It’s close to 4 p.m. as the din on the street rises at Central Market, the busiest shopping destination in Lajpat Nagar, which is also home to a host of standalone and multi-brand electronic showrooms. As shoppers jostle and vehicles honk their way around, on one such arterial road, 40-year-old Jawahar Mohindru runs an exclusive showroom for Whirlpool of India, the US-based durables major which entered the country in the ’80s through a partnership with the TVS group. The Gurugram-headquartered company, which initially started out by selling only washing machines, entered the refrigerator market in 1995 following the buyout of Kelvinator India.
As customers mill around the showroom poring over products ranging from refrigerators to air conditioners, microwave to kitchen appliances, Mohindru sounds quite content when he says, “We have been an exclusive dealer for the past two decades, and never felt the need to engage exclusively with other brands as Whirlpool has been generating good business for us,” For a business that clocks an annual turnover of around Rs.25 million, Mohindru is also happy about the profit. “Our margin is between 10% and 15%,” he reveals.
What is also driving footfalls for the dealer is a slew of launches across categories in recent years by the company, churned out of its Faridabad, Puducherry and Pune facilities. Steering the change is 50-year-old Sunil D’Souza, a PepsiCo veteran of 15 years who took over as the managing director in June 2015. Sitting out of his corner office on the first floor, D’Souza says, “We were very strong in the mass-premium segment but did not have a strong foothold either in mass or the premium segments.” The entry of Korean duo, LG and Samsung, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, saw them dominating most categories in India. Rajeev Karwal who spearheaded LG’s foray in 1997, says, “Whirlpool, like others, globally faces a challenge from Korean