Whirlpool's biggest challenge is rapid changes in global markets: CEO

Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:23pm EDT
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By Meredith Davis

(Reuters) - Whirlpool Corp's (WHR.N: Quote) biggest challenge in the last year has been managing rapid change and currency volatility in global markets such as turmoil after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Fettig said in an interview on Friday.

"The best example is Brexit and what has surprisingly happened in a short period of time, in the U.K., which impacted us but we were able to overcome it," Fettig said.

Britain, where Whirlpool records about $1 billion in revenues, this summer voted to leave the European Union in a vote known as Brexit.

The pound's value fell after the vote, which forced the company to raise its prices, Fettig said.

A weak pound will reduce revenue and profit, meanwhile the cost to import appliances from other European Union countries, where they are largely manufactured, rises, Fettig said.

"Local prices in the U.K. will go up. It is too early to say what impact it will have on demand, but we are assuming there could be a much weaker demand environment, at least for the short term," he said.

With slowed demand from Russia and China, Whirlpool's leadership focused on adjusting to the changing global economic environment, Fettig said.

Last year the U.S. dollar strengthened against all major currencies, and Whirlpool faced a recession in Brazil, its largest Latin American market.   Continued...

A Whirlpool logo is seen on a range door at the Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Cleveland, Tennessee August 21, 2013.  REUTERS/Chris Berry