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Cooling appliances sell like hot cakes Mar-May

White goods manufacturers clocked record sales of cooling appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators between March and May as they gained from a searing heat wave in several parts of the country and pent-up demand from the previous two seasons when sales took a severe hit due to pandemic-related curbs.

Companies, such as Panasonic, Whirlpool, Voltas, and LG, reported strong double-digit growth in air conditioner sales compared to the levels seen in 2019 prior to the pandemic, executives said.

This year, the air conditioner industry experienced one of the biggest upswings seen in the last few years driven by high temperatures, pent-up demand from the last two washed-out summers, and consumers looking to upgrade to products with more features and latest technologies, said Vishal Bhola, managing director, Whirlpool of India Ltd.

Whirlpool’s air conditioner sales grew in high double-digits between March and May, compared to the corresponding period of 2019, said Bhola.

The company’s refrigerator sales also grew in double digits during the period, he added. “In refrigerators, we have gained market share compared to pre-covid summers and have been sequentially gaining share over the last few quarters,” he said.

Company executives said that pent-up demand following two summers marred by intense covid waves and strict restrictions also contributed to sales growth. During the pandemic, muted demand as well as disruptions in manufacturing had impacted companies. However, companies are bullish this summer, despite high raw material prices, which prompted them to increase prices.

The local unit of Japanese consumer electronics maker Panasonic India posted “record demand” for air conditioners. “At Panasonic, our air conditioners have registered growth of 68% for March to May as compared to the same period in 2019. Also, the demand for inverter and connected ACs continues and, here, Panasonic’s market share stands close to 6% in 2021,” said Fumiyasu Fujimori, managing director, Panasonic Marketing India.

Fujimori said the company had planned in advance for a strong summer season. “However, demand has been high for premium air conditioners, and we did ramp up our production in April. With the onset of monsoons in some states, the demand seems to have stabilized now,” he added.

The local arm of South Korea’s LG said its air conditioner and refrigerator sales saw “robust growth” this summer season. “We have seen good growth over pre pandemic period, and surpassed pre-pandemic levels. We are looking forward to close the season with double-digit growth in the second half of the year,” said Deepak Bansal, vice president, home appliances, LG Electronics India.

Sale of cooling products for Tata group’s Voltas grew threefold in April with room ACs clocking highest growth. “The summer helped us gain unprecedented growth compared to the last three years. Our room AC business grew by 170% by volume. The cooling products business has grown by over 160% and home appliances grew 75% by volume,” said Pradeep Bakshi, managing director and chief executive, Voltas Ltd.

However, companies are wary of inflation. In a March report, analysts at ICICI Securities said most electronics companies raised product prices by about 15% in the past 12-15 months. Livemint

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