TEXT OF STORY
Bob Moon: Liz Taylor and her husbands, Mariah Carey and that Sony guy, Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Willis and his hair — they could all have something in common soon with GE and its appliance business: Splitsville. The Wall Street Journal reports plans to auction the unit could bring GE between $5 [billion] and $8 billion.
The world’s biggest conglomerate has been under some pressure to trim down and simplify its operations. And Ashley Milne-Tyte reports the appliance business may be a likely place to start.
Ashley Milne-Tyte: GE raked in $173 billion in revenue last year. Its appliance division accounted for about 4 percent of that.
Brand consultant Robert Passikoff says GE may have been a pioneer in the appliance market, but these days it has plenty of competition. He says the brand doesn’t have the clout it once did.
Robert Passikoff: There isn’t a modern consumer out there that’s going to tell you GE was the one that first combined the washer and dryer. That was a big deal 50 years ago. But now, you just expect to be able to get a washer/dryer at whatever appliance store you walk into.
He says consumers expect products to work and to be well priced. And most brands meet those criteria. He says whoever buys GE’s appliance unit will keep using the GE name for a couple of years, then sell the products under its own brand.
In New York, I’m Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.