People in Latin America have been buying Electrolux vacuum cleaners since the 1920s, and the Swedish company decided to open its first regional plant to produce vacuums and floor polishers in Brazil in 1950.
Since then, Latin America has been an important market for Electrolux, despite recent weakness in many of the economies there. Last year, Latin America accounted for about 19 percent of Electrolux group revenues, out of total world revenues of $16.3 billion.
In Miami, Electrolux has a regional office that covers a swath of countries along the northern edge of Latin America.
Established in 1999, Electrolux’s Miami center sells and distributes products directly to major retailers throughout Central America and the Caribbean, as well as to Puerto Rico.
Products handled out of Miami include Electrolux, Frigidaire, White-Westinghouse and Kelvinator branded home appliances and home comfort products, like air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
The Miami office, at 703 Waterford Way, has 40 employees, out of more than 13,000 Electrolux employees in Latin America and the Caribbean and about 60,000 worldwide.
Aside from sales and marketing, the Miami staff is responsible for supply chain, finance, human resources, customer care and information technology support functions in the Central American, Caribbean and Puerto Rican markets.
The overall headquarters for Latin America is in Brazil, the largest market in the region.
Electrolux was founded in Sweden in 1919 and soon after began selling its revolutionary vacuum cleaner with runners — rather than wheels — in Sweden and other parts of Europe.
The Swedish multinational company has its world headquarters in Stockholm, but its president and CEO, Keith McLoughlin, is based at the company’s North America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Electrolux has production facilities in several countries, including Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Mexico, and sells about 50 million products a year to customers in 150 markets.
A recent effort to expand its market reach, however, is being thwarted by the U.S. government. In September 2014, Electrolux announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire GE’s appliance division, including a substantial presence in Mexico, for $3.3 billion. However, the Department of Justice earlier this year said it would move to block the acquisition, the largest in Electrolux’s history, in an antitrust lawsuit. Electrolux is fighting the DOJ move.
Because of the ongoing litigation, Electrolux executives were not available to meet with the Miami Herald for this article.
Electrolux faces aggressive competition in Latin America and other parts of the world. In Latin America alone, competitors include Whirlpool, LG Electronics, Samsung, Daewoo, SEB Group, Black & Decker, Philips and ITW.
Aside from designing, manufacturing and selling its familiar line of vacuum cleaners, Electrolux — a pioneer in developing refrigerators for homes — offers a smorgasbord of major appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves and air conditioners, as well as small domestic appliances like blenders, juicers and coffeemakers. The company also has lines of cooking and cleaning equipment for commercial customers.
The company sports an extensive list of brands. In addition to Electrolux, it sells Frigidaire, AEG, Zanussi, Eureka, Molteni, Westinghouse and others, including regional brands.
Its “mass market” brands worldwide, according to the company, are Frigidaire, Zanussi, some Electrolux lines and certain regional products made in Europe and Australia.
Its “premium” lines include Electrolux and AEG appliances, and its “ultra luxury” segment is represented by Electrolux Grand Cuisine. This line targets wealthy food enthusiasts who want the highest quality professional cooking equipment in their homes.
As part of this ultra-luxury segment, Electrolux offers a custom-designed Molteni range with a starting price of more than $100,000, plus items like a blast chiller, combination oven, precision vacuum sealer and stand mixer. According to media reports, a Grand Cuisine kitchen could cost more than $400,000.
In Latin America, Electrolux targets some Electrolux and Frigidaire products to the mass market, higher-end Electrolux appliances to premium market consumers, and the Electrolux Grand Cuisine line to the very wealthy.
The Latin America appliance market had grown briskly in recent years, as millions of Latins moved into the middle class, and Electrolux has been a market leader in several segments. In 2014, though, things changed as demand across the region declined.
In his report on Electrolux’s second quarter 2015 results, president and CEO McLoughlin said that the company experienced problems in some important Latin American markets, and warned that prospects for the region’s overall economic performance were unclear.
“Major Appliances Latin America performed well in tough market conditions,” he said in July comments to the media. “Several countries in the region suffered from weakened market demand, among them important markets for Electrolux such as Brazil and Chile. At the same time, there remain significant currency transaction headwinds. To mitigate this challenging environment, further price increases have been implemented and actions to reduce costs continued. The macro-economic outlook for the region remains highly uncertain.”
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Business: A global company that designs, manufactures, markets and sells appliances for home and commercial use. Electrolux sells more than 50 million products a year to customers in 150 markets, including brands like Electrolux, Frigidaire, AEG, Zanussi, Westinghouse and others. Electrolux is based in Sweden, buts its CEO is located at the company’s North America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Electrolux office in Miami oversees sales to Central America and the Caribbean, part of its important Latin America market.
World headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden.
Miami regional office: 703 Waterford Way, Miami. Opened in 1999, this office sells and distributes Electrolux appliances and other company brands in Central America and the Caribbean.
President and CEO: Keith R. McLoughlin, based at Electrolux’s North America headquarters in Charlotte.
Regional management: Brazil-based Ruy Hirschheimer, head of major appliances for Latin America and executive vice president.
Employees: 40 in Miami, more than 13,000 in Latin America and about 60,000 worldwide.
Revenues: $16.3 billion in 2014. Latin America accounted for about 19 percent of overall group sales last year.
Ownership: Shares are publicly traded on the Nasdaq Stockholm. There are Class A and Class B shares (Symbols: ELUX-A.ST and ELUX-B.ST). Shares are also available in the U.S. as American Depository Receipts (ADR),a vehicle for investors here who want to buy shares of foreign companies whose stock is not traded on U.S. exchanges.
Website: electrolux.com or electroluxgroup.com