14290 Thu, 04/17/2008 - 3:14pm
By David Gill
MIRAMAR, Fla.–One company, under Harbinger—that’s how Applica has begun to present itself to the marketplace.
The 18-month saga that took Applica from a proposed acquisition by NACCO Industries (the parent company of Hamilton Beach) to an actual acquisition by Harbinger Capital Partners—and then to the on-, off- and on-again merger process with Salton—ended in January with the sealing of the Salton deal. Applica and Salton are now one company with a portfolio of well-recognized brands in a variety of small-electric appliance categories.
The combined company, now called Applica Consumer Products, formally presented itself to the industry with a display of existing and new products held at the Art Institute of Chicago, during the International Home & Housewares Show last month. The company’s brands—Black & Decker from the Applica side; George Foreman, Farberware, Russell Hobbs, Breadman and Juiceman from the Salton side—were on display.
Going forward, these are the brands that offer the most immediate opportunities for Applica, according to Evanghela Hidalgo, president of the company’s Americas division.
“The big picture for us is understanding consumer niches and understanding technology so that we can bring innovations to each of these brands,” Hidalgo said in a recent interview with HFN. “We want to position each brand so that they mean something to consumers.”
Hidalgo said Applica had conducted research with consumers as to each brand’s current identification with consumers. “We found that George Foreman grills appeal to a broad base of consumers,” Hidalgo said. “It’s about healthy cooking, and you’ll see us innovating this brand along those lines. Black & Decker is by far our strongest mainstream brand. We’re looking to bring new technology like infrawave to Black & Decker cookers, showing you can get both chef quality and convenience from cooking with them.”
The Farberware brand emerged from this research as “very reliable and trustworthy” among some consumers, empty nesters in particular, Hidalgo said. Russell Hobbs, regarded as a strong small-electrics brand in Europe but less so in the United States, will become the brand for Applica’s higher-end small appliances. Based on the research, both Breadman and Juiceman will require “significant investment” from Applica, both in terms of product development and technology, she said.
Other kitchen-electrics brands in the Applica portfolio—Santa Fe, Maxim, Gizmo, Lids Off, Littermaid, Clear2O, Spacemaker and InfraWave—will be “huge” and also represent “significant growth” down the road, according to a statement from an Applica spokeswoman.
The merger process put Applica in a strong position to carry out its brand plans, according to Ron M. King, senior director of marketing services and product development. Speaking during the Housewares Show, King said, “We had a huge integration team organized around every element, including pricing, marketing, engineering and product development. The team organized the company so there is a good alignment between each of these functions.”
For the future, “We’re trying to build from the strengths of both Salton and Applica,” Hidalgo said. “Salton’s strength was innovation, while Applica is more disciplined. What we have now is a robust process for branding and product development.”