Fisher and Paykel product design manager Richard Butler in the Dunedin design space, which will be almost doubled in size. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Fisher and Paykel Appliances' multimillion-dollar expansion
of its laboratories and research and development facilities
in Dunedin and East Tamaki, Auckland, is focused on expanding
and new markets.
Last year, Fisher and Paykel created a record in delivering a
range of 70 new products, including its first front-loader
washing machine, incorporating SmartDrive technology, and its
recent award-winning OB60 wall oven.
About 80 new jobs were created last year at both facilities,
and the majority of about 65 new engineering and design,
research and development jobs in Dunedin are expected to be
filled in the next two years.
Dunedin-based Fisher and Paykel product design manager
Richard Butler said most of the new employees would be
tertiary-qualified in engineering, design or science, and
applications were expected from around the country and
''We've got major projects under way in cooking and
dishwashing, with an expanding market in China, but we want
to grow [sales] in the United States and United Kingdom,'' Mr
While not wanting to be held to creating 70 or more new
products every year, he said there was enough new work and
also design ''refreshment'' to adapt to differing country
requirements to ''expect plenty of growth'' in years ahead.
The Dunedin deal is being financed by a Dunedin City Council
contribution of $2.3 million, from the sale of unidentified,
underperforming council properties, an about $2.3 million
injection from Fisher and Paykel, and less than $1 million
from Dunedin company Golden Block Developments, which has 51%
of the Penrose Building, against 49% held by the council.
The council and GBD pay half each of the Penrose upgrade.
Giant Chinese whiteware manufacturer Haier owns Fisher and
Paykel, but all the Dunedin research and development work
goes into Fisher and Paykel-branded products, which generally
sell at the rate of about 1 million units per year.
Extra technology and design work for Haier is separately
charged back to Haier.
The Fisher and Paykel-branded units are now manufactured in
Mexico, Thailand or Italy.
In mid-2009, Haier took an initial 20% stake in debt-laden
Fisher and Paykel, and by late October 2012 had completed a
100% buy-out for about $741 million.
The company was delisted from the stock exchange later that
Mr Butler said the company had just signed a new 10-year
lease with the council for the Wall Street space, and was
negotiating for a similar lease of the Penrose space.
In the Dunedin development, about 18 car parks of Wall Street
would be redeveloped into 550sq m of expanded laboratory
space, while stages one and two of the Penrose development
would encompass the top storey of the Penrose Building and be
used by the new design and technology staff.
Fisher and Paykel chief executive Stuart Broadhurst said
expansion plans announced in February last year were
continuing to ramp up, benefiting the brand in New Zealand
''As we move towards our 80th anniversary, our growth in
research and development is continuing to accelerate, with 80
new engineering roles already in place in Dunedin and
Auckland,'' he said in a statement.
The new front-loader had attracted ''phenomenal interest'',
underpinning Fisher and Paykel's leading market position in
laundry appliances in Australia, while demand for the new
OB60 wall oven ''has exceeded expectations and attracted huge
interest across all markets'', he said.
''We'll be looking to recruit further new roles to support
the continued expansion of our research and development
operations in both cities over the next two years,
entrenching New Zealand as Fisher and Paykel's research and
He said Fisher and Paykel had just ''signed off plans'' with
Haier to redevelop a factory at its East Tamaki site to
accommodate Auckland growth in its research and development
''This new state-of-the-art facility will contain our product
development and industrial design teams and includes a full
suite of quality and standards testing laboratories,'' he
The East Tamaki facility would be running by mid-2014, and Mr
Broadhurst expected to confirm a date for Dunedin during the
next two months.
• Almost six years ago, in April 2008, Dunedin-founded Fisher
and Paykel slashed about 1000 jobs at plants worldwide,
including 430 jobs in Mosgiel, which closed the plant, and
closed plants in California and Cleveland in the United
States and in Brisbane.
At its peak, the then 22-year-old Mosgiel plant employed
600-700 workers seasonally.
Initially, about 90 design jobs moved to Dunedin. That now
stands at about 165, including fewer than 30 call-centre