By David Gill
NEW YORK–Salton and Applica, whose merger was finalized just before this past New Year’s, are one fully integrated company that can focus solely on growth.
That’s the view advanced by Evanghela Hidalgo, president and general manager of Applica’s Americas division, during Applica’s Holiday Preview 2008, which took place here in June. “The sales team is in place,” Hidalgo said in an interview with HFN. “We have one product-development department. Everything is supported by the same ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. Now it’s about growing the business.”
The picture Hidalgo painted is markedly different from the situation at this time last year. The first merger agreement, announced in February 2007, was terminated when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission failed to complete its proxy review by the deadline of July 31. Salton and Applica formed a second merger agreement in September, and shareholders voted to approve the deal on Dec. 28.
Salton Inc. is the name of the corporate entity, while Applica Consumer Products is the name used for the company’s business in the United States. “We have cleared up all of the confusion as to the company names,” Hidalgo said. “Internally, all of our managers know our strategy going forward regarding sales and product development.”
The keyword regarding the latter is innovation, Hidalgo said. “You’ll see that innovation will be upped on all of our brands over the next two years,” she said. Among the innovations coming down the pike for Applica will be the first new concepts for the George Foreman grill brand that have been seen in some time, along with new products under the Farberware brand.
“We will continue to invest in our recognizable brands—George Foreman and the others,” Hidalgo said. “Part of that investment will include getting into new product categories. We want to raise the expectations of consumers about Applica products and how they perform.”
Among some of the innovations on display at the Applica event were the Black & Decker Cyclone Blender, whose container is designed with ridges on the bottom. According to Max Francia, brand manager for Black & Decker, this feature pushes all of the food into the blades, resulting in smoother blending.
The new Clear2O Water Filtration System uses a block carbon filter, which eliminated more contaminants than granulated or powered carbon, according to Clear2O’s brand manager, Connie Duque. Each filter lasts through 50 gallons or 72 fillings of the water pitcher, Duque said.
Applica also presented the Juiceman Pro, a new juicer that contains mechanisms that supposedly eliminate the need for preparation work. The product’s variable speeds increase the range of items from which the Juiceman Pro can extract juice, and increase the amount of juice it can create, according to Milan Poidl, Juiceman brand manager.
Aside from products, Applica is also becoming innovative in getting the word out about itself. “More media is part of our plan going forward,” Hidalgo said. “We will spend $50 million this year on advertising. TV, online and public relations will play a big role in this. We have been consistent since the beginning of the year in doing what we say we will do. This will help consumers to become more aware of us.”