White goods majors line up price hikes, new launches

Written by Mona Mehta | Mumbai, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2007, 05:25am hrs
Come September and consumer durable companies will embark upon a dual strategy of hiking prices of white goods and simultaneously launching hi-tech models in refrigerators, washing machines and microwave ovens. Consumer durables majors like Videocon, LG, Samsung and Haier are all planning price hikes by 2-7 %.

At the same time, the white goods industry is up for a lot of action with Videocon Industries planning to launch refrigerators with built-in colour television and Internet, which can be operated by remote controls and priced between Rs 20,000 and Rs 1 lakh, soon.

VN Dhoot, chairman, Videocon Industries told FE, We have started manufacturing these products at our Aurangabad factory with an installed capacity of 50,000 units. There is a huge demand for these products in markets such as US, Italy, Europe and we will also look at exporting them from India. Videocon will increase prices of its white goods range by 5-7%.

Korean major, LG Electronics India is planning to hike prices of its washing machines (WM), refrigerators and microwave ovens by about 2% - 4% in September 2007, by nationally launching the new Direct Drive technology in front loading WM, meant to wash and dry clothes completely.

Anil Arora, vice-president, appliances, LG Electronics India told FE, During the first quarter of 2007, we had hiked the prices of WM by about 4%. Although we are trying our level best to absorb the prices, we will also have to pass on certain burden to customers, as these are innovative products. The prices, however, will stabilise by Diwali. Plans are on the anvil to launch premium range of refrigerators in 400 and 500 liters by changing the outdoor aesthetics apart from four new models of solo and grill convection microwave ovens.

Competitor, Samsung India too is soon launching new models of high-end side-by-side refrigerators with the improved prices.

Says Pranay Dhabhai, chairman, Haier Appliances India, Although prices of certain products were increased, we have not felt the impact because customers of today are very intelligent and they do not want to compromise on buying a superior quality product even if it means paying a little bit more.

Next month, Haier is also coming up with new innovative appliances to suit customer's needs, which will be followed with minimal hike in prices.

Fedders Lloyd Corporation is planning to launch new models of Llyods microwave ovens and washing machines with different prices to plug various price gaps.

Yatvinder Uppal, business group head - Fedders Lloyd Corporation said, We are not planning to hike prices, but offer innovative products at value for money pricing.

It was during the first quarter of 2007 that durable companies had hiked product prices by 4% to 8% and despite that managed to meet up with their sales targets.