Fabriano, Italy based Antonio Merloni sells Sweden based ASKO to Slovenia based appliance maker Gorenje.
Why is THIS story worthy of being called the BIG STORY?
Why didn’t Gorenje buy Antonio Merloni? Does this mark the end of A. Merloni? Is this part of a liquidation event for the bankrupt company, a great unwinding, or only a shoring up of finances?
While ASKO is a brand based on quality and engineering and marketing based on "pull", Antonio Merloni is a brandless OEM supplier making price sensitive products for price finicky corporate buyers, each of whom are happy to chuck you under the bus for a $1 per unit. All "push".
This market can no longer be served from Euroland. It is now generally served by manufacturers in Turkey, China, and well, Slovenia.
The good news: Since Antonio Merloni was too incompetent to leverage its ASKO asset, unloading it has no deeper strategic significance.
The bad news: Antonio Merloni has been a bit incompetent.
Is this the end of Antonio Merloni? Not to worry. We probably missed the end of AM 2 years ago.
Gorenje is building both its branded and its OEM businesses. ASKO unlocks North American distribution of Gorenje branded products and is a corporate office for OEM sales AND ASKO provides technology to Gorenje for the development of middle and lower end wet products. Of course this was Antonio Merloni’s strategy, so why will Gorenje do better? Gorenje will surely learn from the historic train wreck which is Merloni.
So what of ASKO? ASKO USA becomes the keystone of the Gorenje strategy, launching a new "Eurotech" economy brand, or filling out the ASKO line with all sorts of product segments they don’t make. Will they pull it off? We’ll see.