What is Viking's Future?
The purchase of the Viking Range Corp. by the Middleby Corporation was announced on 12/31/2012. While there were clearly some tax reasons for this New Years Eve deal, the much bigger question for the industry is what this means for the future of the brand and its customers.
Elgin, Illinois based Middleby is a commercial cooking equipment manufacturer supplying companies such as Subway, Papa John's, and Starbucks with high speed cookers and pizza ovens. While Middleby CEO, Selim Bassoul, has built a solid record of growth in the commercial and restaurant arena, Middleby's timid forays into the consumer side of the business with Jade Ranges and Turbo-Chef's speed oven have been less than stellar. That makes the Big Gulp $380 million dollar purchase of the struggling Viking a chancy move indeed.
Bassoul wants to introduce the impressive technology that has been at the forefront of Middleby's success in the past decade into the consumer market via Viking. It sounds like a winning formula. What new products will Bassoul bring to Viking first? He's talking up a toaster that will pop out a hot golden brown toasted slice of bread in 30 seconds. It's probably going to take more than speed toast to right the Viking ship, but it looks like things are already beginning to heat up at Viking. The ink is barely dry on the Viking deal, and founder Fred Carl has departed along with 140 employees at Viking's Greenwood, Miss. headquarters.