Fisher & Paykel undertake record product launch

CHINESE-owned Fisher & Paykel Appliances will today unveil 70 new machines for local and international markets in what will be the biggest product launch in the company's 80-year history.

Most of the products will be in the form of kitchen appliances, but there will also be changes to the company's refrigeration and laundry lines, F&P executives said.

It will be F&P's first foray into front-loading washing machines and the company will unveil a new oven, which it says has greater capacity than its peers.

Chief executive Stuart Broadhurst said it would be the highest number of new products the company had ever launched at any one time, representing the culmination of five years of development and an investment of "tens and tens" of millions of dollars in its R&D centres in Auckland and Dunedin.

"In my view, it is a sign of things to come," Broadhurst said.

Daniel Witten-Hannah, F&P Appliances' executive vice-president of product development and marketing, said the company had developed a "game-changer" in cooking appliances - a 60cm oven that has up to 30 per cent more capacity inside than competing models of the same size.

F&P's designers pulled the 60cm standard oven apart and reconstructed it to have 77 litres of usable capacity, he said. The oven, which uses new venting technology, is no bigger externally than other models on the market, meaning no kitchen modifications are required, Witten-Hannah said.

Of the 70 products, about half were completely new, with the balance being upgrades to existing models.

In the past F&P Appliances has used competitors' front-loading washing machines and branded them as F&P machines - "a compromise that we have always regretted," Broadhurst said.

The new front loader borrows heavily from successful "SmartDrive" technology that has been a winner for the company's top-loading machines for many years.

The front-loaders will allow users to put larger loads through wash cycles shorter than 60 minutes.

F&P Appliances became a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese home goods giant Haier last year when it went from holding 20 per cent to 100 per cent, paying $1.28 a share.

The change to Chinese ownership had not done F&P's market share any harm, Broadhurst said. The company remained the preferred brand in New Zealand "by a significant margin" and had long been the No 2 player in Australia, after Electrolux.

In recent years, F&P Appliances has axed hundreds of jobs as it shifted manufacturing to factories in Thailand and Mexico.

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