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SUSTAINABLE PLANET How retailers can tap into the twin triggers of self-interest and environmental concern to get their customers excited about the new generation of efficient, resourcesaving electricals
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED Is DVD going the way of VHS? Is the vinyl revival creating a surge in analogue/digital “bridging” products? And why consumers are more interested in what sockets there are round the back of their prospective new TV
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A Get Connected Spotlight feature on Ashford in Kent, where effective action by the Council and local traders working together has achieved a significant improvement in the health of the town’s bricks-and-mortar retail offering
From the Bench
Turning the town around
George Cole Gets Connected How long has DVD got? How vinyl and digital “bridge” products are creating desirable CE products. And the importance of being well connected in the TV department
Alan Bennett on the products that help the disabled
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This is the time when it’s traditional to look back on the highlights of the past year, and maybe look ahead at what might be coming. But really, this year, where do you start?
e’ve always in this column representatives a lot of money to argue for a advocated the idea that the long time and then tell us that nobody can get electrical industry doesn’t operate what they want. in a vacuum, and that the “bigger picture” On the other hand, the EU, not being a is always relevant. So we’re afraid we are democratic institution, is so much better going to have to mention the “B” word, where at negotiation. The EU Grandees have no negotiations – if you can call them that – inconvenient electorate to answer to. They’re have taken nearly two years to get nowhere. above all that. They leave it to the politicians “Business hates uncertainty.” Yes, we know of their constituent nations to take the flak. that. In fact, it’s the only certainly we have. No A quick straw poll reveals that these wonder business and consumer confidence – “negotiations” have, if nothing else, revealed which impacts on your business – is so low. to us as never before the byzantine, remote, In the meantime, it’s comforting to know arrogant, unaccountable organisation we’ve that plans for a “no-deal” are well advanced belonged to for the past 40-odd years. here. The Government is offering Some people we’ve asked (many almost £14 million to Seaborne of whom voted “remain”) now Freight, a company that is want out at any cost just going to set up a ferry because they resent “The monumental service across the paying to keep Jeanincompetence of the Channel. A company that Claude Juncker’s wine House of Commons apparently has no ships, cellar stocked with means that our version of and a management quality red, and paying democracy has led, as it whose track record in the salaries of MEPs so often does, to nobody business is, to say the who don’t turn up least, rather patchy. Quite much (except to claim getting what they where the reference to the their expenses and travel want...” delivery of takeaway meals allowance), and who have in Seaborne’s website terms magnificent pensions to look & conditions came from we can’t forward to. say. Maybe they have a fleet of mopeds The real relevance to us is that, ready to go in Ramsgate as an extension of whether it’s a good deal, bad deal, no deal, the ferry service? In any case, there must be a politicians won’t be much good clearing up good reason. These are “respected business the after-effects. It’s UK businesses – and that people” and they don’t just throw these things means the SMEs who are the backbone of our together, do they? Transport Secretary Chris economy, not the big corporations who can Grayling knows a good deal when he sees skip off somewhere else – who might stagger one, so we’re pitching an alternative crossa bit, then find a way to solve the problems, Channel service on the grounds we have do the business and get on with it. Because more resources available than Seaborne: a that’s what businesses and entrepreneurs do. couple of inflatables and a bag for life that And politicians don’t. we can fill up with paracetamol and prosecco A couple of sparks of optimism to end at an Ostend supermarket a couple of times with: the retailers of Ashford, in Kent, have a week for stockpiling in the UK should be worked with the local council to turn around worth at least £20 million. the fortunes of the town’s shopping locations. It’s not really funny. It’s evidence that It was essentially a local achievement by politicians doing deals – with our money local people who understand their individual – with business people who take care of locality. their own money, always ends badly for the And backbench MP Barry Sheerman has taxpayer. Because politicians really don’t asked for a debate into what can be done do “practical business.” The monumental about the “asset strippers” who are killing the incompetence of the House of Commons big high street store chains and making life means that our version of democracy has led, more difficult for all the other retailers around as it so often does, to nobody getting what them. Maybe Mr Sheerman has been reading they want, and to our paying our elected Get Connected?
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Stylish retro refrigeration Visit the website for details on the full retro range for 2018 or call sales on 01949 862010
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
SONY EUROPEAN HQ MOVING OUT OF UK S
ony has announced that it is to move its European HQ – currently in Weybridge, Surrey – to the Netherlands, in order to avoid customs issues that might arise from the UK’s exit from the EU, the company has said. No personnel or operations will be moved from the UK, and Sony said it can continue its business as usual without disruption once the UK leaves the EU. “All our existing European business functions, facilities, departments, sites and location of our people will remain unchanged from today.” News of the move – a direct result of Brexit and the anticipated customs procedural disruptions it might cause – came almost simultaneously with Dyson’s announcement that it is to move its HQ
from the UK to Singapore, although James Dyson insists that the decision is “nothing to do with Brexit.” However, it is clear that Brexit is causing companies to review their position in the light of the UK’s imminent departure from the EU. Panasonic has already shifted its headquarters to Amsterdam, citing potential tax issues caused by Brexit, although, again, the company said the impact on UK personnel would be minimal. Japanese companies in the UK, which currently employ some 150,000 people, appear to be nervous about the damaging effects of Brexit, and during a recent visit to the UK, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his worry that a no-deal Brexit could damage Japanese companies with a presence here.
POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY RAISES FEARS AMONGST SMALL BUSINESSES
small business confidence has fallen to -9.9, the lowest level since the wake of the financial crash in 2011, with confidence among retailers tumbling to -44 as high streets endured the worst year on record. According to the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses), which publishes the Small Business Index (SBI), concerns were raised about weak economic growth, consumer
“How have politicians allowed it to come to this? Two and half years on from the Brexit vote and small businesses are looking ahead to Brexit day with no idea of what environment they’ll be faced with…”
demand and high lending rates. Amid the uncertainty arising from the UK’s departure from the EU, the domestic economy was flagged more often as a growth constraint than any other common barrier to expansion. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “How have politicians allowed it to come to this? Two and half years on from the Brexit vote and small businesses are looking ahead to Brexit day with no idea of what environment they’ll be faced with… “The current uncertainty is making it impossible for firms to plan, hire and invest. That’s feeding into wider concern about the economy at large. We won’t see GDP growth pick up again until there’s some certainty about how the business environment will change in the coming months.” The SBI also showed borrowing costs for small businesses climbing. The proportion of successful credit applicants being offered a borrowing rate of 5% or more has hit a record high of 74%, while the proportion of small firms applying for external finance remains stubbornly low, at around one in eight.
JOHN LEWIS TO SHUT SOUTHSEA STORE John Lewis has announced that the Knight & Lee store in Southsea, Hampshire, which opened in 1865, was acquired by the John Lewis Partnership in 1933 and is one of only two John Lewis shops in the UK to retain its original name, will close in July.
ohn Lewis said the size (35,000 sq. ft.) and condition of the Southsea store – the Partnership’s smallest fullrange department store – meant that it would have needed “significant investment” to modernise it, and under the circumstances, John Lewis could better serve customers in Southsea through its Southampton and Chichester shops, and online with an improved Click & Collect offer at Waitrose & Partners Southsea. Another factor in the decision to close the store, according to Partner & Operations Director Dino Rocos, was the opportunity to sell the property freehold. The closure impacts the jobs of a reported 127 partners, and Mr Rocos, thanking the Southsea partners for their loyalty and hard work over the years, said: “We are doing everything we can to offer them roles elsewhere in our business, and finding suitable roles for as many partners as possible is an absolute priority. Nevertheless, there will unfortunately be some redundancies and we will work hard to support all the partners affected.” John Lewis has been suffering from the retail downturn in common with most retailers, and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of JLP, said earlier this year that the Partnership’s profits would be substantially lower this year, threatening the Partners’ annual bonuses which have been paid every year since 1954. "Two main factors are affecting the retail sector,” said Mayfield. “Oversupply of physical space and relatively weak consumer demand."
“With Brexit taking up all of the Government’s bandwidth there are a huge number of domestic business issues that are not being addressed,” said Cherry. “They include the longstanding barriers small firms face when trying to access new finance, and the sky-high borrowing rates they’re often offered if an application is successful. This is another issue that will be exacerbated by a chaotic no-deal Brexit. When times are tough, big lenders often put supporting small businesses on hold.” Cherry pointed out that, come the beginning of April, small firms will not only have Brexit day to worry about but also Making Tax Digital, a higher living wage, rising auto-enrolment contributions and further business rates hikes. “This will be a flashpoint for a lot of businesses, threatening the futures of many,” he said.
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
DIXONS CARPHONE REPORTS “SOLID” CHRISTMAS TRADING Dixons Carphone reported “record sales against a tough backdrop” as it posted a trading update for the 10 weeks ended 5th January showing Group like-for-like revenue up 1%.
espite a declining UK electricals market, UK & Ireland sales rose 2% with record peak sales across all categories driven by Gaming, Smart Tech, Small Domestic Appliances and Vision. In contrast, mobile sales in the region fell 7%. International like-for-likes grew 5% with the Nordics up 3% and Greece 19%. Group Chief Executive Alex Baldock said peak trading was solid and in line with expectations. 2018/19 Group headline PBT guidance of around £300m remains unchanged. For the six months to 27th October Dixons Carphone reported a pre-tax loss of £440 million
compared to a pre-tax profit of £54 million in the same period last year. The loss was mainly due to a £490 million charge mostly related to a writedown in the value of its mobile business. Group like-for-like revenue rose 2%. The company said it had identified gross cost-savings of £200 million but it would not be cutting jobs. An additional £200 million of capital expenditure would be allocated over three years to accelerate the transformation of the business. The business also announced that over 30,000 colleagues would become shareholders through a new share awards incentive. Alex Baldock, Group Chief Executive, said: “We have set a clear long-term direction that will deliver more engaged colleagues, more satisfied customers and a more valuable business for shareholders. “We’re focusing on our core, and on four things that matter most – two big profitable growth
BLACK FRIDAY LIFTS AO WORLD Q3 REVENUES
World said it was “on track” to deliver its longterm plan as it released a trading update for its third quarter ended 31 December 2018. Overall Group revenue increased by 8.2% compared to the same period last year, with UK revenue up 4.4% and Europe up 31.3% – stronger than Q2 growth rates for the region. The company reported its highest sales month ever in November and stated that customers responded positively to its UK seasonal Black Friday offer. Deals during the event were offered over a longer period of time during the month, so sales flow was smoother and margins improved. “Against a challenging backdrop, Q3 represents a solid performance across the AO Group,” said Chief Executive Steve Caunce. For the six months ended 30th September, AO World reported revenue up 9.9% to £404.2m against a “continuingly tough macro trading
environment in UK and Europe” and a declining UK MDA market. Group adjusted EBITDA losses were reduced to £5.4m from £6.3m in 2017. Total UK revenue rose 5.7% to £334.8m, with AO website sales increasing 4.2% to £294.3m – growth came from newer categories such as AV, computing and cameras. Adjusted EBITDA of £6.9m was affected by lower than anticipated MDA sales and the expected dilutive gross margin percentage impact of growth in newer categories. Revenue in Europe increased 35.0% to €78.4m. Adjusted EBITDA losses were reduced to €13.8m from €15.6m in 2017 as a result of improvements in product margin and leverage in logistics and overheads. Group operating losses were reduced to £11.7m from £12.0m in 2017 and included exceptional costs of £1.4m incurred in relation to the acquisition of Mobile Phones Direct Ltd.
Building a new dynamic model for quantifying EEE put on the market and WEEE generated.
opportunities in online and credit, revitalising our mobile business and giving customers an easy experience. We’ll deliver these through capable and committed colleagues working in one joinedup business with strong infrastructure.” Baldock spoke of headwinds and uncertainty facing businesses serving the UK consumer, “we’ve had our own challenges,” he said. “But, with this plan, we can now see the way to unleashing the true potential of this business.”
UPBEAT CHRISTMAS FOR JOHN LEWIS BUT “SUBSTANTIALLY LOWER” PROFITS EXPECTED The John Lewis Partnership reported a positive Christmas trading period but said it continues to expect full-year total profits to be substantially lower, putting Partners’ annual bonus at risk.
hairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said the Board will need to consider carefully in March whether payment of the bonus is prudent in the light of business and economic prospects at that time. The fall in profits has been driven by slower sales growth over the year and margin pressure at omnichannel department store chain John Lewis & Partners, along with higher costs mainly associated with continued investment in IT capabilities. Gross sales at the Partnership (John Lewis & Waitrose) were up 1.4% to £2,207m on last year. John Lewis & Partners recorded sales up 2.5%
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to £1,160m and 1.0% up on a likefor-like basis. The retailer said it outperformed the market by 2.0% in the seven weeks to 5th January. Black Friday contributed to the biggest sales week in the omnichannel business’s history.
HAIER COMPLETES CANDY ACQUISITION
hinese manufacturer Qingdao Haier has completed the acquisition of Candy S.p.A, owner of international brands Candy and Hoover and national brands including Rosières. Haier said the acquisition “perfectly fits” into its strategy to attain a leading position in all regions across the world. According to Euromonitor data, combined volumes of the Haier and Candy groups in 2018 represented a global market share of 15.1% in major appliances, 22.7% in freestanding refrigeration appliances and 19.8% in home laundry appliances. Combined revenue ranks fifth in Western Europe and the aim is to enter the top three by 2022. “Candy’s brands, including Candy, Hoover and Rosières, as well as Haier, GE Appliances and Fisher & Paykel, will be the key international brands in their respective segments and in their respective leadership geographies and aim to become top-of-mind for global consumers,” the two companies said in a statement. The Chinese manufacturer also has a vision to become the global leader in IoT for smart home appliances. Haier Europe CEO Yannick Fierling, who will lead the operations of the Candy Hoover Group, commented: “Candy represents a major acquisition and is a terrific asset for the growth of our combined group, bringing great value to our employees, customers, business partners and shareholders. “Europe is one of the key markets in Haier's global brand strategy and this combination will accelerate Haier's positioning in the region.” Beppe and Aldo Fumagalli, members of the family which owned the Candy business since it was established in 1946, will be non-executive Directors of Haier Europe.
Qingdao Haier Chairman Haishan Liang (left) and Haier Europe CEO Yannick Fierling at a ceremony marking Candy’s integration into the Haier Group
FORBES RENTALS ACQUIRES STUART DARLING RENTAL BUSINESS
orbes Rentals has acquired Stuart Darling Ltd’s TV and appliance rental accounts with a customer base centred around Milton Keynes and Bedford. Forbes said the accounts will be readily absorbed into its existing business and will benefit from “highly responsive service support.” Forbes Rentals and Stuart Darling are both long established family companies and have been acquainted at a senior level for more than 25 years. Surrey-based Forbes’ existing product range includes the same products as the AV and appliance rental equipment acquired in the deal, so all the requisite engineering knowledge, spare parts and replacement machines will be readily available to Stuart Darling’s customers, the company said.
Forbes was established in 1926 and has a nationwide infrastructure and large fleet of service engineers. All service & account management is handled centrally from its head office. The company has undergone significant expansion and products now range from AV to laundry and kitchen appliances, iPads, home surveillance and mobility scooters. Acquisitions are intrinsic to Forbes’ business strategy and the synergy between the two companies makes this a straightforward investment, the company said. Stephen Edwards, Finance Director and a key contact for companies throughout the acquisition process, commented: “This is the 55th company from which we have acquired contracts, so we are well placed to carry out a seamless transfer.”
HISENSE GORENJE DEAL FINALISED
isense UK has assumed control of Gorenje UK’s operations and logistics, following the completion of a deal in which Chinese manufacturer Hisense Co. Ltd acquired a 95% stake in the Slovenian appliance producer. The Gorenje brand will continue to operate in the UK with sales and support continuing, and Iztok Krulc will continue to head up the business in the region. The takeover will result in Hisense, mostly known for TV and cooling products, launching a collection of cooking products, including ovens, hobs and hoods, onto the UK market and a range of dishwashers are also due to be released in 2019.
“This is a really exciting deal for both brands,” said Howard Grindrod, managing director of Hisense UK. “It represents a fantastic opportunity for us to work together to offer an incredible range of high-quality and innovative products into the household appliance market. “Gorenje has a long-standing reputation for quality and style, and we will continue this tradition and combine it with our extensive R&D facilities to innovate and continually improve. “We expect the new Hisense cooking range to be introduced to the market in early 2019, while the Gorenje brand will continue in the UK.”
MIDWICH ACQUIRES SWISS AV DISTRIBUTOR AV
distributor Midwich has acquired 100% of the share capital of Swiss value-added distributor of audio visual products MobilePro AG from Omega Handelsgesellschaft m.b.h, a leading IT/AV distributor with its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The acquisition follows that of Blonde Robot Pty Ltd, a value-added distributor of professional
video, broadcast and photography products with headquarters in Melbourne, Australia and subsidiaries in Hong Kong and Malaysia. The MobilePro purchase will be carried out through Midwich’s German subsidiary Kern & Stelly GmbH. Zurich-based MobilePro is a market leading AV distributor to the Swiss trade market with an estimated 2018 turnover in excess of 25 million CHF.
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
FCA PROPOSES INTRODUCTION OF PRICE CAP ON RENTTO-OWN FIRMS
Whirlpool Corporation has announced the appointment of Gilles Morel as President of the Europe, Middle East and Africa Region and Executive Vice President, effective 1st April 2019. Sennheiser has appointed Neil Watson as Regional Marketing Manager for the UK and Ireland.
InSinkErator® has appointed Phill Quantrell to Area Sales Manager for London and the South, a role in which he will also support the company’s Sales Director in the housebuilding and contracts market. Distributor of technology products Exertis has appointed Howard Ingleby to the newly created position of programme director for the UK & Ireland.
Pure International has appointed Henrik Lorensen as a NonExecutive Director and Chairman. He succeeds Sir Hossein Yassaie, who continues as a shareholder and Board Director. The Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group has appointed Russell Sharpe as Business Manager North.
Midwich has promoted Lee Harris and Ross Floyd Harris to Divisional Directors, focusing respectively on AV (Midwich Ltd) and a wider role covering AV, Document Solutions and further technologies. The move follows the planned retirement of Commercial Director Lee Baker.
he Financial Conduct Authority has proposed the introduction of a price cap on the rent-to-own retail sector, which often charges more than other retailers for essential household goods such as washing machines and cookers. The cap, subject to consultation, will come into force on 1 April 2019. The changes are expected to save consumers up to £22.7m per year. The FCA said RTO customers are some of the most financially vulnerable in our society. Only a third are in work and most are on low incomes of between £12,000 and £18,000. In some instances, RTO customers can pay up to four times the average retail price when add-on insurance and warranties are taken into account. The proposed price cap will limit both the cost of the product and the charge for credit. Credit charges cannot be more than the cost of the product, and RTO firms will need to benchmark the cost of products against the prices charged by three other retailers. Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, said: “We believe a cap is the only intervention that will effectively tackle the highest prices. “We want to stop consumers having to pay many multiples more than the price of a product on the high street. These changes build on the measures we have already taken across the high-cost credit sector.” The FCA’s previous work has resulted in redress packages nearing £16m for around 340,000 customers of RTO firms BrightHouse, PerfectHome and Buy As You View. The organisation said it is also introducing a 2-day cooling off period for the sale of extended warranties. This comes into force 22nd February 2019.
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ESF URGES CAUTION ON EU “RIGHT TO REPAIR” INITIATIVE
lectrical Safety First is encouraging manufacturers to support a network of authorised repairers in the light of proposed EU legislation making electrical products longer lasting and easier to repair. The proposals are part of plans to reduce the environmental impact of products and come under the EU Ecodesign Directive. The bloc’s 28 Member States have already agreed on a new set of manufacturing laws regarding cooling products, despite opposition from manufacturers and hesitation from the European Commission, and the intention is to extend the “right to repair” to other industry categories. Waste from electronics is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. But Phil Buckle, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, says “right to repair” is not quite as simple as it might seem and has the potential to raise safety issues. His viewpoint indicates that the initiative may be difficult to police. “There are a number of products which are not designed to be ‘user-serviced’ and it’s particularly difficult obtaining parts for many tech products, as the manufacturer often retains stock for in-house repairs only. “But for many people now carrying their life in their mobile phone, for example, waiting a month for a repair via the manufacturer is inconceivable. Instead, they are likely to take the faster, cheaper option by using an unauthorised repair shop, which often use non-approved parts. Alternatively, consumers might buy a component online, to undertake the repair themselves. “However, these components can often be substandard, untested and potentially dangerous. And using a high street repairer is equally problematic. Without the technical expertise, equipment or experience, it is not surprising that complex repairs can be counter-productive, often creating further safety issues.” Electrical Safety First says it has been raising this issue with manufacturers for some time now and as well as encouraging them to support a network of authorised repairers, the charity wants them to consider, when it makes economic and environmental sense, making products more accessible to self-maintenance. Chloe Fayole of ECOS, a non-profit organisation working to promote environmental aspects in the development of standards and specifications at European and international level, said: “Enabling consumers to repair and reuse all electronic products is a must and will help save millions of tons of natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions while saving consumers money.”
RECYCLING LIVES UPS SOCIAL VALUE AS ANNUAL SALES RISE R
ecycling Lives Compliance Services, a WEEE producer compliance scheme which combines commercial operations with charitable programmes, has reported revenues of more than £3.4m in 2017/18, up from £2m in 2016/17 and £1.5m in 2015/16. The company is part of the national Recycling Lives Group, which reported total sales of more than £75m in 2017/18 and a 76% rise in EBITDA to £10m from its national waste management, recycling, car salvage, compliance and recruitment businesses. Central to Recycling Lives’ customer offering are charitable programmes in offender rehabilitation, reducing welfare dependency by supporting the homeless, and redistributing surplus food to charitable groups.
These programmes delivered a social value worth £8m in 2017/18 – exceeding the firm’s commitment to creating social value equal to or greater than 10% of annual sales. Managing Director David Allen said: “The key to our success has been
working hard to improve efficiencies as well as our unique social value offering to clients. Our multi-faceted approach gives companies the opportunity to show they can achieve positive social outcomes while achieving first-rate compliance.”
EXERTIS SCS SHARES IN €75M IRISH GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR BLOCKCHAIN PROJECT
xertis, distributor of technology products for the B2B, mobile and retail markets, has announced that its Exertis Supply Chain Services (SCS) organisation has secured funding for its “Blockchain in the Technology Product Supply Chain” project. Announced as one of 27 projects to be funded as part of the Irish Government’s €75 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), Exertis SCS will lead the project in collaboration with the Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research at University College Dublin and Dublin-based software company Sonalake. The benefits of the project are said to include shared visibility to orders across the supply chain, from component manufacturer to consumer; detailed product provenance information based on product serial numbers – key for reducing counterfeit and managing warranty liability; simplified financial reconciliation for promotional rebates; reduced IT integration overhead; greatly improved market analytics across the entire supply chain of a finished technology good. The DTIF funding will enable Exertis SCS to develop and deploy this disruptive technology on a commercial basis.
VISIT GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK FOR THE STORIES BEHIND THE NEWS... Muted end to a tough year… Lancashire firefighters tackle spate of appliance fires More screens, more devices, more noise, less engagement LG wins 140+ accolades at CES 2019 Shop prices rise, despite seasonal discounting Buying group CIH “looking to the future with optimism”
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
2019 ‘LOVE MY SHOP DAY’ ANNOUNCED The organisers of ‘Love My Shop Day’ have announced that this year’s event will take place across the UK on 1st June.
FREEVIEW PLAY DEVICE SALES TOP FIVE MILLION F
reeview and Digital UK have announced that the total number of Freeview Play devices sold in the UK since the platform’s 2015 launch has exceeded five million. Over three million of these devices are being utilised by “active users” (defined as a device which has accessed a piece of on-demand content through a Freeview Play touchpoint in the past 6 months), a figure predicted to surpass four million in the third quarter of 2019.
he initiative aims to encourage shoppers to discover the breadth of choice, value and service found on local high streets and shopping centres and, according to the planners behind the day, “it provides an opportunity for consumers to reconnect with local shops, discover the everyday amazing deals and products available ‘just down the road’ and interact face-to-face with a real person.” Fran Page, Marketing Manager of Love My Shop Day, commented: “The High Street is currently operating at roughly four times the size of online shopping and we want to honour each and every retailer that makes shopping an experience, not a chore.”
Midwich Ltd has partnered with Middle Atlantic Products, a Legrand AV brand which manufactures support and protection products for mounting integrated AV systems. Midwich Ltd will distribute the full Middle Atlantic range in the UK and Ireland, alongside Legrand AV brands Chief, Projecta, Da-Lite and Vaddio. Beko Plc has received ESF’s Safety Innovation Award for adding flame-retardant back panels to all of its refrigeration models. The Turkish manufacturer is one of a number of producers that have moved to metal back-panels in advance of expected changes to the product standard. Freeview has launched a mobile app for iOS devices, giving users quick, on-the-go access to the streaming of live shows from the BBC, ITV and C4, and on-demand content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, and UKTV Play. An Android version will launch later this year. Designer cooker hoods brand AIRUNO has doubled the length of its product warranty to four years. The warranty covers both parts & labour. Hotpoint has raised a total of £20,000 for FoodCycle, a charity that fights food waste, food poverty and loneliness in the UK, via its ‘Fresh Thinking for Forgotten Food’ campaign, run in association with brand ambassador Jamie Oliver. Grundig is to donate £200,000 worth of home appliances to UK foodbased charities nominated by Currys PC World store staff in a ‘Give Back’ initiative in partnership with the retailer. ‘Give Back’ is aligned with Grundig’s Respect Food programme, which campaigns against food waste. Amica has created a new 72-page A4 brochure featuring its freestanding appliances in new lifestyle photography sets. Digital and print copies of the brochure can be requested at: www.amica-international.co.uk.
Compliance with a heart
Recycling Lives Compliance Services is an industry-leader, delivering compliance with European legislation for WEEE, packaging and batteries. Part of the national Recycling Lives Group, it is also delivering social value through associated charity
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CAPLE EXPERIENCE CENTRE OPEN FOR BUSINESS K
itchen and appliance brand Caple has created a 2,000 sq ft Experience Centre at its Bristol headquarters. The space is designed to enhance the brand experience for customers such as retailers, building developers, architects and kitchen designers, and comprises seven luxury kitchen displays and a demonstration area with seating for six guests, in which Michelin-starred chef and brand ambassador
Josh Eggleton will provide demonstrations tailored to individual needs. Caple’s national trainer Jo Underhay will also offer professional cooking classes. “We have created the Caple Experience Centre to enable our customers to enjoy the Caple brand firsthand,” said Managing Director Danny Lay. “Our demonstration area has been designed to cater for those who want to be able to see and feel
the quality of our kitchen furniture, appliances, sinks and taps. However, we also want to demonstrate the exceptional cooking results you can achieve when using our high-quality appliances. So, our new demonstration kitchen allows our customers to understand how easy our cooking appliances are to operate, the attention to detail when it comes to their exquisite design and the mouth-watering dishes you can create.”
BORSHCH ELECTRIC GAINS MONTPELLIER PREMIER PARTNER STATUS
est Midlands-based retailer Borshch Electric has become an Approved Premier Partner to supplier of built-in and freestanding kitchen products Tewkesbury-based Montpellier Domestic Appliances. Award-winning Borshch Electric, a family-run business established in 1982, specialises in selling new and graded appliances and has five stores in the West Midlands region. Director Simon Cox said: “Montpellier is one of the most exciting brands to enter the
UK market in recent years. Their friendly, professional and economical approach is a refreshing alternative to the mainstream brands. “Our Birmingham showroom has over 1000 appliances on display and we are proud to be a Montpellier Approved Premier Partner.” Montpellier was introduced to the UK market by Tewkesbury-based Domestic Appliance Distributors in 2012. In 2016 it became a standalone entity, later establishing a new purpose-built head office and showroom
complex and a fleet of liveried vehicles. Investment has been made in creating a consumer-facing brand with a developing social media presence.
NEW LOOK FOR RANGEMASTER TRAINING FACILITY
ECLIPSE PARTNERS WITH RICHER SOUNDS TO OFFER IN-STORE DEMOS
apanese loudspeaker specialist ECLIPSE has partnered with A/V retailer Richer Sounds to bring permanent 5.1 system demonstrations to a number of the retailer’s stores in the south of England. Participating outlets include those in Southampton (ECLIPSE’s flagship Richer Sounds store), Plymouth and Chelsea in London. ECLIPSE said it is working with Richer Sounds to expand the A/V demonstration scheme beyond the south for 2019 with a growth plan set to move north in targeted areas.
angemaster has revamped its Leamington Spa Training Academy to present the company’s full range of appliances in a contemporary new environment. On the ground floor a fully fitted showroom provides an extensive area to view products in detail, and on the first floor a well-equipped kitchen offers a functional space for cooking demonstrations and events, with a combination of range cookers and built-in products in use. Training Manager Lindsey Payne (pictured) believes the revamped space will be “more popular than ever” for retailers: “We’ve always encouraged our retailers and distributors to visit the Academy as it gives them, and their customers, a great overview of Rangemaster. It’s also a great opportunity to understand the products in more detail and see what they’re capable of. So, with this latest update, there is more to learn than ever before.”
BRANCH NO. 16 FOR HUGHES TRADE
ughes Trade, which was established in 2007, has opened its 16th UK branch as part of an ongoing expansion programme. The outlet is based in Newbury – a new part of the country for the firm – and serves business customers in the town and surrounding areas including Basingstoke, Reading and Oxford.
“These premises give us the ability to stock a wide range of products for immediate delivery, while giving access right along the M4 corridor and particularly into Slough and Heathrow,” said Hughes Trade General Manager Paul Chisnall. “This is the latest chapter in the continuing growth of the business.” Chisnall added that last year was a record for the business, with a 23% rise in sales to over £20m. The new branch is managed by Jos Williams (pictured left). He is assisted by Dean Clarke (right), who has worked for many years in similar businesses in the town.
BIG NEWS in March
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AROUND The town of Ashford in Kent is claiming to have “bucked the national retail trend” with a strong finish to 2018 and local traders feeling positive about the year ahead.
hile the general UK retail picture certainly looks grim, the latest footfall and vacancy rate figures for the town centre show Ashford has much to crow about. Cllr Graham Galpin, portfolio holder for the town centre, says its success is down to continued investment. Footfall for 2018 was up 5.8% on the previous year, and while many towns suffered from a fall in shopper numbers during December, Ashford gained 27% on December 2017. 80,500 shoppers visited the week before Christmas, and footfall rose by 52% during Christmas week.
Galpin commented that all town centres are facing challenging times, “but as part of our changing offer we are seeing new faces and continued investment in the town, and now we have further good news which shows footfall on the up and our vacancy rates bucking the national trend.” And the positive investment in the town is having a knock-on effect, according to Galpin. Ashford College is bringing students into the town, the Commercial Quarter is bringing in office workers, and the new Elwick Place cinema and a new Brewery are adding to the location’s leisure and evening offers. “To make our town centre an appropriate community place for shopping, and much more,
we need to offer something beyond just a shopping experience,” says Galpin. “There is a long way to go, but we know we are doing something right here in Ashford as the High Street’s Minister Jake Berry MP has highlighted our approach as one to follow, and many other local authorities are looking at what we are doing and are looking to replicate it in their towns.” Melissa Dawkins, Curator & Manager of ‘Made in Ashford’, a collaboration of small businesses trading from one store located in the town’s Park Mall, has noticed the impact of higher footfall on trading figures. “Made in Ashford saw our best Christmas ever, with trading up 30% on December last year. We finished our year up 17% on our previous year, which we are very pleased with,” she commented. “The footfall in the town has increased dramatically and there is a real positive feeling after many of this years’ events, such as Splashes of Summer and the Snowdog art trail, which has been a direct driver to our successes. “The local community continues to be very positive about independent retail on our high street and are keen to support us, which is another major factor in it being a fantastic year for us. We have started 2019 by doing a refit, by ourselves, to make our shop even better and we are very confident and excited about our future in our town.” County Square, another main shopping centre in the town, saw annual footfall figures for 2018 increase by 3.1% year on year, with almost 6.2 million people visiting the location. The last week of December’s figures were up by 9.7% year on year and the first week of January 2019 showed an 8.5% increase on January 2018. Centre Manager Frances Burt said: “We’re delighted that County Square has been bucking the trend on visitor numbers, since most shopping centres are well down on footfall. “Not only does this apply to us, but by working alongside other Ashford retailing groups such as the Town Centre Business forum as well
as Ashford Borough Council’s Town Centre Regeneration team, we all work hard to try and improve the shopping experience for our local community and for people visiting Ashford to shop or just meet up with family and friends.” The Government’s investigation into the decline of the high street resulted in the formation of a Town Centres Expert Panel. The panel spent six months examining the many challenges facing the high street to present a plan of action which has now been published. The report calls for a community-focused approach to tackling the challenges facing high streets and town centres and puts community involvement and local leadership at the centre of a plan to create the town centres of the future. “A lot of the recommendations in the report reflect what is already happening in Ashford,” says Galpin. “We are delighted to be leading from the front. Place changing is recognised as important as place making, and there is going to be a fund to pay for significant infrastructure, as well as recognition that there needs to be a town centre champion. It’s a vital part of the report that you need strong leadership to take the plan forward. “Town centres will need to be reinvented for life in the 21st century and if we don’t repurpose and change the offer then we won’t have a high street to worry about. I have always said I want Ashford town centre to be a fun place to visit. “An important part of what we offer is that fun element, otherwise we just end up with a town that is very lacklustre, and we have all seen a number of these up and down the country. Every town needs to keep working hard to improve.”
a difficult climate, the built-in sector is one which has held its own, demonstrating sustained growth and offering potential rewards to those retailers with the right product offering. Alex Hinton, Head of Built-in at Belling, looks at the latest products on the market and how retailers can unlock those all-important sales opportunities. Why Built-in?
brand’s patented Zeus, a smart connected timer application. Zeus is easy to operate via an App that is free to download on Android and IOS and allows the oven timer to be controlled by smartphone or tablet using a Bluetooth connection.”
“Built-in appliances offer the perfect combination of functionality and style, whilst preserving that all-important square footage. “However, the seamless unobtrusive design that makes built-in so attractive can also be the very thing that makes it a challenge for consumers in the busy retail environment, as they struggle to differentiate one product from another.”
So, how can retailers help match the right consumer to the right product? “Ask your customer as many questions as you can. What kind of cook are they? Is it all about convenience or do they regularly bake showstoppers? What’s their pain point? A busy lifestyle? Cleaning the oven? “The answers will enable you not only to match the right product to the right consumer, but also to encourage them to trade up on specification where appropriate. If cleaning the oven is their most dreaded chore, then why not take the step up from catalytic liners to fully pyrolytic?”
The 70cm Belling BI70FP Electric Built-under Double Oven
What functions are helping to convert consumers to built-in or encouraging them to trade up? “Even the most accomplished chef wants their appliance to be easy to use. Alongside an array of multifunction offerings, Belling’s built-in appliances feature improved features such as pyrolytic functionality, soft-close doors and the
Boasting an impressive 15 oven functions, the BEL BI602MFPY STA comes with pyrolytic cleaning technology, soft-close doors and a touch control timer
What have been the biggest developments driving built-in sales? “One of the biggest shifts to take place in the built-in sector is in capacity. The average litre capacity of most best-selling 60cm single builtin ovens was previously 59 litres. However, 70 litres is fast becoming an expected prerequisite in the UK market and ALL of Belling’s newest single ovens will feature a minimum 73-litre capacity as standard. “Many consumers will be unaware that there has been such a big shift in capacity. In fact, size might be the very thing that has stopped some from purchasing built-in previously, so it’s a great feature to highlight. “Capacities are also on the increase on double ovens too! Belling’s new 70cm built-in ovens feature 44L + 59L capacity cavities and the 90cm built-in ovens boast 44L and 80L gross capacity.”
Launched in January, Belling’s new collection of built-in appliances was developed in consultation with British consumers and features a full suite of single ovens, double ovens, gas, electric and induction hobs as well as a complementary built-in combination microwave oven. Excellent build quality, improved specifications and a range of thoughtful features are sure to make the collection appealing.
For more information on the collection, or to become a stockist, contact: 0344 2484149.
Bertazzoni adds fridge freezer to built-in range
Belling 2019 built-in collection Belling has launched a new collection of builtin appliances with spacious oven cavities and Bluetooth connectivity. It comprises a suite of single ovens, double ovens, gas, electric and induction hobs and a built-in combination microwave oven. All ovens are A-rated for energy and incorporate Belling’s Equiflow fanned oven technology and easyclean benefits.
Italian appliance manufacturer Bertazzoni has launched its first built-in fridge freezer in the UK & Ireland market. The Total No Frost model has an A+ rating for energy and incorporates three door-storage compartments, three shelves and two freezer drawers. Total capacity 241 litres.
Hoover claims highest-rated 3-in-1 vacuum cleaner Hoover has launched four new upright vacuum cleaners, including a 3-in-1 model claiming “the highest energy and performance ratings on the UK market.” The Hoover H-Lift 700 Pets holds A+AAA ratings respectively in the energy, hard floor, carpet and emissions categories and easily converts into lift-out and motorised stick formats to offer a total cleaning solution for the home.
The Chopin-Evo combination unit from AIRUNO… AIRUNO has expanded its product range with the launch of a new onepiece extractor and induction hob. The 90cm Chopin-Evo’s extractor operates at a maximum rate of 550 m3/h with a noise level rating of 59-73dB(A). The 4-zone induction hob ranges between 1.4 – 3.0kW and features a convenient touch display and individual power levels for each cooking zone.
Danby Appliances’ first UK offering… Canadian appliance manufacturer Danby Appliances, which announced its expansion into the European market last October, has revealed the first of its products to become available in the UK through distributor Exertis. The compact undercounter refrigerator features the Danby retro-curved door with chrome handle, an LED-lit black interior and the Danby CanStor® storage/dispenser for cans.
Classic elegance from Caple The latest appliances in Caple’s Classic collection – the brand’s most affordable appliance range – are designed in stainless steel and sheer black glass, lending a timeless simplicity to the kitchen. The Classic C2239 Pyrolytic single oven (pictured bottom row) is A-rated and has a 67-litre capacity. It has ten functions, including boost and turbo conventional heat, and offers closed-door grilling.
KitSound brings Qi to Bluetooth ANC headphones Kitsound’s Active Noise Cancellation headphones with wire-free charging via a Qi charge pad (which will also charge any other Qi-enabled devices) offer up to 20 hours’ play time and incorporate 40mm drivers, a built-in microphone for call handling, foldable circumaural comfort earcups and a fabric headband. Frequency response 20Hz – 20kHz, sensitivity 113dB, Bluetooth v4.2 – range up to 10 metres.
Audio-Technica’s wood-design turntables deliver natural high-fidelity sound Japanese company Audio-Technica has introduced two new wood-based belt-driven turntables, offering “high-fidelity audio performance far beyond their price levels.” The AT-LPW40TN and AT-LPW30TK’s chassis have been chosen for their natural acoustic and anti-resonance properties. Both use high-density wood which minimises any feedback generated from low frequency energies. The AT-LPW40WN is priced at £299 and the AT-LPW30TK (available spring 2019) will be priced at £259.
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
IS DVD THE NEW VHS? Two pieces of news late last year put the spotlight on the future of the DVD format. The first was that John Lewis was no longer stocking standalone DVD players, citing that sales are down 40%. The second was HMV going into administration for the second time in five years, with the company blaming a big dip in DVD sales as part of the problem.
early January of streaming devices. But DVD still this year, the remains a popular carrier for Entertainment Retailers movies. It’s interesting to “There’s no Association (ERA) note many music boxed doubt that DVD reported that UK DVD sets that include video players are commodity disc sales were down content still continue items, so it’s no surprise 23.5% and Blu-ray sales to use DVDs, even that John Lewis wants to down 12%. ERA added though the platform is focus on Blu-ray players that streaming sales two generations behind grew by 9.4%. Streaming Blu-ray and Ultra HD and streaming services such as Hulu and Blu-ray. In some cases, devices.” Netflix continue to grow, this is because the footage with the latter having close to was originally shot in standard 10 million UK subscribers. So, is definition, so there’s little DVD finally heading to the technorequirement for Blu-ray or its UHD scrapheap in the sky? version (although some music boxed sets use Not so fast. ERA notes that when it comes to Blu-ray to deliver 5.1-sound). The main reason Top 20 film sales, physical formats account for an they use DVD is that they know almost every average of 74% of sales. The biggest selling film home will have a device that plays the discs. of 2018 was The Greatest Showman, with sales These are confusing times for music of 2.7 million units. Digital sales represented 29% companies, publishers, manufacturers and of this figure, and physical 71%, which suggests retailers. Sales of audio cassettes are up, albeit that most of us still like to own physical copies of from a very low base, and sales of printed books our favourite movies. ERA also reports that video grew by 2.1% in value. Then of course there’s the revenue was £2.4bn in 2018, up 7.4% from the vinyl revival. There is no doubt that the digital low point in 2012, although still some way below market will continue to eat into the physical the £3bn reached in 2004. market, but physical formats like DVD aren’t There’s no doubt that DVD players are going anywhere yet. commodity items, so it’s no surprise that John Lewis wants to focus on Blu-ray players and
BRIDGING THE GAP T
alking of the vinyl revival, it’s interesting how manufacturers are continuing to launch what I call bridge products – products that straddle the analogue and digital worlds. Sony is the latest company to market a bridge product, in this case, the PS-LX310BT turntable. The turntable has a built-in Bluetooth transmitter, allowing the sound to be wirelessly sent to a Bluetooth-enabled sound bar, speaker or pair of headphones. There are already turntables that come with USB connections, allowing users to connect their turntable to a PC and digitise their vinyl records, and we can expect to see other manufacturers following Sony’s lead.
SOCKET AND SEE IT’S
not often you see a customer peering around the back of a television when buying a new set, but connectivity does matter to many people, especially those buying high-end models. At this year’s CES show, LG and Samsung announced plans to support the new HDMI 2.1 standard on some sets in 2019. LG says it will put HDMI 2.1 ports on its OLED and high-end LCD models; Samsung has so far not released further details. HDMI 2.1 was announced back in November 2017 and it’s the latest iteration of the socket that replaced the Scart as the standard TV socket. As expected, the 2.1 standard is a step-up from the current 2.0 version, and includes support for 4K at 120 framesper-second, and 8K at 60fps. Other features include dynamic HDR, variable refresh rate and support for object-based surround-sound systems such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. HDMI 2.1 will be a useful sales feature, but it’s worth pointing out to customers that the existing 2.0 standard will suit most people for years ahead. Remember, we still haven’t got 4K broadcasts, let alone 8K.
FROM THE BENCH
FROM THE BENCH
HELPING DISABLED PEOPLE T
he terms disabled, handicapped and impaired embrace a wide range of sensory and physical problems. Modern AV and IoT equipment can offer tremendous help to people who live with these conditions, helping them to stay independent longer.
As lifespans become longer people increasingly need help with everyday living. Over to Alan Bennett
models by LG, Samsung and Sony have this feature, which also facilitates searching for specific shows or programme genres by voice command, while Panasonic (some Viera models, Voice Guidance), Samsung and others offer announcement of on-screen information and menus: check specifications HEARING or feature lists to identify these models. The Deafness or impaired hearing afflicts many mainstream in voice control of TV, audio people; they may benefit from a sound bar to and household appliances is now, of course, improve TV audio quality and clarity. A loop wire driven by smart home equipment; increasingly can be routed around the room at floor level for TV and audio gear manufacturers are use with the T setting on existing hearing aids. It incorporating compatibility with only gives mono sound, but benefits from the Amazon, Google and other hearing aid’s ‘tailoring’ to the user’s hearing systems, helping not only those profile. Bluetooth devices, in the form of with sight problems but also wireless speakers – mounted, perhaps, users with impaired dexterity on the listener’s chair – and cordless and mobility. Lately LG, Loewe and headphones, particularly noiseToshiba have added to or expanded cancelling types, suit many hearingtheir ranges here. The Amazon Echo impaired viewers and listeners very Skill is good for TV control so long as the well, and are available with volume, set supports it. tone and balance controls (e.g. On a more modest A simplified easyfrom Amplicomms, Geemarc scale, ‘simple’ (limitedoperation remote. and others) to fulfil these users’ function) and big-button Many makes are needs. While many TVs mute remote controls are made by available their built-in speakers when freelance manufacturers, notably ‘phones are plugged in, some Doro and One for All, and some setmakers. newer types from LG, Panasonic and Sony (but not DEXTERITY Samsung) provide separate adjustment of speaker Some users, including those with arthritis, and headphone volume levels. rheumatism and dementia, have problems with Subtitles are available on over 90% of dexterity. Some of the equipment described above TV programmes, and can be invoked on a for blind people, in particular voice-control and temporary or permanent basis by selection from simple/big-button zappers, may also help them the zapper menu. of course. Useful, too, are gadgets applicable SIGHT to those having problems with sitting, rising and TV for the blind seems incongruent, but even moving about the house, as described below. here broadcasters provide a partial solution MOBILITY in the form of AD (Audio Description), which Difficulty with mobility arises from several medical conveys ongoing narration of picture features conditions, as do confusion and loss of memory, such as scenery, action, costumes, body often as a result of dementia or Alzheimer’s language and facial expression. It covers about disease. Again, some of the equipment described 20% of programmes, again menu-led via the above may help. A special simple music player remote control, and thus simple to access. You for people with these problems is marketed by can earn Brownie points by demonstrating how TechSilver, www.techsilver.uk, with downloading simple this is to do! by USB and a very simple, foolproof and intuitive Most people with eye problems have impaired user interface, using only the lid and one button. sight rather than a total loss of vision. For them The advent of the smart home, while useful the bigger the TV picture the better, so an and effortless for those lucky enough to retain all upgrade in screen size usually helps. Voice their functions and faculties, has been a boon to control of TV can assist the blind; some current
“The advent of the smart home, while useful and effortless for those lucky enough to retain all their functions and faculties, has been a boon to those with a mobility handicap, facilitating as it does control – by voice or mobile device – of almost anything in the home.”
those with a mobility handicap, facilitating as it does control – by voice or mobile device – of almost anything in the home. At this time of year the ability to switch on the electric blanket from the armchair or before getting home is a modest but much appreciated one! You can supply, and set up, the apps on smartphones, perhaps ones with simplified operation. They are there to be had, but maybe something with a bigger screen and keys may be called for: over to you. Smartphone apps with GPS are also available for carers to keep track of somebody who is vulnerable, disabled or prone to forgetfulness or wandering off, along with specialist types having emergency call-help features, even incorporating simple touch-picture instant communication with carers or relatives. Doro, Geemarc and others offer these, along with wired and cordless telephones designed for the elderly and handicapped. For dealers with service facilities the sale, installation, commissioning and programming of devices for the disabled offers opportunities for new business and the satisfaction of helping those in need: random examples are the last two such we did this week: the supply of a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner; and the fixing up of a door-entry outfit with camera and two-way intercom for a gentleman in his 90s. Sometimes the installation and explanation of devices for the disabled and mentally impaired requires a particularly patient and empathetic technician. Guiding people to equipment that helps and fulfils them, and filling gaps in the service and installation fields, can be rewarding in more ways than one...
Hotpoint Day-1 technology keeping food fresher, tastier for longer
SUSTAINABLE SALES “Sustainability” is a word – and a concept – that has over the past decade transformed from an indefinite aspiration for climatologists and eco warriors, into a real, practical concern for consumers who are realising it’s a personal – and possibly urgent – responsibility we all have to shoulder. How is this affecting the domestic appliance industry, and how can retailers best engage with customers’ concerns?
ustainability is a concern for more consumers than ever before. Plastic and other waste, climate change, energy usage and degradation of the environment are constantly in the media, and whether it’s prompted by concern for the planet, or the more self-interested concern for rising household energy bills, everybody is realising that individual choices can make a difference to personal finances and to the sustainability of the planet we share.
SUSTAINABILITY BEGINS AT HOME For individuals, domestic appliances are the obvious place they can start to make a difference. Every household uses them, and, as Marco
Falaschetti of Whirlpool points out: “Inefficient domestic appliances can be some of the biggest energy-drainers in the home.” “Inefficient” is the key word here, and the good news is that manufacturers have, for the most part, risen magnificently to the challenge of producing a 21st century range of appliances that not only save energy and resources whilst they’re doing their job in the home, but are also more sustainable in the entire life-cycle from manufacture through to end-of-life disposal. While responsible manufacture is an important element for some consumers, it’s probably efficiency of operation in the home that is of most concern – and most easily explained – to customers at point of sale; and it is testament
to manufacturers’ efforts that the EU energy labelling system has had to be updated to reflect constantly improving efficiencies.
CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT The energy label is an important element, since it is common to all domestic appliances and allows direct comparisons of efficiency. Hotpoint head of brand Jennifer Taylor notes how “it is the responsibility of both the manufacturer and retailer to educate and build on the consumer’s eco-consciousness. The energy label has subsequently become a symbol of quality and efficiency and a purchase driver, with sales of ‘A+++’ rated appliances surpassing sales of lesser rated models.” But it is just one of a number of factors influencing customer choice at point of sale. If retailers want to engage and involve their customers, and appeal both to personal needs and to wider considerations of sustainability, it comes down to a mix of personal interest and environmental conscience that will be different for each customer, and retailers need to identify the individual mix in each case. As Richard Mackey, product & marketing manager for Gorenje UK, points out: “It’s key to demonstrate that sustainable products and running cost savings go hand-in-hand. An appliance that uses less energy is not only better for the environment, but impacts much less on energy bills in any household. Key messages to communicate at the point of sale are those that benefit the consumer at immediate level, such as water-saving or energy-saving features. For example, an A+++ energy-rated refrigerator uses 60% less power than those in A class, which also translates to significant cost savings in energy bills.”
Hotpoint’s Jennifer Taylor adds that introducing a combination of factors to the sales process can be productive: “It is known,” she says, “that purchase decisions are often based on the upfront cost of an appliance. The cost of running the appliance is not often discussed at the point of the sale, but can be used as a tool to encourage consumers to trade up to a more efficient model. Indesit’s Sara Bazeley reinforces the point: “Energy efficiency will continue to be of importance when buying an appliance; especially as consumers are constantly challenged to keep their utility bills to a minimum. It is always wise for the consumer to invest in the most efficient models they can afford at the point of purchase, as the investment will pay dividends in utility bills well into the future. Retailers should always take the time to explain the energy labelling system, and help the customer to compare models and brands, in order to demonstrate how much energy and water can be saved by choosing the most efficient model. It is a good idea to take the time to try to estimate how much their current appliance could be costing them in comparison, so they understand how much technology has progressed in recent years. It may have been some time since the customer last purchased an appliance and they therefore may not be aware of the technical advances available that contribute to a highly efficient appliance.”
WHAT’S USING THE ENERGY? The energy efficiency of domestic appliances has improved dramatically over the last decade or so, and it is up to manufacturers and retailers to bring consumers up to date with current technologies, correcting where they can the myths that still exist about the relative energy consumption of the main domestic appliance categories. It is always difficult to get definitive figures on the cost of running appliances because there are so many variables. But it is generally true that those which have had a historically bad reputation have improved so much that retailers should take every opportunity to explain what technology has achieved in terms of efficiency. A useful guide, as suggested by Whirlpool’s Falaschetti, is the study conducted by the Energy Saving Trust, which produced the table below. Cooling appliances naturally emerge as the biggest energy consumers simply because they are running continuously 365 days a year.
Indesit Aria induction hob: fast, controllable, efficient cooking
Additional data from British Gas reveals that A-rated washing machines are among the lowest consumers of electricity, costing on average some £12 a year (obviously subject to frequency of use.) The tumble dryer, often cited as a major villain on the energy consumption scene, costs on average between £30 and £40 a year according to British Gas figures. Again, this is dependent on frequency of use. And a dishwasher, still suffering from the myth that it is profligate with both energy and water, costs around £45 a year to run and uses less water and less energy than washing by hand (some estimates claim a saving of around £70 a year over washing up by hand, not to mention the huge savings in water consumption and time.)
FACING THE FACTS Whirlpool’s Marco Falaschetti asserts that “through a lack of consumer knowledge many appliance categories have hung on to their age-old reputation of sponging on resources.” Today, each category of domestic appliances has a strong sustainability story, and retailers have an opportunity to engage their customers with compelling facts that dispel old myths and reassure consumers that current technology allows them to achieve savings in running costs, and at the same time to benefit the environment. Dishwashers, as Falaschetti highlights, are a case in point. Hotpoint’s Jennifer Taylor says:
Annual kWh usage
Running cost per year (£)
Oven (without hob)
Cooker with electric cook top
“Inefficient domestic appliances can be some of the biggest energydrainers in the home”
“Many consumers remain under the impression that dishwashers are costly to run as it is thought they consume large quantities of water and electricity. This is far from the truth.” And Hoover Candy UK business director Steve Macdonald stresses the advances: “Dishwashers and laundry models have developed significantly in the last few years, with technology that’s reducing the energy consumption used to run these appliances. For example, it can now be greener to wash dishes in a dishwasher than by hand, given the eco programmes that are available.” It’s a message worth emphasising, and as well as presenting the facts, retailers can also illustrate them in-store in memorable ways. Hotpoint’s Jennifer Taylor suggests: “Placing litre bottles of water on top of a dishwasher is an effective way to demonstrate to the consumer just how little water the appliance consumes per cycle. Comparing this water consumption to that of hand washing leaves a lasting impression with the consumer.” Tumble dryers – of enormous convenience to UK households in an uncertain climate, but still avoided by many because of their energyguzzling reputation - have also benefited from technological developments. Nick Platt, business director, built-in division, Hoover Candy UK, highlights heat pump technology that has made the tumble dryer a viable proposition for many more households: “We put a lot of emphasis on how heat pump models are more efficient than conventional dryers; temperatures are 30%
lower and they use 50% less energy, which not only saves money, but helps take care of your clothes and maintain their condition for longer.” Hotpoint’s Jennifer Taylor concurs: “Like dishwashers, tumble dryers are also seen as inefficient and costly to run. However, with heat pump technology, this has changed the appliance’s resourcefulness and today it is the most efficient drying technology on the market.”
COOL CONSERVATION The chart shows that cooling products are top of the annual energy consumption league. But they can be easily overlooked because they get on with their job unobtrusively 24 hours a day for years. Older cooling products – that could have been in service for many years or even decades – use so much more energy and are so much less efficient at keeping food fresh, that there’s always an opportunity for retailers to focus on. As Jennifer Taylor of Hotpoint emphasises: “Refrigeration technology has developed tremendously and can also be overlooked at the point of the sale. Taking the time to explain the additional features and the new technologies can help to encourage a sale of a model that boasts greater eco credentials.” Most cooling manufacturers have developed systems for maintaining the freshness, flavour and nutritional content over longer periods, and Jennifer Taylor adds: “Hotpoint has found that two thirds of the British public worry about food waste. This is following the revelation that in the UK, around 10 million tonnes of food is wasted per year and a staggering 71%of this is attributed to households.” Strong reasons for retailers to make sure the message gets heard.
CLEAN ENERGY Washing machines are an important part of most households, and have enjoyed similar technological advances that have enhanced their energy and water efficiency as well as benefiting the environment and domestic budgets by ensuring detergent dosages are precisely
Miele taking care of garments for longer life
measured to avoid wastage. Also worth considering are the garment-care properties that modern washing machines are building in to make clothing last longer. Richard Treffler, product manager for laundry and dishwashers at Miele GB, says: “Just as investing in high performance refrigeration ensures food stays fresher for longer, in turn helping to minimise food waste, opting for a washing machine with a range of dedicated wash programmes helps to improve the longevity of clothing. Washing machines that focus on garment care which can extend the lifespan of favoured outfits can have real tangible impact in reducing the need for repeat purchasing.” Greater choice of drum capacity is also a factor. Hotpoint’s Jennifer Taylor says: “Drum capacities of laundry appliances is a great eco message to be communicated at the point of the sale, and one that is readily understood by consumers. Many consumers do not load their washing machines to their full capacity. This in turn means they are running more washing cycles than needed, thus using more resources and increasing their household’s running costs.”
“It’s key to demonstrate that sustainable products and running cost savings go hand-inhand”
Induction technology is one of the important developments in cooking in recent years, and it has begun to gain share as consumers learn it’s as convenient to use as the traditionally favoured gas hob, but massively more efficient – as well as being safe and much easier to keep clean. “A key area for energy efficiency within the cooking category is induction hobs,” says Indesit’s Sara Bazeley. “Induction cooking is a high-tech cooking method that offers outstanding speed, energy efficiency, uniformity, safety and accuracy of heating. Induction hobs are faster Whirlpool SupremeClean Dishwasher: 9.5 litres of water for a full cycle
and much more efficient than regular hobs because they only heat the surface of the pan. As a comparison, 84% of the energy used when using an induction hob is used to cook the food, whereas only 40% of the energy in a common gas hob is used to cook, as a large quantity of the energy is lost around the edge of the pot or pan.” Again, something that needs explaining to customers looking at what, to them, may be “new technology.” Cooker hoods – becoming more important as open-plan living remains popular – are also undergoing important development. Geoff Baker, Chairman of AIRUNO designer cooker hoods, says: “I think new technologies will be key here. In the cooker hood industry, developments such as hob-to-hood technology – which allows the hob to control the hood wirelessly and adjusts the extraction rate to ensure it never operates at a speed faster than necessary – will benefit the planet by reducing consumers’ energy consumption.”
SUSTAINABILITY ON TAP Nobody in the UK can be unaware of the horrific pollution of the planet’s oceans by virtually indestructible plastic waste, and we’re learning that, as well as killing marine life on a massive scale, it is finding its way back into our bodies through the food chain. But there’s even a way for consumers to do their bit in fighting this modern scourge. “In the UK,” says InSinkErator marketing communications manager, Europe & Russia Anne Kaarlela, “the average household uses 480 plastic bottles per year but only recycles 270 of them. The non-recycled bottles, therefore, end up in landfill or in the ocean, affecting the sea-life and the environment.” A filtered water tap can provide instant filtered water, doing away with the need to buy plastic bottles of water. And, if the tap also provides steaming hot water, it cuts down on the wasteful boiling of kettles for making beverages and food preparation. Sustainability has shifted from a virtuesignalling concept to a practical financial and environmental benefit that all consumers can be a part of. It’s an opportunity for retailers to sell, and sell up, with a clear conscience.
CARING FOR YOUR FABRIC AND OUR ENVIRONMENT We want to make a change for the better by being the best appliance company in the world, making a positive everyday difference in people’s lives and for our planet. With better technology, you take better care of your clothes and can extend the life of your wardrobe, while reducing your environmental footprint.
ProSense® Technology Built into our 6000, 7000, 8000 & 9000 series washing machine and tumble dryer ranges, ProSense® Technology automatically measures each load to provide a tailored cycle. Your laundry comes out with that fresh, new feeling every time, plus you save time, water and energy.
Part of AEG’s commitment to a sustainable future.
Available at leading retailers now. Find out more at aeg.co.uk/care
14 Turning the town around A Get Connected Spotlight feature on Ashford in Kent, where effective action by the Council and local traders w...
Published on Feb 1, 2019
14 Turning the town around A Get Connected Spotlight feature on Ashford in Kent, where effective action by the Council and local traders w...