Electrolux officials said Friday that they expect a recovering housing market in North America to lift appliance sales in 2013, as the Swedish appliance maker battles ongoing economic struggles in Europe.
Jack Truong, CEO of Charlotte-based Electrolux North America, said the company is gaining momentum as it seeks to gain market share in the U.S. Its main rivals are companies such as Whirlpool, the world’s largest appliance manufacturer.
“We see that the overall market in 2013 should be better than 2012,” Truong said from his office in the University City area. “It can be led by the continuing strong new home construction.”
For the fourth quarter 2012, Electrolux’s revenue in North America rose 18 percent, to more than $1.1 billion, compared with the same period last year. That was in spite of a slightly weaker overall market, which saw a 2 percent decline in total shipments of core appliances in North America.
The company has been investing heavily in advertising, with a new marketing campaign and commercials that have been in regular rotation on television. Truong said they’re having an impact.
Economic turmoil in Europe continued to hurt the company, as sales fell about 5.5 percent in its European, Middle Eastern and African markets. Sales in North and South America have grown to 50 percent of the company’s revenue, up from 35 percent five years ago.
“We continue to build very strong momentum for our sales in North America,” said Truong. The company said it was both able to sell more appliances in North America and increase prices for the quarters.
Companywide sales were up 3 percent, to $4.7 billion in the fourth quarter. Profits more than tripled, to just under $189 million.
For the full year in 2012, the company’s total sales climbed 8 percent, to $17.6 billion, and profits rose 62 percent, to $558 million.
Electrolux now has about 780 employees at its North American headquarters in Charlotte, Truong said. The company is still hiring for about 80 open positions, including engineering, finance, sales, marketing and other corporate functions.
Truong said the focus for 2013 will be on launching new products, such as a line of energy-efficient top-loading washing machines, and on marketing the company’s existing products to consumers.
He said pent-up demand from people who have put off replacing appliances and new home sales should stimulate appliance sales, even if the overall economic growth rate stays slow.
“If the economy really grows on top of that, that’s great,” said Truong. “But it’s not something in our business plan we really focused on.”