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The Magazine of The Electrical Goods Industry


CONNECTED PLANET The Smart Home is extending across all aspects of device and appliance connectivity. Where are the opportunities for electrical retailers?

CLEAN LIVING Keeping the home healthy is about effective cleaning, but also, with the prevalence of allergies, about maintaining air quality and a comfortable environment

GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED The old issue of screen burn is back on the agenda. George Cole talks about how to avoid it. PLUS: The growing dominance of music streaming

FROM THE BENCH Wireless communication and control systems: what can go wrong, and how to fix it


INSIDE... 04

Editorial Comment

06 The Word

In and around the industry



Product Gallery


The Connected Planet


Clean Living


George Cole Gets Connected

Hoover Vision smart integrated HD camera

Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway Telephone: 01420 886 33

Subscriptions & Circulation: (GCCD) Telephone: 01420 886 33

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Creative Director: Will Dobson

Sharon Maslen Telephone: 01892 677 742 Editorial & Publishing Director: Terry Heath Telephone: 01420 886 33

Advertisement Production Administration: Will Dobson Telephone: 01342 850 456

The Smart Home, the Internet of Things and making all the domestic connections. The opportunities are there for retailers to benefit from the growth of connected devices and appliances

From vacuum cleaning to air treatment, the maintenance of a healthy and hypoallergenic home offers a wide range of options for retailers to help their customers

Production and Print: Blackmore Press, Shaftesbury, Dorset

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher. Get Connected is published by Mud Hut Publishing Ltd, Greyfriar Cottage, Winchester Road, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire GU34 1SB.

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Screen burn’s not just a thing of the past; and the powerful tide of music streaming looks like the future

22 From the Bench

Alan Bennett looks at wireless control and connectivity networks: what can go wrong, and how to fix it





Technological advances are great. If they work. It’s a simple proposition that has relevance to our industry in particular, and also to the wider retail and business context in which we all work. Clearly, the technology we sell needs to perform to expectations, and there are problems if, in the scramble to be first, it’s not quite there yet


a broader context: I went to my local high street Indian restaurant recently to collect a takeaway, but wasn’t able to pay for it with my usual Visa debit card because Visa’s payment systems were “down” across the country. I had no cash. A quick jog along the high street to a cash machine fixed that, and I handed over the notes and left with my takeaway. A minor inconvenience perhaps, but a symptom of a serious trend that threatens to paralyse retail, commerce and domestic transactions if it’s allowed to continue. It so happens that the Federation of Small Businesses has just issued a warning that a cashpoint funding cut could threaten 10,000 ATMs. Their research shows that half small firms are already a kilometre or more from their nearest free-to-use cash machine. 15% say their nearest is at least 5 kilometres away. Imagine that: Visa not working + 1 to 5 km. to get cash = no Indian takeaway for me, no sale for the restaurant. Multiply that by all the retailers in the UK (59% of whom say cashpoints are important to their business, and that losing nearby access would “impact their ability to retain customers”) and you have a serious national retail problem. This is not just about ATMs, though. The banks’ argument that cutting branches is a result of the convenience of online banking, and everybody wins, only holds up if the technology works. Always and reliably and securely. And it doesn’t. The Dixons Carphone data breach was a disturbing failure of online security, and it took nearly a year even to discover it. TSB’s recent problems affected 1.3 billion customer transactions, not to mention the dangers of criminal activity. Similar bank system failures over the last six years or so have temporarily paralysed customers’ ability to perform any business or domestic financial transactions whatsoever, denied them access to their own money and information, and left them open to fraud and theft. It’s good to save time and money and make everything much more convenient with technology, and we all want that. But what we don’t want is for our bank – on whom we rely for every aspect of our financial life – to be telling us: “We’ve got your money but you can’t use it or even check it because the system is down” (although, bizarrely, a bunch of crooks can still steal it, and any random may see your bank account by accident when they log in to look at theirs.) We’ve managed to conduct our financial transactions quite well for centuries, though we’re not Luddite enough to claim that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” should be a mantra to stand in the way of useful technological advance. However, banks and big businesses, if they want the benefits, need to get it right much more consistently than they are managing to currently. It’s annoying that for a senior banker, whose annual salary and bonuses amount to more than the turnover of many of the SMEs they’re meant to serve, a key skill has become the ability to say “I apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience we’ve caused our customers.” Not good enough. You’re in a position where virtually all financial transactions have to go through you, so before you take away any means of conducting them, make sure the replacement works. So we’re suggesting that a more relevant mantra should be: “If it ain’t fixed, don’t use it.”




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MAY PROVIDES MUCH-NEEDED UPLIFT FOR UK RETAIL UK retail sales increased 4.1% in May, despite an “extremely challenging” retail environment, with in-store sales reportedly making a comeback.


-store non-food sales experienced their best performance since January 2016, excluding Easter distortions, but the three-month trend shows business has been tough, with a decline of 3.0% recorded by the BRC - KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. On the whole, May saw the highest growth in retail sales since January 2014, recovering some of the ground lost in April, but as Chief-Executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson pointed out: “Despite this more positive set of sales results, the retail environment remains extremely challenging, with trend growth still very low by historical standards.” Paul Martin, Head of Retail at KPMG, said May provided a “much needed uplift” to retail performance. “Two bank holiday weekends, a Royal wedding and of course sunnier spells will have been the main drivers behind the apparent rebound, with both online and high street sales thankfully up overall.” Online sales of Non-Food products grew 11.9% “The market is in May, against comparable growth of 4.3% in increasingly being May 2017, with the penetration rate increasing split into winners and to 22.4%. losers, with a number “While the month’s figures may paint a rosier of legacy players picture, there is no room for complacency,” continuing to face cautioned Martin. extremely challenging “The market is increasingly being split into conditions...” winners and losers, with a number of legacy players continuing to face extremely challenging conditions. As such, focusing on transforming businesses both operationally and financially is pivotal.”

AO World has reported continued revenue growth in both the UK and Europe for the year ended 31st March 2018, with total revenue up 13.6% to £796.8m. Group Adjusted EBITDA losses for the period rose from £2.1m in 2017 to £3.4m.


otal UK revenue increased 8.1% to £680.8m, with AO website sales in the region up 8.7% to £606.6m. The company said this growth was achieved despite the core UK MDA market experiencing overall lower volumes yearon-year, set against an environment of lower consumer confidence associated with the Brexit process. UK Adjusted EBITDA fell from £24.4m last year to £22.6m in the year to March 2018, impacted mainly by higher marketing costs in the first half and a consistently competitive pricing environment. Revenue in Europe for the period increased 54.8% on a constant currency basis to €131.2m, despite minimal traditional marketing activity, the company said. Adjusted EBITDA losses for the region fell to €29.6m from €31.5m in 2017 with continued investment in European expansion. The Group recorded an operating loss of £16.2m (2017: £12.0m loss). Operating profit for the UK fell 25.4% to £11.6m, while operating losses for Europe remained broadly the same in sterling at £27.8m. Steve Caunce, AO Chief Executive Officer, said: “The new financial year has started well in both the UK and Europe, with UK revenue growth returning to double-digit levels against prior year. “Whilst we remain cautious on outlook given economic and competitive pressures on the UK electricals market we are confident of achieving our stated goals of future growth in the years ahead.”

92 DIXONS CARPHONE STORES TO CLOSE Electrical goods and mobile telephone retailer Dixons Carphone has announced that 92 of its current 700-plus Carphone Warehouse stores will close this year, following a warning that profits would fall sharply this year and a near-20% drop in Dixons Carphone shares.


re-tax profits for 2017-18 are forecast at around £382 million, but the company’s predictions for 2018-19 are that pre-tax profits will drop to around £300 million. It’s clear that the changes in consumer buying habits have hit the mobile phones and services market in the UK, with long-term mobile contracts declining and handset upgrades being less frequently chosen. Chief executive Alex Baldock, who took on the role earlier this year, is quoted as saying “nobody is happy with our performance,” but that a focus on “early action in the UK” could fix the current problems. “We won’t tolerate our current performance in mobile, or as a group,” he said. “We know we can do a lot better. Eight weeks in the business have cemented my optimism about Dixons Carphone’s long-term prospects. I’ve found exceptional strengths, and though there’s plenty to fix, it’s all fixable.” As well as the changing market in mobile phones and services, Dixons Carphone is also expecting – and budgeting for – a contraction in the UK electrical goods market. The company has confirmed that no jobs will be lost relating to the store closures.






JOHN LEWIS CHELTENHAM BEGINS RECRUITMENT DRIVE John Lewis has begun inviting applications for around 300 new jobs at its store in Cheltenham, which opens this autumn.


he retailer is looking for Partners to fill full-time and part-time positions within the shop. These include selling & service assistants, customer support Partners, catering assistants and operations assistants. Successful applicants will become Partners and co-owners of the business and will receive a range of benefits including an annual bonus, access to holiday and leisure facilities, and opportunities to build skills outside of work. Martin Bundy, Branch Manager for the new store, said: “Our Partnership model is right at the heart of our business and Partners have a say in how it’s run. “Having joined the Partnership over 18 years ago as a sales assistant, I have experienced first hand the investment the business makes in its Partners. I am confident the Partners who join us in Cheltenham will also have fulfilling careers with John Lewis.” The 115,000 sq ft Cheltenham store represents a £23m investment by the retailer and will open on the high street in the old Beechwood shopping centre on 18 October 2018. Applicants for roles at the store should apply via



he KPGM/Ipsos Retail Think Tank has published a “white paper” examining the future of retail in the UK in 2018, and has concluded that, with “higher costs, lower demand and over capacity” highlighted as the prevailing trends, alongside the ongoing structural changes in the industry, difficulties in the sector were only likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and therefore retailers need to take an “adapt or perish” mentality. Dr Tim Denison, Retail Think Tank Co-Chair and Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said that the first quarter had been one of the worst for non-food retail that he could remember, “as bad as 2008 and 2009 but for different reasons.” Martin Newman, Chairman of Practicology, stated that the main difference between then and now is that: “…pressure on retailers from the migration of consumers online has massively increased. Long leases on stores that can’t maintain footfall and the fierce price and proposition competitiveness online are combining with Brexit and consumer uncertainty to make a perfect storm.” The conclusions of the report include the assertion that “many of the drivers of change have been longstanding – it’s only the pace of change that has been accelerated by recent economic and geopolitical events. Those [retailers] that persist in swimming in the seas of

“Those [retailers] that persist in swimming in the seas of sameness and legacy will risk drowning.”

sameness and legacy will risk drowning. The boring, the undifferentiated, the unremarkable, the irrelevant stores, disconnected from the needs of today’s shoppers, will perish.” RTT member Martin Newman said that “cost cutting in this environment is inevitable, but it’s not enough to save a business that is struggling with fundamental structural changes in its market, as well as weaker consumer demand.” While Jonathan De Mello, Head of Retail Consultancy, Harper Dennis Hobbs, highlighted that “there are always winners as well as losers when a retailer fails. From the ashes of retailers failing in 2018, new brands will rise – likely with leaner business models and seamless integration with online and mobile commerce”.


national Awards scheme celebrating the hard work that goes into high street retailing is now open for entries. The Inspired Awards acknowledge and reward retailers and their staff in twelve categories, judged by a panel of “industry-leading experts,” with a separate Customer Service champion category being voted for by the public. Marketing categories include: The Outstanding Contribution to Retail Award; Most Innovative Digital Engagement; Consumers’ Choice Award; Best Use of Social Media; Best Store Manager; Best Point of Sale; Best NonFashion Retail Concept; Best Digital Launch; Best Brand Display; Best In-Store Graphic; Best Independent Window Display; Best Chain Window Display. Julian Fisher, CEO of JISP, key sponsor of Inspired Awards, said: “The High Street is where the magic happens – it’s a place deeply ingrained in all of our hearts and minds. We are extremely proud to help support retailers, their staff and customers who are investing their valuable time, energy and passion to innovate the brick-and-mortar they love.” The Inspired Awards will take place at Madame Tussaud’s in London on 16 May 2019. Closing date for nominations is 31 December 2018. All Awards are free to enter. Retailers are invited to find more information at:







Letter to the Editor With so much advice being thrown at retailers about creating “theatre” and offering a “great retail experience,” it’s useful to be reminded that the greatest retail experience a consumer can have is to find something they really want, buy it and take it home. John Reddington, an avid reader and supporter of the electrical trade press and a man of considerable industry experience, wrote to Get Connected to share some of his own shopping experiences and the retail lessons they suggest:


read your editorials every month with great interest. They are topical and always seem to reflect the wider issues of the commercial world, not only in our industry but in other industries, which I find interesting and stimulating. Your May issue is particularly topical regarding the ongoing concern about the current state of the retail business. “Yes, of course” parking costs in town centres is part of the problem; and “yes” greedy landlords are also making it very difficult, not only for multiplies but also for the independents, to branch out with innovative retail concepts. These two issues are the ones that most journalists in the National Press seem to write about. However, as a man who still accompanies his wife on various shopping excursions, a couple of my own retail experiences might be of interest to some of your readers. The first occurred in a department store in Berkshire which my wife, Chris, and I visited looking to purchase two shirts for me. Due to my age and eyesight I need – like a lot of guys my age – to buy shirts that have a top pocket. I was inspecting the shirt displays and was approached by a salesman, himself over 50, who asked me what I was particularly looking for. I explained I was looking for a couple of shirts with top pockets but I couldn’t seem to find any in the store. He said this wasn’t a “fashionable” item any more, and that shirts with top pockets were not currently stocked. I then looked at him and noticed he had a shirt with a top pocket with his glasses in it. “That’s interesting,” I said. “You are wearing a shirt with a pocket “Moral of and you are doing exactly what the story: stock I do. You have your glasses in a range; buy for all your pocket! Surely there is ages (especially the 40+ a market for this product.” I then asked him just to have a generation, those with the look around the department most disposable income); store and tell me how many educate your buyers people he could see on this to think on a broad floor who were under 40. He basis.” looked around (the store was busy, by the way) and admitted: “You have a point. I can’t see

anybody under 40.” I then said: “I bet that the shirt buyer for this store is under 35. Am I right?” He agreed. To end this little episode, a week later I visited an independent men’s outfitters in Bournemouth and, lo and behold, this was an independent who had an abundance of shirts with pockets. So he made the sale that the multiple department store was unable to satisfy. Moral of the story: stock a range; buy for all ages (especially the 40+ generation, those with the most disposable income); educate your buyers to think on a broad basis. The second occurrence was at a gathering of friends. The men were talking about football, and the ladies were talking about Marks & Spencer, in the light of recent publicity about Julian Richer becoming the new adviser to M&S, and the apparent further decline in M&S’s turnover and profits. The men latched on to this discussion, and it was made very clear by the ladies that they all used to do a considerable amount of clothes shopping at M&S; not just underwear but clothes in general. M&S’s buying principles have changed, and instead of keeping their target audience (loyal to them in their 30/40s), our group of ladies seemed to think that the purchasing department in M&S had decided it would be a good idea to try and target the younger element. In doing so, turning their backs on what had been their long-term loyal customers. We see this problem not only in retail but with the banks and insurance companies, and maybe even with businesses such as Sky and BUPA, who take for granted their existing clientele in favour of recruiting new customers at better terms than their loyal existing customer base. Refreshing, therefore, to read Julian Richer’s new book “The Ethical Capitalist” showing how some of the common-sense principles of retailing are employed in his very successful chain of HiFi stores. Let’s sincerely hope that M&S takes on board his advice, and his understanding of the needs and requirements of the customers and the retail store staff. The independent retailer will and can succeed… No problem! John Reddington Founder, Big Red Sales

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DIXONS CARPHONE OWNS UP TO “HUGE” DATA BREACH Dixons Carphone, which has seen big changes at the top this year as Finance Director Humphrey Singer, CEO Seb James and UK & Ireland CEO Katie Bickerstaffe departed in quick succession, prior to an announcement at the end of last month that 92 stores were to close, revealed on 13th June that a “huge” data breach potentially involving 5.9 million payment cards and 1.2 million personal data records had just come to light.


lthough the hacking attempt reportedly began nearly a year ago, in July 2017, the company said it was only discovered a week prior to its disclosure and is being investigated. The hackers attempted to access a Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores processing system, but there is “no evidence” that any of the 5.9 million cards has been fraudulently used. The majority of the potentially compromised cards were protected with chip & pin. This is a further challenge for relatively new Chief Executive Alex Baldock, already coping with a profits warning, the announcement that 92 stores were to close, and a drop in the company’s share price.

Shares fell another 3% in afternoon trading on news of the data breach. If there is any grain of comfort, it is that this breach occurred before the new GDPR legislation came into force with its massively increased penalties. In 2015, before the merger of Carphone Warehouse and Dixons, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office fined Carphone Warehouse £400,000 for a data breach. A statement issued by the company said: “As part of a review of our systems and data, we have determined that there has been unauthorised access to certain data held by the company. We promptly launched an investigation, engaged leading cyber security experts and added extra



he John Lewis Partnership has acquired home improvement project management firm Opun with a view to strengthening its position in the home services market and complementing its home product range. The firm will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of JLP and the Opun brand will be retained. Sean Allam, director of commercial operations at John Lewis, said: “Opun’s commitment to end-to-end customer service chimes with our values, and we think it’s a great fit for John Lewis customers.”

SHORTCUTS The Kitchen & Bathroom Buying Group has partnered with German manufacturer of premium major domestic appliances Küppersbusch to provide KBBG members with a growing choice of suppliers. Rangemaster has signed an agreement with buying group Sirius to become an Approved Supplier to the group, giving the brand’s product ranges of domestic appliances, sinks and taps access to Sirius’ UK network of independent retail outlets. Distributor Nuvias has signed a UK & Ireland distribution agreement with audio equipment brand Sennheiser, under which Nuvias will distribute products from Sennheiser’s Enterprise Solutions portfolio including personal communications, meeting and online conferencing products.

Chinese household robotics brand ECOVACS ROBOTICS, which expanded into Europe in 2012 and last year opened a UK office, has launched its Initial Public Offering of 40.1 million shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The company plans to build four million robots and an internet ecosystem with the funds raised. Toshiba TVs has become Principal Partner of England & Great Britain Men’s Hockey 2018, and an Official Partner of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018.

“The majority of the potentially compromised cards were protected with chip & pin.”

security measures to our systems. We have taken action to close off this access and have no evidence it is continuing. We have no evidence to date of any fraudulent use of the data as result of these incidents. We have also informed the relevant authorities including the ICO, FCA and the police.”



xertis – distributor of technology products for the B2B, mobile and retail markets – is moving into the distribution of core electrical products. The category will sit within the company’s Consumer Business Unit and will be headed up by Harriet Croft (pictured) who has joined from Argos. “Whilst core electrical Harriet Croft is an established market, there are numerous opportunities within this sector with a huge range of products that span both existing and new product areas,” said Liam La Cumbre, Exertis consumer commercial director. “Our research and analysis of the market demonstrates that vendors and our retail customers would welcome the efficiencies, expertise and additional reach that we can provide in the distribution of these products.” The core electricals market is worth in excess of £21 billion annually (Retail Economics), and Exertis will initially focus on the Small Domestic Appliance (SDA) and Electronic Personal Care (EPC) categories. New vendors and products will be announced in due course with the intention of building a high-quality portfolio.








he BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and network operator Arqiva – Digital UK’s four shareholders – have announced a new five-year agreement to accelerate Freeview’s transition to a fully hybrid platform, with a combined investment of over £125 million to secure the future of free-to-view live and on-demand TV. The collaboration builds on the success of Freeview Play, which claims the position of UK market leader in free-to-view connected TV with more than 3.5 million products sold in the UK since the service’s 2015 launch. Digital UK will lead on implementing the new strategy, focusing on product development and working closely with sister organisation Freeview on a refreshed marketing approach and brand positioning. Key areas of development will include:

 A new mobile app enabling viewers to access live and on-demand content on a range of smartphones and tablets, launching later this year  Restart functionality allowing viewers switching on mid-way through a programme to watch from the start using catch-up links built into the Freeview Play TV guide  Improved navigation through voice search and further evolution of the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) on televisions Digital UK said the agreement to invest in developing Freeview as a fully hybrid platform reflects the continuing strength of linear TV but also the growth of on-demand viewing. Ofcom recently highlighted challenges created by new players



lovenian domestic appliance manufacturer Gorenje, which has been seeking a strategic partner for some time, has announced that Chinese white goods and electronics group Hisense has been identified as the best bidder among the three Asian companies that had submitted binding offers. The other two bidders were identified in local media reports as the Chinese home appliance maker Haier Group and Hefei Meiling Co Ltd. Based on the number of existing shares in late March, the deal will exceed €146.5 million for the agreed acquisition of 50% plus one share. Gorenje’s shares gained 66%, up to €11.3, on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

Gorenje, having reported a fall in net profit of 84% in 2017, “due to cost pressures and strong competition,” has been seeking a strategic partner “to increase cost efficiency and strengthen the brand.” With the Chinese appliances market reaching near saturation, domestic manufacturers are looking to overseas markets, including Europe, to fuel business growth, and acquisition is seen as the quickest route to access new markets. Zhou Houjian, chairman of Hisense, is already on record as saying the company is targeting the middle and high-end sectors of the market, and that “Hisense is counting on overseas markets for future growth.”



hirlpool has moved to reassure owners of Hotpoint fridge freezers with the model numbers FF175BP and FF175BG that the products continue to be safe to use as normal. The company said the appliances have been rigorously tested and analysed since it was suggested that the Grenfell Tower fire may have originated in the vicinity of a Hotpoint FF175BP model, and that two separate investigations have been undertaken – one led by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and a second led by product safety experts at Whirlpool Corporation. Both investigations independently found no evidence of any fault with the model FF175BP or its colour variant FF175BG. They also confirmed that the models fully complied with all legal, safety and regulatory requirements. BEIS announced that, based on these findings, it had advised Whirlpool there is no reason to undertake




a recall or any other kind of corrective action, and confirmed that there is no reason to change the advice previously given to consumers that they may continue to use these appliances as normal. Following the Grenfell fire, Whirlpool took the precautionary step of inviting consumers who owned these models to contact them and register their details so they could be reached if it was necessary to provide further information. Whirlpool spokesperson Jeff Noel said: “Nothing matters more to us than people’s safety. We wish to reassure consumers that these models are safe and that people may continue to use them as normal.” Noel added that Whirlpool fully co-operated with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as it undertook its full and thorough investigations, and is committed to assisting the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in any way it can as it sets out to examine all the potential causes of the fire and how it spread.

such as Netflix and Amazon, calling for more industry collaboration to maintain the prominence of Public Service Broadcasting content on connected TV interfaces. Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK, said the new commitment from shareholders is a major boost for UK viewers. “Building on this spirit of collaboration, we will not only safeguard free-to-view TV but reinvent it for a new age of viewing.”



taly’s Candy Group, owner of the Candy, Hoover and Rosières brands, has announced a net profit of €2.2 million for its 2017 financial year. Revenues amounted to €1.148 billion, up from €1.006 billion in the previous year. The company said the result confirms for the second consecutive year that it is the group which has grown the most in Europe in the MDA market. Turnover was largely achieved within the EU, with the UK (21%), France (18%), Italy (17%), the Iberian Peninsula (6.5%) and Germany (4.5%) playing “a leading role” together with Russia, which is currently said to be growing strongly. The privately-owned business, which is controlled by the Fumagalli family, said it is aiming to reach €2 billion within the next four years. €105 million in investments to support the Group’s innovation and growth, and further investment specifically dedicated to marketing and communication, have been allocated in the firm’s 2017-2019 business plan. €15 million has been invested in the launch of a new production unit in Turkey which is dedicated to the manufacture of intelligent household appliances. “The positive results of 2017 confirm the growth of Candy Group, which for the second year in a row has confirmed to be the group that grows the most in Europe in the market of large household appliances,” said Candy Group CEO Beppe Fumagalli.




eko’s mission to raise awareness of childhood obesity in partnership with longstanding partner FC Barcelona via the brand’s #EatLikeaPro campaign raised €1,000,000 for UNICEF in just 11 days. Beko said it had “an overwhelming amount of support” on social media from people across the globe. The funds will help children worldwide through various UNICEF programmes.

Stephen Lamb

Midwich has announced the appointment of Stephen Lamb (pictured) as Group Finance Director. He joins the Board on 30th July 2018, succeeding Tony Bailey, who steps down from the role and from the Board on 30th June.

Hoover Candy Group has appointed Bobby Watkins to the position of sales and marketing director for small domestic appliances. He joins the company from tech firms such as Sony and Acer, where he spent eight years as general manager and seven years as the UK managing Bobby Watkins director respectively.


Smeg has announced the promotion of Laura Green to Trade Marketing Manager, with primary responsibility for overseeing the brand’s newly-formed Smeg Collective, an Laura Green initiative to support quality independent electrical retailers and high-end kitchen studios.

Sound United LLC, whose brands include Denon®, Marantz®, Polk Audio® and Definitive Technology®, has announced the appointment of Bart Diederik Muller as Senior Vice President Bart Muller of commercial operations Europe. He succeeds Terry O'Connell, who retires 30th September 2018 after nearly three decades of service.

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McIntosh introduces high-end CD/SACD player McIntosh Laboratories’ MCD600 SACD/CD Player is built around a newly designed digital circuit which encompasses a new premium-quality 8-channel, 32-bit upsampling PCM/DSD digital-to-analogue converter (DAC). The DAC is used in Quad Balanced mode, with 4 DAC channels allocated to each of the left and right audio channels. All PCM signals are up-sampled up to 32-bit/384kHz.

New Montpellier fridge freezer launch supports Prostate Cancer Montpellier has added to it range of mini retro under-counter fridge freezers with the launch of a model finished in Pure Blue. The A+ rated MAB2030PB offers a 60-litre fridge/26-litre freezer capacity, and for every model sold, Montpellier will donate £3 to Prostate Cancer UK.

White TV range from Mitchell & Brown Mitchell & Brown has introduced a range of TV products finished in white and is supporting the launch with a “1 to show and 1 to go” offer enabling independent retailers to benefit from a 10% discount on TVs for display when they place an order. The range comprises a 32" TV/DVD Combi and LED models in 28", 32" and 40" screen sizes.

Whirlpool adds washer dryers to FreshCare+ laundry collection Whirlpool has introduced a new range of washer dryers as part of its FreshCare+ laundry collection. A-rated model FWDD117168W benefits from an 11kg wash and 7kg drying capacity and a quick 45-minute wash and dry programme. The range also comprises capacities of 10 kg wash/7 kg dry and 8 kg wash/6 kg dry, with all benefiting from the brand’s patented 6TH SENSE® technology.





Kopparberg Drinks Cooler from Husky The HUS-HU237 Kopparberg Drinks Cooler from Husky Lifestyle features a black cabinet sporting images of three Kopparberg cider flavours on the side and the Kopparberg logo on the door. The unit has an adjustable thermostat, double-glazed door and a 46-litre capacity which offers storage for up to 40 x 330/440ml cans.

Outdoor adventures with Panasonic’s LUMIX FT7 Panasonic’s compact Lumix FT7 is geared towards fans of outdoor adventures. The unit is waterproof up to 31m/102ft, shockproof to 2m/6.6ft, freezeproof to -10°C, dustproof and pressure resistant to 100kg/220lbf, and billed as the “perfect rugged companion” for all extreme experiences.

MeacoCool portable air conditioners Manufacturer and distributor of air treatment appliances Meaco’s new range of portable air conditioners will make light of summer’s hot and humid conditions. The MeacoCool range incorporates compact products that weigh under 30kg and are suitable for use in a home or small office. They provide localised cooling in rooms from 15–28m².

New freestanding cookers from Amica Amica UK’s new range of 50cm and 60cm freestanding cookers offers a choice of three hob types – solid plate electric, induction or traditional gas – and the option of dual fuel or all gas models finished in black or black/stainless steel. The appliances have a spacious main oven and second smaller cavity, with some also featuring a storage drawer.

01949 862010 |



Time was when a “smart home” meant Artex ceilings and an avocado bathroom suite, and a machine that could actually wash clothes was considered clever. Times change, and we have embraced not only the American cultural imperialism that has changed the meaning of “smart”, but also the idea that smart appliances and connected homes are the way to a better 21st century life. In many cases, it’s true. George Cole and the GC Team look at the real opportunities now and into the future

Bringing the home “Independent retailers need not see smart appliances as a separate type of product to sell”

A Whirlpool dryer so smart it’s worked out it’s more comfortable in the living-room





hen “smart” moved on from its early niche origins to embrace the vision of a whole network of internetconnected home appliances – from fridges to coffee machines, cookers to washing machines – that could be controlled and interrogated by the householder, and potentially communicate with each other, the Internet of Things (IoT) became a reality, and opened up a whole new future for the domestic electrical industry, full of opportunities and complications. Where are the opportunities for retailers? And what are the difficulties and complications that the entire industry needs to address in maximising those opportunities?



“More and more are becoming aware of the day-to-day benefits connected appliances bring”

Companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Sonos, Hive and Nest offer a wide range of smart home products and platforms, from speakers to security cameras and thermostats, to heating and lighting systems. Traditional consumer electronics companies are marketing a range of smart home products that include televisions, speakers and sound bars. No surprise, then, that manufacturers of white goods and small appliances are completing the home connectivity picture, putting the technology into washing machines, cookers, fridges and small appliances. In many homes, the smart speaker has become the digital hub, allowing consumers to select music, search the web, shop online, access news, and also control other devices. OC&C Strategy Consultants says one in ten UK households owns a smart speaker, with this figure expected to reach 48% by 2022. Current market leader is Amazon’s Echo range of speakers with Alexa voice control, but Google Assistant and Bixby voice control are also widely used and are part of the domestic white and brown goods voice control environment. There has also been some progress towards making devices and appliances compatible with different voice control systems, but there is more work to be done on bringing universality across appliance brands and platforms in the home. Lucia Seston-Ferdinand, Sony’s sound product manager UK & Ireland, says: “As more and more smart home technologies enter the market, consumers are looking for an all-inone product that works as a digital hub to control and connect these smart devices in the home.” Sony’s Smart LF-S50G smart speaker has Google Assistant built-in, and a firmware update means that Amazon Alexa-enabled devices can now control Sony 4K HDR BRAVIA TV models with Android TV. Voice control is similarly established across the consumer electronics environment for all major brands, and whilst talking to an electronic device to

access information and entertainment is not quite the norm, it has certainly been accepted as normal.

I HEAR YOU It’s taken a little longer to identify and build in the benefits of connectivity – including voice control – to white goods and small appliances, but the practical uses, rather than the gimmicks, are now being identified and addressed. As Donald Shepherd, Marketing Director at Beko plc, says: “We don’t believe in developing tech for tech sake. We’ve seen with the success of Siri and Alexa that voice control is becoming an accepted way of interacting with your devices, so we believe this is definitely an area for growth. We believe collaboration with connected innovators is essential. As well as investing in innovation and technology, we also closely monitor market and consumer trends – providing us clear areas of focus for technology development. “From 2019, voice control tech will be available across the majority of our brands. Consumers will be able to control their home appliances through Amazon’s voice activation system Alexa, with the ability to turn these appliances on and off, and monitor the progress of washing and cooking programmes simply by asking.” Steve Macdonald, marketing director, Freestanding Division, Hoover Candy UK, says: “AI [Artificial Intelligence] voice technology is the next big thing in connected appliances. This is thanks to the popularity of voice-assist technology such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and even Apple’s Siri – which are all controlled by speech. Consumers are beginning to understand some of the many benefits of this kind of innovation. “July will see the launch of Hoover’s first artificially intelligent washing machine – Hoover AXI. One of our most innovative launches to date, the voice assist functionality allows users to choose or set wash programmes, ask for suggestions about the best programme or even ask for stain removal advice – all by speech.”

Hoover Vision: Choosing an app from the cooker

Whirlpool brand manager Catherine Balderson is equally convinced of the future role of voice control in the smart home. “According to Euromonitor International,” she says, “66% of consumers have access to a digital personal assistant, via a smartphone, and it is expected that voice-controlled digital assistants will enhance consumer’s interactions and experiences. Further market research has highlighted that voice control and artificial intelligence is growing at a fast pace in the entertainment industry and that this trend is likely to influence the smart shares of other markets, such as major domestic appliances, as well as increase the adoption of the smart home.” The current convenience of Whirlpool’s connected appliances, she adds, “is also set to get even better through the addition of Google Assistant, which offers hands-free voice interaction. At EuroCucina, Whirlpool demonstrated this capability with a new built-in oven, soon to be introduced to the UK market.”

SMART CROSSOVERS The traditional distinction between the technologies in consumer electronics and domestic appliances is becoming less defined as “whole home” connectivity and control embraces domestic chores as well as entertainment and information. Manufacturers with a background in both brown and white

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wash programme. This is great for consumers that mostly wash all their laundry on the same programme, which may have led to clothes shrinking or colour running in the past.” And at Smeg, there are “plans to launch its first collection of connected appliances this summer, offering retailers the opportunity to provide their consumers with a wealth of choice at different price points. We’re starting off with a connected wine cooler, oven and dishwasher, which will be drip fed throughout the course of 2018 (the wine cooler being the first to roll out this summer).”


A smart speaker to match your breadboard

goods are seeing the benefits. Carolyn Anderson, LG’s UK marketing director, says: “Our ThinQ products allow users to connect with multiple LG devices through the LG SmartThinQ app – making it easier to monitor and control home electronics products from one place, at the swipe of a finger. For example, SmartThinQ allows customers to use their smartphones to monitor and control an LG SIGNATURE refrigerator equipped with SmartThinQ . However, we also understand that consumers will want to interact with their smart home in a number of different ways. That’s why our products also allow users to use both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.” At CES 2018, LG presented its vision for the connected smart kitchen, including the InstaView ThinQ refrigerator, EasyClean oven range and QuadWash dishwasher. The InstaView ThinQ refrigerator is part of LG’s new ThinQ range of home appliances which feature artificial intelligence and other connected technologies, as well as being Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled. Using AI, the refrigerator can suggest recipes based on the items stored in the fridge and also works with the ThinQ connected oven to send a step-bystep guide for cooking food. Samsung says: “Our Smart Home services are based on our SmartThings app. Our app brings simplicity and connectivity to a wide range of smart devices so our users can easily and securely control their homes, and is available to download now from the Samsung Galaxy App, Google Play and Apple App Stores. This will make it even easier to connect and control hundreds of devices directly by phone, TV, or car – all from a single application.” Samsung says it has hundreds of compatible appliances within its Smart Home range, including TVs, washing machines and robot vacuum cleaners. Samsung’s Family Hub 3.0 can be activated with Bixby voice control, so users talk to their fridge, which will provide a read out of the news, weather and calendar updates specifically




What are the opportunities for retailers from this bridgehead into a new, connected, smart home era, and do consumers understand and want what’s on offer? LG’s Anderson says: “Whilst many consumers may not be entirely familiar with the concept of the smart home, more and more are becoming aware of the day-to-day benefits connected appliances bring. According to PWC’s latest Global Consumer Insights survey, 14% of Brits own a smart home device and 25% who don’t own one plan to buy one in the future. These statistics are testament to how smart appliances are becoming very much a part of our lives and will continue to play a bigger role.” Sony’s Seston-Ferdinand adds: “Not only do most consumers understand the smart home concept, they’re embracing it. As more and more connected devices enter the market, consumers can create a complete smart home eco-system through a single hub, meaning fewer wires, remotes and fuss. Consumers are always looking for products that enhance their living experience and as such there is a lot of excitement around the smart home concept.” As Whirlpool’s Balderson points out: “With eight in 10 consumers aware of the connected home, consumers may now expect to see smart appliances in store. Interestingly, however, 60% of the population claim they do not entirely know what the connected home really entails. This revelation puts the electrical retailer in a positive position to demonstrate their expertise, as 40% of consumers further agree that a lack of knowledge of products available is the main reason holding them back from spending.

“One in ten UK households owns a smart speaker”

tailored to the user. The Dual Cook Flex has Wi-Fi capabilities and a compatible smartphone app, with remote oven monitoring and control. But it is not only the CE-savvy manufacturers who hold the “wholehome” vision, as white goods manufacturers develop expertise in the various smart home connectivity disciplines. Beko’s Donald Shepherd promises: “At the moment we’re focusing on developing a full smart home experience with connected appliances throughout the home, not just in the kitchen, including refrigerators, dishwashers, built in ovens, hobs/hoods, washing machines, dryers and small appliances, such as Bean to Cup coffee machines, but also out of the kitchen: home automation, entertainment and wellness products. We have products ready to launch and we will announce our launch plans in the coming months.” Hoover Candy UK’s Steve Macdonald adds: “It’s about showing the consumer how this technology can provide innovative, caring solutions. Other examples include an oven that can store and remember recipes, or a washing machine that can check the weather forecast and remind you that it’s a good day for line drying. Some products can even memorise household activities or routines, like football training or exercise classes on a particular night of the week, meaning it can suggest the best

Whirlpool Supreme Care washer & dryer: OK, relax, we’ve got this


“Electrical retailers have a superb opportunity with these changing times and to garner new and future sales opportunities. Connected appliances offer innovations that bring genuine lifestyle benefits and crucial economic improvements to the consumer, which are real upsell opportunities for the retailer.” Training is an important part of seizing the opportunity, adds Balderson: “Many consumers may be under the impression that smart technology is a gimmick. However, with the right training, staff can easily ‘switch-on’ consumers to the incredibly valuable lifestyle benefits the appliances offer. Research demonstrates that customers will purchase smart appliances that they understand, with 85% of respondents admitting that knowing how to interact with the features and functions would be the most important consideration before making a purchase. This subsequent research validates the need for retailers to be fully fluent and engage with smart appliances. Positioning themselves as a point of expertise will leave a lasting impression with the customer. “The benefit of smart appliances to the independent electrical retailer is that they cannot be effectively demonstrated on the internet, making for an even greater opportunity for the electrical retailer. By taking ownership of the technology, opening up the showroom to become an experience and engaging centre, inviting customers to touch and feel the appliances, the entrepreneurial retailer can really take advantage of breaking into a new market.” Beko’s Shepherd also emphasises the importance of retail expertise and training for face-to-face customer interactions. “Whilst more large-appliance purchases are being made online,” he says, “we believe that prospective connected appliance buyers will want to see an appliance in person before reaching a decision. This gives retailers in our industry the opportunity to convert browsers into buyers. When making a purchase in-store it is essential that retailers know their product inside out and can match the right product to their customer’s needs; this will encourage repeat business and valuable feedback to friends, who then come into store. It’s going to become increasingly important for retailers to have an area in-store dedicated to smart/connected appliances. And for Hoover Candy UK’s Macdonald it’s also about face-to-face explanation and demonstration: “Consumers don’t always fully appreciate how much smart appliances can do for them, but retailers are best placed to explain the advantages. The tangible benefits of remote control access can be better explained and demonstrated through conversations with the customer that help retailers understand

“AI voice technology is the next big thing in connected appliances”

the problems they experience. For example, do they often forget to switch the washing machine on/off on the way out of the house? Or struggle to decide which washing programme to use for either stain removal or lowering energy consumption? Smart appliances can offer solutions to all of these problems. Consumers understanding that kind of innovation is there to help and is not, by any means, a gimmick, is one of the biggest barriers for retailers to boost their sales of connected appliances. Demonstrations on the back of understanding each consumers’ needs is key to overcoming this.”

GETTING IT RIGHT IN-STORE Manufacturers’ advice to retailers, backed by training support, centres on knowledge of the products and the specific benefits they can offer customers, and the ability to demonstrate them. Perhaps particularly important is the advice from LG’s Anderson is to make smart home appliances a “normal” 21st century progression, and that “independent retailers need not see smart appliances as a separate type of product to sell, but should focus on highlighting the direct consumer benefits the smart technologies and features of the product bring. Seeing is believing, and demonstrations will always be the first hook that catches a customer’s attention.” Price is also cited by some manufacturers as a barrier to purchase, but, as with all products, it is a case of pitching the product to the specific customer, and presenting benefits that are worth the outlay to achieve convenience and lifestyle aspirations. Security frequently comes up as a question, and it’s worth retailers familiarising themselves with manufacturers’ policies, statements and practical measures to keep appliances as safe as possible from malicious hacking, and also to clarify the integrity of the data that is gathered through usage of smart products in the home. Finally, an issue that always arises when manufacturers are pressing ahead with innovative technology in a competitive environment is that of interoperability. A

Hoover Vision: See how the dinner’s doing without getting up

consumer who already owns smart devices or appliances would much prefer not to be tied into a single brand or platform to build up to a fully connected home. This is where co-operation over common standards is, as we’ve seen in so many areas of consumer electronics, so important. Whirlpool believes that “a major issue is the disjointed nature of the market; few manufacturers have addressed the issue of connecting the abundant smart, connected appliances together.” And the company claims IFTTT compatibility, a “powerful, cloud-based, web service that makes it possible for everyday users to connect a wide range of apps, services and products, helping to forge links between the digital services that we all depend on daily and allowing them to work together,” may be an answer. Whirlpool claims to be “one of the first appliance manufacturers in Europe to launch appliances that can ‘talk’ to other apps and connected products.” The Open Connectivity Foundation, founded in 2016 and now with some 300 members including tech companies and domestic manufacturers such as Electrolux, LG, Haier, Canon, Samsung, at least offers reassurances that major companies are working together to give consumers a wide choice, one of its stated aims being to “make the end user’s experience better by seamlessly bridging to other ecosystems within a user’s smart home and ensure interoperability with OCF compliant devices.” It’s a laudable and reassuring initiative, and it, or something like it, may be the key to unlocking the full potential of the smart home. Nest keeping an eye on the house





e th a e r B CLEAN LIVING

With consumers becoming more aware of the air quality in their homes and the number of people suffering from allergies growing year-on-year, GC looks at the opportunities for retailers selling appliances that help keep homes free from allergy inducers


Pifco 10-litre Portable Dehumidifier Your customers can control humidity and protect their homes from harmful bacteria with this 10-litre dehumidifier. Boasting a 2.2-litre tank capacity, this dehumidifier will rid even large rooms of damp, mould and moisture, and its quiet operation ensures minimal disturbance when in use. The auto defrost function prevents the water from freezing in cooler temperatures, to enhance durability, whilst the integrated carry handle and wheels allow for easy portability from room to room, making this dehumidifier practical as well as useful.

he UK is reportedly one of the top three countries in the world for the highest incidence of allergy – costing the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds per year on primary care and hospital 0333 220 6070 | admissions – the most common being seasonal allergic rhinitis, more widely known as hay fever, from which one in four of the population suffers. And while we can’t rid the outside air of grass pollen, the most common cause of hay fever, it is worth bearing in House dust mites can be the cause of both asthma and mind that pollen drifts indoors and can live in carpets eczema and are the major trigger for indoor allergies, for up to 2–3 months. followed by pet dander and mould, which also serve to “Every year Another bugbear for allergy sufferers is the exacerbate the problem of dust mites. the sales and proliferative dust mite, which thrives particularly well enquiries for EDUCATION in mattresses and bedding, but is equally happy air purifiers and Lee Stones, senior product marketing manager for living in carpets and soft dehumidifiers with Xpelair, points to figures from Asthma UK showing furnishings. that 5.4 million people in the UK are currently better air filtration receiving treatment for asthma – one in 11 children and are doubling” one in 12 adults – and up to 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from hay fever. “Clearly,” he says, “there is a huge opportunity not only to drive sales of products that tackle this issue, but to educate consumers about their benefits. In some cases an air purifier or dehumidifier will be a replacement purchase, but so often it is something that a customer didn’t even know they needed. Highlight the issue faced by so many allergy, asthma and hay fever sufferers, then present the solution. “Dedicated product knowledge is one of the main ways in which bricks and mortar retailers – particularly independent retailers – can hold their own against the growing threat of online competition. The most important thing is to be able to understand and then address the challenges faced by customers.”

MODERN-DAY LIVING Amongst those challenges, Stones highlights increasingly stringent Building Regulations, a drive towards energy efficiency and increased insulation options for existing properties, which he says mean that homes have become more “wrapped up” than ever before. “Whilst these measures are ideal for reducing heating bills, inadequate ventilation can increase Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), mould and damp within the home, Meaco 12L low energy dehumidifier/air purifier













“If retailers can sell products that make a lasting effect on a consumer’s quality of life then they are building an invaluable relationship with their customers that can last many years,” says Chris Michael, Director of Meaco. But he stresses that retailers need to work closely with their suppliers to understand what they are selling in order to get that message across. “Every year the sales and enquiries for air purifiers and dehumidifiers with better air filtration are doubling, so it makes sense for retailers to work harder to focus on the added value plus-points that drive sales. “Make sure that the filtration method matches the allergy and that the device is the correct size for the room. The airflow on the purifier or the dehumidifier should be able to clean the air in the room at least three times an hour, five times would be better. Match up these two things and you have a happy customer; get it wrong and you risk a bad review and a loss of trust with the customer, their family and friends.” Michael says Meaco is seeing very strong growth year on year, but




contributing to poor indoor air quality. And with many homeowners keeping windows closed to avoid additional heating costs, security issues or noise, it’s clear to see why the air quality in our homes is becoming an increasingly important health concern.” According to Mikaela Odemyr, president of the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA), one in six Europeans lives in a home that makes them sick. These are often damp properties, some with inadequate thermal control so they’re either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. Europeans who live in these types of unhealthy buildings are 1.5 times more likely to report poor health. They have a twice higher risk of developing asthma just because they live in damp or mouldy conditions, and these damp conditions are strongly linked to childhood illnesses.

POWERGLIDE by AirCraft Home This is what your customers have been waiting for. It’s finally time to say goodbye to the mop and bucket. PowerGlide is the best way to clean every type of hard flooring. Incredibly satisfying to use and cord-free – simply top up with water or any liquid cleaner, push the button on the handle to spray as desired and glide, for a truly professional finish every time, in no time at all. PowerGlide’s powerful pads rotate at 250rpm to do the hard work, mopping and buffing 20 square metres per minute, leaving floors spotlessly clean, ready to walk on, and beautifully streak-free.

£2 from the sale of each DD8L Zambezi Dehumidifier supports the work of the DSWF in saving the African Elephant.





Hoover’s UltraMATT is designed specifically for cleaning mattresses and upholstery

“Whether it be allergy-specific models, or accessories that can be attached to products, there’s plenty out there to help”

This sector can also command add-on sales: steam cleaners, mops and specific tools will help keep allergens at bay on many types of hard or carpeted surfaces (and some soft furnishings), cleaning hygienically without the use of chemicals which, for some, also trigger allergy symptoms. “Whether it be allergy-specific models, or accessories that can be attached to products, there’s plenty out there to help,” comments Phillip Jones, head of marketing – Hoover SDA. “The main features to look out for are HEPA filtration, a process which traps very small particles to ensure they cannot escape back into the air, and A-rated emission scores. “Many people aren’t aware that the bedroom can be one of the worst offenders when it comes to dust-harbouring and that’s because of the mattress. An average mattress can contain up to 10 million dust mites and with dust mite allergy commonly linked with asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis, cleaning your mattress is an important consideration.”

IN THE BAG he adds that customers still find selecting the product confusing and will often turn to the internet to find solutions. This, he says, puts pressure on retailers to make sure that both in-store and online they are on their “A-game”.

TOOLS FOR THE JOB Controlling allergens in the home is a job made considerably easier if the right tools are at hand, and in that respect the floorcare sector presents great opportunities for retailers as, for allergy sufferers, a vacuum cleaner must be chosen wisely and there are several features that need to be taken into consideration, not least the fact that some appliances will allow allergens to escape back into the room during cleaning.

NEW The only purifying fans to clean a whole family room properly.

A somewhat contentious issue in floorcare is the benefits of bagged over bagless cleaners (and vice versa) and Jones maintains that bagged vacuums are traditionally known for being the most hygienic. “And with good reason,” he asserts. “The bag ensures the dirt is physically trapped when vacuuming. Thanks to technological advances, the debris can’t escape when the bag is removed. “It’s essential that stockists have great product knowledge and we work closely with retailers to ensure their knowledge is second-to-none. When it comes to allergy protection features, it’s important that these are communicated effectively to retailers so they can pass that knowledge and information on to consumers. A simple way to do this is to ensure that the packaging clearly showcases what features the product has, so shoppers can make an informed decision by themselves on the occasions that a sales assistant might not be readily available. “And where information and advice are available, retailers should focus on understanding the specific needs of their customers and work via a process of elimination to align these with the products available. This is especially important when it comes to having a positive impact on their health.”

Pifco 22.2V Power Pro Cordless Vacuum Cleaner Lightweight and powerful, this cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner lets users quickly and efficiently clean any room in the home or office. A 600ml dust tank minimises the need for emptying, while the turbo floor brush helps ensure a deep and thorough clean. The mini power brush is ideal for stairs and sofas, while the crevice tool easily cleans hard-to-reach areas and the dusting brush makes quick work of lighter cleaning tasks. Powered by a removable lithium battery and providing 20 minutes’ run time from a single charge, this cordless vacuum cleaner offers a portable and powerful cleaning solution.

0333 220 6070 |

Available to independents exclusively from Connect For more details contact Julie Waters e: t: 07855 496539

t: 0844 557 3700






Think back to the early days of flat display TVs, when the choice faced by consumers was whether to go for plasma or LCD. One of the arguments made for opting for LCD displays was that they were less prone to screen burn. Screen burn occurs when a ghost or shadow image remains permanently on the TV screen.


he main cause of screen burn is when a static image, such as a TV logo (known as a digital on-screen graphic or DOG) remains on-screen for a very long time. As plasma sales declined and manufacturers focused on other flat screen technologies, the issue of screen burn faded away. But now the issue has returned, although this time the debate is whether OLED TVs are more prone to this problem than LCDs. The issue is being hotly debated online, in AV forums, manufacturer blogs and on YouTube. Some websites have set up tests for screen burn, although many are not done under real-world conditions so their value is debatable.

Last year, Google’s Pixel 2 smartphone – which uses an OLED display – had issues over screen burn and the company extended the phone’s warranty as a result. Now, attention has turned to OLED TV screens. OLED is fast becoming a more affordable technology and companies such as LG, Sony, Panasonic and Philips support it. But the noise over screen burn is getting louder and so LG’s US division has even put a message on its website: “It is rare for an average TV consumer to create an environment that could result in burn-in. Most cases of burn-in in televisions are a result of static images or on-screen elements displaying on the screen uninterrupted for

“Some websites have set up tests for screen burn, although many are not done under realworld conditions so their value is debatable.”

many hours or days at a time – with brightness typically at peak levels. So it is possible to create burn-in in almost any display if one really tries hard enough.” LG adds that even if screen burn occurs it can usually be resolved by turning the display off for a while or watching a few hours of varying content. The company adds that features such as a screen saver and screen shifter (which moves the screen slightly at regular intervals) can help prevent screen burn. As more and more people opt for OLED TVs, retailers are bound to get questions about screen burn. It makes good business sense to know how you are going to tackle this issue.


It had to happen: streaming is now the biggest revenue source for the music market and digital sales have overtaken physical sales. The music industry trade body IFPI reports that in 2017, streaming grew by 41% and now represents 38% of the market in value terms (it’s worth £4.7bn). Digital sales (which include streaming, downloads and ringtones) are 54.3% of the market by value. Physical sales fell by 5.4% to £3.7bn. The total market grew by 8.1% to £12.4bn, but IFPI points out that this is a little under 70% of the value of the market when it reached its peak in 1999. For someone from my generation (a baby boomer) it’s hard to believe that there are consumers in their twenties who have never purchased music in a physical format and who only have digital music libraries on their phones or computers. That isn’t to say that physical music formats are on their way out – at least not yet. The vinyl revival and events

like record store day show that there’s still a market for LPs, albeit a small one. Special edition or limited edition boxed sets are helping to keep CD sales going, as hardcore fans show a willingness to pay out a fair sum for these offerings. But streaming is set to grow as disc sales decline. The move to streaming is also happening in the video world, as Netflix now has 8.2 million subscribers in the UK, with Amazon Prime Video having 4.3 million. No surprise then that the BBC is dusting off an old idea and looking to create a joint streaming service with ITV and Channel 4. When the BBC suggested a similar venture in 2007, the competition authorities blocked the move, but the market has changed so much since then, and there’s a good chance it will get the green light today.






HOME WiRELESS SYSTEMS Alan Bennett looks at wireless communication and control systems: what goes wrong and how to solve problems


ireless communication in the home is now very common: for streaming audio and video, for smart appliance command and feedback, for voice control and other functions. Several systems and protocols are in use, but any of them can give trouble…

WI-FI The most common in-home communication medium is Wi-Fi. It has applications in smart TVs, PCs, games consoles, phones, tablets, printers, etc. While not as secure, fast or reliable as a wired connection, it is simple to set up and easy to access from as many points around the home as required. Wi-Fi requires a WAP (Wireless Access Point), usually known as a home hub, and supplied as part of the deal by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for simple installation by the user. The protocol used is IEEE 802.11, with several variants, designated by small letter suffixes, e.g. IEEE 802.11n. The data is radiated in the 2.4 and 5GHz bands, which with its power of 100mW/20dBm provides coverage over typically 10-20m. That varies greatly with different building structures and can be much less, so that boosters or extenders may be required. Sharing the 2.4 and 5GHz bands with a multitude of other signals and devices, and vulnerable to interference from anything from fluorescent lamps and microwave ovens to baby monitors, one of the biggest problems with Wi-Fi is slow communication, signal dropout and even failure to connect due to this interference, arising within the premises or from neighbouring ones. Earlier designs of hubs default to the same Wi-Fi channel (usually 1) and had to be manually set to another – hopefully quieter – channel; many of these are still in use. Later and current types automatically scan the band and select the best, so that a mains reset (invokes auto re-scan) may help here. Indeed, current hubs perform much better than older ones, also in the face of poor signals (noise, dropout) from the telephone line. Another drawback of Wi-Fi is the loss of signal strength it suffers in passing through walls, floors, etc, depending on the materials they are made of. Here two solutions are possible: the use of




Powerline extenders, working through the ring-mains wiring, at £18-£70 apiece; or wireless ones sporting small rod aerials. Two or three of these can be used together to set up a mesh, with wider coverage of the house, office block or whatever. The Google triplet can cover 4500 sq. ft. It may be possible to overcome signal strength problems by repositioning the hub/router away from large metal objects and interference sources, and as centrally as possible in the house or flat. Professionals use a Wi-Fi spectrum analyser to detect interference and measure signal strength.

BLUETOOTH The next most common in-home wireless communication variant is Bluetooth, best known for its use with loudspeakers and headphones. It is also used to couple PCs to their peripherals (keyboard, mouse, printer); by 7th/8th generation games consoles like the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation; and in links to health sensors and fitness monitors. Smartphones and in-car hands-free phone outfits, too, use Bluetooth. Again working in the crowded 2.4GHz band, Bluetooth is designed for low data rates, low power and low cost applications. Its range (Class 2, 2.5mW, 4dBm) is generally limited to about 10m and no hub is required, though one of the devices is designated the ‘master’, controlling up to seven slaves. The data is carried on one of 79 channels, amongst which the master and slave hops about 800 times per second, one of its security features.

Being on the same band as Wi-Fi and all the other devices and appliances mentioned above, Bluetooth can be vulnerable to in-band interference and all the comments above may be applicable to it, though usually mitigated by the close proximity of the sender and receiver, and by the relatively low data-rate involved. There can be difficulty with the pairing or bonding process usually involved with Bluetooth. Devices come with a PIN number which must be entered to marry them up. If it doesn’t work ensure that they are in close proximity and that Bluetooth is enabled in Settings/Properties on both. Then if necessary reset by switching them off and on. Try installing the latest software. Once established thus the link should automatically come to life whenever the devices are within range.

ZIGBEE This system, less common than those above, is finding increased use in the fields of home automation (lighting, energy monitoring, smoke alarms etc.), Amazon Alexa and Google Home networks, health/ fitness monitoring, and others. Also sharing the busy 2.4GHz slot, this one, using the IEEE 802.15.4 spec, is characterised by small size, low power and range, simplicity and especially low battery drain. Here there are sixteen 250 kbit/s channels, 5MHz apart, in which Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK) conveys the data with 128-bit encryption keys for good security. Range varies between about 10 and 20m, and compatibility is helped by the use of a common language amongst manufacturers, hence the possibility of devices communicating with each other, as well as with the master. Zigbee problems may be due to interference from Wi-Fi equipment – switch that off to check. The most common symptom is failure to respond to a command or to communicate; it may be solved by a power reset, perhaps necessitating removal of the battery for a few seconds.

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Get Connected Magazine - June/July 2018  

04 – Editorial Comment 06 – The Word In and around the industry 12 – Product Gallery 14 – The Connected Planet The Smart Home, t...

Get Connected Magazine - June/July 2018  

04 – Editorial Comment 06 – The Word In and around the industry 12 – Product Gallery 14 – The Connected Planet The Smart Home, t...