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Whirlpool is the world's biggest manufacturer of household appliances, with operations around the globe offering a huge range of washing and drying machines, refrigerators, cookers, food mixers and other devices. The flagship Whirlpool range is supported by a broad portfolio of other national and international brands including American classics Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air and Amana, as well as Bauknecht of Germany, and Brastemp and Consul in Brazil. The group acquired a 60% stake in Indesit of Italy in 2013, and acquired the remaining shares the following year, adding the Indesit, Ariston and Hotpoint brands (the latter in EMEA only) to its portfolio. It also has a majority stake in China's Hefei Sanyo. In an unusual diversification, Whirlpool acquired online recipe search engine Yummly in 2017 for an undisclosed sum. It is being established as the main operating system for the company's internet-connected kitchen appliances. The group is the clear market leader in North and Latin America - and Whirlpool itself has been the top-selling appliance brand in the US since 2014 - but ranks behind local rivals such as BSH and Electrolux in Europe. The latter's proposed acquisition of GE Appliances - which would have pushed Whirlpool into the #2 spot - was blocked by regulators at the end of 2015. Whirlpool was originally founded in 1911 as Upton Machine Co, with financial support from catalogue retailer Sears Roebuck. As demand grew, Upton merged with another company to become the Nineteen Hundred Corporation. In 1938, it invented the first washer with motorised agitation. This developed into a fully automatic washer in 1948, named the Whirlpool. The company adopted Whirlpool as its corporate name two years later. Sales have been generally flat for several years, hitting a high of $21.3bn in 2017 before slipping back. Topline for 2019 was $20.4bn, with net income of $1.2bn. A little over half of revenues are generated in North America, and refrigeration and laundry appliances each account for around 30% of global sales. The group sold 67.4m appliances. However it has been struggling with rising costs, especially as a result of tariffs on steel. Marc Bitzer succeeded Jeff Fettig as CEO in 2018 and became chairman as well the following year.
Capsule checked 24th August 2020
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Adbrands Daily Update 1st Sep 2020: Whirlpool consolidated its entire marketing services requirement across the EMEA region with WPP. The home appliances giant has an extensive portfolio of brands across the region: not just global brands Whirlpool, KitchenAid and Indesit but also regional marques including Hotpoint, Ariston, Scholtes and more. WPP is to construct a new dedicated unit, as yet unnamed, but headquartered in Milan (also Whirlpool's regional HQ). This will draw on teams from Wunderman Thompson, VMLY&R, M/Six, Burson Cohn & Wolfe, Geometry, Hogarth and AKQA. Responsibility transfers from a variety of different agencies. One of the biggest losers is Dentsu Aegis Network, which had handled media.
Adbrands Social Media 21st Jun 2018: Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Creative Data was awarded to DigitasLBi for a socially responsible marketing programme for household appliance maker Whirlpool. In this case, it's the discovery that access to clean clothes at high school and college encourages attendance and therefore higher achievements among students. This year more than ever it seems it's the worthwhile campaigns that are cutting through the froth at Cannes. That should certainly make the industry proud of itself in these challenging times.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2017: Another nail was driven into the coffin of one-time retail giant Sears with the announcement that it will no longer sell appliances from America's biggest such manufacturer Whirlpool. Cash-strapped Sears has been struggling to maintain its relationship with several manufacturers as a result of credit issues, but in this case the disagreement is apparently over pricing. The company told staff "Whirlpool has sought to use its dominant position in the marketplace to make demands that would have prohibited us from offering Whirlpool products to our members at a reasonable price." Whirlpool accounts for around $600m a year in sales for Sears; the company hopes to make up the difference from sales of other brands.
Adbrands Weekly Update 10th Dec 2015: GE abandoned a deal to sell its domestic appliances division to rival Electrolux following a similar legal challenge from the US Department of Justice. The deal would have been "bad for the millions of consumers who buy cooking appliances every year," said a Justice Dept spokesman. "Electrolux and General Electric could not overcome that reality at trial." Electrolux is obliged to pay GE a $175m breakup fee.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Sep 2014: Electrolux will overtake Whirlpool as the world's biggest home appliances specialist following its agreement to acquire General Electric's heritage business for $3.3bn. It is almost certain to retain the GE brand under license. Subject to regulatory approval, combined revenues for the enlarged company would top $22.5bn, compared to around $21bn for Whirlpool, which acquired a controlling stake in Italian rival Indesit over the summer. The key gain for Electrolux is a much stronger presence in the US where it has until now trailed its two homegrown rivals. However a combined GE/Electrolux would become the local leader in cookers and fridge/freezers, and a close #2 in dishwashers. Whirlpool retains a clear lead in washing machines.
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