and manufacturing capability to offer Indian consumers products that are made specifically for them and not simply brought in from other markets. We have our centre as we believe India has excellence," he said.
Fettig said his company was always very bullish about India, which serves as export hub. The company currently exports products made in India to South Asia, Australia, South-East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Exports constitute about 10 to 15% of the overall business.