Whirlpool CEO: Price Hikes Won’t Hurt Business

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Whirlpool chairman/CEO Marc Bitzer has confirmed across-the-board price increases ranging from 5 percent to 12 percent worldwide.

But in an interview on CNBC, he argued that strong consumer demand, as shaped by the COVID pandemic, will continue to drive sales for the foreseeable future, regardless of the pricing pass-alongs.

“People have a strong orientation to the house and the home,” Bitzer said on the business news channel. “If you listen to all the companies announcing their work policies, I would say many consumers will stay on average one or two days more at home.”

“That just drives appliance consumption and that will not go away anytime soon,” he said.

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Also spurring appliance sales, at least for the short term, is the latest round of stimulus checks, while a red-hot housing market is expected to fuel white-goods growth for years to come, he observed.

Moreover, the sustained, multi-year demand for kitchen and laundry appliances won’t be hampered by higher price tags, which are a necessary consequence of soaring transportation and raw materials costs, Bitzer noted. “Many consumers have been at home for a year. You don’t change consumer behavior like a flash memory that you just erase. That [stay-at-home nesting] behavior will stay.”

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Bitzer’s outlook has so far been borne out by Whirlpool’s record first quarter results. Net sales rose 24 percent to $5.4 billion for the three months ended March 31, and net earnings increased nearly 200 percent to $440 million.

“Our Q1 results successfully demonstrate our agility and resilience in dealing with component shortages and inflationary pressure,” he said.