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Whirlpool forms partnership with Suning
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The world's largest appliance maker Whirlpool Corp introduced its air conditioners into China by forming an exclusive partnership with Suning Appliance Co.

"As part of this exclusive agreement, Whirlpool will work with Suning to share technological know-how while Suning will be responsible for the sale, marketing development and customer service for the product," Whirlpool's Vice President Kurt Tjaden said today.

Its air conditioners have hit the shelves in nearly 200 Suning outlets. Suning is the second-largest appliance retailer in China with stores in 31 cities including Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing.

"We believe that our partnership with Suning creates a value-added proposition for both parties in addition to enhancing our portfolio of products for consumers," Tjaden said.

Suning estimated that domestic demand for air conditioners would reach 34 million this year.

"It will be big progress for Whirlpool by gaining a small share in the market, and we hope its sales can account for more than 10 percent of Suning's air-conditioner revenue in three years," said Suning's President Sun Weimin.

Appliance makers have to improve technology and save costs on supply chains so that they can offset rising material costs, Sun said.

Nanjing-based Suning will operate about 900 outlets by the end of this year across the country.

The cooperation with Suning is part of Whirlpool's big plan in China as the US firm plans to launch seven product lines into the market after washing machines and air conditioners.

The company has invested US$85 million in China since entering the market in 1994, and owns plants and R&D centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.

(Shanghai Daily March 19, 2008)

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