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EXCLUSIVE: Electrolux Sales Director Targeted As New Staff Dramas Erupt

Electrolux has a new director in Australia with the recent appointment of Chinese national Mei Zhou, who along with Canadian Kurt Hegvold, are now running an operation that appears to be facing massive staff and moral problems, in Australia, with claims that the recently appointed director of sales Hassan Mahadi is the person behind “many of the changes” currently happening at the struggling Swedish appliance business.

Questions have been raised about the exit of several senior executives, with some claiming in emails and communication with ChannelNews that Mahdi, who was appointed sales director in June 2023, is behind several of the recent exits and that the former Samsung TV executive, whose prior experience is selling coffee at Nespresso and TV’s for Sony is now replacing staff with former associates from Samsung where he had a questionable relationship with senior management, along with employees from other Companies.

Hassan Mahadi far right sales director at Electrolux Australia. Third from right is Kurt Hegvold Managing Director of the Australian operation. 

Mahdi joined Electrolux in May 2021 as the director of Electrolux’s product line Taste.

The Taste business consists of cookers, hobs, ovens, hoods, microwave ovens, refrigerators and freezers and makes up 62% of Electrolux Group sales locally.

Since Mahdi was appointed sales at Electrolux Home Products have declined due in part to the impact of inflation and rising costs.

Australia makes up the bulk of Electrolux’s Asia Pacific Revenue and as of February Asia Pacific Revenue had declined 65% and are still falling.

According to Electrolux management in Sweden, more than half of Electrolux appliances sales in the Asia/Pacific region are from Australia.

ChannelNews has offered Mahdi the opportunity to comment on the claims, which have been made by multiple sources including some who still work for Electrolux Australia, others have recently left the business which has seen a major turnover of staff from CEO, to former Human Resource Directors to Sales Director to Head Of Commercial during the past 24 months.

We have also asked Mahdi whether he had fallings out with his former direct report at Samsung.

Since the start of 2024, several people have chosen to leave or have been terminated at Electrolux including Richelle Barker (marketing director) Michael Eagle (product manager), Michael Conway (national business manager), Lucinda Kraft (sales manager) and Lincoln Gwadu (commercial manager).

Most reported to Hassan Mahadi or would have under a new structure currently being implemented by management.

Last week the business announced the appointment of Christina Kumcevski into a newly created role of head of marketing.

Sources claim that “All of these executives left of their own accord because of moral problems or were pushed out as a result Mahdis’ leadership”.

A senior executive still with the business claimed in an email to ChannelNews that “Mahdi’s ruthlessness and conduct is the antithesis of the days of Michael Doyle and Chris Coen – both former sales directors, who were well respected within Electrolux and the industry”.

During the past week, several current and former staff have contacted ChannelNews claiming that the Company is “A mess” and that “Recent staff surveys shows staff satisfactory levels is at an all-time low”.

In an effort to put a spin on the recent exit of staff CEO Kurt Hegvold claimed to trade media recently,  that the separation of consumer marketing and trade operations, will now see management reporting into the sales operation under the management of Mahadi.

“We believe that this realignment will lead to increased efficiency, clearer communication channels, and the ability to leverage global best practices within our marketing initiatives,” he said.

The previous role of director marketing ANZ, currently held by Richelle Barker, has been eliminated.

Barker was offered the newly created head of marketing ANZ but chose not to work under Mahdi or within the new Electrolux structure.

One email to ChannelNews claims that numerous staff have resigned or been pushed out since Hass Mahdi’s appointment as Sales Director.

“Many thought it was Kurt Hegvold (Managing Director) but Mahdi’s move into his current role was the propelling catalyst for Electrolux’s deteriorating moral and culture” they claimed.

Mahadi has not responded to these claims.

In late 2023 Electrolux saw the departures of industry legends Troy Hinchco and Truong Nguyen and recently appointed sales manager Fiona Mackay.

We will publish a response from Electrolux management if we get one, in the past Electrolux has refused to comment on issues we have raised about the operations of the Australian business.

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