CARSON, CA— Since its launch with Clipper Corp. in 2014, the Viking Culinary brand’s mission has been to bring professional cooking products to the home. The company is now gearing up to expand the culinary assortment as it puts a renewed focus on growing the Viking line.
To lead the charge, the company has tapped Jeff Malkasian, former president of licensed brands for Clipper Corp. Now, after re-joining the company as president, retail brands, after a stint at Epoca International, Malkasian is ready to help Clipper expand the Viking brand into new channels of retail distribution.
HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® recently spoke to Malkasian about his new position as well as the company’s strategy to grow the Viking Culinary brand.
HomeWorld Business: You’re back at Clipper. What piqued your interest and prompted you to return?
Jeff Malkasian: The Viking business is going well and what we have coming down the pike is really exciting. The energy at the company right now is just phenomenal and the knowledge the new team has. It’s an exciting time to be at Clipper with the focus we are putting on our retail brands, so I couldn’t ask for
a better opportunity.
HWB: How is this position different than your previous role at Clipper as the president of licensed brands?
JM: It’s the same role, but our focus will be centered around the Viking brand. What’s really exciting is that not only is our business growing nicely, but Viking [the appliance brand]is also growing. Everything they said they were going to do as far as driving innovation and quality into the brand, they have done and they have taken it to the next level. We are looking to do the same exact thing. We want to live up to that Viking promise of professional performance for your home. So, we want to offer a product that performs well at a good value and fits into the entire Viking lifestyle.
HWB: What are some of the growth goals you have for the brand?
JM: We are looking at launching— next year— some new innovations as far as cooking and then expanding into lifestyle a little bit more. One of the things we are looking at is how do you enhance that Viking kitchen? This year, we launched some really beautiful cutting blocks and we launched a tri-ply copper tea pot. These are things that will really enhance that Viking lifestyle.
HWB: Where is your focus for this brand going to be on the retail side?
JM: We hope to partner more with the Viking dealer family so that when someone buys a Viking range, they have access to the culinary assortment at the same time. A lot of those are independent stores, so that dovetails nicely with our focus on independent housewares retail. We are not losing sight of the independents and their importance to the brand at all. I see them as a great advocate. We can bring them innovation first because they have the ability to adapt the fastest. But, we will look to take advantage of every opportunity to make Viking product available.
HWB: What is one of the challenges you foresee in the marketplace right now for Viking and what are your plans to overcome that?
JM: There is a tremendous number of great brands out there offering fantastic products. Where we bring the differentiation is that we have an entire luxury lifestyle that our product plugs right into. The Viking lifestyle is evolving right now, especially from the point of technology. They are really taking their commercial knowledge and putting them into the residential appliances. The person that buys a Viking range today is getting something that is years ahead from a technological and innovation standpoint. It’s helping to provide great combustion with the culinary line to make that perfect meal at home.
While the Viking appliance brand still skews a little older, Millennials are very wise in their choices and quality over quantity is very important to them. So is lifestyle. And all of the things that happen in kitchens is something that Viking can answer. They may not be at the point to purchase Viking appliances, but they can still get into the lifestyle with the culinary offerings.