TOKYO — Toshiba-brand home appliances will hit Chinese store shelves after a hiatus of more than a year, following an acquisition by Midea Group, the world’s largest producer of these goods.
Toshiba had sold its brand of home appliances in China until 2015, when slumping sales forced a retreat from the market. With Midea’s purchase of an 80.1% stake last year in Toshiba Lifestyle Products & Services, the white goods business of Toshiba, these products will now make a comeback.
Toshiba still owns a 19.9% stake in Toshiba Lifestyle.
As a first step, Toshiba Lifestyle and Midea will release jointly developed microwave ovens this month. Production is handled by the Japanese company. Refrigerators and other products may follow.
Midea will position Toshiba appliances as top-of-the-line products among its offerings. The microwave ovens likely will cost the equivalent of around 160,000 yen ($1,412). Similar products sold under the Midea brand focus on basic functions and carry low prices.
Based in the southern province of Guangdong, Midea has more than 2,200 stores throughout China and also sells goods wholesale to about 5,000 other electronics outlets, including those owned by Suning Commerce Group. Toshiba appliances will be sold through these stores as well as e-commerce channels, including Midea’s own online portal and Alibaba Group Holding’s Tmall Global platform.
Midea posted sales of 159 billion yuan ($23.3 billion) in 2016. Toshiba Lifestyle, which moved under Midea’s umbrella that June, contributed 7.52 billion yuan in the second half.
Toshiba Lifestyle has been expanding operations abroad, entering the Cambodian and Myanmar markets just last month. It seeks to turn a profit this year.
Under a tie-up formed in 2015, Toshiba had planned to cooperate with Chinese appliance manufacturer Skyworth in sales and production of white goods. The two sides now appear likely to dissolve the partnership.