Viking Canada: It’s Probably Worse Than you Thought

PART I:   As has been reported, Viking has been in negotiations with Sears Canada about the renewal of their licensing agreement of the Viking name for super-premium appliances.  Sears owned the brand as part of their purchase of the Eaton Department Stores which had at one time sold coal burning “Viking” brand stoves generations ago.

Viking’s offer of cash + other valuable prizes was rejected by Sears Canada.  Our sources say that Sears was only interested in cash.

The current brand agreement is set to expire in the first half of 2013.  Other sources tell us that Viking has chosen to sell under the “Brigade” brand in Canada, and that the transition will be complete the beginning of April.  Brigade (if it is Brigade) will offer all the products currently available under the Viking brand, as you would all imagine.

Dealers placing orders BEFORE January 4th, will be shipped “Viking” brand product.
Dealers placing orders for standard products after January 7th will receive Viking brand products.
Dealers placing special orders after January 7th will receive Brigade brand products, but shipment will occur after April.
(This doesn’t entirely make sense to us……since it would seem that a home owner might want brand-unity throughout the kitchen, even if “Brigade”, and would want delivery as soon as available.)

This is all unfortunate for Viking, but it is capitalism. 
Viking was not willing to pay the price that Sears was demanding, or to meet or beat the high bidder.

PART II:   As has not yet been reported is what Sears is doing with the “Viking” brand. 

Our unconfirmed tip, but credible source says……..
That the winning bidder was none other than Electrolux.  Though Viking’s licensing agreement restricts Sears from employing the brand for super-premium appliances, Sears can still rent or sell the brand for use in the premium category or below or for use in small appliances.

Our tipster claims that Electrolux and Sears Canada plan to manufacture a line of premium major appliances under the “Viking” brand for sale through Sears Canada, and through Electrolux dealers which do not compete with Sears locations.
If true, this is where the story seems to turn from a standard tale of capitalism, to a sorted and ugly affair.

Not very long ago, in the Canadian market, Viking sold its product under the “Ultra-Line” brand.  It then reached agreement with Sears Canada for the license of the “Viking” brand.  But North America is a single market, and Ultra-Line consumers certainly knew they were buying a product from Viking Range.
Over time, “Brigade”, or whatever the brand chosen, will also be understood to be a Viking Range.
This secondary brand will not sell as many units, but at least the customers will know exactly what they are getting.

But what are the motivations of Sears and Electrolux, if our tipster is correct?
Does the Eaton Department Store “Viking” have any residual brand value and recognition?  No.
Was Sears using the “Viking” brand in cooking appliances and investing in the brand up to now?  Our source says No.
The brand had no equity other than what was invested in it by Viking Range Corp.

We believe, if this tipster is correct, that the actual goal of relaunching the “Viking” brand in Canada is to confuse the consumer, to swindle the consumer, to separate cash from the consumer’s wallet based on the consumer’s assumption that he or she is getting a product from Viking Range Corporation.  It’s a con job targeted at Canadians, by Canadians, Americans and Swedes.

If true, if the largest appliance dealer in North America, and one of the largest appliance manufacturers in the world were tied up in something like this, it would be supremely ugly.

Capitalism is capitalism, and for whatever reason, Viking has found itself on the wrong side of it in Canada.  It happens all the time. 
Lying to the consumer.  Cheating the consumer.  The old bait and switcheroo on a massive corporate scale is not so usual, and not acceptable. 
If this were the plan, suggests that they steer a different path.

Part III
What if anything does this brand business have to do with the Viking acquisition?  If the current agreement with Sears ends the 1st half of 2013, then renegotiation was in the cards no matter what else was happening.
Still, the Viking brand negotiations must have had some effect on, and been effected by, talks to sell out to Middleby.

Part IV
And what’s next when the 1st “Viking” brand appliance, not from Viking Range shows up in a Canadian kitchen?
We guess that the real question is about the 2nd Viking brand appliance to show up.
Because it will be at least 8 – 10 years of litigation between the 1st and 2nd.

Stay tuned………..we will be reporting.


2 Responses to Viking Canada: It’s Probably Worse Than you Thought

  1. Rumor has it that Viking did not take part in it’s second most important negotiations of the Christmas season.  The rumor goes that Viking’s Eastern Canada distributor, Distinctive Appliance Distribution’s Henry Amiel sat opposite of Sears Canada at the negotiating table.

    Where was Viking?  No where to be found.  At least in the rumor.

    What could be the reason for sub-contracting the talking? 
    Perhaps they had their hands full with Middleby, or they did not want their negotiating team to know anything about Middleby, or they did not want Sears to know how important the Viking brand was to them………but frankly none of these 3 reasons make much sense to me.

    If this is true, it’s inexplicable.

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