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APRIL 2017

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ELEC TRICAL GOODS INDUS TRY

gcmagazine.co.uk

VIRTUAL VIRTUAL TRADESHOW TRADESHOW TV & SOUND PROJECTION

DD DOMESTIC DOMESTICAPPLIANCE APPLIANCE DISTRIBUTORS DISTRIBUTORS

GOING THE DISTANCE DELIVERING THE GOODS

Thin TVs don’t have to mean thin sound

GEORGE COLE The replacement of TV by Virtual Reality: any time soon?

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FROM THE BENCH Returns are expensive. Alan Bennett on how to minimise them

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S T Y L I S H M U S I C W I T H B LU WA L L D I R E CT Po r t a b l e h i g h - re s o l u t i o n m u l t i ro o m s p e a ke r Product features Connect up to eight speakers at home or on the move Co n n e c t v i a W i - F i , W i - F i D i re c t , B l u e to ot h , U S B o r a u x- i n Stream from Spotif y™ Connect, Tidal™, Apple Music™ and more C o n t ro l p l a y b a c k w i t h S p o t i f y ™ C o n n e c t o r t h e OTO N E a p p 8-10 hour batter y life


CONTENTS

INSIDE...

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04

Editorial Comment

06

The Word

12

TV and Sound Projection

16

The Product Gallery

18

Designer Products

In and around the industry

LG’S SIGNATURE OLED TV SOUNDBAR

Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway Telephone: 01420 886 33 marlinda@gcmagazine.co.uk Magazine Advertising Sales: Brian Shilling Telephone: 01892 677 741 brian@gcmagazine.co.uk

Subscriptions & Circulation: (GCCD) Telephone: 01420 886 33 circulation@gcmagazine.co.uk Creative Director: Will Dobson will@gcmagazine.co.uk

Sharon Maslen Telephone: 01892 677 742 sharon@gcmagazine.co.uk

Advertisement Production Administration: Will Dobson Telephone: 01342 850 456 artwork@gcmagazine.co.uk

Editorial & Publishing Director: Terry Heath Telephone: 01420 886 33 terry@gcmagazine.co.uk

Production and Print: Blackmore Press, Shaftesbury, Dorset www.blackmore.co.uk

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.

Annual subscription rate (inc. postage): UK £88; Overseas £108.

© Copyright 2017 Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. Greyfriar Cottage, Winchester Road, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire. GU34 1SB

www.gcmagazine.co.uk

Ultra-thin TV panels are visually brilliant, but can be bad news for sound. George Cole looks at ways to make the sound as outstanding as the pictures

Design, whether it’s aesthetics on the outside or technology inside, is an integral element in shaping consumer choice across all electrical categories. What are the trends and innovations that get your customers’ attention?

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George Cole Gets Connected

26

From the Bench

Virtual Reality as a rival to TV?

When products are returned it can be very costly for retailers. Alan Bennett on how to avoid the bounce back

APRIL 2017 GET CONNECTED

3


EDITORIAL COMMENT

COMMENT IT WON’T HAVE ESCAPED YOUR NOTICE THAT THE ELECTRICAL RETAIL BUSINESS, ESPECIALLY THE INDEPENDENT SECTOR, IS UNDER EXTREME PRESSURE, AND COULD DO WITH AS MUCH SUPPORT, ADVICE AND COMMERCIALLY EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION AS IT CAN GET.

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here are a little over 2,000 independents surviving in the UK today. They – and this probably means “you” because our core readership is independent retailers – have survived the demise of more than half their species over the last decade. Survival in a hostile environment doesn’t happen by accident: we must conclude that, almost by definition, the survivors are the best examples of astute business sense, energy, hard work, intelligent adaptation to change - and sheer determination. The danger has not passed, and these survivors need some acknowledgement of their abilities and their continuing commercial relevance to manufacturers. Not praise. Not sympathy. Just an opportunity to do what they do extremely well, with the support of viable commercial partnerships with their suppliers. What they definitely do not need, as some of our readers have brought to our attention, is to be told what they “must” do – especially by anyone who is not, and has not been, a retailer. It does not sit well with these retailers to be told that, if they do not respond at the

“Survival in a hostile environment doesn’t happen by accident: we must conclude that, almost by definition, the survivors are the best examples of astute business sense, energy, hard work, intelligent adaptation to change – and sheer determination.”

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GET CONNECTED APRIL 2017

specified time, and in the prescribed manner, to any call to participate in someone else’s plan to “save” them, it can only be because they’re apathetic. It can’t be because they’ve decided that, for them, it’s not the best use of their time and expertise? Or because they are already full-time busy engaging with their commercial partners and their customers, keeping their business on track, and don’t see any benefit in distractions that are less likely to get a result? That’s not apathy. That’s not burying your head in the sand. It’s simply making experienced commercial judgments about what’s relevant and what’s not. Being warned that if you don’t do what somebody else thinks is best for you, your suppliers will walk away from you, is not the way to engage with people who have proved they know how to run a business. First rule of Trade Press: Don’t alienate your readership. Some might argue that it should be: “Don’t alienate your advertisers, because they pay your wages.” But GC’s belief is that if you have an engaged, loyal and interested readership, you can deliver an attentive and receptive audience for your advertisers’ messages. If you can’t engage readers, what does that say about the effectiveness of the advertising? That’s the belief on which we’ve been able to build – almost uniquely in this trade press sector, it would seem – a viable and sustainable business model as an independent publisher. The question still remains: how can we, as an industry, support and improve the prospects of the independent retail sector? There’s not a single answer. But all the possible answers are about practical, commercial propositions rather than rhetoric. Just one example is Beko/Blomberg, Euronics and independent retailers working together to make a success of an initiative that’s created mutual commercial success in a positive business partnership. It’s not for everyone, but it works for some, because it starts from the premise that all the partners are experts in their own right, with their own business objectives, and working together is the best way to achieve them. So many more potential business partnerships, based on “a little less conversation, a little more action,” are possible if there’s mutual respect.

for your FREE COPY of Get Connected Magazine

www.gcmagazine.co.uk

Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief

Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director

Will Dobson Creative Director

James McIntosh Consumer Consultant

George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant

Database independently audited by Firgrove Consultancy. Average net 10 issues: 5,927 Mar 2012 – Feb 2013


From 3rd April through to 30th June 2017, we are offering up to ÂŁ100 cash back on the NEW Belling Sensicare collection. Redemption could not be simpler and will be managed through an online redemption scheme, post-purchase, via the Belling website.

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INSIDE EVERY GREAT HOME


INDUSTRY NEWS

GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK >> UPDATED DAILY

THE VERY LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS

FOURTH CONSECUTIVE MONTH OF NO GROWTH FOR HIGH STREET SALES

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igh street sales failed to grow for the fourth month in a row in March following a negative base of -1% in the same month last year. According to accountancy firm BDO, which monitors 70

mid-market retailers with some 10,000 individual stores, total like-for-like sales were flat in March, at 0.0%, despite the last three weeks of the month recording an increase in footfall, with a high of +5.2% in week four.

BDO suggested that the buoyant footfall failing to translate into in-store sales is perhaps indicative of a continuing trend for consumer spend targeting “experiences” over “things”.

NON-FOOD RETAIL GROWTH AT LOWEST FOR “NEARLY SIX YEARS”

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retail sales decreased by 1.0% on a likefor-like basis from March 2016, when they had fallen 0.7% from the preceding year. According to the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Sales Monitor, on a total basis, sales fell 0.2% in March, against flat growth in March 2016. This remains below the 3-month average of 0.1% and the 12-month average of 0.8%, but is negatively distorted by the timing of Easter. Over the three months to March, Non-Food retail sales in the UK declined 1.1% on a likefor-like basis and 0.8% on a total basis. This is the slowest 3-month total average growth since May 2011, and drags the 12-month total average

growth down to 0.3%, the lowest since April 2012. Over the same period, online sales of non-food products grew 7.4% while in-store sales declined 3.0% on a total basis and 3.4% on a like-for-like basis. Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said the distortion which results from the timing of Easter always makes Spring a tricky period to assess, and the later timing of the holiday this year certainly detracted from last month’s performance. “Looking at the bigger picture, though, the slowdown in non-food growth persists and it now stands at its lowest three-month average for nearly six years.”

 @GC_Team

ACOUSTIC ENERGY RETURNS TO UK OWNERSHIP

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coustic Energy’s management team has launched a successful bid to buy the company from its Malaysian parent Formosa Prosonic Group, returning the business to UK ownership 30 years to the month of its formation in 1987. The company will continue to operate and manufacture from its Cotswolds headquarters, with dedicated manufacturing partners overseas producing its range of loudspeakers. A large portfolio of new products is ready for rollout this year. Senior Management, internal contacts and sales teams remain unchanged and all existing international distribution agreements will also remain in place. AE said this enables the business and its trading partners around the globe to continue to build on the brand’s recent success. “Becoming an independently owned British loudspeaker company once again is a very exciting development in AE’s history,” commented AE Director Mat Spandl. “With the UK economy remaining strong and exchange rates bolstering our international sales, the timing is perfect to capitalise on the renewed growth in the global audio industry and achieve further success for AE over the next 30 years.”

JOHN LEWIS REVEALS PLANS FOR NEW-LOOK SHOP IN SCOTLAND’S CAPITAL

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ohn Lewis has announced details of a £24million investment and refurbishment of its 160,000 sq ft Edinburgh store. The investment is funding improvements throughout the store, including an additional new shopping floor, a new cafe and a new tech product area. It is also financing a reconfiguration of the outlet to make it easier for customers to shop while

the rest of the St James Centre, in which it is the anchor store, is being redeveloped. On the new shopping floor the retailer will introduce its new Smart Home concept which brings together connected gadgets and tech into one space, enabling customers to experience a fully connected home. John Lewis Edinburgh will be the first of the retailer’s shops in Scotland to

offer a Smart Home area. Alongside the Smart Home concept, a new electrical department will be unveiled. This will include a photography station with one of the widest ranges of cameras and accessories in the capital. Barry Blamire, head of branch at John Lewis Edinburgh, said: “This is one of the biggest refurbishments the shop has seen in its 43 years,

and an incredibly exciting moment in our history. “As the retail landscape changes, we adapt and evolve our shops to ensure we continue to meet our customers’ needs and expectations. This major investment will give customers more interactive shopping experiences while retaining the same excellent level of service from our Partners.”

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ARGOS REPORTS STRONG SALES QUARTER Like-for-like sales at retailer Argos grew 4.3% in the nine weeks to 11 March 2017, parent company Sainsbury’s has reported.

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rgos delivered strong sales growth in technology categories, with particularly good contributions from mobile phones, video gaming, wearable tech and sports equipment. Total sales grew 3.8%. Sainsbury’s Group Chief Executive Mike Coupe said: “Argos delivered another strong quarter of growth, with like-for-like sales up by over 4%. We are investing in digital to deliver excellent service and availability, with enhancements to the Argos website and app. Online participation is growing, driven by mobile and Fast Track delivery and customers are responding well to new ranges.” He added: “The market remains very competitive and the impact of cost price pressures remains uncertain. However, we are well placed to navigate the external environment and remain focused on delivering our strategy.”

INDUSTRY NEWS

TRADING IN LINE WITH EXPECTATIONS, OUTLOOK CAUTIOUS, SAYS AO

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nline electrical retailer AO World announced a placing to raise up to £50 million and said trading for the full year ending 31st March is anticipated to be in line with expectations. Group revenue is expected to be c.£700 million, up around 17% year on year. Adjusted EBITDA guidance has been tightened to £-2.4 – £0 million and Group cash as at 31 March 2017 is anticipated to be at least £27 million. UK revenue is expected to be in the region of £629 million, with ownbrand revenue growth of around 16% year on year forecast. In Europe, revenue is predicted to be around £71 million, with expected Q4 growth of approximately 58% in local currency. Looking ahead, AO said it broadly expects the patterns of trading seen in the second half of FY2017 to continue into the year ahead, with UK business profits largely being reinvested in its European operations. “The Board continues to be cautious, given the uncertain UK economic outlook, currency impacts on supplier pricing and the possible effect on consumer demand,” the company said.

MIDWICH POSTS FIRST PRELIMINARY RESULTS SINCE AIM LISTING

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idwich Group plc, the specialist audio visual distributor, has announced its Preliminary Results for the year to 31 December 2016.

These are the first since the Group’s IPO and listing on AIM in May 2016, and indicate revenue up by 17.8% to £370.1 million, operating profit (adjusted for costs related to the Initial Public Offering, acquisition, share-based payments and amortization) up 22.2% to £18.5 million, and adjusted profit before tax up 22.8% to £17.9 million.

Managing Director Stephen Fenby said: “2016 was a transformational year for Midwich with our successful IPO on AIM in May positioning the Group well for its next stage of development. PostIPO, we also acquired a majority stake in Holdan Limited and the trade and assets of Wired Limited, further strengthening Midwich’s

TOSHIBA’S SURVIVAL IN “SUBSTANTIAL DOUBT” FOLLOWING LATEST LOSSES Toshiba, once a leading global brand in consumer electronics, has announced unaudited financial results for the period April-December 2016 showing losses of 532 billion Yen (£3.8 billion), and has warned that its survival as a going concern is under threat.

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a statement accompanying the figures, which have already been delayed twice and have still not been signed off by auditors PriceWaterhouseCooper Aarata, the company said: “… there are material events and conditions that raise substantial doubts about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” Toshiba has faced a number of substantial problems over the past few years. In 2015 the company

was found to have overstated its profits by US$1.2 billion (£1.48 billion) over the previous seven years, and in the ensuing scandal the chief executive and several senior managers resigned. Earlier this year Westinghouse, Toshiba’s nuclear business in the US, got into financial difficulties, and in March was placed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This latest set of figures have been published without the

approval of the auditors, since they have already been subject to delay and Toshiba decided to publish them anyway to avoid missing a deadline and falling foul of Tokyo Stock Exchange rules. Under these circumstances, it is possible the company could be delisted. There are recent reports that Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer, has shown interest in acquiring Toshiba’s chip

market position in the UK and Australasia respectively. “The Group delivered strong revenue and profit growth in 2016 and I am pleased to report that trading in the first few months of 2017 has built on the good growth we saw last year giving the Board confidence in delivering a result in 2017 in line with its expectations.”

“Earlier this year Westinghouse, Toshiba’s nuclear business in the US, got into financial difficulties, and in March was placed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.”

business for a sum of between £21 and £22 billion, but even if this deal went ahead it is difficult to see how it could avoid being broken up and sold off piecemeal.

APRIL 2017 GET CONNECTED

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INDUSTRY NEWS

GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK >> UPDATED DAILY

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MIDWICH TAKES MAJORITY STAKE IN EARPRO S.A.

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and document solutions distributor Midwich has entered into a binding agreement to acquire a majority stake in Earpro S.A., a value-added distributor of audio, video and lighting solutions in Spain and Portugal. The acquisition values the equity of the Barcelona headquartered firm at approximately €11.0 million, including a net cash balance of approximately €3.2 million. Earpro Managing Director Miguel Mezquita retains a stake in the business and will continue to lead it as part of the Midwich Group.

LG MARKS SUCCESS OF APPLIANCE DIVISION’S MOST SUCCESSFUL CORE TECHNOLOGY

LG

Electronics has announced the sale of its 15 millionth refrigerator powered by its proprietary Inverter Linear Compressor, the appliance division’s most successful core technology. Global sales of the brand’s premium refrigerators increased 8% year on year in 2016 and the South Korean manufacturer expects to sell a further four million in 2017.

“Our commitment to developing core technologies such as the Inverter Linear Compressor is a key element of the success of LG refrigerators all over the world,” said Song Dae-hyun, president of LG’s Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Our priority to enhance refrigerator performance, reduce noise levels while using less energy is how we continue to bring value to our customers.”

Moves Montpellier Domestic Appliances has appointed Evan Dobbs to the role of Area Sales Manager for Southern England, with responsibility for Kitchen Independents and the Kitchen Studio Sector. Trevor Clark has been appointed as the first Country Sales Manager for ECOVACS Robotics in the UK as part of the company’s European expansion plan. ECOVACS said it is aiming to build a strong network of trading partners in the UK. ROBERTS RADIO has released details of changes within its sales team, appointing individuals the responsibility for specific retail

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channels to improve efficiency. Gordon Reid, who has spent the past six years as a key member of the National Accounts Team, will now dedicate his time fully to supporting the Independent Channel. Chris Evans, whose focus for the past two years has been on developing the international business, returns to the UK with responsibility for the Electrical Specialist Channel. Cari Bibb joins the company to run the Mass Merchandise Channel. Gorenje has appointed Iztok Krulc as managing director of its UK operation. He joins the UK business from Gorenje’s premium global appliance brand Asko, in Sweden, where he spent five years developing its sales and marketing strategy.

EXCLUSIVELY SHOWS’ DIRECTOR OF SALES TO STEP DOWN B

rooke House Exhibitions, organiser of the Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electrical shows, has announced that its director of sales Patrick Wade will step down from the role at this year’s events in June. Will Jones, Brooke House Exhibitions’ chairman, said: “Patrick has made an invaluable contribution to the success of our shows since he joined us seven years ago. He has ensured a continuity of approach to our philosophy for Housewares and played a pivotal role in the successful launch of Electrical in 2015. “We understand and respect the decision Patrick has taken to reduce his workload; his continuing role within the industry will ensure our successful relationship does not end here.” Brooke House Exhibitions is to begin the task of recruiting a replacement for the role. An announcement will be made prior to the shows.

 SHORTCUTS The Electrolux Group’s Comfort Lift dishwasher, AEG Mastery range of kitchen appliances and a new window cleaning device by AEG have received Red Dot Design Awards for their outstanding product design. LG Electronics has received 20 Red Dot Awards for excellence in design, including two Best of the Best awards which were presented for the brand’s SIGNATURE OLED TV W and Smart InstaView Refrigerator. Whirlpool has won a UK Water Efficiency Product Award for its WIO 3T123 6PE Supreme Clean dishwasher, which has a water consumption level of just six litres. Whirlpool’s integrated WIO 3O33 DEL dishwasher has also gained recognition – it is the first dishwasher to be awarded 10/10 by TrustedReviews.


THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS >> GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK

INDUSTRY NEWS

 SHORTCUTS GDHA brand Belling has launched a consumer cash-back promotion to raise awareness and demand for its Sensicare laundry and dishwashing collection. The three-month campaign runs to 30th June 2017 and offers up to £100 cash back on selected products.

Hoover Candy has sponsored Barry Comprehensive School’s Under-14s rugby team, providing a donation for the purchase of new kits for the team’s Barcelona rugby tour in April this year. Hisense has announced it is to become an Official Sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. The deal provides the company with extensive marketing opportunities and exposure as the Official Television of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.

REPIC is launching a “Powering Communities” campaign as part of its latest “Responsible Recycling” initiative, giving community groups, schools and good causes from ten UK regions the chance to each win £500 worth of vouchers for new electrical products. The total prize pot of £5,000 will be split across the ten preselected UK areas. Beko has returned to TV screens with a new campaign showcasing its range of built-in appliances and hero technologies. It runs until the end of May across SKY TV and VOD channels including ITV, Channel 4, E4 and More 4, and will be accompanied by digital activity.

Belling has sponsored Pembrokeshirebased rugby team Haverfordwest Ladies after launching a bid to find the dirtiest sports team in the UK. Squads playing on waterlogged and muddy pitches were asked to submit photographs for the chance to win a team sponsorship deal for the provision of new kits and a Sensicare washing machine.

PAWS FOR THOUGHT: ALMOST A THIRD OF CONSUMERS DON’T REGISTER THEIR APPLIANCES E

lectrical Safety First has come up with a novel way to encourage consumers to register their appliances, with a video starring two canine chums concerned about the potential risks posed by faulty products. The charity is hoping that people will share the video of the pooches via websites and social media to help spread the registration message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOq3toGq34M (https://goo.gl/QpV4eE) The activity follows a partnership between ESF and Beko exploring consumer attitudes to product registration. Research revealed that despite the number of high-profile safety notices and product recalls issued last year, a substantial proportion of all consumers who purchased an electrical item in the last 12 months did not register their purchase.

In 2016, 61 recall notices were issued for electrical products in the UK. The research also showed some interesting shifts in consumer attitudes to registration. 9% of respondents said they were worried about giving personal information to manufacturers – a marked decrease in the level of concern recorded by ESF in 2014, which was then three times higher. The main reasons given for not registering appliances were: “I forgot to register”, “I didn’t know I could register” and “I don’t see the point”. Previous research undertaken by ESF shows that the product recall success rate is rarely more than 10% to 20%, despite the risks that faulty electrical items can present. Emma Drackford, Head of Communications at Electrical Safety First, said: “Although some

attitudes have changed towards marketing, a concerning amount of consumers are still apathetic towards registering their electrical products. We’re urging consumers to be aware of registration as an essential step when purchasing an electrical product.” APRIL 2017 GET CONNECTED

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TV AND SOUND PROJECTION

AS TV PANEL TECHNOLOGY DELIVERS A BETTER AND BETTER VISUAL EXPERIENCE FROM BIGGER, THINNER, VIRTUALLY BEZEL-FREE SCREENS, INTEGRAL TV SPEAKERS ARE FORCED INTO SMALLER SPACES AND THE QUALITY OF SOUND SUFFERS. GEORGE COLE LOOKS AT HOW MANUFACTURERS ARE SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF PROVIDING SOUND THAT’S AS GOOD AS THE PICTURES

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here’s a saying which goes: ‘when you solve one problem, you create another,’ and the development of flat display televisions neatly exemplifies this. As televisions have become flatter and slimmer, the challenge of providing high quality audio from TV products becomes much harder. Old-fashioned CRT sets and early generation flat display sets with large bezels had the space to incorporate beefy speaker systems, but this is no longer the case. The result is ever-smaller speakers being shoehorned into ever-tighter spaces, with the resulting audio sounding thinner, and often lacking power, punch and effective surround-sound effects.

AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS? There are some who claim that TV manufacturers have spent too much time focusing on developing ever-slimmer sets and enhanced picture quality at the expense of sound. While there is a grain of truth to some of this, it’s also fair to say that manufacturers have devoted a lot of time, energy and money to upping the ante when it comes to TV and sound projection.

ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM

Some of the recent complaints about the inaudibility of certain TV programmes have blamed the rise of slimmer sets (although, in reality, actors’ mumbling and poor TV sound mixing can also play a significant role), so it’s important that manufacturers can clearly demonstrate that their TV products not only provide pin-sharp images, but crystal-clear sound as well. And with today’s super-slim LED and OLED sets likely to become even thinner, the challenge for TV manufacturers to provide technologies and solutions that get around this problem is even greater. Many TV manufacturers now claim that they have solutions in place. Matt 12

GET CONNECTED APRIL 2017

Laird, TV marketing manager, Sony UK & Ireland, says: “The new Bravia OLED A1 Series offers superior picture quality and a unique sound system, providing a wide sound and image synchronisation.” Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology emanates the sound directly from the screen itself, and Sony says that, regardless of viewing position, the A1 Series offers good sound and picture quality. Sony’s XE93 (available as 55- and 65-inch models) supports Dolby Vision, which provides threedimensional surround sound for an enhanced listening experience. The XE93 has a front-facing 3-way speaker system, offering users a more dynamic and immersive sound, says Laird. Also, its cinematic S-Force Front Surround provides threedimensional sound field audio across a wider listening area.

“Innovative speaker technologies have transformed television audio”

CALL TO THE BAR

Panasonic says “last year, we introduced a TV with its own dedicated speaker bar, the DX802. We appreciate that some consumers will consider integrated sound as well as superb picture quality when purchasing a new TV. This theme continues into our flagship range of OLED in 2017 with the recent introduction of the EZ1002 Series.” Panasonic has developed the Dynamic Blade Speaker - a slim audio system that houses 14 multiple speaker units (eight woofers, four squawkers and two tweeters, plus a quad passive radiator to boost bass), which is integrated into the TV stand. One way around the problem of limited space is to use an external sound bar, which can provide the power and speaker size needed to deliver a punchy sound. Sound bars are designed to be easy to set up and blend with both the television and the living room decor. Many can also be wirelessly connected to a subwoofer for even better sound. LG’s OLED


TV AND SOUND PROJECTION

Sony has recently announced the HT-MT300 and HT-MT500 compact sound bars. The HT-MT300 reproduces a virtual surround acoustic field from only two front speakers, and has a wireless subwoofer. The HT-MT500 can be deployed in multiple rooms wirelessly and features high-resolution audio. The HT-ST5000 is Sony’s first sound bar to feature Dolby Atmos. The HT-ST5000 can be connected to a TV via Wireless Multi-Room, Bluetooth or NFC. Its built-in Chromecast technology or Spotify Connect can also be used to connect to more than 100 music-streaming services. The sound bar comes with a USB port allowing connection to many USB devices for easy playback.

MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS Sony’s XE93 supports DolbyVision

“Many TV manufacturers now claim that they have solutions in place”

There are other ways that TV sound can be improved, including a sound base, which integrates a sub-woofer, speakers and amplification into a single box that sits under the TV. Some consumers might want to connect their set to a surround-sound system, and there are various configurations available (such as 7.1, 5.1 and 2.1) to suit each user’s needs (and pocket). It’s also worth spending some time explaining how a TV set’s audio settings can be adjusted. Today, the average TV can offer a wide range of sound settings, sound modes, surroundsound options and virtual sound choices, as well as a slew of equalizer and speaker settings. A tweak or two of a TV set’s audio settings menu can often transform sound quality.

G6 uses a separate sound bar, which connects to the super slim OLED panel via a discreet cable which carries power, picture and audio data from the sound bar box to the screen. LG says that this enables the sound bar to deliver exceptional sound, whilst having minimal impact on the striking TV design.

ADVANCING SOUND TECHNOLOGY

Panasonic has unveiled the SC-HTB488 speaker system and the SC-SB1 sound bar. The SC-HTB488 speaker system allows users to connect to the subwoofer via a wireless connection (the SC-SB1 has a built-in subwoofer in the main unit), producing a cinema-like sound, says the company. The SC-HTB488 features two independent speakers and 200W total output power, and includes AUX connectivity. Panasonic’s SC-SB1 sound bar concept connects to other devices via HDMI and 4K pass-through, for connection to products like a 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and flat screen TV.

LG’s super-slim minimal bezel OLED teams aesthetically with soundbar

APRIL 2017 GET CONNECTED

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TV AND SOUND PROJECTION

NEW RANGE OF PEDESTAL TV STANDS FROM AVF Panasonic has a number of sound-enhancing solutions

AVF has launched a stylish new range of Pedestal TV Stands, combining designer looks and convenient corner-friendly footprints. ISEO Pedestal TV Stands are all-in-one TV and AV solutions that look great in any room. The elegant, chromed swan neck column delivers an optimum centre of gravity TV mounting position with discreet cable management at the rear. While the glass base and height adjustable shelf provide flexible surface space for AV equipment.

Also, many sets offer self-test or selfdiagnosis systems, which are operated from the settings menu. These can often quickly determine whether an audio issue is due to the TV or some external factor. This brings us onto another source for TV sound problems – the external device. Some set-top boxes may be set up with the wrong HDMI setting or audio mode, which will have a detrimental effect on the sound. Also ensuring that cables and connections are set up correctly (and fully plugged in) can sometimes solve a TV sound issue.

EFFECTIVE IN-STORE DEMONSTRATION

When it comes to demonstrating TV sound quality, says Panasonic, “in-store education and training is a key route to ensuring retailers are fully knowledgeable about the benefits of audio and speaker technology available within or separate to the TV range. Effective and informative point of sale is also a key aid for retailers – helping retailers to communicate the features and benefits of particular models.

Sharing recent reviews and awards with consumers is also a good tool for retailers as award-winning products give consumers confidence.” Sound bar demonstrations should not only focus on the improved sound they bring to the table, but also their ease of setup and the fact they look good with both television set and the living room surroundings. That said, demonstrating TV sound before and then after a sound bar has been added can leave a lasting impression on the consumer. Sony’s Laird says: “As technology is constantly advancing, we work closely with our retailer partners to ensure our key product messages are communicated effectively to consumers, in order for them to fully understand the benefits of each of our models, in particular 4K HDR technology and advanced picture and sound quality.” Sony provides retailers with in-store demonstrations of the 4K HDR viewing experience for both sound

ONE FOR ALL EVOLVE REMOTE The new Evolve 4 (URC 7145) from One for All has been stuffed full of the latest tech for only £24.99 SSP. It replaces four remotes with one that is easy to set up, controlling: TV, STB, DVD/Blu Ray, Audio system. A SMART button provides quick Smart TV access; an activity button controls multiple devices together; Watch TV controls the TV and set top box simultaneously; Watch Movie enables simultaneous control of the TV, Blu-ray player and audio system. ‘Learning’ and an ultra wide angle infrared are included. Backed by the world’s largest infrared code database. 00 315 3488 8000 www.oneforall.co.uk

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The full ISEO Pedestal TV Stands range, covering TVs up to 70 inches, is available from AVF now. For further information please visit www.avfgroup.com or call 01952 670 009.

and picture quality. Laird adds that retailers equipped with demo-ready TVs displaying features such as 4K HDR content and improved audio can help improve sales and create an exciting experience to inspire viewers. “We continue to provide retailers with the tools to demonstrate effectively in store, by incorporating eye-catching content and explaining the product feature benefits thoroughly.”

MAKING THE MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR

It’s now time for both retailers and manufacturers to dispel the myth that flat display sets offer great pictures but mediocre sound. Consumers should be told that they can have a super-slim screen, great pictures and superb sound. There is no need to sacrifice one for the other. Innovative speaker technologies have transformed television audio, and there are many ways of improving sound quality, from sound bars to menu settings that enable the sound quality to be tailored to the user’s listening preferences. Sound advice (no pun intended), coupled with effective in-store demonstrations, will go a long way to boosting the consumer’s perception of television and sound projection.


TVD has launched its very own ‘exclusive’ Mitchell & Brown TV brand and range in the UK. The TVD group, originally named TV and Video Direct, was founded by Jim Brown and the company has recently celebrated a true milestone, its 20 year anniversary. To commemorate this, TVD has developed its very own exclusive TV brand ‘Mitchell & Brown’. TVD is now managed by Mat and Dan Brown, Jim’s sons. They wanted to create a new brand as a tribute to their father, using his surname and Jim’s mother’s maiden name of Mitchell. The whole branding of ‘Mitchell & Brown’ relates to their late father, not only in name, but also with the model number on the products featuring his initials ‘JB’ and his birthday ‘1811’. Mitchell & Brown TV’s are produced by Europe’s largest television manufacturer, created by people with a reputation for both excellent quality and outstanding service. As of 2016, they were the largest TV producer in Europe with more than 8 million units sold. The ‘Mitchell & Brown’ TV range comprises of LED TV’s from 24”to 65” and they come with extensive features including: T2 Freeview HD, Smart, 4K UHD and Freeview Play built in, which offers catch-up TV directly from the scroll-back TV guide and DVD combination screens.

MITCHELL & BROWN

The models have been carefully selected to provide an exciting, new, stylish and high-quality TV range which offers the latest technology and great designs at affordable prices. Additionally, every ‘Mitchell & Brown’ TV includes an impressive and industry leading

7 Year Warranty across the range The ‘Mitchell & Brown’ range is a new and exciting opportunity for both independent and traditional electrical retailers, with distribution of the brand being kept within selected, exclusive channels. Dan Brown explained “We want to offer something that gives consumers the confidence to invest in a ‘Mitchell & Brown’ product” • • • • •

Exclusive models to the independent channel Exclusive 7 Year parts & labour warranty Exclusive designs Dedicated sales managers Trusted UK Supplier

The ‘Mitchell & Brown’ model range is now in stock and available for immediate delivery. If you would like more information on any of the models available or if you are interested in becoming a stockist, please contact one of our dedicated sales team on 01204 324 325 or email sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk

BECOME A STOCKIST

TODAY TELEPHONE

01204 324 325

EMAIL

sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk

James House, Unit 36, Waters Meeting Industrial Estate, Britannia Way, Bolton, BL2 2HH Tel: 01204 324 325

Email: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk

/mitchellandbrowntv

@mitchellbrowntv

Web: www.mitchellandbrown.co.uk /company/mitchell-&-brown-led-tv

Feel good with Mitchell & Brown TV


THE PRODUCT GALLERY

gcmagazine.co.uk

SMEG’S NEW SMALL APPLIANCES COLLECTION WITH DOLCE&GABBANA STYLE Smeg’s partnership with Dolce&Gabbana has now been applied to a small appliances collection called “Sicily is my Love,” with kettles, toasters, juicers, blenders, coffee machines and stand mixers featuring “quintessentially Sicilian motifs.” The colourful collection, inspired by the fruits, flora and landscapes of southern Italy and traditional Sicilian regional art, was unveiled at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and is expected in the UK later this year. j

www.smeguk.com/refrigerator-of-art-from-dolcegabbanaand-smeg

SONUS FABER REVEALS LATEST LUXURY LOUDSPEAKER RANGE The new Homage Tradition collection from Italy’s Sonus faber comprises three models – Guarneri Tradition, Serafino Tradition and Amati Tradition - all featuring techniques and technologies developed from Sonus faber’s flagship range of speakers. The collection includes the Amati floorstander and Guarneri standmounter, and a new floorstander, the Serafino Tradition, that sits between them in the range. RRPs range from £13,600 per pair to £23,500 per pair. j

www.absolutesounds.com

SHARP HOME APPLIANCES LAUNCHES “WORLD’S QUIETEST WASHING MACHINE” Sharp’s ES-GFD814QW Quiet Washing Machine can operate at a “virtually imperceptible” 39dB, said to be “quieter than most library environments.” It is A+++ rated, has adjustable 1400 rpm spin speed, a SuperJet 15 minute QuickWash cycle, the StainMaster function to tackle a range of stubborn stains and the BubbleDrum design that takes more care of fabrics. The machine’s advanced motor is guaranteed for ten years. j

INDESIT ADDS TO ARIA BUILT-IN COLLECTION Indesit has introduced a new recirculating cooker hood as part of its Aria built-in cooking collection. The angled black glass 60cm appliance, IHVP 6.6 LM K, is designed to give users more room while cooking and to complement either modern or traditional décor. It has an extraction rate of 658 m3/hr, max noise level of 70db(A), LED lighting and a B energy rating. j

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www.indesit.co.uk

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www.sharphomeappliances.com


THE PRODUCT GALLERY

YAMAHA INTRODUCES WXAD-10: AN “INSTANT UPGRADE” FOR MUSICCAST This new addition to the Yamaha MusicCast family “allows almost any device” to become part of a multi-room audio system, without having to replace existing products or disrupt the current audio system installation. The WXAD-10 can connect to a soundbar, a set of HiFi components, a home theatre, a CD system or almost any existing audio product via the RCA connection on the back to send a line level signal, or the 3.5mm output will control volume directly via the MusicCast app. j

uk.yamaha.com

SONY LAUNCHES TWO NEW HIGH POWER AUDIO SYSTEMS

SANUS LAUNCHES TV BASE TO TEAM WITH SONOS PLAYBASE Sanus has launched a swivelling TV base designed to integrate a flat panel TV with the new Sonos PLAYBASE™. The Sanus TV Base fits TVs 32 to 60 inches and can support up to 27kg, has up to 40 degrees of swivel left to right, and provides up to 8 inches (20.3cm) of TV height adjustment, creating space to fit a Sonos PLAYBASE or PLAYBAR below the TV. It is UL Certified and includes a 10-year warranty. Available now from Sonos and a number of AV retailers. j

Sony has launched two new audio systems, the MHC-V50D (pictured) and the SHAKE-X30D, featuring Smart High Power Technology, Mica Cone speaker, light effects, karaoke mode, Motion Control, Bluetooth wireless technology and one-touch listening via NF. The V50D is a compact, portable all-in-one system. Available now and priced at around £420. The SHAKE-X30D is a 3-box design that can be configured to suit different functions and environments, with inputs for karaoke microphones, TV and guitar. Available May and priced at around £600. j

www.sony.co.uk

www.sonos.com

STOVES UNVEILS BUILT-IN RICHMOND COLLECTION GDHA brand Stoves has introduced a new collection of built-in ovens and gas hobs based on the classic design of its Richmond range cookers, comprising a 60cm multifunction single oven, available in black, stainless steel, cream and hot jalapeno red, and co-ordinating 60cm and 70cm gas hobs in black, stainless steel and cream. The oven has 69 litres capacity, interior halogen lights, soft-close doors and dual telescopic shelves. The co-ordinating gas hobs have front rotary controls, push button ignition and cast-iron pan supports. j

www.stoves.co.uk APRIL 2017 GET CONNECTED

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DESIGNER PRODUCTS & COLLECTIONS

LochAnna Mala Kitchen from Faith Furniture’s collection

THE D

esign is a powerful stimulant. It divides, provokes, challenges and inspires. It is an influencer, a disruptor, an instrument of social change. Design creates leaders and followers, its strength bringing prominence and authority to a brand. Take Apple, for instance, and the power of all things “i”; Louboutin and its signature red-soled footwear; Mercedes and its illustrious “threepointed star”. Then closer to home, industry-wise, Smeg and its iconic 50s-style FAB fridge, an object of desire which made the brand a household name, as the Italian manufacturer freely acknowledges. “Everyone immediately knows and recognises the FAB fridge,” asserts Smeg UK product manager Lucy King, adding that the design is “undoubtedly what we’re most famous for.” 18

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POWER

OF

DESIGN

AMERICAN MANAGEMENT EXPERT GARY HAMEL IS QUOTED AS SAYING: “AT THE PINNACLE OF GREAT DESIGN ARE PRODUCTS SO GORGEOUS AND LUST-WORTHY THAT YOU WANT TO LICK THEM.” BUT DESIGN IS NOT ABOUT GOOD LOOKS ALONE... BRAND IDENTITY

Matt Laird, TV Marketing Manager, Sony UK & Ireland sees design as an important way of differentiating brands from their competition and creating an identity but, ultimately, the buying decision will involve lifestyle factors: “Cutting-edge technology continues to excite consumers, but they are also looking for products that suit their lifestyle, whether that’s a Walkman

for enjoying music on the move or a large screen OLED BRAVIA for creating a home cinema experience in the living room. When purchasing electronics, consumers are increasingly seeking technology which fits into the living space, blending in with their surroundings and their personal style.” Notable designs that influence both trends and markets are

fundamental when defining a brand and its identity, maintains Liebherr UK’s Divisional Manager Tim Hutchinson. “With that,” he says, “being regarded as a progressive company and opinion-former is undoubtedly going to increase the bottom line for your business, working towards a heightened level of consumer confidence and increased market share.” Commenting on the cornerstone of good design, Hutchinson says this is about creating products that enhance consumer lifestyles, as this is what gives manufacturers a competitive edge. “Technically, at least for a cooling appliance manufacturer, it’s all about designing functions that have real tangible benefits for the end-user, bringing added value to both the space and daily life.”


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DESIGNER PRODUCTS & COLLECTIONS AESTHETICS

“Design really matters,” comments Dominik Pytel, Marketing Director for Groupe SEB, whose Tefal brand recently collaborated with internationally acclaimed design studio Seymourpowell to develop the new Tefal Avanti Classic Breakfast range. “Open-plan kitchens by their very nature lead to the greater importance of product aesthetics. Equally important is the quality of materials used. Stainless steel is more and more preferred by the UK consumer. “We have also noted two further market trends that need to be taken into consideration when launching a new highdesign, high-quality range – mixing styles between retro accents and urban, slightly industrial, and the provision of original details that enable the product or range to stand out from the crowd. “It is with these cues in mind that we launched our new Avanti Classic Breakfast range. Specifically, from a design perspective, we have combined contemporary heritage with classic details reinterpreted. We have evoked a past elegance with a warm and slightly irreverent touch.”

BALANCE

GDHA’s Steve Dickson, Head of Category for Range Cooking, reminds us that good design is not purely candy for the eye; rather, “it strikes that delicate balance between form and function. The products we design look good, but they’re also usable, reliable and long lasting.” Dickson believes that British designers have a reputation for innovation and creativity, and the nation’s manufacturers are extremely good at developing products with enduring appeal. GDHA’s own UK manufacturing facility has been a major strength in bolstering the company’s design culture, he says. “Having our headquarters in the UK has made it much easier to ensure our products are

aligned to the domestic British market. The UK has a specific and peculiar cooking style – we do more grilling than any other country and we have a preference for double ovens and single cavities. Being based in the home market allows us to interact with other British designers, developers and architects, keeping us ahead of the development of the modern UK home and allowing us to create products that fit in. “In addition, our manufacturing facility offers us product flexibility and the opportunity to develop technology and multiple product platforms on a short timescale, enabling us to react to market requirements more quickly, reduce product development time and introduce successful products to the market, all things which are vital in remaining competitive.”

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Visit our website for full details on our wine cooler collection, as well as a complete consumer buying guide.

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REAL-LIFE CHALLENGES

Good design can empower a brand, but only if it empowers consumers by developing products that make their lives richer, more enjoyable, easier, more effective…. Therefore, design must address real-life challenges and needs. Geraldine Sharpe, Category Consumer Manager for Breakfast and Drinks at Morphy Richards, maintains that the foundation of good design is based on research that pinpoints consumer needs and behaviours. “We apply this insight to all products we create, producing innovative appliances with

“Cuttingedge technology continues to excite consumers, but they are also looking for products that suit their lifestyle”

COOL COLLECTION…

With options ranging from a slimline 15cm model up to a full-height 126-bottle storage cabinet, there is a wine cooler for every kitchen. Now with the ‘first to the UK market’ 60cm built-in model, you can install one alongside an oven, with no detrimental effect on performance.

Tefal’s Avanti Classic breakfast range


Available in White

Red

Black


DESIGNER PRODUCTS & COLLECTIONS

LUKE SHIPWAY, PRODUCT MANAGER AT CAPLE, ON THE CORNERSTONE OF GOOD DESIGN: “Good appliance design must always be coupled with the latest technology and enhanced functionality to ensure that as well as looking stunning, it also meets the needs and demands of the user.”

PETE SHERRY, KITCHEN CATEGORY MANAGER, FAITH FURNITURE COMPANY, ON KITCHEN DESIGN: “The most important thing to consider when designing a kitchen is functionality combined with simplicity. Today’s trend very much leans towards the kitchen being a relaxing and communal area for the whole family rather than just a cooking space, which is why we are seeing more and more kitchens with flexible features as homeowners wish to create plenty of space for family and guests to congregate.”

RHYS EVANS, SALES DIRECTOR UK & IRELAND, V-ZUG UK, ON OPEN-PLAN DESIGN: “When considering an open-plan layout then the kitchen should merge seamlessly into the dining and living areas, and so it is important for the more domestic elements of the kitchen, such as the appliances, to be discreet in their design. Consumers are looking at built-in ovens, coffee machines, microwaves etc. in open-plan spaces with features such as a streamlined fascia, retractable handles and touch-screen control panels to get the discreet aesthetic.”

unique designs such as the Redefine range. This combines aesthetic appeal with functionality in a selection of stylish appliances, such as a toaster that uses our exclusive Thermoglass technology to ensure even browning and a glass kettle with a sleek illuminated body that indicates when water is boiling.” Sharpe believes that bringing consistency to the market can create a brand image that is easily identified and trusted. “For us, creating a visual brand language has been a strategic objective for many years and we are continually researching and anticipating trends to ensure consumers are offered the highest quality of design. We have created a unique identity for our brand that enables consumers to recognise our products, regardless of the Morphy Richards logo, and that acts as an indication of quality and reliability for consumers.”

INFLUENCE

As well as bringing new designs to market, manufacturers are also investing in pushing the boundaries of both performance and looks, constantly on the search for the appliances of the future. But appliance design is heavily

Swiss brand V-ZUG’s Combi-Steam MSLQ oven

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influenced by a number of factors and manufacturers need to monitor changing trends. “Over the years there have been a number of technological advances in appliances that have made a difference to the way that kitchens are designed,” says Owain Harrison, UK head of sales and marketing Built-in, Hoover Candy Baumatic. “On the other hand, the way kitchens are designed has had a major effect on the types of appliances that have, and are, being developed in terms of size, style, functionality and aesthetics.

“Appliance design is heavily influenced by a number of factors and manufacturers need to monitor changing trends”


DISCOVER THE NEW COLLECTION


DESIGNER PRODUCTS & COLLECTIONS

NEW RANGE LAUNCHING THIS APRIL… Introducing the new range of high quality, affordable home appliances from Matrix. The collection includes range cookers, single and double ovens, gas and electric hobs, extractors, dishwashers and fridge freezers. Matrix Appliances is part of the CDA Group and offers the same unique customer support network, quality and testing assurance, as well as a refreshing and innovative range of products. Specifically designed to meet the needs of the consumer looking for value for money, this range promises to deliver reliable performance at a surprisingly low cost. Visit the brand new website now for more information.

www.matrixappliances.co.uk

“Appliance manufacturers like Baumatic closely monitor trends to cater to the continuing developments in kitchen design, and also to fashion trends in general in order to create functional appliances that continually appeal. For example, open-plan living has enabled freedom and flexibility of design, where

STEVE JONES, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, SIRIUS BUYING GROUP, ON THE ADDED-VALUE OF DESIGN: “Kitchen design has dramatically changed, with most appliances now suiting the modern home, lifestyle and tech-savvy buying behaviour. Added-value features have therefore become fundamental to clinching the sale, with the most efficient, high performance cooking appliances coming to the fore, whether built-in or freestanding in its design.”

DOMINIK PYTEL, MARKETING DIRECTOR, GROUPE SEB UK, ON SELLING DESIGN: “Merchandising is not a secret ability that few retailers have; it is rather a set of basic skills that can be learnt. Knowing how to implement effective merchandising techniques ensures that customers are attracted to the merchandise and make a purchase. It drives multiple sales, particularly of coordinated appliances.”

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surface cooking is likely to take place on an island or peninsula, while ovens and associated appliances are banked within tall housings behind. Due to the fact that many kitchens comprise part of larger entertaining spaces, appliances have in the main become much more subtle and minimalist in their styling in order to not directly affect the eyeline or interrupt the rest of the scheme. In this regard, consumers are willing to pay a premium for intelligent design at whichever market sector.”

“Open-plan kitchens by their very nature lead to the greater importance of product aesthetics”

VALUE

Alex Hinton, Category Manager for Builtin Appliances at GDHA, maintains that consumers shouldn’t have to pay more for style and design, “but historically they always have. That’s why we saw a market opportunity for New World to release New World Suites, a collection of stylish, well designed built-in products at an affordable price. A full suite of premium products rich with style and design has previously been the exclusive territory of premium brands.” “When purchasing a product, consumers decide whether the quality, features and design justify the price and equate to the product being good value for money, rather than viewing this as a premium price,” comments Morphy Richards’ Sharpe. “Good design in terms of product appearance doesn’t have to carry a premium price, especially with the affordable materials available to manufacturers these days,” says Liebherr’s Hutchinson. “However, it’s

much more likely that technological design features could increase the unit price.” Hutchinson believes that consumers will be willing to pay more for such features if they can appreciate their value. “For example, as a manufacturer of cooling appliances, Liebherr has invested heavily in R&D and has created ranges packed with energy efficiencies that save the consumer money on running costs, and internal features where zones are created to store different foods at optimum temperatures and humidity, thus extending the lifecycle of foodstuffs, reducing wastage and saving money.” Enhanced technological performance is a major factor in consumers’ purchase choices. But for retailers, the challenge is to ensure that products’ first visual impressions, which are the main attention-grabber in-store, are given full scope to work their magic.


GEORGE COLE

GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS

TV REPLACED BY VR? A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, I WAS ATTENDING A CONFERENCE PANEL ON VIRTUAL REALITY (VR), AND A COMMENT MADE BY ONE OF THE DELEGATES CAUGHT MY EAR: “VR HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME THE MAIN ENTERTAINMENT MEDIUM IN THE HOME,” HE SAID.

I

thought this was a rather rash point to make, so during the Q&A session I asked whether there wasn’t the danger of VR becoming like 3D – an over-hyped fad that had flopped? After all, VR and 3D have some similarities, not least the fact that both require users to wear some form of eyeglasses. In the case of VR, users wear headsets that take wearers into an immersive world, where they can interact with many different virtual objects. The delegate said my reasoning was wrong: “3D tried to compete with the TV and cinema, while VR will sit alongside these.” In other words, when given the choice of watching TV or putting on a VR headset, most people would choose the latter. I’m still not convinced, but then a recent report by Frost and Sullivan caught my eye. The report said that the global VR hardware and software market is expected to grow from $1.4 billion (£1.1 billion) in 2015 to $34 billion (£27 billion) by 2022. “For consumers, [VR] is likely to replace television, social networks, game consoles and even smartphones, as a medium that people plug in to consume content or interact with others across the globe,” says F&S. Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR, a leading VR company, agrees: “Traditional

I’M

displays are very expensive to manufacture and ship,” he said a few years ago. “Not because the technology is high-tech - it’s all commoditised. “A large TV is expensive because it’s literally just a lot of plastic and a lot of glass in a big box that has to be shipped across the world [and then] sit on a store shelf until someone buys it.” He added: “Why in the world would you buy a 60-inch TV that [is]... going to cost a lot to ship and make from raw materials. A VR headset is going to be much better and much cheaper and you can take it anywhere.” Well, up to a point. The fact is that most people do not like wearing glasses or headsets when watching TV or video content, and there’s little sign of TV being replaced by some other entertainment device anytime soon. UK marketing organisation Think Box recently reported that TV accounted for 75% of UK video viewing last year, only down slightly from 76% in 2015, and even amongst 16-24 year-olds it accounts for more than 56%. Over the many years I’ve been writing about consumer electronics, I’ve seen all sorts of predictions on the demise of TV. Yes, more and more viewing is taking place on a PC or online, but I still see little sign of television losing its position as the number one home entertainment device.

CRA SHING OUT

probably tempting fate as I type this, but it’s quite rare these days for a PC to crash, and if something goes wrong (like a program freezes), you can often fix it without powering down the whole PC. This isn’t always the case with set-top boxes which, in my experience, can crash fairly regularly. Sometimes they freeze when you change channels or switch on the box or fast-forward a recording. Some software updates contain bugs that lead to crashes. Whatever the reason, it’s annoying, especially if you’re in the middle of a recording. Even more annoying is that many set-top boxes don’t offer much in terms of dealing with a crash. My YouView box has a very nice soft-reboot feature. If the box crashes, you press and hold the power button on the box for several seconds, and the box then reboots. No recordings are lost and no damage is done to the box. But many other boxes only offer one solution: yanking the power plug out of its socket and then plugging it in again. In most cases, this does the trick, but sometimes a sharp power cut-off can cause damage, and in extreme cases force you to reformat the box’s hard drive and lose all your recordings in the process. Not a smart move.

“...many other boxes only offer one solution: yanking the power plug out of its socket and then plugging it in again.”

APRIL 2017 GET CONNECTED

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FROM THE BENCH

DON’T LET IT BOUNCE BACK! AFTER-SALES RETURNS ARE ONE OF THE BIGGEST BUGBEARS OF THE ELECTRICAL RETAIL INDUSTRY. ALAN BENNETT SUGGESTS WAYS OF MINIMISING THEM

E

quipment returns cost retailers millions of pounds every year; often there is no opportunity to discuss or forestall the rejection. Returned goods cannot be resold as new - the packing is unsealed, perhaps missing or damaged. The product itself might be damaged or abraded in handling and installation. The guarantee may have been registered, leading to confusion later. At best they can be resold “ex-demo” at much reduced price, perhaps at a loss. Anything which has been superseded or re-ordered for stock may well become surplus… On every return, including those falsely claimed to be faulty under guarantee or “not suited for purpose,” you lose out. Work to minimise this drain on profit!

specifications. Is the TV big enough for their lounge? Is the sound system or radio loud enough and able to receive all the stations they expect it to? In the kitchen will the washer cope with the family’s needs for place settings or clothes and linen throughput? These and other aspects need to be settled at the start, and may at least increase the buyer’s awareness of any potential problems or limitations that could arise at home. Regarding TVs, talk particularly about screen size, definition and viewing distance, and whether it’s possible to hook a smart TV to a landline - we’ve had customers who did not even realise this was necessary to utilise this function! A good demonstration and discussion of features and benefits - and even limitations - can go a long way towards matching buyers to products and thus avoid come-backs, and may lead to sell-up opportunities.

“Many bouncebacks arise because n, of incorrect operatio connection or misunderstanding of the product. ”

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS

It’s really important to check at the outset that the product meets the customer’s expectations in terms of performance and

Excellent product, safely delivered – but could it come back?

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GOOD TO GO

A potential problem we often encounter is that showroom TV pictures look different in the home. If necessary adjust the pre-settings to those (usually “gentler”) appropriate for living-room use before handover. If the set has been in stock for long check that its operational software is up to date. Ensure that the existing equipment cabling and signal links on site are compatible with the new purchase, particularly regarding definition capability and HDMI status: existing gear in the home may not be amenable to new standards and features. Trouble can arise even if it is, for instance where only specific HDMI ports on a TV admit UHD or HDR, and even then may need to be manually assigned or “enhanced” for correct operation, instructions for which may be buried deep in the user’s guide; this is sometimes the case with new UHD Blu-ray players, a trap for the unwary. A good website for checking compatibility, manual assignment, standards and compatibility is www. uhdready.org.uk Unnecessary returns may be forestalled where delivery and installation can be agreed: signal reception, Wi-Fi, cabling/ connection and compatibility problems can (hopefully!) be resolved on the spot, and set-up carried out to the user’s satisfaction. Many bounce-backs arise

because of incorrect operation, connection or misunderstanding of the product. Where the customer has taken the gear home himself a free technician call-out, we find, proves cheaper than the overall cost to the dealer of return and refund. Misguided in-guarantee claims can also be refuted by a dealer’s check...

E-COMMERCE

Goods sold on the web are much more likely to be returned, usually without any explanation or notice of intention, than those bought locally, and the Consumer Contract Regulations (replacing Distance Selling Regulations) make it easy for customers - most of whom are well aware of their rights - to return goods at the drop of a hat. Carefully review your own terms of supply for this type of commerce. Some contracts permit the refund of shipping costs where the goods are not faulty and are perfectly well suited for purpose, and even if not (“changed mind”) we find that people are not above “inventing” a guarantee-eligible fault to evade payment of return carriage. Some order more than one product in order to compare and choose at home, intending to return those rejected; an order for two or more similar or competitive products is usually an indication of this, and should arouse your suspicions.

ABANDONED CARTS

Regarding e-tailing, huge amounts are lost to dealers by abandonment of electronic shopping carts. This is caused by customers’ impatience (do you really need to insist on setting up accounts and passwords?) and badly-designed, flaky or faulty websites. I recently bought a new PC directly from one of the world’s bestknown manufacturers. I went through the whole weary business of specifying it and entering all my details including credit card numbers. Right at the end (checkout) the site failed to respond, and did so again and again, despite my many attempts to re-register and pay. Had I not been determined to buy from this source - primarily because of the “extra”’ offered and the company’s excellent reputation for service - I would have given up and gone elsewhere. Finally I bought it from them for the same price over the phone. If you have a sales website, then, regularly check it yourself, going all the way to confirm and pay. Better still, get somebody without much experience of e-buying to do it, watching without guiding.


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