GE returns to local appliances market

WOULD you pay RM5,499 for a 10.2kg top load washer, or RM60,999 for a 21.9 cubic feet refrigerator? Would you even think of burning RM138,000 to fit your kitchen with a top-of-the-line side-by-side refrigerator, dishwasher, wine chiller, cooker hood, and hobs and oven, minus the cabinets? 

You would, if you have very deep pockets and were getting home appliances from General Electric (GE), a brand with a reputation for quality and state-of-the-art design; and whose products are such aesthetic pieces of work that they would leave your guests breathless. 

Vincent Chew

After a long absence from the local market, this American brand will soon find its way back into Malaysian homes when its new sole distributor in the country, Pensonic Sales and Service Sdn Bhd, a unit of Pensonic Holdings Bhd, gets down to the business of marketing GE consumer appliances here.  

Pensonic Holdings group executive director Vincent Chew said the company would be bringing in GE's Profile range, with prices starting from RM2,999 for a 6kg front load washer to RM25,499 for a 29 cubic feet side-by-side refrigerator; and the high-end Monogram range, with the asking price of RM9,999 for a dishwasher and RM72,999 for a 30.7 cubic feet refrigerator. 

Describing the GE brand as the “Mercedez Benz'' among home appliance brands, he said: “We're selling on design, innovation and quality. Our target is a niche market of customers who want top-end products that fit into their lifestyle.'' 

Chew told StarBiz that because of its premium pricing, the brand would not be sold at the usual retail outlets but through reputable department stores and high-end electrical chain stores. 

He said the company recently held a five-day roadshow at an established department store to gauge the market for GE products and received numerous enquiries, including some from bankers. 

“We found a big gap between the supply of high-end home appliances and the demand for such products. Today, customers want brands that are not only exclusive but also reflect their lifestyles,'' he added. 

The company is currently talking to an established department store and several prominent electrical goods chains to secure space to display GE appliances.  

“By the end of May, we hope the brand would be displayed at 15 to 20 outlets in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Baru,'' Chew said. 

This kitchen, fitted with GE's Monogram range of stainless steel appliances, can cost about RM140,000,excluding the cabinets

The company is also dedicating an entire floor of 3,000 sq ft at one of its buildings in Petaling Jaya to a showroom for premium brands, including its own Princess and Lebensstil.  

The showroom, which would have three kitchen designs featuring GE appliances, would cost about RM500,000, Chew said. 

Due for completion by the end of next month, the showroom will be supported by a studio with a seating capacity of 29, in which the company's sales teams can conduct cooking and product demonstrations for potential clients. 

Chew said the company would also target architects and design houses that could incorporate GE products into their designs of homes for high net-worth clients. 

He added that dedicating a showroom for the company's premium brands was in line with the strategies set out in Pensonic's re-branding exercise, which took off last August. 

Here's one kitchen to die for - one fitted with General Electric's homeappliances with state-of-the-art technology and design

“With the re-branding, we are taking on a more proactive approach by creating a pool of potential customers from our database, instead of just relying on pushing sales via dealers. 

“We are working towards striking a balance between the two,'' he said.  

In view of the very niche market for the GE range, the company does not see its sales contributing substantially to turnover in the current year ending May 31.  

“It's too early to set a sales target as we are still doing the groundwork, like holding roadshows and advertising in the design magazines. We might be able to come up with a forecast a year down the road,'' Chew said.  

However, Chew expects turnover for the current year to get a big boost from the targeted sales of 12,000 units of its newly launched water filtration system, Natural Pure

The system, priced at RM1,888, will come with a free one-year's supply of filters during the promotion period.  

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