EXCLUSIVE:ASKO A Cheap Chinese Hisense Brand, 30,000 Dishwashers Recalled After Fires
ASKO the once trusted Swedish appliance brand has become a “Chinese basket case” with the former Marketing Director, CEO and Operations Director quitting the now Chinese owned Company in Australia claiming the Company has “overnight” lost their European pedigree.
Globally the brand is reeling after being acquired by Hisense the maker of cheap Chinese TV’s.
The Velenje-based household appliances maker Gorenje, now owned by the Chinese conglomerate Hisense own the ASKO brand name.
It was recently revealed that staff are being laid off worldwide and the Slovenia Government which is where the ASKO product is made is not happy that they invested in the Company only to find that the Chinese have “not met commitments” they undertook to deliver manufacturing jobs in Europe.
One commitment was that Hisense would open a TV manufacturing plant in the Country.
James Vogdanos who spent 24 years at ASKO Australia has been dumped by new Chinese Managing Director Kevin Ke the former Managing Director of Hisense Australia.
Also dumped by KE who is now struggling to justify the European heritage of the former Swedish brand was Crt Prasnikar the former CEO in Australia.
Yesterday the National Technical Director at ASKO Australia quit. Also gone is the former Operations Director.
Late last year ASKO was forced to recall 30,000 dishwashers in the United States as Canada as they were deemed a fire hazard.
The exact problem, as stated in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall notice: “The dishwasher power cord can overheat, posing a fire hazard.”
ASKO said in November 2019, it’s received 53 reports of overheating power cords on the Slovenian-made machines, but no property damage.
“A lot of former ASKO executives don’t want to work for a questionable Chinese Company after spending years working for a reputable Swedish Company” said one former senior executive.
“The brands products may be made in Slovenia, but they are more Chinese than European” they said.
Recently Ke who is splashing the cash at Appliance Retailer told the publication about his passion for the local industry and outlook for the future.
“He made no mention of sacking people who had been with the Company for decades, know retailers and had years of experience working for a reputable European brand” said one former executive who has been restricted by Chinese management from commenting.
Ke joined Hisense Australia as managing director in 2009 today he is trying to “Breathe life into a Chinese product masquerading as a European appliance”.
“This is a Company that prior to Hisense acquiring the Company was competing up against the likes of Miele, Bosch and several leading European brands. Today they are simply adding a premium price to a Chinese owned product” the former executive claimed.
They added” One has to question why they bought the brand in the first place especially as they keep telling consumers that their Hisense appliances are premium quality”.
The ASKO range of dishwashing, laundry and major cooking appliances are really no different than what is branded Hisense, the ASKO product comes out of a different plant” they added.
Hisense management are claiming that the ASKO products have superior digital technology.
“We have extensive experience in the consumer electronics category where a product lifecycle is often less than 12 months. This experience, as well as the ability to deliver technology, is a significant barrier to entry for new players. I see artificial intelligence and smart home platforms as an ideal path forward. Who else has the ability to get both intensive and extensive knowledge about whitegoods as well as consumer electronics?” Ke said recently.
“This is the same message that brands such as LG, Samsung, Bosch Miele and Electrolux have been telling consumers for several years. These brands are delivering new digital technology in their product”.
“The bottom line is that the ASKO range is now being used to sell into retailers a brand that the Chinese management claims delivers a better average selling price for retailers. What the consumer is not being told is that this is a Chinese brand owned by a 100% owned Chinese Company who are trading off the excellent reputation of European appliance makers. Hisense and ASKO are not in that league anymore” they said.
Last year (2019) Gorenje posted a group net loss of over $50 Million , and chief managing director Lin, who is also the chairman of Hisense International, expects the Company to be in the red at the end of this year as well with some tipping losses of over $100 Million.
While refusing to reveal any figures, he said Gorenje’s business was worst at the beginning of the year which is when COVID-19 was breaking out in Europe.