Haier's biggest product rollout ever undertaken on Australian shores is currently underway with rapid expansion plans continuing throughout 2017.
Haier, which is the world's number one major appliances brand for eight consecutive years, is serious about Australia and has been investing heavily in the air conditioning market for the past 12 months.
Its investment focus is spread across the entire organisation and has led to the appointment of new staff as well as the creation of new warehousing facilities and an impressive Brisbane-based air conditioning training academy.
For the Haier air conditioning business the focus is on new product and ensuring the availability of its entire range over the next 12 months so that Haier can establish a solid national footprint across the country by 2018.
The company's expansion plans in Australia follows a series of global acquisitions that has made the Haier Group the number one appliance company in the world.
It began with the global takeover of Fisher & Paykel and was followed by a $US5.6 billion buyout of the American electronics giant General Electric. Haier has clearly moved beyond kitchen appliances and air conditioning to being a dominant player across the entire range of household goods.
However, despite its global ambitions its focus here in Australia is all about air conditioning and extending its comprehensive product range across all segments of the market whether its residential, industrial, or commercial.
Signs that Haier had long term plans for the Australian market first emerged in 2015 when the company took its air conditioning business off distributors and licensees folding operations into its Fisher & Paykel subsidiary.
Last year its intentions were made abundantly clear when the company booked a 180 square-metre display at the 2016 ARBS Exhibition to showcase its entire product range.
Participation at ARBS certainly paid off, according to Fisher & Paykel general manager of commercial sales and air conditioning, Tim Kirkup.
“The level of interest generated from ARBS was huge and led to the creation of a large number of opportunities for Haier to develop what we hope will be long term partnerships in the Australian and New Zealand HVAC industry,” he said. “This will grow even further over the next 12 months as more product comes to market.
“The key is to be able to meet the needs of every market segment and we can do that from Hi Walls and Ducted through to Cassettes and Chillers. We don't want to give customers a reason to go elsewhere when they can get everything from us.”
Haier began its product-led strategy on the Australian market with High Wall Splits over the summer months.
Last year saw the introduction of the Haier Multi System called Super Match with a full range of Hi Wall, Slimline low static and medium static Ducted Systems and Cassette models. This was followed by the introduction of Smart Power, which is Haier’s new range of energy efficient cassette and medium static Ducted Units. Early 2017 will see the release of more products to this range featuring a comprehensive range of high static Duct products.
2017 will also see the introduction of a range of Mini VRF products to be followed by a full range of Heat Pump and Heat Recovery VRF later in the year.
“Haier also has a full range of Chillers – air cooled, water cooled and modular – which are already available here and can be specified for any job,” Kirkup said.
Plans are also underway to upgrade the current range of Haier’s Hi Wall Split systems replacing the current Classic series with the high performance T-series which features easier installation and improved energy ratings.
“We will also introduce the Dawn series our very first R-32 product which boasts eye-catching design, WiFi, sensor movement and Aqua Nano features which activate water particles in the air to reduce the dry skin effect,” Kirkup said.
“The market is telling us that if we wish to grow we need to be able to offer a full range of product and to give customers a reason to change and support the Haier brand.
“Our aim is to build on the success of 2016 by introducing the full range of Haier products between now and the end of 2017. As product availability increases our business will grow accordingly.”
Haier's expansion plans have been supported by a number of new appointments including five business development managers, a product manager, technical manager and national sales manager.
“On top of this our aim is to appoint a VRV specialist plus additional technical support later this year,” Kirkup said.
Haier Air Conditioning benefits from being part of the Fisher & Paykel group in Australia with access to its customer experience division and global 24/7 customer contact centre for consumers.
This is in addition to Technical Advisory and Spare Parts teams based in Australia which are available 6 days a week from 7am to 5pm. Fisher & Paykel also has 3,000 square metres of spare parts in a Brisbane-based warehouse with a well-established parts delivery service which covers the entire country.
“The next step in growing Haier’s AC capability is to integrate our field service requirements with the Fisher & Paykel field service network of over 90 company-owned service vans that cover all major metropolitan areas,” Kirkup said.
“Haier can supply products from any one of the four state-based Fisher & Paykel warehouses across the country.
“For now we are not going into retail because we want to dedicate our resources to dealers, contractors and resellers. We want to know who we are dealing with and this structure allows us to do this.
“A bad installation will hurt us which is why our aim is to deal directly with the installers and contractors. We want the people who sell our products to service our products which is why we have prioritized technical support and training.”
In mid-November the company opened its very own training academy which features 200 square metres of working Haier products.
Kirkup said training began with local contractors in Brisbane with plans afoot to rollout a lot more programs at the academy throughout 2017.
“We want contractors to understand our products first, before they install it,” he said.
“We are in a great position to talk to the market because we have a great story to tell and we want them to be a part of that story.
“Haier globally has close to 80,000 employees.
“We are serious about this market and are committed to growing the business here.”