By Michael Rudnick
NEW YORK–Haier America, in its continued bid to push into the mass premium white goods space, will launch its first refrigerator drawer line in the second half of this year.
Under-counter refrigerator drawers have gained in popularity in recent years as consumers and home designers seek to create more open kitchens with limited clutter from appliances. This niche product has been mostly limited to higher-end manufacturers such as Viking, Sub-Zero, Perlick and Marvel, which offer these refrigerators at a roughly $2,500 to $3,000 price range, said Warren Mann, vice president of sales for Haier America’s independent dealer channel. He said that Haier is aiming to offer its double drawer at roughly $2,000.
“We have great value-manufacturing capabilities, which enables us to offer it at lower costs,” Mann said.
Haier has initially decided to step into this market with a double-drawer, rather than single-drawer, configuration, because “the double drawer is the easiest to install,” Mann said. “You can pull out a standard cabinet and insert [the drawers] and slide them back in,” he said. “You can convert under-counter space from storing old pots and pans that you don’t need and replace them with a refrigerator,” he added.
While Haier is still working on the final specifications for the units, Mann said the double drawer will be under 34 inches high, allowing for an easy fit under a standard kitchen countertop.
The drawers will be available as either a refrigerator or freezer, Mann said.
The planned launch of these refrigerator drawers aimed at the mass premium market comes as part of a larger Haier strategy to move up the kitchen appliances ladder in the United States. The company last year debuted a counter-depth, stainless-steel, French-door refrigerator with a bottom-mount freezer compartment that’s segmented into two drawers, allowing for easier organization of frozen foods. It also launched a French-door refrigerator with a bottom drawer that can function as a refrigerator or freezer compartment. The company in 2006 made its first foray into the large kitchen appliances space with a series of electric and gas ranges, which has enabled the company to offer a full kitchen package.
Also this year, Haier is introducing a 37-bottle, freestanding wine cellar featuring a unique flex-zone technology. The $799 cooler will feature ultraviolet glass, a stainless-steel trim appearance, pro-style handles and maple racks.