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Whirlpool fined $92 million in price-fixing case

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A Whirlpool Corp. subsidiary has agreed to plead guilty to a price-fixing scheme involving refrigerant compressors, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Sept. 30. Whirlpool unit Embraco North America, based in Delaware, along with Panasonic, a Japanese Corp., admitted they participated in an international conspiracy to fix prices of refrigerant compressors used in refrigerators and freezers sold to homes and businesses.

The Justice Department said the conspiracy took place from at least October 2004 until about December 2007. According to the plea agreements, both companies will cooperate with an ongoing investigation of other co-conspirators that exchanged information, monitored and enforced the agreed-upon prices.

After pleading guilty to separate-one count felony charges in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Whirlpool’s Embraco unit has agreed to pay a $91.8 million criminal fine, and Panasonic will pay a $49.1 million criminal fine.

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Inside the home

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Consumer research from The NPD Group connects the dots of appliance ownership in its most recent report, “Inside the Home: Appliances We Own & Use.”

According to the report, ownership in the major appliance category over-indexes among those who also own their home. However, homeownership does not fully predict who owns these products, nor who has recently purchased them. While one in four homeowners indicate having purchased a major appliance in the past 12 months, one in five renters have as well.

Here are some of the key findings: 

• Small kitchen electrics: The most owned and purchased products are often considered traditional countertop appliances, such as toasters, coffee makers, electric can openers and toaster ovens.

• Home environment appliances: The products used most often are those within the water filtration category, followed by upright vacuums. Close to half of upright vacuum owners are using their product once a week or more often.

• Hair appliances: Hair straightener owners are most likely to own other hair care appliances. Three-quarters of hair straighteners owners also own a curling iron or brush. The likelihood of a curling iron/brush owner to own a straightener is far less likely at 46%, however, a significant figure.   • Americans who have a refrigeration filtration system are least likely to own a pitcher, pour-through water filtration, or a faucet-mount device — just 18% and 15%, respectively.

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True Temper sale completed

BY HBSDEALER Staff

New York-based Castle Harlan announced it has completed the sale of Ames True Temper to Griffon Corp. for $542 million.

“Our five-year plan for Ames True Temper Inc. was to expand the business, increase market share in the U.S., create international exposure and broaden product lines for distribution through our pipeline. We have done that and are pleased with the results. We wish the company continued success as part of the Griffon family,” said Castle Harlan co-president William Pruellage.

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