Kelvinator, the iconic refrigerator brand that branded itself as the “coolest one”, is making a comeback in India, courtesy Reliance Industries.
The retail arm of India’s largest conglomerate, Reliance Retail, has signed an exclusive brand licensing, manufacturing, marketing and distribution deal for Kelvinator with Swedish appliance maker Electrolux, which owns the brand.
Under the more than 10-year contract, Reliance will shortly relaunch the Kelvinator refrigerator and other appliances such as washing machines, air-conditioners and microwave ovens in phases to be sold through its network of stores and distributed to other consumer durable stores, an industry executive said. It is also evaluating whether to use the “the coolest one” tagline, he said.
Reliance Retail said in its earnings presentation for the September quarter that it had entered into a long-term and exclusive brand-licensing arrangement with Kelvinator.
However, the company did not respond to an email seeking confirmation of its plans. An email sent to Electrolux on Sunday was unanswered till press time. An industry executive said Reliance will target the mass to masspremium segment with the Kelvinator brand.
“Since Reliance has all the rights over it, it can even use it as a price warrior brand for both its own stores and e-commerce venture to compete against value brands like BPL, Koryo, Haier and Whirlpool, which are pushing sales largely through affordable pricing,” he said.
The Kelvinator brand licence was earlier with Videocon Industries, an arrangement that snapped early last year due to non-payment of royalty, another executive said.
“The Kelvinator brand at its peak used to do Rs 1,000 crore-plus business. It has a good pull factor and Reliance can rapidly scale it up,” he said. Reliance will produce the Kelvinator range locally through third-party manufacturers.
The Kelvinator brand was created in 1914 in the US as the name of one of the first electric refrigeration units for homes. The brand was in honour of inventor and scientist William Thomson, also known as Lord Kelvin, who developed the concept of absolute zero and after whom the Kelvin temperature scale is christened.
By 1923, Kelvinator had gained 80% of the US electric refrigerator market and progressively expanded into Europe and the rest of the world. Electrolux currently sells Kelvinator fridges and air-conditioners in a few markets including Australia, where it has a significant share.
Reliance Retail runs India’s largest consumer electronics retailing business through a network of over 8,200 stores, including the large format Reliance Digital and neighbourhood Jio Stores. The company has the exclusive sales and distribution rights for Sharp televisions, which it now sells through other multi-brand retailers.―Gadgets Now