Nov 27, 2017 - When China's Haier bought Fisher and Paykel Appliances in 2012, Rod Oram worried the New Zealand company would shrivel and die. Five years on, Rod reports the New Zealand operation is actually thriving under Haier's ownership. A space half the size of a rugby pitch in East Tamaki tells you a lot about the history and future of Fisher & Paykel Appliances.
Built 20 years ago, the cavernous building on its Auckland site first housed electronics manufacturing for its healthcare division. Back then, that was the height of product and technology sophistication for the company.
In 2001, healthcare was spun off as a separate, and highly successful company. Meanwhile Appliances took a big strategic gamble of its own. Seeking to turn itself into a global maker and seller of kitchen appliances, it bought or built plants in Mexico, the US, Thailand and Italy.
But the strategy was still far from paying off when the Global Financial Crisis hit, saddling F&P Appliances with half a billion dollars of bank debt it couldn’t refinance. Teetering on the edge of collapse, it was rescued by Haier, the Chinese appliance maker, taking a minority stake in 2009. Three years later, Haier bought full control.
Today, the cavernous space is F&P’s sleek global design centre for refrigerators, laundry appliances and kitchen exhaust hoods. Adjacent areas in the same building house its testing facilities for prototypes and production models made overseas, and its global customer service and support centre, staffed 24 hours a day.
Down in Dunedin in the Wall Street Mall on Castle Street, a space almost as large houses F&P’s global design centre for cookers and dishwashers.
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