Giant appliance company gets bigger
General Electric, the company that invented the electric toaster back in 1909, is now the second largest manufacturer of major appliances in the U.S. GE recently announced the sale of its appliance division to another behemoth, Swedish-based Electrolux, the second largest major appliance manufacturer in the world.
In the U.S., the Electrolux entry-level and mid-level “mass market” appliances are sold under the brand name Frigidaire. When the deal is complete in early 2015, the combined Electrolux/GE company will likely surpass Whirlpool as the largest major appliance manufacturer in the world. More importantly, the U.S. “mass” major appliance business encompassing the vast majority of total appliances sales, will be controlled by only two companies: Whirlpool and Electrolux; and Electrolux is not U.S. based.
Nevertheless, it’s doubtful that there will be much of an objection from the U.S. antitrust authorities. After all, these are the same folks that allowed the US Airways merger with American Airlines to sail through. The major airline companies have now dwindled to only four carriers. We all know the results. Thriving competition has led to lower air fares, reduced passenger fees, more flights going to more places, and improved service from our friendly flight attendants. Yessiree! NOT
The same thing is sure to happen in appliances. Fewer choices, higher prices, etc., etc. Over time, all the really big name U.S. appliance companies have swallowed each other leading to this duopoly of Whirlpool and Electrolux. The industry was once populated by a host of proud brands with factories dotting the countryside and competing across the U.S. for consumers’ appliance dollars.
GE and Electrolux would have us believe they’ve no idea how many factories will be closed or how many jobs will be lost though the acquisition, if any. They won’t even talk about jobs or what they impersonally refer to as “redundancies” until after the merger goes through.
The only important decision left to be made is what name this new company will have. Here are a few combinations I’ve come up with by combining the brand names General Electric, GE, and Monogram (a GE brand) with Electrolux and Frigidaire.
- General Electrolux
- FrigGE (pronounce Fridgie)
- Frigigram (pronounce “Fridgiegram”)
We’ve had a little fun with this, but in the end this takeover of GE Appliances is not good. It’s not good for factory workers or the towns they live in when (not if) factories are closed and jobs are lost. It’s not good for retailers who will have fewer suppliers competing for their business. It’s certainly not good for consumers who will have fewer real choices and higher prices. And, regardless what an upstanding company Electrolux may be, it’s just not good to lose another U.S. based manufacturer.