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New Delhi: Consumer durables company Whirlpool of India has invested 115 crore to set up a facility that will manufacture premium front-load washing machines at its existing plant in Puducherry, the company said on Thursday.

The move also marks the company’s entry into the premium front-load washing machine segment.

On Thursday, the company also announced its festive season line-up in the laundry care category with a range of semi-automatic and top-load washing machines.

Executives at the company pointed to a clear trend of premiumization among consumers that they said is prompting manufacturers to launch more pricey products loaded with features.

India’s washing machine market is estimated at 6 million units. However, the category penetration is still sub 15%.

“One of the big blockers of premiumization for us was actually making in India. We were earlier importing some of the premium products. Now we are starting to manufacture our premium products and that opens up huge whitespace and opportunities for us," Vishal Bhola, managing director, Whirlpool of India said during an event in New Delhi on Thursday. Bhola unveiled the premium XpertCare washing machine range at the event.

The company that sells refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners owns three manufacturing facilities in the country-- in Faridabad, Puducherry and Pune, respectively. The company’s revenue from operations in FY22 stood at 5993.4 crore.

On Thursday, the company also announced the launch of its Stainwash Pro range of top-load washing machines in India. “After extensively studying the Indian consumers’ evolving needs and usage habits, we have combined the insights with our global technology expertise to deliver breakthrough innovations," Bhola said.

In the washing machine segment Whirlpool is among the top three players in the market.

“We are one of the top three players. Interestingly, within this market, 30% of the market is front-load washing machine, we were absent in that category. So we’re going to make a play in the 30% of the market for the first time. Despite playing in only 70% of the market we are one of the top three," he added.

Meanwhile, Bhola said consumer demand for home appliances remains strong at the premium end of the market. Consumers at the lower end of the market are re-thinking discretionary expenses, he said.

“There is a mid-to-premium segment where there are consumers who are coming back and they’re actually spending more on what they’re buying. Clearly, we have seen consumers buy higher capacities and slightly more premium products with more features. At the entry level we are seeing consumers who are far more discerning when it comes to value," he added.

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