The US Whirlpool Corporation says its Morocco branch is achieving excellent growth and turnover is expected to reach $20 million by the end of 2000. Whirlpool's Moroccan affiliate opened in June 1996 and it claims 27 percent of the Moroccan house-appliance market.
“The result scored in four years are more than encouraging, especially in a small market, where 43 brands are competing,” said Mourad Alem, director general of Whirlpool Morocco. He said the firm has been posting a steady growth rate of 15 percent over the past four years. Just this year, the branch sold 60,000 household appliances, a 19 percent increase over 1999. The turnover without taxes for this year will reach $20 million, said Alem.
Most of Whirlpool-made items sold in Morocco are made in company factories based in Europe and only a part of the machines are assembled in Morocco—by local firm Manar—under an industrial and commercial accord.
However, the agreement was frozen a while back, as the two partners failed to find common ground for agreement on the impact of raw material costs on the prices of finished products made by Manar. “The two parties have not reached the point of divorce, but they are at a phase of physical separation,” said the chief of Whirlpool Morocco.
Pending a solution with Manar, which also makes machines for other competing brands, including Sierra, the US firm increased the volume of machines made in Europe to make up for any shortage in the Moroccan.
The branch said it does not think, for the time being, of opening a factory in Morocco. “Such a move, if implemented now, would be an economic suicide,” warned Alem. He argues that in order to be profitable, the factory should produce one million units annually. But the Moroccan house appliance market is not a large one. This market cannot absorb more than 200,000 units presently.
Several factors contribute to the restriction of the Moroccan market, said Alem, who cited weak purchasing power, small number of people with a stable job and high customs duties that can be up to a hundred percent for some finished products.
Whirlpool is the largest house appliance maker in the world. The company employs 60,000 people and runs 55 factories in 13 countries in four continents. It produced more than 35 million of house appliance machines in 1999. The firm’s turnover is estimated at $11 billion.
The group was founded by American Lou Upton, who worked out in 1911 his first washing machines. In 1923, Upton made his first automatic washing machine, Whirlpool, the present name of the corporation. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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