Fisher and Paykel (F&P) is a New Zealand-based manufacturer of high-end premium appliances that specializes in in-built kitchen appliances and laundry equipment. The company calls its innovative design the USP of its products. A refrigerator with different cooling temperature for different sections (CoolDrawer), and a dishwasher (DishDrawer), both in the form of drawers, are the design features, among others that the company says differentiates it from the competition.
The company came to India in December last year, and opened what it calls the first showroom-cum-experience centre in India more recently, in September this year.
F&P has subsequently agreed to a takeover bid by Chinese home appliances maker Haier.
Indulge spoke with Andrew Paykel (AP), chief operating officer international, Fisher and Paykel Appliances Ltd, who is also a part of the founding family; Craig Reid (CR), chief sales and marketing officer; Sanjeev Wadhwa, country head; and some customers about the products and the experience. Edited excerpts:
Introduce our readers to Fisher and Paykel. What is the legacy of the brand?
AP: Well, Fisher and Paykel was founded in 1934 by Woolf Fisher and Maurice Paykel. The company publicly listed in 1979. We started by importing appliances to New Zealand. When the demand grew, the founders decided to start manufacturing and assembling appliances.
The business grew in New Zealand and became a household name in domestic appliances. In the late 1980s, we moved to Australia and today we have a 20% market share on the other side of the Tasman Sea.
We have also set up operations after that in the US, focusing heavily on the built-in side of the business like kitchen and laundry products.
How big is the business now?
AP: We are a billion New Zealand dollar company. We sell into 50 countries across the world. New Zealand, Australia and the US are obviously our biggest markets, but outside those markets, we are very active in Asia, the Middle East and some parts of Europe as well.
And one of the key markets for us strategically is India. What brought us to India…after a long research period, and we spent two years studying the market here before deciding to enter India, was really I guess the closeness of the two countries. Being part of the Commonwealth, the two countries have very common values. What is especially noticeable is that people live here in extended families and around the kitchen spaces.
CR: What we see is that the kitchen is the heart of the home now across most countries and cultures. People enjoy eating together, cooking together, sharing the food…you know…bringing the family together. So we use the term social kitchen to represent our brand.
How long have you been present in India?
AP: We launched our products last December. So, you know, we are very new here.
Then how were you selling here before that?
AP: We had one distributor here based out of Delhi. This is our first showroom, which also is an experience centre. We are very mindful that we need to start slow. First we need to develop a service infrastructure and then only can we spread out. We know that the customer here is indulging in premium products, but we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin, which is very easy seeing the response in the country.
CR: And also, it is a new market for us. Of course we have done our research, but still we want to understand first our customers, their needs before we can go aggressive. So we are starting with the Delhi-NCR region first.
AP: We are also doing research on Indian habits, the way they cook their food. We have added water softener in the DishDrawer since in most places here the water is on the hard side. Also, we are adjusting out cooking tops to better support the rounded vessels you cook in here.
How has been the response in India?
AP: Quite overwhelming actually. We have been contacted by project developers, kitchen specialists, distributors, hotels right across the country wanting to know when we will be coming there. We have told them our strategy that we want to build our brand first and back office infrastructure.
What brought you to India?
AP: You know there is a lot of talk about the economic downturn, but still compared with the rest of the world, India is very vibrant. That was certainly one reason. But that doesn’t mean we are doing bad, say, in North America. But we see huge potential in India…with the growing middle class, their taste in high-end products and the expendable income. And as I said, the response has been phenomenal.
What are your biggest markets?
CR: The home markets obviously. In New Zealand we are No.1. Australia we are No.2. And then North America. Between those three markets, we sell 80% of our products.
What is the next stage for appliances?
AP: Energy and water consumption will certainly be in focus. And then the entire environment side of it will be important in the future. How we can minimize energy and water consumption and keep products environment friendly will be our main focus in the future.
And of course, technology will also be a key element to watch for. Thinking appliances is what the future is all about, where the customer has to touch just a button or two and the appliance does the thinking part for him.
Dishwashers: Rs.70,000-1 lakh
Refrigerators: Rs.79,000-2.25 lakh
Ovens: Rs.50,000-1.75 lakh