Winia Daewoo is aiming to become one of the world’s top 10 home appliance makers

By focusing more on the North and South American markets, according to the company CEO.”With the aim of becoming one of the world’s top 10 electronics producers, Winia Daewoo has a wide range of products ranging from refrigerators, washers and microwaves to TVs. We have been selling these products in more than 80 countries in Central and South America, North America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia,” CEO Ahn Jung-gu said in a recent interview with The Korea Times.Winia Daewoo’s home appliance production plant in Mexico / Courtesy of Winia DaewooTo accomplish the ambitious goal, the CEO said the company will concentrate on boosting the sales of appliances, especially refrigerators, on the American continents.”We have seen a constant increase in refrigerator sales in the Central and South American markets as well as the North American market. As Mexico has been a strategic foothold for us and we expect refrigerator sales in the region to increase to 2 million in 2020, we plan to expand our refrigerator and washer production lines there,” he said.Winia Daewoo currently has 12 overseas subsidiaries and 11 sales branches worldwide with about 1,000 employees specialized in sales. It has three appliance production factories in Korea, Mexico and China.While the Gwangju plant in Korea has focused on producing high-priced, large-sized appliances, the Chinese plant has produced small- and medium-sized products, and the Mexico line is for manufacturing appliances for consumers in the Americas.Winia Daewoo once competed fiercely with Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, and enjoyed widespread popularity with its home appliances. But the company struggled financially for more than a decade after its parent company Daewoo Group collapsed under heavy debt in 1999.The electronics maker strived to survive under a debt workout program but failed to graduate from it and finally went bankrupt in 2006.The company was acquired by Dayou Winia Group, a mid-size conglomerate famous for producing kimchi refrigerators, in 2018.Ahn said Winia Daewoo, which mostly sells in overseas markets, is expecting to generate a synergy effect both here and abroad by closely cooperating with its sister company Winia Dimchae.The sister company is widely known among local consumers as it developed the industry’s first kimchi refrigerator, a product specifically designed to store the traditional Korean fermented side-dish.”Winia Daewoo recorded 1.43 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in sales in 2018 and more than 80 percent of the figure was earned from exports. Meanwhile, Winia Dimchae generated more than 90 percent of its sales of 557.3 billion won in 2018 from the domestic market,” he said.”Combining our sales networks overseas with local sales and the distribution network that Winia Dimchae has, the two companies are becoming more responsive to changing market conditions both here and abroad.”Though the two companies are independent, they share their R&D activity to improve efficiency in developing new products.”Since Daewoo was included in Dayou Winia Group in March 2018, we have been sharing many of our activities with Winia Dimchae to boost efficiency and productivity. Besides sharing the sales network of the two, we are sharing R&D and product design activities to improve sales. Also, to concentrate on what each company is good at, Winia Daewoo is focusing on producing washers and dryers while Winia Dimchae is making air-quality control products such as air conditioners and air purifiers,” he said.Winia Daewoo employees in its Gwangju plant produce washing machines. / Courtesy of Winia DaewooThe CEO added Winia Daewoo is also seeking to be included as one of the country’s 10 best companies to work for.”We are aiming to improve our operating profit-to-sales ratio to 5 percent by 2023 and become one of the country’s 10 best companies to work for,” he said.”Also, Winia Daewoo has been working to make Dayou Winia Group one of Korea’s top 50 business group by 2025. To reach this goal, we have been utilizing our global sales network and business knowhow so that more consumers can experience the group’s quality products.”Ahn, who served as a chief of Samsung Electronics’ Peru branch, joined Dongbu Daewoo Electronics in 2015 and was responsible for overseas sales of the firm’s Central and South American region and became the CEO of Winia Daewoo in 2018.Speaking on how Winia Daewoo products are received in the global market, Ahn said producing locally customized appliances makes it one of the most popular brands in many countries.”Winia Daewoo has succeeded in many countries with its locally customized appliances. For instance, our Chef Mexicano microwave enables users to cook 31 traditional Mexican foods such as tortillas and picadillos. To develop the microwave, our employees conducted on-site surveys of local Mexican food and thanks to that effort, we have been leading the microwave market there since 2013,” he said.Though the company has seen growing hurdles due to the rise of Chinese makers that have been aggressively expanding their market presence with cheap and quality products, Winia Daewoo can sharpen its edge by focusing on developing these customized appliances.”We have been expanding our market share with these locally customized products. Based on quality products and our sales networks in many countries that have been in place for more than 30 years, we will continue to take the lead in the competition,” he said.Combining AI, IoT with home appliancesWith artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and machine learning technologies emerging as must-have features for home appliances as companies can offer an improved user experiences, Winia Daewoo is also working on developing these technologies.”To seek further growth in the business, Winia Daewoo has been conducting research and development into the latest technologies that are crucial in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Ahn said adding IoT technologies will be applied to Winia Dimchae’s signature kimchi refrigerator first.”Our sister company Winia Dimchae plans to feature an IoT feature in its upcoming kimchi refrigerator, which will hit the market this year. These features will also be included in Winia Daewoo products at the right time,” he said.