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GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED OLED and UHD: Food for thought for manufacturers and retailers
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Floorcare The stick steps up, and cordless is becoming king as the floorcare market welcomes the longer battery life and improved performance that makes these light and convenient products a winner with 21st century households
Home Entertainment With fresh technologies pushing the possibilities of home entertainment to unprecedented levels, the retail opportunities are huge but the challenges can be daunting. George Cole brings some perspective to the market
George Cole Gets Connected OLED and UHD – the future is bright, clear and probably flexible. Report from the IFA Global Press Conference
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Opinion Richard Hayward of Legrand clarifies the opportunities represented by “Smart” and “Connected” devices in the home
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This time last year, we were urging our political “elite” to get a grip and start addressing the surprise result of the Brexit referendum with some urgency to counter the dire effect of uncertainty across the UK economy. A whole year on, to use a popular expression, “nothing has changed”
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he retail sector of our industry is particularly susceptible to fluctuations in consumer confidence. People who are worried and uncertain about the future don’t spend money at retail – especially when their real disposable incomes have been eroded by less-than-inflation pay rises. The bursts of consumer spending we have seen have been the result of frustration rather than sustained confidence, and largely financed with the credit card. We know the dangers of rising consumer debt in the longer term. The comment column in this publication exactly a year ago expressed concern that political leaders had all run away or were in hiding, leaving the country rudderless when we should have been pressing on with preparation for this country’s most important negotiations since the last war. Prime Minister David Cameron had resigned following the “shock” referendum result; triumphant Brexiteer Boris Johnson, tipped as “Prime Minister in waiting,” decided not to run for leadership, leaving the party of Government preoccupied with its own internal affairs; Nigel Farage, another victorious Brexiteer, stepped down from leadership of UKIP. As we said then, “they’ve all scattered and run away.” We noted – ironically, given subsequent events – that “the only major party leader not to have stepped down is the one who has an overwhelming majority of his own parliamentary party telling him he must resign immediately.” Our concern early in 2016 was that we were wasting time, to the detriment of our industry and the entire UK business community. When the newly anointed Prime Minister triggered Article 50 – in accordance with the will of the people – and started the clock on the UK’s departure from the EU, we thought that at least we were on our way, with someone in charge and with no distractions. The rest, as they say, is history. A full year on, from all the evidence we can gather, the UK is not one step further along the road to creating
a united, credible stance for these negotiations. And a full year on, as Michel Barnier, with all 27 EU members organised, united and ready to go, looks across the Channel, looks at the clock and drums his fingers, he must be wondering: “what the……?” What he sees is disagreement, disarray and, worst of all, Boris Johnson chortling with his Commons chums over the idea that the EU can “go whistle” for the fulfilment of any financial obligations we may have to the EU. Ho, ho, ho. We like a joke as much as anyone, but this one is the Foreign Secretary – One of the four Great Offices of State, and the representative of this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland around the world. We say all this because, while this uncertainty remains, while taunts and jeers are all our senior politicians seem to have, while we continue to look like a joke to the rest of Europe and the world, while the 27 other members of the EU wait calmly, patiently, fully prepared for us to go and talk seriously to them, businesses like ours are suffering from both domestic and international lack of confidence. It’s been hard enough since the recession. Somebody, get a grip and do something effective. We leave, ready or not, in May 2019. If we thought there was no time to waste a year ago, how much more acute is the pressure – with still nothing done – today. The Repeal Bill, an important step along the road that should have been taken many, many months ago, now looks like it will struggle painfully slowly, point by contested point, through Parliament. Oh, and while they’ve got as far as reading out its name in the Commons, they’re all off on their hols now and can’t even begin to debate it until October. “Getting on with the job”? And Boris, if you think you’re funny, how much more witty, relevant, dignified and ultimately chilling is Michel Barnier’s response to your schoolboy bluster: “I do not hear any whistling. Just a clock ticking.”
Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief
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Will Dobson Creative Director
James McIntosh Consumer Consultant
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JUNE WEATHER DELIVERS RETAIL SALES UPLIFT UK
retail sales rebounded in June following a challenging performance in May. The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor covering the period from 28th May to 1st July showed a like-for-like increase of 1.2%, compared to a decline of 0.5% in June 2016. Total sales rose 2.0% against growth of 0.2% last year. Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said the arrival of summer provided a welcome pickup for sales, “particularly to nonfood categories, which saw a reversal in fortunes after a prolonged period of sluggish growth.” Over the three months to June, food sales increased 3.6% on a like-for-like basis and 4.7% on a total basis. This is the strongest 3-month average since February 2012, and pulls the 12-month total average growth to 2.5%, the highest since December 2013. Non-food sales in the same period increased 0.9% on a like-for-like basis and 1.2% on a total basis, rising above the 12-month total average growth of 0.6%. Online sales of non-food products grew 10.1% in June, compared to 9.0% a year earlier. Over the three-months to June, online non-food sales rose 8.4%, while in-store sales declined 0.7% on a total basis and 1.2% on a like-for-like basis, a better
performance than the like-for-like 12-month average decline of 2.0%. “The six-month average, buoyed by June’s strong performance, now paints a slightly rosier picture for retail sales. But on closer inspection, the year-on-year numbers belie the fact that rising food prices are responsible for the main component of growth and have prompted more cautious spending towards discretionary non-food items,” said Dickinson. “Online continues to take the lion’s share of growth, although contribution from stores increased slightly in June as it seems shoppers headed out with specific purchases in mind, rather than just to browse. “Looking ahead, there’s a question mark over whether this spending momentum will last, as household expenditure is increasingly squeezed from rising inflation and slowing wage growth.” Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG said retailers would be wise to remain cautious. “Whilst the latest figures are definitely more favourable than last month’s, retailers must look at the bigger picture. Inflation and household debt are fuelling part of this retail growth; meanwhile, the industry is undergoing significant structural changes more broadly. The retailers succeeding are those embracing change.”
SHOP PRICES NEAR END OF FOUR-YEAR DOWNWARD TREND UK
shop prices recorded the shallowest deflation rate since November 2013, decelerating slightly by 0.3% in June from a 0.4% fall in May but edging closer to ending a four-year deflationary trend. Deflation in the non-food sector was 1.4% compared to 1.5% in the previous month, while food prices increased on average by 1.4%, the same rise as in May and the highest since January 2014. Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the year-on-year numbers belie the fact that prices have been heading upwards for the last six months. “It’s just that significant deflation in the second half of 2016 means there has been considerable ground to make up in the year-onyear figures,” she commented. “The steadying of inflation in June is likely a brief hiatus resulting from the interplay of short-term influences on pricing, such as good weather delaying mid-season promotions into June and the longer term competitive pressures constraining the pass through of all costs. We expect shop price inflation to continue trending upwards in coming months. “The reality is that cost pressures faced by retailers continue to mount. These pressures arise both from market-driven increases in the underlying cost of goods and as a result of Government policies. There is a limit to the ability of retailers to protect consumers by absorbing these impacts into their margins, as a result further price increases are inevitable.”
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE TUMBLES AS CONCERNS FOR YEAR AHEAD INTENSIFY
survey covering the period before and after the UK general election has revealed a sharp drop in consumer confidence. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index decreased five points to -10 in June, just two points away from last year’s postReferendum low of -12. Declines reflected negative sentiment about personal financial situations and expectations for the wider economy. “Strong consumer spending has propped up the economy since last June but now the twin pressures of higher prices and sluggish wage growth are squeezing household finances and adding to widespread fears of a Brexit-induced economic slowdown,” said Joe Staton, Head of Market Dynamics at GfK. Figures on the general economic situation looking forward and back 12 months are now particularly weak. The measure during the last 12 months decreased five points to -25 – 12 points lower than in June 2016 – while expectations for the next 12 months fell two points to -23 – nine points lower than in June last year. The Major Purchase Index also fell, down eight points to +1 (eight points lower than in June 2016). GfK’s Staton pointed out that consumer concern will worry UK retailers, highlighting in particular the “plunge” in the Major Purchase Index. He added that the fall reflected increased caution over non-food spending and a softening appetite for debt.
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POLICE CONFIRM GRENFELL TOWER FIRE CAUSED BY HOTPOINT FRIDGE FREEZER P
olice have confirmed that the fire which destroyed a tower block in Kensington on 14th June, which so far has resulted in 80 people presumed dead, was started by a Hotpoint fridge freezer. Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack from the London Metropolitan police, who is
overseeing the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire, said: “We now have expert evidence that the fire was not started deliberately – the fire started in a fridge freezer – the make and model is a Hotpoint FF175BP. “We are working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who are talking to the manufacturer of the fridge freezer. But we do know that this model has not been subject to any product recall.” During the period March 2006 to July 2009, a total of 64,000 of these fridge freezers were manufactured by Indesit under the Hotpoint brand. The models, FF175BP or FF175BG, were discontinued in 2009, several years before Whirlpool acquired Indesit Company and its brands, which include Hotpoint. Whirlpool said the actual number of appliances in use today will be lower due to normal product obsolescence, given the time period involved. The company released this statement: “Words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy. We offer our most profound condolences to
the victims, those who have lost loved-ones, homes, and possessions, and to their friends and families. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved, including the emergency services who risked their lives to extinguish the blaze and rescue those in the building. “We have just been informed that the fire may have originated in a Hotpoint fridge freezer (model number FF175BP). “We are working with the authorities to obtain access to the appliance so that we can assist with the ongoing investigations. Under these circumstances, we are unable to speculate on further details at this time. We are addressing this as a matter of utmost urgency and assisting the authorities in any way we can. We will provide additional updates as our investigations progress. “Consumers who believe they may have a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP or FF175BG should call our freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826 or visit hotpointservice.co.uk/ fridgefreezer so that we can register their details and contact them with further information.”
FIVE FIRES A DAY CAUSED BY WHITE GOODS IN ENGLAND
lectrical Safety First is calling on Government to provide free mandatory electrical checks for homes in tower blocks, following confirmation from the Metropolitan Police that a Hotpoint fridge freezer was the initial cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington in June. The charity said that 1,873 fires were caused by domestic electrical white goods in England last year, the equivalent of over five fires per day. The ESF has written to Margot James MP calling for a new policy which gives housing associations and local authorities legal responsibility for ensuring free mandatory electrical safety checks, to include fixed electrical installations and appliances per property. Housing associations and local authorities must also keep a register of white goods contained and operating in the blocks, regardless of tenure of the property, and ensure tenants have registered their products. The current policy of the UK Government states that there is an ‘expectation’ on landlords to keep electrical installations safe, which means that electrics and appliances contained within social
“1,873 fires were caused by domestic electrical white goods in England last year, the equivalent of over five fires per day.”
rented properties could go unchecked for many years. The ESF said it has put together initial costs for the operation of its suggested policy. These fall between £48m and £60m every five years. The charity’s Technical Director Martyn Allen said tenants have the right to live in a home that has a
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safe electrical installation and appliances supplied by the landlord. “We believe that, first and foremost, those living in densely populated areas like tower blocks must be protected. As a result, we would like to see Government implement mandatory safety checks as a matter of urgency.” Electrical Safety First has launched a new microsite at whitegoodsafety.com to advise consumers on white goods safety. It has also published a list of the domestic appliances that are most likely to catch fire, based on a total of 2,562 domestic appliance fires in 2015/16 (see below). • • • • • • • • • •
19% washing machines (482) 18% tumble dryers (460) 15% electric cookers including oven (388) 9% Dishwashers (238) 8% Fridges/freezers (208) 5% Extractor fans (136) 5% Grill/Toasters (135) 4% Microwaves (109) 4% Other domestic appliances (92) 3% Washer dryer combos (66)
WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION’S JEFF FETTIG TO STEP DOWN AS CEO
J EXERTIS APPOINTS BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE MANAGER
istributor of technology products Exertis has announced the appointment of Jonathan Wagstaff to the newly created position of Business Intelligence Manager. Wagstaff will be based in Basingstoke and hold a European remit. His role will help to identify trends in the technology market. He will report to Stephen Casey, Finance & Development Director at DCC Technology. Speaking about the appointment, Casey said: “Exertis has undergone a successful period of growth with several key acquisitions across the Group. Whilst we have a very strong technology proposition, it’s important we continue to identify and translate market opportunities into actions that can benefit our business, and also the business of our vendor partners and reseller customers both in existing and new territories. “Jonathan’s experience in data analytics and how the channel operates is ideally suited to fulfilling the task of providing business intelligence that can enable us to take the right decisions to meet our Group objectives.” Wagstaff, who joins Exertis from Context, a leading European data analyst company, said: “Data is often called the new oil – as distribution rapidly evolves and margins feel pressure its importance has shifted. Exertis is one of the largest and most successful technology distributors in Europe and their ambition to grow profitably, whilst looking for new market opportunities based on sound business intelligence, was a challenge that appealed to me.”
eff M. Fettig, Chairman and CEO of Whirlpool Corporation since 2004, will step down as CEO and continue in his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He will be succeeded by Marc Bitzer, the company’s current President and Chief Operating Officer. Whirlpool said the changes will become effective 1st October 2017. Fettig, aged 60, will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board. “My primary role,” he said, “is to support Whirlpool, Marc and our leadership team in this planned CEO transition. Jeff Fettig (right) with Marc Bitzer I am effectively stepping away from our day-today management after 36 years of service and the last 13 as CEO. “Marc has a deep understanding of our business throughout the world and has personally led our operations and delivered strong results during his 18-year tenure at Whirlpool. As we prepare for the future, I am very confident that Marc is uniquely qualified to lead our company in continued success.” 52 year-old Bitzer joined Whirlpool Europe in 1999 and has held a number of senior management roles. He was named President and Chief Operating Officer and elected to the Whirlpool Corporation Board of Directors in October 2015. Prior to this assignment he served as Vice Chairman, which included overall leadership of Whirlpool North America and Whirlpool Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
HOOVER’S DAVID MEYEROWITZ PROMOTED TO CEO
avid Meyerowitz, COO of Hoover Candy Group UK, has been promoted to the position of UK Chief Executive Officer. He will assume the responsibilities of Gianfranco Palma, who takes on a senior role at
Candy Group headquarters in Italy. The company said the move is a result of the establishment of a North of Europe commercial region which will provide “the necessary focus and attention to support exceptional growth in the area.” Meyerowitz, who now has responsibility for the freestanding, SDA, built-in and service divisions, as well as support functions such as finance, HR, IT and warehousing & logistics operations, said: “The Hoover Candy Group is an awardwinning forward-thinking business which is at a pivotal time. “Since the launch of our Hoover Wizard family of Wi-Fi products
HOOVER SDA APPOINTS HEAD OF MARKETING
oover has appointed Phillip Jones to its Small Domestic Appliance marketing team based in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. He brings more than 16 years’ experience in marketing and category management gained at companies such as PC World and Paddy Power. He will take overall management responsibility of the brand execution for Hoover’s floorcare, ironing and steam cleaning product ranges.
in June 2015 we’ve made it our mission to lead the way in connected appliances and there are some exciting lines coming out later this year which will incorporate a number of new technologies and innovative features. In addition, we will be investing in an above the line campaign to demonstrate our commitment to the market. “I feel both proud and privileged to be appointed to lead a company which is ambitious, innovative and focused on making great appliances that help people in their everyday lives and am looking forward to driving the business forward over the coming years.”
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SAMSUNG REPORTS Q2 PROFITS UP 72%
amsung Electronics has said that operating profit for the three months to June 2017 was a “record” 14 trillion Won (£9.3 billion), 72% higher than the same period last year, largely due to high global demand for memory chips. Samsung is the world’s second largest manufacturer of memory chips after Intel. Sales were 18% up, with the Galaxy S8 smartphone performing well, and indicate, say analysts, that the company has recovered from the costly recall of the Galaxy Note 7, which was withdrawn because of a high incidence of battery fires.
ELECTROLUX TO ACQUIRE COOKER HOOD COMPANY BEST
lectrolux has agreed to acquire Best, a European manufacturer of cooker hoods presently distributed by Britannia Living, part of Glen Dimplex Home Appliances. Electrolux said the acquisition enables it to develop a fully comprehensive offering of built-in cooking solutions and will further support long-term profitable growth in the region. Best had net sales of €42 million in 2016 and employs 450 people, primarily at manufacturing sites in Cerreto d’Esi in central Italy and Zabrze in southern Poland. The company is part of Broan-NuTone LLC, a North American manufacturer and distributor of residential ventilation products. Dan Arler, Head of Electrolux business area Major Appliances Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “The acquisition of Best is a perfect strategic match to reinforce Electrolux capabilities for design, R&D and manufacturing of kitchen hoods, which is a key aspect in offering consumers a simply outstanding cooking experience.” Broan-NuTone LLC, will continue to design, manufacture and market the Best brand of kitchen ventilation products in North America. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2017.
AMAZON PRIME DAY SALES SURPASS BLACK FRIDAY AND CYBER MONDAY A
mazon’s Prime Day, which took place 11th July this year and offered deals exclusive to Prime members, grew by more than 60% on last year, the retailer said. Amazon reported that sales on the day surpassed those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, making it the biggest day in its history. Prime members’ most popular purchase was the Echo Dot, which was the bestselling Amazon device “Alexa devices and the bestselling product have been from any manufacturer in any to many more customers being category globally. particularly popular – introduced to Alexa for the first Prime Day 2017 was also Echo and Echo Dot have time. the biggest sales event ever been our bestselling “It is great to see that the for Amazon devices around the Prime Day products positive customer feedback on world and included record sales on Amazon.co.uk..." Prime Day coincides with the for Echo, Fire tablets and Kindle announcement that we rank first devices. in the UK for customer satisfaction Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager in the latest UK Customer Satisfaction for Amazon, said customers had Index, the fourth consecutive time that ordered more items by 9pm than on Prime Amazon.co.uk has topped the Index.” Day last year. Top sellers in the UK, excluding Amazon devices, “Alexa devices have been particularly popular – Echo were TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug, works with Alexa; Sony and Echo Dot have been our bestselling Prime Day Playstation 4. products on Amazon.co.uk, and we’re looking forward
PRE-TAX PROFIT UP 15.2% AT SENNHEISER
he Sennheiser Group has reported a decline in turnover but an increase in profit for its 2016 fiscal year. Revenue fell 3.8% to €658.4 million, which the company said was due to placing greater focus on its core business. Group profit before taxes rose by 15.2% to €34.9 million, mainly due to a reduction in material, personnel and other operating expenses. The audio
specialist invested €54.5 million in R&D – 16% more than in 2015. Co-CEO Daniel Sennheiser said “…in 2016 we did a lot of groundwork to ensure our future success by delivering even greater innovation and value to our customers. “As a family-owned company, we focus on the long term and pursue a clear goal: shaping the future of audio.”
SHORTCUTS German DAB specialist Sonoro has received a 4-star review from technology title T3 for its new SonoroHIFI three-way stereo music system. The reviewer concluded that the unit offered “…stunning hi-fi quality sound even in rooms where you can’t fit a full system” and described the device as a “great-looking all-in-one device.” The unit was also praised in a review from classical music title Gramophone. KEF has partnered with Sony Pictures in a promotion celebrating the release of the 2017 summer blockbuster Spider-Man: Homecoming, offering film fans the chance to win a first prize comprising a KEF R Series Dolby Atmos home cinema speaker system, a 49in Sony HDTV, a Sony AV Receiver and Blu-ray player. Second prize is a two-night break to New York; third prize is a KEF EGG Wireless Digital Music System. The competition runs until 11th August. Supplier to the custom install market Lode Audio has made the Napster catalogue of over 50 million tracks ad-free across its entire product platform.
2017 EXCLUSIVELY SHOWS DELIVER “TOP QUALITY” BUYERS
rooke House Exhibitions, organiser of the Exclusively Shows, has said its “unique invited buyer format” again delivered a strong visitor profile for exhibitors at this year’s shows, which took place 13th - 14th June at the Business Design Centre in London. The company said it vets all visitors carefully, “inviting only bona fide housewares, tablewares and SDA buyers to attend the shows.” Show director Simon Boyd said senior, quality buyers from across all the different retail categories attended. From the UK’s high streets, buyers from The Range, TK Maxx, Argos, Robert Dyas, Marks & Spencer, Lakeland and Steamer Trading attended.
From out-of-town, Leekes, Dunelm and Dixons Carphone were represented. The grocery sector brought teams from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda to the show, while department store visitors included
John Lewis, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Selfridges and Bentalls of Kingston. Exhibitors also welcomed buyers from a wide range of e-commerce/mail order companies and line up of independent retailers. Also in attendance were buying groups such as Sirius and Euronics. The wholesale/cash & carry and home hardware and garden centre sectors were also well represented, and the organiser said the shows’ invited group of international buyers drew praise from exhibitors. Next year’s Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electrical shows will run on Tuesday and Wednesday, 12th & 13th June at the Business Design Centre, London.
SHEFFIELD SHOWROOM AND NEW MARKETING EXECUTIVE FOR KITCHENEX
itchenEX, exclusive supplier of Italian appliance brands Faber and ILVE in the UK, is relocating to larger premises to accommodate its market growth and expanding team. The new premises are located at the Meadowhall Business Park development in Sheffield, and the
company said it will strengthen its UK offering with up to three new posts expected to be created this year, most of which will be focused around customer service management and sales. The business has appointed its first Marketing Executive, Katrina Cacace, who has spent the past six years working in lead marketing roles across the FMCG sector. The firm said she will be “an invaluable resource as she seeks to maximise the impact of new product introductions and client-customer relationships.” KitchenEX claims “impressive growth” in sales of ILVE and Faber over the past 4 years, establishing both previously unknown brands as key players in the appliance market in the UK. It reported record growth in revenue and profitability in the last financial year,
SHORTCUTS South Yorkshire-based kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture supplier Symphony has become a preferred supplier to the Sirius Buying Group.
and home improvements, and provides energy-saving tips and buying guides to help consumers choose the best appliance for their needs.
Opticolour has joined the list of suppliers available to Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG) members. The firm manufactures glass splashbacks and glass wall coverings.
Falmec’s Noise Reduction System extractors have gained Quiet Mark™ accreditation, which effectively recognises them as some of the quietest on the market. The NRS© collection of premium kitchen extraction systems comprises six models with noise output levels starting at 37db(A) and rising to 53dB(A) on maximum.
Hotpoint has partnered with Procter & Gamble to offer a free six-month supply of Ariel Washing Liquid to purchasers of a selected model from the range of Hotpoint Ultima S-Line laundry appliances. The promotion runs until 27th September 2017. Indesit has launched a new website pushing its brand mission to provide customers with ‘Life Proof’ solutions. The Life Proof section of the site offers advice on saving space
Britannia’s built-in IDW60 dishwasher has been awarded Which? Best Buy status after scoring 82% in product testing performed by the consumer group. Judges said the appliance showed “excellent” cleaning ability, leaving “dishes bone dry without watermark”’ and had “good energy and water efficiency and vast capacity.”
and has increased turnover from £776,000 in 2014 to over £3 million. Marketing Executive Cacace said she will be implementing a new plan to include traditional media relations, social and digital communication, advocacy relations, community relations and B2B marketing across all channels. “Instead of predictable self-promotion, we will create the right story and tell it with energy, authenticity and a healthy dash of Italian flair,” she added. KitchenEx Director Vicky Harris said the new showroom will allow trade buyers to view an extensive range of Faber and ILVE appliances and will feature events, demos and training throughout the year.
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SMART HOME TO DEVELOP BY STEALTH… T
The research also looks into the smart home as a service he smart home is poised to emerge by stealth as provision. Consumers who had their smart home devices consumers who install their first device will be keen on installed via the subscription of a service – from their automating further. This is according to Futuresource energy provider, telecom or security provider – are Consulting, whose latest consumer research reveals satisfied with the service, and an overwhelming that almost 1 in 3 consumers live in homes where at majority of respondents claim to plan to renew least one smart home device has been installed. their subscriptions. Over 4,000 consumers in the UK, France, “The results provide evidence that the smart Germany and the US were surveyed, and the US home can grow by stealth as users who installed showed the highest smart home penetration, with one device are more likely to want to automate 38% of respondents claiming to live in a home their homes further,” said Oliveira. “Across all with at least one smart home device installed. In segments, 30% of consumers expect to control Germany, respondents seem more resistant to the more of their homes wirelessly in the near future. idea of adopting smart home devices, as only 1 in 5 However, the number is substantially higher have installed at least one in their home. among those who already own at least one smart Filipe Oliveira, Analyst at Futuresource Consulting home device, with 89% of advanced users expecting said smart lighting and smart thermostats are among the to control more of their homes wirelessly in the next most popular devices and are common first steps into the 6-12 months.” smart home. “However,” he commented, “it is home security Despite long replacement cycles, consumers are open to the idea that more respondents report as the first smart home device that they of buying a smart appliance the next time they need to replace have installed. Products that fall under climate control are growing, their washing machine or refrigerator, but Futuresource but our survey revealed that this is a fragmented category with pointed out that a hindrance to smart appliance expansion relatively low levels of brand recognition – a challenge to “The results is declining consumer interest in some product features. manufacturers in this field.” provide evidence “Appliance manufacturers will need to find ways For entertainment-driven consumers, audio and video that the smart home to stimulate consumer interest again,” commented content is often the first step into automation in the can grow by stealth as Oliveira. “Priority should be given to features where the home. Two in three survey respondents considered users who installed one benefits are clear, preferably those that increase safety music and other audio/video content to be important in device are more likely or allow for money savings.” the context of the smart home. Voice Personal Assistant to want to automate Despite such barriers, Futuresource believes that (VPA) speakers can be another important driver of their homes the outlook for uptake is “very healthy.” The researcher adoption. The most common use of these devices is music says that products ranging from speakers to refrigerators streaming; however, a substantial number of respondents further...” will proliferate in the coming years, turning households into claimed to use them for a number of home automation smart homes. purposes such as controlling the heating or the lighting.
MIELE SET TO LAUNCH NEW ROBOT VACUUM AT IFA M iele has announced that its new Scout RX2 robovac, featuring a number of technological advances, will “set new standards in suction performance and user convenience.” It will be revealed at the IFA trade show in Berlin, 1-6 September 2017, and will receive its market launch “shortly after” the show. In what Miele concedes is “the fiercely competitive robovac market,” the company is confident that the Scout RX2 has new performance, safety and security features that will make it stand out. Dust pickup on all types of flooring has improved threefold over the previous model, according to chief floorcare product manager Mattias Sander, thanks to Miele’s “Quattro Cleaning Power” system, and a battery charge still lasts an “unprecedented” two hours. Navigation benefits from Miele’s newly developed “3D Smart Navigation”, ten infra-red sensors and a “gyro sensor” that ensure the machine can find its way around even in pitch darkness, and a mapping system that allows the machine to “learn” its surroundings and clean more efficiently. The Scout RX2 is web-enabled and can be controlled using an app, so it can be started from anywhere, its current status called up and its timer programmed. In map mode, the cleaning progress can be tracked, and it is even possible to manually control the robovac using the app. The high-end Home Vision model offers live relay of its cameras’ images to a tablet or smartphone, allowing remote visual monitoring of its position, and also a remote view of the home. Miele said that all data is reliably protected with end-to-end encryption.
With the “Smart” or “Connected” home being heralded as the road to salvation for electrical retailers, it’s clear that most consumers – and many retailers – are still struggling just to understand what these terms actually mean. Are the terms interchangeable, and, crucially, how can the technology be applied practically in everyday domestic situations to make life easier, better, more convenient? Richard Hayward, lead marketing manager for Legrand’s* wiring devices business unit, explains
our yearning for new technology grows, our understanding of its potential also continues to rise. But what does that mean for our future homes, and what is its relevance each and every day? First and foremost, it is important to identify the core attributes of a smart or connected home. With so much chatter in the media about smart devices, just understanding what one is can be hard to decipher. Just because you can control your heating, lighting or fridge from your smart phone or tablet, it doesn’t actually make it smart – it is simply connected.
WHAT’S SMART AND WHAT’S CONNECTED? Where the crucial difference between smart devices and
connected ones lies, is that to be smart there needs to be a level of intelligence built-in. And, more importantly, the technology needs to be interoperable with other technologies. If you consider the commercial built environment, there are many systems and solutions that we use every time we visit a hotel, such as the door entry, lighting and heating – all of which are controlled by a single system and then connected to a Building Management System (BMS). These connected devices ensure that when we enter our hotel rooms the lighting, temperature, curtains and even the music are in perfect harmony with one another and the wider hotel environment. If we transfer the same example into a smart home, the lighting, temperature, curtains and music can
all be controlled via a single panel or an app. But it’s not simply a case of switching things on or off. The key difference is the fact that the smart home is also intelligent, and connected via a robust electrical backbone. In reality, this could mean that your home opens the curtains at a certain time of day and dims the lights; that when you close the door, it automatically locks and the security system is enabled. A smart home should really help to look after the people that live in it.
GETTING SMART Put simply, much of the technology that we have been using over the last few decades is relatively dumb. From turning on the heating to switching on the lights, we are required to perform an action, whether that’s flicking a switch or remotely
IS IT CONNECTED, OR IS IT SMART?
accessing the system via a mobile phone. Each socket and system works in isolation, in that each has a single purpose, but is connected to a bigger electrical network. Internet-enabled devices offer a fairly simplistic level of control, enabling people to turn things on and off remotely, but still require an individual to perform an action. Truly smart technology is functional and robust, built upon an electrical backbone that enables devices to be interoperable - or in other words to talk to one another, and then adjust or adapt to a requirement. Built around a solid foundation, an electrical backbone can not only deliver power, but is also a conduit for data and information and can help to revolutionise our homes. The simple addition of internet enabled devices doesn’t make a home smart, but it is fun and a step in the right direction toward a smart existence. This can take the form of any number of technology solutions, from smart products to whole house automation. Placed into the wider context of our changing demographic, it’s easy to see how and where demand is rising, but
SECURITY Security is a prime example here, with potential options including access control, security lighting and cameras, or perhaps occupancy sensors within the home. Its role is to provide comfort, wellbeing and convenience to the customer, and can be controlled via a smart app or control panel whether the consumer is home or away. Door entry systems and the wider security functions available can be of benefit across a broad spectrum of ages and situations. In a family home, the system can be used to check that everyone is home or that the house is secure while you’re on holiday, for example. For assisted living properties, or for those perhaps with mobility issues, the advantage of being able to open the door at the swipe of a finger can be lifechanging. Technology also enables people to control door-entry remotely, whether that’s to let the postman drop off a parcel in the porch, to enable a neighbour to water your plants while you’re away, or perhaps event to provide remote access to a nurse or carer.
A SMARTER FUTURE
“A smart home should really help to look after the people that live in it.”
equally how it has the potential to improve lives every day. Whatever the driver for customers to invest in home automation might be, there are options available to enable increased control and peace of mind for the homeowner.
Right now, there’s a lot of talk about connected devices, but when this technology is deployed correctly and in the right application, it has the potential to help improve people’s lives. Whether that improvement is the ability to check that your children have got home safely while you’re away, or to turn the heating on and ensure your entertainment system is running through your favourite playlist as you get home. Just as life is individual, so too can your home learn and adapt to your individual needs, whatever they might be and wherever you may be in the world. We must view home automation and smart technology as an enabler, helping people to live their lives better in the way they wish to live them. That’s the end goal.
*Legrand specialises in electrical and digital building infrastructures, and offers a variety of devices and finishes that connect via Eliot, Legrand’s connected devices programme. Brands and solutions available include Vantage, NuVo and Arteor. Legrand began manufacturing in the UK in 1980 and around 85% of products sold in the UK are also manufactured here. www.legrand.co.uk
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KitSound introduces Hive2 + with voice direction KitSound has upgraded its Hive 2 with Google and Siri integration to produce Hive 2+, a wireless smart speaker that can be directed with voice. Smart devices with wireless connectivity can easily connect to the Hive 2+ through one-touch NFC pairing, and the majority of mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players and computers can access its sound through the line-in connection.
iFi nano iOne compact DAC The nano iOne from iFi is designed to be a convenient, high-quality digital audio hub – a DAC that is small in size yet big on features and performance. It can be used to boost sound from all manner of digital devices and offers wireless connectivity over Bluetooth. It has USB and S/PDIF digital inputs and RCA analogue outputs.
www.ifi-audio.com | 01704 227204
Hoover adds A+ rated tall larder models to cooling range
Italian coffee machine maker Gaggia has introduced a new fully automatic high-end bean-to-cup model with one-touch control. The new Babila machine has “super quick” operation, advanced automatic self-cleaning features and a memory function that stores six user profiles with up to nine personalised drinks per profile.
Hoover has added a tall larder fridge and matching freezer to its freestanding cooling range, both of which are available in white or stainless steel finishes. Fridge model HVLN6172 has a total net capacity of 320 litres and incorporates versatile door storage, a wine rack, adjustable shelves and a reversible door. Freezer model HVUN6172 has a total net capacity of 235 litres and offers fast freezing, touch control and Total No Frost technology.
New Gaggia coffee maker offers one-touch control
Aquavision introduces Horizon outdoor televisions Aquavision has launched a range of outdoor models which are fully compatible with all leading control systems and will handle temperatures of -40° to 110°C. The Horizon TVs are based on the established Nexus+ and Elite 4K range, and are available in 32”, 42”, 55”, 65” and 85” formats. The anti-reflective LED screens provide high-quality pictures and brightness to ensure optimum viewing in bright sunshine.
Country style from CDA CDA’s new RVC931 country-style range cooker, available September, marks a move into colour for the brand. The 90cm model has a fan oven, an 8-function multifunction oven, electronic timer, a separate grill, 5-burner gas hob with wok burner and a plate warmer. A matching chimney extractor will also be available. The cooker comes in cream or black and will retail c.£1,500.
www.cda.eu | 01949 862 000
Lec launches new chest freezer models Refrigeration specialist Lec has added five new A+ energyrated chest freezers to its collection of appliances. The models range in capacities up to 300 litres and have user-friendly electronic temperature controls. All are tested to -15°C so can be sited in watertight outbuildings if required. They are fitted with counterbalanced lids and bright internal LED lighting.
Caple introduces spacious new ceramic hob The new black glass C824C ceramic hob from Caple has a 78cm wide cooking platform with a frameless design that can be flush-mounted. The 4-zone appliance suits pots and pans of various sizes and has two zones measuring 145mm in diameter. It has a 10-level digital power display which includes a keep warm setting for each zone and is operated via touch control. The programmable timer offers a time setting up to 99 minutes for each zone.
Hoover’s Freedom cordless cleaner
STICK IT TO ’EM The ‘battle of the bag’ has taken a back seat in floorcare as the cordless vacuum cleaner (or stick cleaner) has established itself as a credible runner in the marketplace, fulfilling the need for convenient, quick and relatively effortless cleaning with excellent results. GC reports
loorcare has proved to be a remarkably resilient category, recording steady growth of 1.3% in 2016 to reach a total value of £767 million. And while 2017 has proved “slightly challenging” with a downward shift of 2.2% taking value to £748 million, there are plenty of positives for retailers to draw on, as Morphy Richards’ Rebecca Nellar, Category Consumer Manager for Household Cleaning & Refrigeration, points out: “Last year saw the floorcare sector evolve, as cordless vacuums, worth £294 million, became the most valuable subcategory for the first time in the market’s history, overtaking corded uprights which are valued at £232 million.” Cordless vacuums have shown a steep increase in popularity, with an impressive value increase of nearly 500% since 2013. For a sector that got off to a relatively shaky start – poor battery performance being one of the greatest hindrances – hobbling along for some time
as a secondary appliance market, its success in knocking the corded upright off its perch is evidence of a remarkable transformation.
BREAKING FREE “The success of the cordless category has prompted brands to continually raise the bar in terms of voltage, run time, charge time and battery type (moving from nickel to lithium) as the cordless replaces the upright corded as the main household vacuum,” comments Nellar. “We have worked hard to ensure our products are tailored to the hectic, high pressure lifestyle of the modern consumer by allowing for quick and easy cleaning. These technological advances mean certain cordless vacuums can now claim to match the performance of corded vacuums.” Household vacuuming is no longer a matter of a once-a-week exhausting chore. Behaviour has changed and consumers are now opting for quick, spontaneous pickup of dirt, or daily
cleaning in the most heavily used areas of the home. Lightweight, manoeuvrable products that are easy to use and easy to store are clearly an appealing proposition, and those that provide the benefits of a tooled upright and handheld in one device bring additional flexibility for households, offering quick and easy use for various different cleaning chores, be it stairways, kitchens or cars.
FLEXIBILITY “Versatility is emerging as a clear priority for consumers, as even 2-in-1 and single use formats are losing traction,” asserts Morphy’s Nellar. “Handstick vacuums are currently the most popular format on the market due to their extreme flexibility and Morphy Richards has reacted to this trend with the creation of two new Supervac model ranges (18v and 32v), combining all of the above in 3-in-1 vacuum cleaners that merge upright, handheld and handstick formats that easily convert between modes for use on everything from curtains to car seats.” Earlier this year SDA manufacturer Tefal launched its first range of vacuum cleaners, comprising three cordless models under the Air Force label and a 2-in-1 Clean & Steam appliance that vacuums, steams or performs both functions simultaneously. The Air Force models, 12V, 18V and 25V, offer run times of up
to 25min, 45min and 55min respectively. As for the Clean & Steam 2-in-1, Tefal says it promises “a perfect, hygienic clean in half the time”.
RETAIL SUCCESS James Aldridge, Small Domestic Appliances Buyer at buying group CIH, tells GC that Euronics retailers have had particular success with cordless vacuum cleaners, and the outlook for this “standout” category is extremely positive. “We expect the growth in the market to continue over the next few years, and of course there is huge potential as the majority of households still do not own a cordless vacuum cleaner. “Cordless lightweight vacuum cleaners are an ideal floorcare appliance for vacuuming quickly with minimal effort and time. Historically, consumers purchased these appliances as a second floorcare product; however, with the change in cleaning habits, we expect to see the cordless vacuum continue to grow in popularity as a primary floorcare product.” A view shared by Phillip Jones, head of marketing – Hoover floorcare: “We’re very confident that cordless will remain key moving forwards, and as forwardthinking manufacturers continue to invest in research and development to make continued improvements to battery life, performance and run time, we expect considerable uptake of models that provide freedom from a cord.”
INNOVATION It’s clear that UK consumers are convinced that a cheap cleaner isn’t a bargain unless it actually does the job, as evidenced by the fact that consumers are willing to pay up to c.£450 for a cordless upright. Investment in quality and performance makes good sense, and this places specialist electrical retailers in an ideal position to use their knowledge to sell up, particularly in a market where performance and convenience are driving innovation. Bo Simonsen, UK Market Manager at Witt, the UK distributor of iRobot floorcare products, points out that only two floorcare product categories are growing year on year and one is the robot vacuum cleaner. However, he believes that retailers are “key” to maintaining and building this momentum. “It’s a product that needs to be seen and experienced to be believed.” Speaking to GC earlier this year, Simonsen was pragmatic about the options facing consumers: “Everyone has the need to keep their house clean, and there are three choices: you vacuum it yourself, with the time and effort that involves; you hire a cleaner, at some cost; or you get a robot. With a robot vacuum cleaner the job is never postponed, and the everyday build-up of dust and debris that gets stirred up by people moving around is kept to a minimum. “Vacuuming is one of the hardest household tasks: pushing, lifting and manoeuvring a device that may weigh 6 or 7 kilos. An iRobot is like employing a cleaner who works every day but doesn’t need paying. It will also do its job any time of the day or night that you choose, and is designed to reach under beds and furniture.”
Beldray AirGo Beldray’s ultra lightweight AirGo Cordless will clean the whole home with one charge, keeping it beautifully clean and making light work of one of the biggest household chores. The high-tech cord-free design gives users the freedom to carry the AirGo from room to room with minimal effort, eliminating any clumsy obstacles. The multidirectional swivel head delivers a thorough clean, allowing users to reach into awkward corners for a spotless finish. With a large 1-litre dust container, a powerful floorhead, and up to 25 minutes of operating time, the AirGo will help to achieve an effortless cleaning experience.
w: www.beldray.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org | t: 0161 934 2283
RETAIL CHALLENGE And it’s also a strong proposition for retailers, Simonsen contends. “Every customer needs a vacuum cleaner. Show them this new category. The time and energy saving is a very powerful 21st century message, and the iRobot can be a memorable and compelling piece of in-store theatre.” Offering a challenge to retailers who might be sceptical, he said: “Take the iRobot home, set it up, then vacuum the whole room normally using your existing conventional cleaner. After that, let the iRobot loose straight away. It will keep going till it finishes the work, and I guarantee that it will do a better job than you and your existing vacuum cleaner.” The evidence, he says, will be in the dust bin of the iRobot. It will show you how much more dust and dirt has been collected – i.e. dust and dirt left on the floor after your conventional vacuuming.
Richard’s Nellar opines that retailers need to ensure that they offer the right products at the right price points. She then brings another issue to the table, stating that there is an increasing risk of less well established brands introducing inferior products at lower price points, consequentially bringing the ASP down and distorting the category. This, she says, has been evident in the steam mop subcategory: “Lower quality goods have pushed the pricing of products such as Morphy Richards Total Clean Fresh out of proportion.”
“We expect considerable uptake of models that provide freedom from a cord”
COMPETITION The floorcare sector is highly competitive both in terms of brands and the number of retailers selling appliances. And with a such a broad range of products available, the challenge lies in how individual sellers compete and how they can stand out in a busy, complex marketplace. It may be a fairly simplistic view of the obstacles facing the sector, but Morphy
CIH’s Aldridge says the challenge independent retailers face in the floorcare market is the range of different benefits available from manufacturers. Expanding on this, he says: “For example, some manufacturers focus on power, others put the emphasis on motor technology, and some centre the sale and importance on being cordless and on battery life. “To overcome this challenge, retailers would benefit from the training opportunities available from manufacturers, and ensuring there is a selection of working models on display with generous product information and point-of-sale material in their showroom. This will enable the retailer to advise the consumer when comparing models and brands so they can choose the best floorcare product to meet their needs.” “It’s important for sales areas to be well communicated because the availability of staff is a challenge,” adds Hoover’s Jones. “They simply can’t be omnipresent across the whole shop floor at any one time, so information needs to be available to capture attention until the time that an adviser is available to provide further details and/or answer specific questions.
ratings are just as efficient, if not more so, than their heavier energy-using counterparts. Despite this, we are concerned that the label information may prove confusing to consumers, with the new A+++ labels due September 2017 being reverted to the A-G format, creating a transition phase where both will be in circulation. “Whilst the new label promises to be more understandable for consumers, it is likely to cause issues in the industry, which will now need to undergo retesting and create new artwork at a high cost.” Although Nellar maintains that this has led experts to question the decision to move away from the original label, she concedes that the new system does equate to better efficiency, better pickup and reduced electricity costs for consumers, while further promoting technological developments.
Salter Floorcare For over 250 years, we have been proud to create and manufacture great products to enhance your customers’ lifestyles. Our floorcare products are no exception, providing the perfect solution for floor-toceiling cleaning. Whether users choose from our convenient cordless range or opt for something more traditional, our floorcare products offer powerful suction, allowing them to regain control of their home. We have used our expertise to bring your customers the very best cleaning products to help make life just that little bit easier.
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“We feel that product demonstrations are absolutely essential too. There are still many people out there who like to see and feel a product in person – they wouldn’t be in the store otherwise – and it’s only then they can visualise having one in their home. So it’s important for the retailers to know their stuff, particularly as cordless vacuum cleaners are a fairly new technology which some consumers still need to buy in to.”
ENERGY LABELLING Commenting on how the EU energy label, a controversial subject in floorcare, may assist in the selling process,
Jones maintains this is much the same as with major domestic appliances, in that energy efficiency ratings will be a consideration for consumers as part of their buying decision. However, he adds: “Whilst in the grand scheme of things the consumption levels between ratings of floorcare products will be negligible, some people will insist on only investing in the top-rated models.” Morphy Richards is apprehensive about the effect that forthcoming changes in the energy label may have on the industry. “The EU’s energy labelling has good intentions and has proved that vacuum cleaners with lower power
“Versatility is emerging as a clear priority for consumers”
Salter 2 in 1 Cordless Pro This sleek and lightweight vacuum cleaner provides an effortless way to clean, from floor to ceiling. With a 22.2V long-life rechargeable lithium-ion battery offering 25 minutes running time from a single charge, the 2 in 1 Cordless Pro is ideal for manoeuvring around all rooms of the home. Featuring a crevice tool for reaching into corners and recesses and a 360° rotating dusting brush perfect for fabrics and upholstery, this versatile vacuum cleaner comes with a compact charging station, providing convenient storage for all accessories. The powerful electric turbo floor brush allows users to clean with confidence.
Versatile cleaning with Morphy Richard’s Supervac range
w: www.saltercookshop.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org t: 0161 934 2283
THE NEW ROOMBAÂŽ 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot keeps going until the job is done, vacuuming an entire level of your home for up to 2 hours*, recharging as needed. From pet hair to everyday messes, the Roomba 980 increases air power on carpets and rugs where dust and dirt hide. It also seamlessly and efficiently navigates your home, avoiding obstacles and stairs and cleaning under furniture. And with the iRobot HOME app, you can schedule and clean your floors with the Roomba 980 from anywhere. Get to know the new Roomba 980 at www.witt.zone/irobot *Tested in iRobot's Home Test Lab on hard floors.Run times may vary.
Vacuum Cleaning Robot ÂŠ 2015 iRobot Corporation. All Rights Reserved.iRobot and Roomba are registered trademarks of iRobot Corporation.
THAT’S Samsung QLED: a work of art in function and décor
“We expect the 4K OLED market to grow further in 2017”
The home entertainment market offers retailers many sales opportunities, but it also brings new challenges. The number of home entertainment products, technologies and formats continues to grow, and if you add new offerings such as virtual reality to the mix, you can see how keeping ahead of the game can be such a challenge. George Cole reports
here are some definite trends in the market, says Matt Laird, Sony UK TV marketing manager. “Consumers are increasingly seeking technology which fits into the living space, blending in with their surroundings and their personal style.” James Attfield, MD of Turnstone AV, UK distributors of Vogel’s brackets, says “the connected home continues to be the big news in home entertainment. Larger format TVs with added product functionality and viewing appeal create a great opportunity for retailers and installers to trade end-users up to higher price points and margins.” Stephen Mitchell, director of product management, content and training, TV & AV at Samsung, notes: “We’ve seen that customers are increasingly looking for outstanding picture quality from their TVs.” Carolyn Anderson, head of marketing at LG, agrees: “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of picture quality and want to experience the best possible visuals, which is why OLED technology and High Dynamic Range (HDR) continue to increase in popularity.”
CHOICE & INNOVATION All the companies offer a wide range of home entertainment products. Samsung’s QLED TV features Quantum Dot technology, while the MS750 sound bar and UHD Blu-ray Player offer Ultra High Quality (UHQ) audio technology, which can upscale audio sources to a 32-bit output, for both wired and wireless connections. Sony’s BRAVIA Smart TVs support the Android platform, and last year the company launched the Life Space UX concept, which uses light, sound and vision to create a sensory impact. Included in the LifeSpace UX range is the Glass Sound Speaker, which fills the living space with illumination and sound through its organic glass. An LED housed within the cylinder combines ambient light with music. Sony’s sound bars include the HT-MT300, which creates a virtual surround acoustic field from only two front speakers. The HT-MT500 can be used wirelessly in multiple rooms, and includes high-resolution audio. “We expect the 4K OLED market to grow further in 2017,” adds Laird. “The BRAVIA OLED A1 Series brings a
significantly enriched visual experience.” LG’s Anderson says: “Following the introduction of 4K resolution, the natural followon from this has been HDR development, to deliver the next level in picture quality. All televisions in the LG 2017 OLED range are HDRready and an ideal upgrade to match the raised expectations of consumers. “Another key trend which is set to continue is content being made available in UHD. LG’s UHD TVs support HDMI 2.0a, which means that they are compatible with services such as Sky Q and BT Sport. Meanwhile, other entertainment providers such as Amazon and Netflix will continue to create more UHD content as the technology becomes more popular.”
RETAILING THE DREAM There are many home entertainment products and systems for consumers to consider - such as 3D audio, high-res audio, object-based audio, HDR, 4K, UHD Blu-ray, Quantum Dot, QLED and OLED. How can retailers get up to speed with all of these and explain them to customers? Samsung’s Mitchell says “we are committed to working closely with our retail partners to ensure that they have the necessary skills and training to accurately inform customers on our home entertainment line-up and
ENTERTAINMENT… aptly demonstrate the various features of our whole range of TV and audio products.” He also thinks that “using content as part of the sell for home entertainment products is also really important, as it helps bring to life the visual and aural benefits of the products, particularly when showing 4K or HDR footage.” Sony’s Laird says the answer is “having well trained staff on the shop floor who can communicate the technology messages effectively, for instance understanding the full benefits of high-resolution audio.” He adds that Dolby Atmos needs to be demonstrated so consumers can hear for themselves the threedimensional surround sound. In addition to this, there is an opportunity to sell-up products to consumers: “If a consumer is purchasing a sound bar, there is an opportunity to add headphones to complete the audio experience. Features such as Bluetooth and NFC are important to demonstrate as they give users the freedom to listen to music instantly at the touch of a button.” Sony offers eye-catching in-store POS displays, as well as promotional activity. “With Sony’s BRAVIA range, retailers are provided with in-store demonstrations in order to capture the full essence of the 4K HDR viewing experience,” says Laird. “LG considers staff training and the shopping experience to be paramount in order to best educate consumers,” says Anderson. “For home entertainment products particularly, seeing is often believing, so LG provides displays to retailers and encourages them to also host instore demonstrations.”
LG’s 2017 OLED models: all the performance benefits plus ultra-thin minimal bezel profile
Vogel’s NEXT MotionSoundMount 8375 with app-controlled motorised motion and integral soundbar
STREAMING PICTURES AND MUSIC The rise of streaming services is having a big impact on the home entertainment market. “We are seeing consumer habits evolve as they watch more and more content via streaming services rather than through traditional TV services, especially as the concept of the connected home grows in scope,” says LG’s Anderson. “Customers recognise the benefits of Smart TVs, which offer web browsing as well as pre-loaded apps ranging from social networks to streaming services.” Samsung’s Mitchell adds: “We know that people expect to be able to access a wide variety of high quality content straight from the comfort of their sofas, and so, with all our TVs, we’re focusing on continuing to evolve our Smart TV offering, giving our customers a simple, unified user experience for all their entertainment content – wherever and whenever they want it, including content from YouTube, Mubi and Amazon, plus many more.” The recently launched Samsung Music service also allows Smart TV customers to search for and identify songs on
“For many retailers, supports – either wall brackets or stands – have become the superstars of AV in terms of margin”
live TV or directly from television programmes. Samsung’s TV Plus feature offers IP-based channels focused on premium content services through a new Smart EPG solution. Sony’s Laird says: “Streaming content is growing in popularity and is a feature when consumers seek buying home entertainment products. We offer a variety of products with this feature, whether it’s our speakers, headphones or compact sound bars.” These include the HT-ST5000, Sony’s first Soundbar with Dolby Atmos technology for a 3D sound cinematic experience. Dolby Atmos provides home entertainment fans with an immersive viewing and listening experience. The HT-ST5000 can also connect to a TV through Wireless Multi-Room, Bluetooth or NFC for easier connectivity. Built-in Chromecast and Spotify Connect can be used to connect to more than one hundred music-streaming services.
FACING REALITY There’s a lot of talk about Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), but are these likely to become the next big thing in home entertainment, or another 3DTV turkey? VR uses goggles or a special helmet to totally immerse the user in a virtual world, while AR combines graphics with real-life images, often on a smart phone or tablet. But how appealing will they be? Sony’s Laird says “we look forward to the future advancements in TV technology, including the prospect of VR and AR. VR is an exciting development and we watch with interest how it is going to unfold for consumer electronics.” Samsung’s Mitchell has high hopes for VR. “Virtual reality technology lends itself to TV,” he says, “as it enables a much more immersive viewing experience, which is something we know consumers want. In fact, our own research with analyst house CCS Insight predicts that shipments of VR devices are set to soar 390 percent by 2020.” But what does VR offer home entertainment consumers? “Just think what watching a horror film would be like in VR – a completely terrifying experience!” says Mitchell. Samsung has introduced the Gear VR headset, which is compatible with the company’s Galaxy smartphones. Samsung offers hundreds of content options on the Gear VR, including films, games and streaming services such as the Netflix VR app, which brings programmes into the virtual world. “We recently announced live entertainment partnerships with the UFC, X Games and Live Nation,” adds Mitchell. “VR Live Pass will be available on the Gear VR from early June,
“Virtual reality technology lends itself to TV”
Samsung’s Gear VR offers a wealth of content
enabling Gear VR users to watch live entertainment events and performances – all from the comfort of their sofas.”
SUPPORTING CAST Along with the superstars of the home entertainment world – the TVs, sound systems, multi-room setups, streaming connectivity and VR and AR equipment – there is a growing cast of – literally – supporting players, that add to the style, convenience and efficiency of home entertainment equipment. Where there’s a flat panel TV, there is a need to support it with a stand or wall bracket that will enhance the overall look of the system. Style is extremely important, and the support market is developing more beautifully crafted, technologically advanced solutions to the “where will it go and how will it look?” questions that arise as part of the home entertainment equation whenever substantial pieces of equipment have to be both functional and attractive.
ProofVision – The Waterproof Entertainment Specialist ProofVision was established in 2008 and has since become a leading supplier of waterproof entertainment. Our range of bathroom TVs and music systems are sold through the bathroom and AV industries, and we have a
wide selection of outdoor TVs and displays. Our innovative designs are made from highquality materials and smart features provide truly unique solutions – they incorporate the latest technology and lead the way in current trends. Our outdoor TV range now includes a 65” 4K model and we offer a wide selection of outdoor solutions both for residential and commercial projects.
www.proofvision.co.uk 0208 965 5666 | email@example.com
Sony’s HT-MT300 soundbar “creates a virtual surround acoustic field” from only two front speakers
In fact, for many retailers, supports – either wall brackets or stands – have become the superstars of AV in terms of margin. It’s increasingly difficult for retailers to make a viable margin on a big TV, and it’s the add-ons, with their more comfortable margins, that make the difference. Support product manufacturers are responding to this with more sophisticated designs and functions to match the sophistication of the other home entertainment elements. Vogel’s for example, has launched fully motorised products for TVs up to 65 inches, with Bluetooth app control. Turnstone’s Attfield says: “You can enjoy bracket margins (not TV margins!) On these high-ticket items.” Vogel’s NEXT range of TV brackets includes MotionSoundMount 8375, which features app-controlled motorised motion, plus an incorporated sound bar and wireless subwoofer. Music can be streamed to the sound bar from a smart phone or tablet.
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TEL: 324 325 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org TEL: 01204 01204 324 325with EMAIL: email@example.com Feel good Mitchell & Feel good with Mitchell & Brown Brown TV TV James James House, House, Unit Unit 36, 36, Waters Waters Meeting Meeting Industrial Industrial Estate, Estate, Britannia Britannia Way, Way, Bolton, Bolton, BL2 BL2 2HH 2HH Tel: 01204 324 325
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GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS At this year’s IFA Global Press Conference Paul Gray, principal technology analyst at IHS Markit, talked about Smart TV, OLED and UHD TV. In last month’s column, I covered Paul’s thoughts on Smart TV and privacy. This month, we’ll hear his views on OLED and UHD – and there’s plenty of food for thought for both manufacturers and retailers. OLED SHOWS THAT SIZE DOESN’T ALWAYS MATTER Paul began by describing how a shortage of LCD panels was affecting the industry and that price rises would feed into the retail sector. “It may seem odd that there’s a shortage, because TV sales have been in decline,” he said, “but the reason is that screen sizes have been increasing by an average of one inch per year, increasing the screen area. This will be an increasing challenge for an industry that has been using screen size as a means of growing the business.” Paul explained how OLED sales were growing at the expense of LCD at the larger end of the TV market, despite OLED’s fairy hefty price premium. “When you get to 65-inch screen size,” he said, “an OLED TV is the same price as a 75-inch LCD, but consumers are choosing to opt for OLED rather than LCD. Consumers are saying: ‘I don’t want a TV the size of a door.’ OLED for a substantial number of consumers is much the same as an LCD that is ten inches bigger, and they put that value into the equation when buying.” Opting for a superlarge TV is rather like buying a Hummer vehicle that doesn’t fit your drive, says Paul. “For most consumers, a 75-inch screen is too big – we’ve reached a breaking point.”
IS IT A BIRD? NO, IT’S LCD
“LCDs are cheap to produce and that counts for a lot in a market with such brutally low margins.”
UHD TV – TWO DIFFERENT PROPOSITIONS Everyone agrees that content will be the major driver for UHD TV’s success, but what’s interesting, says Paul, is how traditional pay-TV platforms are positioning UHD TV, and how the likes of Amazon and Netflix are selling it. “Pay-TV providers are offering UHD TV as a toptier service,” he notes, “but Amazon and Netflix are saying, ‘our content is better and by the way, it’s UHD. UHD reinforces the quality of the media – it’s not being sold as a specific product.”
On the face of it, OLED is making most of the running in the TV market. As shown above, many large screen TV customers are choosing OLED over LCD, even though the latter offers substantially larger screen sizes for the same price. OLED production has also greatly improved, with the yield on a 55-inch 4K OLED panel now at about 90%, compared with 30% just a few years ago. “The issue is about how much time and money you put into OLED investment,” says Paul. So far, only one major Korean manufacturer has invested heavily in OLED production, although several Chinese companies are rumoured to be entering the market (“We’ll believe it when we see the factory foundations going down,” says Paul). There are compelling reasons for investing in OLED for sectors such as aerospace and automobiles, where customers or clients value having the thinnest, lightest screens and see it as well worth the price premium, Paul notes. But when it comes to television, “does anyone need a TV that’s 3mm thick? It’s nice and you can produce some very exciting OLED TV products, but how sustainable is this in the long term?” LCD may be on the back foot at present, but it’s not down, adds Paul. “LCDs are like seagulls – they’re mobile, they’re smart and they’re highly adaptable. They’ll swoop down and eat your food, before flying off to their next opportunity.” The key to LCD’s long-term success has been the system’s flexibility, says Paul. “You want to have more pixels? That’s fine. Need a bigger screen? No problem. Want to change the colour – go ahead. But when you try making these changes to OLED, the process is more convoluted. LCDs are cheap to produce and that counts for a lot in a market with such brutally low margins. OLED manufacturers have got to make some pretty difficult decisions over their road map for the next five years.”
FROM THE BENCH
FROM THE BENCH
VIRTUAL REALITY Virtual Reality (VR) is a rapidly growing industry, affording opportunities for progressive retailers. Alan Bennett reports
irtual reality cuts off viewers’ surroundings, creating an artificial world of sound and vision in which they can be a passive or active participant. It’s migrated from the spheres of driver/pilot training and several others to those of entertainment and gaming.
PROGRESS Leisure VR began in the cinema, where large screens and multichannel sound originated and viewers could become absorbed in the movie. The advent of 180° screens increased the illusion by embracing the whole field of vision and thus fooling the brain into thinking it’s really there, especially with 3D. 360° screens go a stage further. Some cinemas throw in extras such as moving seats and air/water/ smoke blowers to add more realism. The TV industry started to catch up as screens got bigger and wider, taking in more of the viewer’s field of vision, but cannot, with conventional equipment, top the 180° and 360° surround experience. At present the closest approach to inhome VR comes with a whole-wall screen and a projection TV running a 3D or UHD Blu-ray movie in a blacked-out room, allied to a powerful surround-sound system with ceiling-mounted speakers – such as Dolby Atmos. Even so, both this and the cinema experience, immersive as they are, are passive ones whose presentations are predetermined and unalterable by the viewer. Further progress at home necessarily involves a VR headset; they are available over a wide range of sophistication, complexity and price.
TOTAL ILLUSION To experience true virtual reality some form of feedback from the viewer (now participant) via sensors – of eye, body and limb movement and even heartbeat – is necessary. In highly advanced systems even gloves and boots carry monitors, and the feedback from all these modify the vision and sound feeds in an interactive way, ideal for gaming. It’s possible to walk, swim, explore, drive and fight in this immersive virtual world. VR in any form can bring on headaches
VR with fine-grained optics can be highly immersive
and nausea in some viewers, depending on the programme material and the amount and type of stimuli it contains. If there is any substantial time delay (>50ms, 1/20second) in the AV feeds this is exacerbated. Even without such delay, when people start to grab something to steady them, fall over or walk into a wall the strength of the illusion is demonstrated. For VR gaming and cinema applications over the internet a very fast (e.g. fibre) broadband link is vital to avoid latency and to convey the dense video signal. VR gaming offers good business to dealers who sell, program and set up computers. A top-flight gaming PC, as powerful as possible, is the prime requirement, with very high operating speed, huge storage capacity and a dedicated graphics generator matched to the 3D headset’s two mini-screens. Software packages are available from several manufacturers, usually providing complete systems including headsets and accessories.
go through three-and four-figure levels with increasing facility and performance. A mid-range HMD outfit sells for about £350. The Sony PlayStation VR is a popular device here, allied to the PS camera from the same manufacturer, which acts as a feedback sensor to monitor body movement. Further up the scale – and more expensive – are the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift systems, both with very fine-grained optics: some of the games available with these are particularly immersive and competitive. One potential drawback of VR headsets is that they can be perceived as cumbersome and heavy, inducing fatigue in the wearer after a while. This only becomes apparent in fairly prolonged use and can result in a return and demand for a refund after the sale. This is a difficult situation which may be forestalled by discussion at the time of sale and perhaps a long demonstration session. It’s also important to be aware of the popularity charts for those games on offer which are exclusive to one platform, because they loom largest in the eyes (!) of potential customers and steer hardware sales, as some manufacturers know to their cost. This is illustrated by the whitehot competition between Nintendo, Sony and Xbox. Selling VR equipment is a specialist business, but carries more potential for profit than everyday stuff such as TV, video and audio boxes.
HMDs (Head Mounted Displays) incorporate two tiny screens, one for each eye in a 3D configuration, and stereo (sometimes surround-sound) phones. The screens, ideally OLED types, offer very good definition (1080×1200 per eye) and are shrouded to prevent distraction and exclude ambient “For VR gaming light. The simplest form of headset, first introduced by and cinema Google, consists merely applications over the ULTIMATE VR TV of a fold-out dual-lens internet a very fast (e.g. An important part of cardboard structure for fibre) broadband link is VR is 3D imaging, and TV use with a smartphone in vital to avoid latency and viewers strongly rejected conjunction with special the necessary (at present) VR gaming apps; it makes to convey the dense use of spectacles for this, use of the motion sensors video signal.” let alone all-encompassing already built into the phone. headsets and more. Maybe one Specialist headsets for VR go much further, with high-quality day 3D and virtual reality will come stereoscopic vision and stereo or with holographic images and fields generated by wall- and ceiling-mounted surround audio drivers, some of which lasers whose beams interact in the air to incorporate a noise-cancelling feature to create 3D images with no screen at all. eliminate ambient sounds. Prices range Don’t hold your breath though. from about £15 for very basic types, and
TWO-MINUTE INTERVIEW We haven’t done this feature for a while, but we’ve just found this interview down the back of the filing cabinet. The name and position of the interviewee have been mislaid, but we don’t want to waste it. If anyone can give us a clue as to who it might be, do get in touch
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK IN THIS FIELD? I got a second-class degree in geography – but it was from Oxford, so the obvious choices were banking or this. I worked for a bank for a while and then followed many of my Oxbridge colleagues into this field
WHAT WAS THE GREATEST TURNING POINT IN YOUR LIFE? I was on a walking holiday in Wales and I had this brilliant idea….
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST REGRET? See my previous answer
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS’ TIME? You should have asked me that on June 7th
WHAT SURPRISES YOU? Polls
WHAT’S THE WORST LIE YOU’VE EVER TOLD?
Snow White (and the 27 Eurodwarves)
IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE? No. I never look in the Mirror
WHO IN THIS FIELD WOULD YOU LIKE TO SPEND TIME WITH (AND WHY)? Michel Barnier. He’s definitely not understood this “No Deal Is Better Than A Bad Deal” thing yet
IF YOU WEREN’T IN YOUR PRESENT POSITION, WHAT JOB WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO DO? Jean-Claude Juncker’s
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CUISINE? Frog’s legs
DO YOU HAVE ANY BAD HABITS?
NOTHING. HAS. CHANGED!
I’m told I tend to repeat myself… but when people are so stupid, you just have to keep repeating the same thing till they get it
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
WHAT HISTORIC FIGURE DO YOU IDENTIFY WITH MOST (AND WHY)?
Strong and stable
Giovanni Medici – a founder of modern banking and a principle I’ve followed all my working life: If you want to buy something expensive (say, for £1 billion), always use somebody else’s money
HOW DO YOU THINK OTHERS SEE YOU? I’ve been described as a bloody difficult woman. I’m very proud of that
WHO (FROM ANY WALK OF LIFE) DO YOU ADMIRE? I’m a big cricket fan and Geoffrey Boycott is my sporting hero. Like me, he always put the good of the team and the country above his own personal ambition
WHAT HOBBIES DO YOU HAVE? I’m an amateur lexicographer. I’ve replaced the entire Oxford English Dictionary with a simple principle of definitions I’ve invented: “Brexit means Brexit.” Works for any word. Brilliant!
YOU HAVE BEEN OFFERED A LEADING ROLE IN A FILM OF YOUR CHOICE, WHAT CHARACTER WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY?
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT? I’m still here
YOU HAVE BEEN OFFERED THE OPPORTUNITY TO RULE THE WORLD FOR A DAY, WHAT WOULD BE THE FIRST CHANGE YOU WOULD MAKE? Abolish hard Labour
DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTICULAR FETISHES? Shoes
WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? The coalition of chaos
DO YOU HAVE ANY HIDDEN TALENTS? I’m very good at talking to ordinary people
WHAT SORT OF MUSIC DO YOU LIKE? Chamber music
FAVOURITE QUOTE? “There is no magic money tree.” This is very useful to explain to the economically illiterate why some nurses use food banks and some bankers have million-pound bonuses
WHAT’S YOUR PET HATE? Putting the bins out – but fortunately that’s a “boy job” in our house so my husband has to do it
WHO HAS BEEN THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE?
WHO WOULD YOU PUT INTO ROOM 101?
Lately, Arlene Foster
Anybody who tries to get me out of number 10
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST FEAR?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF KIT?
Amazon Echo… “Alexa, tell me why you love me”
WHAT DO YOU DAYDREAM ABOUT?
WHAT MOTTO DO YOU LIVE BY?
An overall majority
Austerity for the many, not the few
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE TV PROGRAMME?
Yes, Prime Minister
…a series of U-turns (or, as I prefer to put it, grown-up, considered, collaborative decisions)