In 2001, Hans Stråberg succeeded Michael Treschow as President & CEO. As head of the vacuum cleaning business, Stråberg had gained first-hand experience of the increasing global competition from low cost countries, particularly China. This experience became crucial for the Group.
Hans Stråberg was appointed CEO of Electrolux in 2001
Stråberg realized that the white good business would also face the same challenge and initiated a restructuring program with the target to go from 20% of manufacturing in low-cost countries to 40%. This meant closure of production in countries like Germany, France, US, Australia and Sweden, and opening of new plants in Poland, Hungary, Mexico and Thailand.
Globalization also meant that operations, purchasing and product development could be better coordinated globally, with savings and efficiency gains as results. Development towards more global components and fewer product platforms, in a similar way to the car industry, started.
Under Hans Stråberg’s management, product development based on the consumer’s needs was increasingly in focus
In parallel, the efforts to strengthen the product development process continued. More and more focus was put on understanding consumers’ real problems and addressing those in the development and design work. One example was the groundbreaking battery vacuum cleaner Ergorapido, which was launched in 2004. It was a global product, designed and developed in Sweden, and produced in China.
The battery-driven vacuum cleaner Ergorapido launched in 2004 and sold millions worldwide in just a few years
In 2004, Electrolux relaunched its brand in the US, with the premium Electrolux Icon-range. Four years later it was time for the big bang in the US with launch of almost 170 new products in one coordinated campaign. This was one indication of increased investments in product development in the Group. In 2009, these investments had doubled compared to 2001.
Kitchen interior from the ICON range
The work to strengthen the Electrolux brand also continued. With increased investments in branding and marketing, Electrolux could position itself as a global brand with premium products suitable for both for everyday consumers and professional users. This connection with well-known chefs was both important and unique for Electrolux; no competitor could provide products of this quality. Becoming the product of choice for high-profile, professional users gave credibility to Electrolux’s innovations in consumer appliances.
And it clearly underpinned the Electrolux strategy to shape living for the better by focusing on creating better taste, care and wellbeing experiences for its consumers.