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The march of AI and the resurgence of vinyl
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED
alue sales leader
INSIDE... 3 6
Editorial Comment The Word In and around the industry
George Cole Gets Connected Artificial Intelligence has only just begun to enter our lives; vinyl is coming back
From the Bench Alan Bennet unravels the potential in the leads, plugs, wiring and sockets that physically connect your customers’ devices
TCL’s 75-inch QLED 8K TVs with Quantum Dot display technology and Dolby Atmos®
13 Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway 01420 886 33 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Seasonal Cooking Seriously tasty technology for every day of the year
Small Kitchen Appliances Good margins on gifts and keeps
22 Heating & Air Treatment
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Last month in this column we were celebrating the 15th anniversary of the first issue of Get Connected Magazine, looking back at what this industry was talking about in 2004 and reflecting on the scale of changes that have made today’s retail environment – particularly in our own industry – so harsh as to be virtually unrecognisable
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Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief
Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director
Will Dobson Creative Director
James McIntosh Consumer Consultant
George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant
ostalgia by itself is not useful, but last His confidence was palpable. “My business is month’s Comment generated enough successful because we believe we are the best interest to warrant another look back to a time and we offer value and service others can’t. If I when an independent white goods retailer, was as big as they are I couldn’t offer my style being asked what his biggest problem was, of service either, but I’m not, and we do!” The could reply: “polystyrene.” idea of independents offering better service Flat panel TV was still new: we reported is one that’s very much current in 2019, but in that first issue that plasma screens, at 86.1 Mike Peters’ belief in his business came from thousand units in the year to July 2004, were action as well as conviction. He listened to his outselling LCD (36.5 thousand units in the same customers. He trained his staff. He got involved period), and there was speculation about which in the local community, making sure people technology would become dominant. Retra knew him and his business. He was proactive chief executive Fred Round’s column mentioned in doing deals with local institutions – he even the impending implementation of the WEEE supplied TVs to the local prison. And he never Directive, but put at the top of the association’s stopped thinking about how the industry was agenda the “whole question of how the industry changing, and what his next move would be. is going to handle after sales When a local supermarket service – particularly as started selling DAB radios at regards what are commonly less than he could buy them referred to as ‘high tech’ from the manufacturers, he products such as plasma, LCD didn’t whinge about “level and DVD recorders.” playing fields.” He got his Although Amazon and staff, family and friends to go eBay had been around for in incognito and buy up all more than a decade, online the supermarket’s DAB stock, sales was only just beginning then set up an evening DAB to register as a future threat radio event in his store. He to bricks-and-mortar outlets. even, legend has it, used the Electrical retailers seemed supermarket club points his convinced that not many DAB purchases had earned people would ever want to to lay on a couple of cases buy a big appliance such as of wine for the event. He a washing machine or fridge/ sold all the radios, made a freezer online, and electrical profit and, probably most The very first issue of Get Connected independents were far more importantly, made it easy magazine (2004) concerned about competition for consumers to see his from the multiples (remember when there were business as the friendly, helpful, expert go-to a lot of them?), and incursions by new entrants source of new technology products. such as supermarkets. The point is that this is the exact proactive, It’s in this context that the late Mike Peters adaptable, innovative spirit that is being invoked – under his long-time pseudonym Ray Muttley – in 2019 as independents’ best commercial wrote his first column for us. Mike, who seemed advantage. It takes hard work, energy and retail instinctively to understand what Get Connected experience to stay on the case like this, and was trying to do, had transferred his hugely although the problems and their solutions might popular monthly column to Get Connected, and be different today, the spirit and the skills are continued to write for us until his untimely death the same. Your heart has to be in it, and you in 2007. have not only to believe it, but to demonstrate it. He came out swinging from the start, It’s appropriate to end this glance back to addressing market issues from a confident 2004 with the final sentence of Ray Muttley’s independent viewpoint. “The ‘big boys’ are inaugural Get Connected column: “Why is our crucifying each other,” he wrote, “and as new trade littered with pudden-heads and wallies outlets enter the scene – Boots doing whites who haven’t a clue what they are doing, or even for instance – it is not me they will take the biz aiming for, yet are still allowed to be let loose on from, it is one of the other biggies.” the public?”
Time to switch on recycled plastic
Steve Bell from Enva, one of the UK’s largest providers of recycled polymers, dispels some of the myths associated with incorporating recycled material into modern supply chains and points to the commercial and environmental benefits they can deliver UK and international manufacturers.
ince the impact that single use plastics were having on our oceans was ﬁrst brought to our attention in 2017, forward thinking and proactive businesses have been developing ways to operate in a more sustainable manner. In doing so, they have been able to build a positive environmental element to their brand and create a valuable point of diﬀerentiation. Whilst single use plastics have undoubtably been the focus of attention to date, there is certainly reason to be conﬁdent that this sentiment will broaden and that plastics will become increasingly demonised outside of just drinking straws, water bottles and carrier bags. There is also the potential that a tax similar to the government’s plastic packaging tax which will levy a charge on all plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content, will be considered for other products. The use of recycled plastics in manufacturing such as Polypropylene (PP), Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Polystyrene (PS) got oﬀ to a diﬃcult start in the 80s and 90s when they were generally manufactured in small scale unsophisticated facilities and, as a result, suﬀered from a high degree of contamination. This perception has proved hard to shift with many manufacturers including the automotive and white goods industries seemingly reluctant to incorporate these products into their processes. The production of modern recycled polymers however has changed dramatically. Not only are they now comparable in terms of quality when compared to virgin oil-based products but they can also present users with
a unique industry supplier of uality recycled polystyrene und, that is comparable to astic in the manufacture of er electronics and appliances. 4
a considerable cost saving. It’s also important to note that no modiﬁcation of manufacturing equipment is required when oﬀsetting virgin polymer for recycled, meaning that there is no cost associated with the switch to a more sustainable supply chain. Another historical concern with specifying recycled polymers for use in car manufacture, for example, was whether a product that was available today would still be available in say four years’ time. Long term production capability is no longer a restraining factor and indeed input materials are continually increasing as a result of an increasingly advanced waste and recycling sector. Enva alone has recently invested £1.8m in order to double its output capacity to over 2000 tonnes of extruded compound per month. Variations to recycled polymers are also now far easier and economical. This
could include the addition of elastomers to improve impact strength, additives to increase melt ﬂow or ﬁllers to make PP stronger and stiﬀer. A range of colours are also now available. In fact, it’s technically possible to produce any colour required by a customer. Whilst there is little in the way of published data to assess the use of recycled polymers in the manufacture of modern goods, our experience indicates that take up remains far lower than would be expected given the commercial and environmental beneﬁts. Phones, fridges or vacuum cleaners that promote a high percentage of recycled plastic as part of their marketing strategy cannot be too far away and this still presents a real opportunity for brands with the foresight to be early adopters of these high quality and valuable secondary resources.
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THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
RETAIL SALES EXPERIENCE WORST SEPTEMBER SINCE RECORDS BEGAN September proved to be another difficult month for retailers, with like-for-like sales declining year on year and online nonfood sales recording their lowest growth on record. According to the British Retail Consortium, sales fell 1.7% from September 2018 (1.3% on a total basis) – the worst September since 1995, when the organisation’s records began. Online non-food sales grew by just 0.7%, but nonetheless compared favourably to those of the physical store sector. In-store sales of non-food items fell 3.2% both on a total and like-for-like basis, a more severe decline than the 2.9% 12-month total average.
SHOP PRICES UNDER PRESSURE AS SPENDING CONTINUES TO SLOW
ow consumer demand and stiff competition have again been cited for pushing down retail prices, which fell 0.6% in September, the highest rate of decline since May 2018. Non-food prices dropped by 1.7% compared to August’s decrease of 1.5%, while food inflation eased to 1.1% from 1.6% in August. Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said consumers may welcome lower prices, but falling demand is squeezing retailers’ already tight margins. “With business costs continuing to rise – including business rates, wage bills, and pension costs – the high street risks more big-name closures,” she commented.
AO LOOKS TO SUPERMARKET SECTOR FOR LOGISTICS OPPORTUNITY
nline electricals retailer AO is expanding its logistics muscle in a deal with supermarket chain Aldi, which has contracted the Bolton-based firm to deliver Specialbuys – a sector which includes electricals – ordered online by Aldi customers requiring home delivery. AO has been delivering large white goods and other electricals for the past 30 years and its logistics network services 95% of the UK. The three-year partnership will see AO provide its services for large products requiring a two-person home delivery. Aldi customers will also gain additional benefits including more weekend delivery options.
JOHN LEWIS ANNOUNCES PLAN TO BREAK FREE FROM “CYCLE OF DECLINING RETURNS”
he John Lewis Partnership has announced changes that will enable John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners to be managed and operated as a single business in a plan labelled ‘Future Partnership’. The business said the new cross-Partnership roles and the greater integration of the two brands will mean a reduction of around 75 senior management head office roles from the current total of 225. All aspects of the plan will ultimately lead to an overall costsaving of c.£100m. There will no longer be divisional boards or separate Managing Directors for John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners as the two brands will be managed by a single Executive team led by the Chairman. The company said the move would enable the business to respond rapidly to customers’ needs and make internal and customer service systems more effective through developing common IT and supply chain platforms. Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said the lesson of the last two years is that the business needs more innovation, faster decision-making and bolder steps to align its operating model with its strategy. “We are confident, as a Board, that when the programme is complete the Partnership will be better positioned to break out from the cycle of declining returns that are affecting most established retailers.” The news followed a loss of £25.9 million for the Partnership in the half-year ended 27th July on sales of £5,420.2 million, down 1.2% on the same period last year. Losses at John Lewis & Partners increased by £42.5 million to £61.8 million on sales of £2,054.8 million, down 1.8%. The retailer highlighted the impact of subdued consumer confidence on sales, particularly in Home and Electricals where demand for more considered purchases has remained depressed. The John Lewis Partnership historically makes the majority of its profits in the second half of the year, but warned that “Brexit continues to weigh on consumer sentiment at a crucial time for the sector as we enter the peak trading period.”
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE RISES AS BREXIT DEADLINE NEARS
consumer confidence increased in September after taking a three-point pounding in August. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index increased two points to -12 with all
five measures used to determine the score increasing, although confidence in the general economic situation remains in the -30s. Joe Staton, Client Strategy
Director at GfK commented on the long succession of negative Overall Index scores since the Brexit referendum but noted that there is still a long way to go to match
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the record low Index score of -39 witnessed during the early days of the last recession. “You can almost sense people are keeping their fingers crossed,” he added.
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
HMV OPENS EUROPE’S BIGGEST RETAIL ENTERTAINMENT SPACE E ntertainment retailer hmv has marked the next step in the brand’s revival with a multimillion-pound investment in the British high street, nine months after being bought out of administration. The 25,000sq ft hmv Vault, which opened in Birmingham, is said to be the largest music and entertainment retail space in Europe. The store will range more than 100,000 LPs and CDs and offer every film available on 4K UHD (20,000 Bluray and over 40,000 DVD titles).
hmv Owner Doug Putman said the move is “a vote of confidence in the British high street” and that hmv will play a fundamental role in ensuring shopping districts continue to thrive. Alongside music, film, books and fashion merchandise, the Vault will offer a performance space in which local artists and international musicians will be invited to perform. “Retail offers two things a purely digital experience of music simply can’t – the opportunity to experience the biggest acts live
in our stores and our ability to offer a platform to new artists in the communities where we operate, as well as opportunities for fans to come together and share their passion for music and film with our dedicated staff,” Putman commented.
DIXONS CARPHONE INVESTS £4M IN CUSTOMER SERVICE FACILITY
KBBG INTRODUCES CONSUMER FINANCE SCHEME
ixons Carphone has unveiled a 19,000sq ft state-of-the-art customer service facility which will double the training hours it invests in new colleagues. The Academy@Fort Dunlop, which includes four mock store environments, eight training rooms and 22 supplier zones, opened its doors to new colleagues following a revamp in partnership with key suppliers. The learning hub, which will have an intake of over 6,000 colleagues annually, will provide an additional 400,000 hours of colleague training a year. Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and former Managing Director of John Lewis, said: “Retail is an important driver of the economy here in the West Midlands and around the UK, so I am especially pleased that The Academy@ Fort Dunlop will train the next generation of retail workers, equipping them with the skills and confidence they need to help drive the retail sector forward.”
itchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG) has introduced a consumer finance package, enabling members to offer customers a variety of finance options to support sales. The new scheme is in association with retracare and backed by finance provider Hitachi. The packages include a selection of arrangements including buy now and pay later, interest-free from three to five years and interest-bearing from five to ten years. KBBG Managing Director Bill Miller said the initiative is intended to help members generate more kitchen and bathroom sales and to compete better with national retail chains offering consumer finance.
MITCHELL AND JOHNSON CITES BREXIT UNCERTAINTY FOR BUSINESS CLOSURE
udio brand Mitchell and Johnson, which was established in 2012, is to close following unprecedented pre-Brexit consumer confidence challenges. A statement released by the company said: “We regret to announce that Mitchell and Johnson
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is to close for business with immediate effect. It is with great sadness that we announce the decision, which follows our significant investment transitioning from Far Eastern to British manufacturing, at a time of unprecedented decline in consumer confidence and spending
due to ongoing Brexit uncertainty.” In 2015, Mitchell and Johnson launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £150,000 to help fund the next stage in the brand’s development. The business said it intended to use the investment to appoint additional global distributors
and to finalise new product developments. “Tragically,” the company said, “we have been unable to reach sufficient global distribution fast enough to recoup our considerable investment in UK production and sustain our overheads.”
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TCL SEES FIRST-HALF PROFITS GROW 139.8% Chinese manufacturer TCL has said its net profit for the six months ended 30 June 2019 grew 139.8% year-onyear to HK$1.37 billion as its global TV sales volumes hit a new record of 15.53 million sets.
urnover for the first half of the year rose 8% to HK$22.7 billion with volume sales of TCL-branded TVs outside of China increasing 49.8% to 7.07 million, adding HK$10.77 billion to the revenue. Volumes in Europe increased 20.7% year-on-year, while North America and emerging markets recorded rises of 75.0% and 28.8% respectively. Looking ahead, the company said it would further diversify its businesses to areas including smart AV, commercial display and smart home, while reinforcing and upgrading its existing TV business. “Ultimately,” it said, “TCL aims to consolidate its position as a global leading smart technology company.”
ELECTRICAL SAFETY FIRST’S PHIL BUCKLE RETIRES
hil Buckle, who led the UK charity Electrical Safety First for more than ten years, has retired from the role of Chief Executive. During his tenure, he directed the charity as it extended its influence into Government policy, established a major product safety conference and created a series of campaigns placing product safety firmly on the media and political agenda. In his parting comment, Buckle said: “I am, of course, sad to depart from the organisation but I leave with great satisfaction at what has been achieved.”
SOUND UNITED TERMINATES AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE ONKYO CORPORATION
ound United has announced the “mutually agreed” termination of an agreement made in May this year to acquire Onkyo Corporation’s Home Audio business. The two companies had said the preliminary agreement would
enable them to quickly proceed with negotiations of definitive terms and agreements, but the completion of the transaction was subject to several conditions including the finalisation of all definitive agreements, completion of satisfactory due diligence, the securing
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Exertis has appointed Phillip Turner to the newly created position of global head of voice of the customer (VoC). Caroline Hope has been promoted to commercial director for consumer products.
Invision has expanded its internal sales team with two new assistant account managers, Charli Harvey and Liam Fairweather, to provide customers with a dedicated point of contact.
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is actively raising new financing, considering new alliances and making long-planned internal changes, which were put on hold for this Transfer, to improve its profitability and competitiveness,” the business said in a statement.
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CIH “FAMILY” GETS TOGETHER IN PORTUGAL
uying group CIH welcomed over 240 guests to its 2019 conference, which carried the overarching theme “We are Family” – the subject intended to highlight that, even though CIH members are independent electrical retailers, they are part of one of Europe’s largest electrical buying groups, Euronics, and can rely on the head office team and the board directors for support during the good times and the bad. The event was held at the Algarve Congress Centre in Vilamoura, Portugal during September and commenced with a welcome and introduction to the agenda from CIH Chairman Steve Scogings. The CIH head office teams presented a number of topics, including the current marketplace, plans for Euronics’ online presence and buying strategy and the new branding available for stores and vehicles. Discussions included imminent changes to legislation and appliance energy labelling, connectivity, and the soon-to-launch Euronics Care warranty scheme. Members were also informed of forthcoming seasonal activities and promotions.
SMEG ACQUIRES ITALIAN COFFEE MACHINE MAKER I
talian appliance manufacturer Smeg has acquired Milan-based La Pavoni, which is claimed to be the “world’s first” producer of the modern espresso bar coffee machine. La Pavoni was founded in 1905 and has a history marked by collaborations with architects and designers including Giò Ponti, one of the Italian masters of architecture and industrial design. The acquisition will see the two companies share industry knowhow and, according to Smeg, “continue to create beautifully designed products whilst reenforcing the strength of a ‘Made in Italy’ ethos.”
An open forum followed the business presentations, providing members with a platform to discuss all areas of their business with the CIH team and fellow CIH members and directors. Manufacturers Aga Rangemaster, Beko, BSH, Electrolux Home Products, Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, Hoover Candy Group, LG Electronics UK, Samsung Electronics UK, Sony and Whirlpool also presented to the buying group’s members. The conference closed with a tropical island-themed gala dinner and an auction to raise funds for the Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation. CIH CEO Stuart Cook said: “At CIH, we’re glad to be back hosting our members’ conference and even though retailing is going through a tough period, we are delighted at the level of support and co-operation between one another…”
KENWOOD HOSTS PARTY FOR LOCAL CHILDREN’S CHARITY
taff at Kenwood have hosted a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Over The Wall, a local children’s charity which provides residential summer camps for children and families coping with serious illness. The event was held at the De’Longhi Group’s UK Head Office in Havant and attended by local MP Alan Mak, members of the Over The Wall team, former campers, volunteers and camper families. The company presented a cheque for £2,600 to the charity during the celebration and said staff will also get involved in various other fundraising challenges throughout the year with a target to raise £10,000.
SHORTCUTS Beko is running a nine-week campaign offering three months’ worth of free Finish dishwashing products and up to 30% off further items from the detergent brand. The incentive runs until 5th December 2019.
EXERTIS GIVES BACK TO COMMUNITIES VIA CHARITY FUNDRAISING
istributor of technology products Exertis has raised over £12,000 for a variety of local charities through events organised by members of its UPGRADE trainee management programme. The programme is an 18-month internal trainee initiative linked to a Level 3 apprenticeship in leadership and management. The fundraising events were held by teams in Basingstoke, Harlow, Burnley and Elland.
GDHA is running a consumer cash-back campaign on selected models in its Stoves, Belling and Britannia ranges, offering £100 to £300 depending on the brand and model purchased. The three-month incentive runs until the end of the year. Beko and Hoover have announced their success at this year’s Sirius Buying Group Annual event. Beko received the SDA Brand of the Year Award, and Hoover claimed its sixth award when employee Nigel Clarke received the trophy for Best Sales Representative. Connect Distribution has been appointed distributor for DēLonghi Group S.p.A., supplying UK independent electrical retailers
with a comprehensive range of more than 200 small domestic appliances from the DēLonghi, Kenwood and Braun brands. Key responsibilities will include stock management, forecasting and maintaining customer relationships. Distributor and supplier RKW has gained the exclusive retail distribution of Smeg’s small domestic appliance range. Invision has been appointed as a distributor for Sony Home Cinema projectors. Whirlpool UK is hosting a FIRST® LEGO® League tournament – an initiative designed to encourage young people to take an interest in real-world issues and develop technology skills – and is funding the participation of 10 teams from local primary and secondary schools. The sponsorship includes all entry fees and a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robot provided to the schools.
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
AI – THERE IS A LOT MORE TO COME This year’s IFA 2019 show in Berlin was dominated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft have invested billions in AI technologies and are looking for a return on that investment. Hence the push for AI-enabled products.
“The report’s authors note that there are more than 1500 companies in North America developing AI applications and that the global AI market could be worth up to $100 billion by 2025.”
IFA, Toshiba announced that its 2020 range of TVs will include Alexa, Android TV and Google Assistant technologies. The new sets will have built-in microphones, so viewers can control the set or search for programmes or information by speech. But by the looks of things, we are only scratching the surface when it comes to AI and consumer electronics. A report by AT&T Foundry, Ericsson and RocketSpace, “The future of AI in consumer experience,” gives a foretaste of what the future will look like. The report’s authors note that there are more than 1500 companies in North America developing AI applications and that the global AI market could be worth up to $100 billion by 2025. The rise of smart speakers has already taken speech recognition from the laboratory to the living room, but the San Francisco-based AI company Bridge.ai believes that smart devices can go much further than this when it comes
to sound. Its smart home platform, Aura, is designed to hear just like humans do, claims the company. It’s a technology that could transform the smart home. Microphones are placed around the home and Aura analyses the sounds picked up by them to determine what is happening around the household. One scenario has Aura detecting when a product is about to suffer mechanical failure – long before the owner is aware that there is a problem. In another, Aura could detect when you arrive home and then have your home audio system play your favourite piece of music or your TV switch on your favourite channel. Depending on your point of view, the future with AI is exciting – or a very scary space.
SMART CONSUMER SERVICE
he AI report mentioned above quotes a forecast which says that, in five years, 85% of business relationships with consumers will be managed without human interaction. Over the years, we’ve already seen brands use various technologies for customer service including online FAQs, digital assistants, virtual assistants and bots. AI supporters say it could be used to deliver experiences that integrate with consumers’ lives. I must confess that my heart sinks whenever I hear someone rabbiting on about “delivering a better consumer experience” or “an enhanced shopping experience,” but if used wisely, AI could be used by consumer electronics brands to improve customer service. My main worry is that some of these systems will be too clever for their own good. Amazon, for example, has patented an AI system which uses predictive modelling to work out the purchases a shopper plans to make – before they have even placed an order. The goods are then automatically dispatched and delivered to the consumer’s home. I don’t know about you, but for me, this is pushing things a bit too far.
VINYL – A GOLDEN GOOSE
wasn’t that long ago when buying a new album on a vinyl LP record simply wasn’t an option. These days, you can’t move for vinyl reissues and special vinyl versions, and the good news for the music industry is that vinyl commands a fine premium over CD. A single disc CD costing £10 is typically twice the price on vinyl. The US music market shows how profitable vinyl can be. The latest sales report from the US trade body RIAA for the first half of 2019 reveals that CD sales reached 18.6 million units with a value of $248 million. Although vinyl album sales were much lower (8.6 million units), their value was close to that of CDs – $224 million. These figures clearly show the premium commanded by vinyl, and by releasing LPs as limited editions or in multiple colours, the music industry has tapped into a group of consumers who are prepared to pay a lot more for vinyl. My big fear is that greed could kill this golden goose if consumers feel that record companies are ripping them off by ratcheting up prices or flooding the market with special releases.
FROM THE BENCH
FROM THE BENCH
HDMI LINKS The HDMI system has greatly simplified the interconnection of screens and boxes within the home because of its capacity for highbandwidth AV data, its versatility and its auto-switching and routing (CEC, Consumer Electronics Control) capabilities. Most dealers will have heard of the hype surrounding HDMI cables, arising from what has been called an ‘analogue mentality.’ Cables cannot affect the quality of digital TV pictures or sound; datastreams are pretty much an all-or-nothing medium, and only in very long runs can cables degrade them to the point where there’s any visible or audible effect. In that case there might be sporadic break-up, image ‘sparkles’ or hash on sound, more likely no results at all. Good quality cables provide a higher margin for data errors. The main virtues of good HDMI cords lie in their superior construction and robustness, especially in terms of their plugs. High quality gold-plated connectors minimise contact resistance and potential dropouts, while a good shell moulding ensures that the plug stays put. Even here there are pitfalls, however: bulky, fat plugs may foul the plastic moulding on the equipment’s rear panel or adjacent plugs, and thick cable can drag and be stiff and inflexible. Flat and right-angled types are widely available to solve physical problems, while splitter- and switch-boxes and even HDMI-to-Scart adaptors are marketed for use with older TVs and boxes. While most HDMI equipment is mutually compatible, some combinations can give rise to problems, for instance the use of older audio surround boxes with late designs of TV and advanced data transmission modes. Other snags may be solved by a software update to one or both boxes. HDMI leads are available at retail prices from 99p to several hundred pounds! I sell and install good quality ‘high-speed’ cables at about £20 for a 2m length unless the customer wants something different.
CABLES AND WIRING
Cables, plugs and sockets are the stringy glue which bind AV products to each other and to the outside world. Sometimes there is more to them than many people realise... Alan Bennett looks at the essential links around TV and audio equipment MAINS CABLES All equipment comes with a mains cable and plug, generally fitted with a 5A fuse for entertainment gear. In most cases it only protects the cable because inside the TV or whatever there is another which is lower rated and surge resistant. Of all the link wires this is the only one which can potentially present a fire and shock risk. Never make a joint in a mains cable (or repair it, come to that) with insulating tape, and when an extension is required don’t go inside the equipment to connect a longer wire – coil up its own cord at the back cover and run a continuous cable from there to the room socket, routing it along the wall, even if that makes it longer. This avoids a trip hazard and looks tidier than a plug/socket link along the way. Very often there are more plugs than wall sockets, in which case avoid cube-shaped adaptors; use a good quality ‘strip ‘ type with surge protection and interference suppression. High-power audio equipment is best fed from its own wall socket where possible.
AERIAL AND DISH WIRING Even though the UHF (477-661 MHz) carriers used for Freeview TV transmissions are easier to convey than those passing satellite signals from a dish and LNB, it’s recommended that satellite
cable like types RG6 or CT100 is used for downleads and flyleads for two reasons: its low signal loss and its double screening, which latter minimises interference and noise radiation to and from the signal conductor. With the higher power of digital transmissions over the old analogue ones, and the ruggedness of the COFDM modulation system now used, it may be possible to divide the Freeview aerial signal input into two – or even three – separate runs with a (lossy, but cheap and trouble-free) passive splitter. Long runs are seldom a problem with co-ax cables. Satellite cables cannot be split in the simple way described above because of the need to cater for the DC carrier polarity control, while a further complication arises from the (now almost universal) need for the two conductors involved with ‘+’ receivers, which have simultaneous watch and record facilities; and where two or more receivers are present. In multi-occupation buildings these involve relatively complex distribution amplifiers. In very old installations where only one download is provided, which may be inaccessible, a ‘stacker’ can be used to furnish the two feeds required. While broken or damaged Freeview or satellite cables are best renewed entirely, they can be repaired with two F-connectors and a coupler, well wrapped in self-amalgamating tape if they are outdoors.
ANALOGUE CABLES Few analogue cables are used these days apart from those feeding loudspeakers. There is a range of good ones, again supported in some circles by much oxygen-free hype. I believe that mains-type cable is good for loudspeaker wiring, using thicker grades for high-power applications. Okay, shoot me now! I am happy to supply and fit ‘proper’ speaker cable if it’s requested, however... AV wiring can be so untidy. Virtually all types of cable are available in flat form for routing under carpets or wallpaper and past doors; some of it is self-adhesive. An alternative is lowprofile trunking, for use on skirting boards and up to wall- or stand-mounted equipment.
Changing Seasons Special Integral Supplement
Inside... Seasonal Cooking
Small Kitchen Appliances
Heating & Air Treatment
A selection of products for the last quarter of 2019
GDHA’s Zeus: Smart, connected and freeing up cooks to spend time with their guests
manager Sara Bazeley, “appliances that make life easier are increasingly sought after. Furthermore, research states that only 22% of British consumers feel that they have great knowledge of, and experience with, food and cooking. The task of cooking a large family roast, with all of the trimmings, can therefore be extremely daunting.” Less confident cooks might, she suggests, be reassured by “cooking appliances that benefit from automatic programmes, particularly built-in ovens with recipe function benefits.” KitchenAid channel controller Lee Collett says that even for experienced cooks, “at times such as the festive season, when there is so much to organise, a helping hand in the kitchen is often welcome.” A good hob can help by bringing some order to the juggling of multiple saucepans when there’s pressure to bring it all together at
The last quarter is traditionally strong for cooking appliances, and a big component of buyers’ choice at this time will be the prospect of delivering the year’s big meal, and also catering for the parties and get-togethers that stretch across a couple of weeks of extended festivities here’s always pressure to get the food perfect for the festive season, but it’s also retailers’ job to ensure their customers get the appliances they need to serve them well throughout the rest of the year. The ovens and hobs that handle the big bird, the substantial roasting joint, the vegetables and trimmings must also do efficient duty for the family’s various needs – albeit less elaborate and in smaller volumes, but still important – through all the days to the next festive season.
TAKING THE STRAIN The pressure to get it right on the day, and also to have some leisure to socialise and enjoy the occasion, is acknowledged by manufacturers, and each has specific products and technologies to help get results and relieve the stress. Jane Rylands, head of marketing communications for Stoves, says: “Across the board consumers are looking for the same ‘stress free’ technologies they interact with daily to be applied to their domestic appliances. Connected and smart appliances allow users to remain with their guests whilst they control and adjust their cooking times.” Hoover Candy UK’s business director Nick Platt adds: “Consumers want to enjoy hosting without having the stress
of cooking looming over them. Connected appliances and savvy innovations are the best way to keep organised and make the cooking process as easy as possible. WiFi-connected appliances… can also make the most of preprogrammed settings and cooking methods to make sure everything is ready in time.” Hotpoint senior brand manager Catherine Balderson acknowledges: “The festive season brings with it a vast amount of household tasks, particularly when it comes to preparing and cooking delicious meals. Consumers are increasingly looking to purchase cooking appliances that help ease pressure and reduce stress during this time of year. As well as helping to create more space in the kitchen by freeing up worktops and making the area more efficient and ergonomic, built-in cooking appliances make the kitchen appear more streamlined. This is ideal for creating a more pleasurable cooking and entertaining experience during the festive season, when space is often limited.”
EXPERT BACKUP “As consumer’s lives become ever busier in the run-up to the festive season,” says Indesit brand
the right time, and the technologies available on induction hobs are hard to beat for convenience, precision and versatility. The sophisticated zoning, sensors and power settings available from most brands offer a new level of control when it’s most needed. It’s worth retailers’ time to find out what level of sophistication their customers want, and to explain, and where possible demonstrate, how induction can deliver it, not only saving on energy and providing greater safety, but bringing a reassuring level of help and control
Whirlpool SmartCook Hob: Induction delivers adaptability and precision
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to both highly experienced foodies and less confident cooks. “Today,” says Hotpoint’s Catherine Balderson, “induction hobs are available from most manufacturers at various price points, and they are now even available at entry-level, making them more accessible than ever before.”
SIMPLE BUT SMART It’s significant that the modern cooking technologies that can take the stress out of the festive season are also those which are likely to appeal to customers looking for a better cooking experience every day of the year. Your customers may not have bought a major cooking appliance for ten or fifteen years, and there’s a great story to tell about how much innovation has occurred since then. With all the new sophistication, simplicity of operation remains a priority for many consumers, and the power and complexity of the technology has to be balanced with explanation – or demonstration – of how easy it is to operate. Indesit’s Sara Bazeley confirms: “Appliances with easy-to-use controls are a big story at the moment. A recent study has found that millions of consumers in the UK are baffled by the number of buttons, symbols and switches on their appliances, with 70% saying that manufacturers could do more to make products easier to understand.” Many manufacturers are embracing the ease of use requirement with simple, one-click or one-touch control features, often associated with a recipe app or onboard programming, that can set times and temperatures automatically for a wide range of foods. In fact, as Hoover
Hotpoint’s steam oven: part of bringing the health and taste benefits of steam cooking into the mainstream
Candy’s Nick Platt asserts, “new technologies are becoming more seamlessly integrated with everyday appliances, especially connected ovens which are revolutionising the cooking process with downloadable recipes and stepby-step meal tutorials. There’s an abundance of ways consumers can use smart features too. Different functionalities have emerged this year such as WiFi connectivity which allows users to check cooking progress remotely through specific apps.” For a generation becoming increasingly used to connected homes, the arrival of Smart technology in the kitchen is an appealing prospect.
EVERYDAY BENEFITS As well as the simple but connected aspect of cooking, the basic everyday practicalities and priorities remain. Ovens need to be cleaned, and it used to be a messy, arduous chore. Now there are various “automatic” cleaning options built in to many ovens, with pyrolytic being more and more popular, and more and more affordable. “ Cleaning is an important factor for the busy
Indesit Aria built-in range with a stylish and versatile combination of oven and microwave
“Consumers are looking for t he same ‘stress free’ technologies t hey interact wit h daily to be applied to t heir domest ic appliances” family and can extend appliance longevity,” says Indesit’s Sara Bazeley, explaining that this now well established technology “reduces burnt on food and grease to a dusting of ash. The residue can then be simply wiped away, taking the effort out of cleaning and eliminating the use of chemicals to clean the appliance.” Healthier eating may not be the priority for many during December, but for the rest of the year it’s a growing concern in the UK, and one that is being addressed by manufacturers – not only by simplifying the process of home cooking in general, but through specific technologies. An example is steam cooking, that is moving from a niche process into the mainstream. It is, according to Stoves’ head of marketing communications Jane Rylands, “an effective way of preserving the taste, texture and nutritional benefits of ingredients,” and has shaken off the misconception that steaming is only for fish and vegetables. The steam combi oven appears to achieve the best of both worlds, as Hotpoint’s Catherine Balderson points out: “In addition to using the appliance as a steamer, the fan function can be used to guarantee excellent golden brown results, while the combination of fan and steam cooking ensures crispy and succulent foods in less time; the perfect combination especially for roasts and for preparing preprepared frozen food and desserts.” Sous Vide has also moved from the confines of professional kitchens and become accessible to domestic users who can now employ this technique as seen on TV cooking programmes.
Combinations are, in fact, the great providers of individually tailored cooking solutions in the home. Whether it’s a combi microwave or any one of a number of single or double cavity appliances teaming to deliver a customdesigned home cooking ideal, there are options that many customers need to be made aware of.
WIDE RANGING Finally, though built-in is being promoted by many manufacturers, the range cooker – once seen as a big, traditional, slightly old-fashioned country kitchen focal point – is also moving into the 21st century with a choice of sizes to fit anything from a mansion to a town apartment, and technologies that combine traditional benefits with up-to-the-minute technology, including internet connectivity. A UK consumer survey carried out by Stoves reflects this shift in perception: “Range cooker owners are getting younger,” say the survey findings, “with the highest proportion - 39% - being aged between 25-34. And, although range cookers continue to be popular with those with plenty of disposable income, Stoves’ research found that the average combined household income of a range cooker owner is now £35k or less.” Cooking as a sector has never been as vibrant and full of choice as it is now, and the more information retailers can get from their customers about their specific ideas and needs, the more likely it is that there will be happy buyers who feel they’ve found their own personal recipe for the life they lead.
SMALL KITCHEN APPLIANCES
A GET CONNECTED SUPPLEMENT
KitchenAid’s limited edition Queen of Hearts collection
ittle over a decade ago it was mooted that, during the festive season, there were four distinct types of small kitchen appliance purchasers: • Those buying products as gifts for others • Those intending to brighten up their kitchen (perhaps adding some colour to the worktop) with the prospect of seasonal entertaining ahead • Those seeking appliances to make food preparation easier • Those engaging in distress purchases Nowadays, we can add to that list due to a number of new influences: • Those occupied by clean eating, vegetarianism/veganism or health & fitness regimes • Those who have joined the burgeoning ranks of home bakers • Those with the desire to emulate top chefs in order to achieve professional cooking results at home Although there may be some crossover between these categories, essentially, we’re looking at seven potential groups of small appliance buyers.
SOCIAL MANIA When it comes to cooking, we’re a serious lot – so much so that in some areas a degree of ‘kitchen snobbery’ exists. We’re also a nation obsessed by sharing images of culinary creations on social media platforms such as Instagram, and we’re hooked on the promise of a healthier, skinnier existence, as achieved by the many “influencers” pushing whatever evangelism works for them. That said, we’re eternally grateful for any hype that will advance the sales of small kitchen appliances. No-one is in any doubt how the cooking/ baking/foodie craze came about. It was, of course, television programming which brought us into a new world of kitchen knowhow, showing us step-by-step how members of the public, celebrities and those already in the cheffing business went about creating
Acknowledged for excellent gift potential and enduring popularity due to the nation’s passion for cooking, the status of small kitchen appliances continues to grow. GC looks at the categories predicted to shine during the 2019 festive season. dishes from foodstuffs some had never even encountered, growing in confidence and skill as they did so. It was a powerful indoctrination which the nation dutifully embraced. “Consumers love the raft of cookery programmes on the TV in the autumn, which certainly spawns sales,” says James Aldridge, MDA & SDA Buyer for buying group CIH. “The
pod and traditional filter coffee machines, consumers are spoilt for choice.” “Autumn and winter are the time when people spend more hours indoors, often entertaining with family and friends and coffee machines play a big part in this in terms of preparing different types of coffees, from thick creamy espressos to cappuccinos and lattes to serve to guests or for individual enjoyment,” maintains Nigel Morrison, Consumer & Trade Marketing Manager at Melitta UK. “What’s more, coffee machines continue to be a very popular choice for Christmas gifting and we expect demand for this to continue during quarter four of this year. As in previous years, consumers are looking for high-quality machines that not only look aesthetically pleasing in the kitchen but are practical and easy to use.”
“With the increasing popularity of baking, thanks to programmes such as The Great British Bake Off, there’s a market for stand mixers like never before,” asserts Lucy King, product manager at Smeg, maintaining that such products are “loved by all ages”. “Mixers are perfect for Christmas baking, whipping up your own Pannetones and festive treats at home,” she adds. “Christmas is our biggest season of the year, particularly for our SDAs. They are the perfect entry-level product to the Smeg range and ideal for all ages, from students who have enjoyed their freshers’ term at university through to young professionals, families and grandparents who like to bake with their grandchildren. “Our current collection includes kettles, toasters, stand mixers, blenders and slow juicers – all dinky enough to fit under the tree.” Lee Collett, Channel Controller at KitchenAid, says television programmes such as the Great British Bake Off have an influence over sales of KitchenAid stand mixers as they are heavily featured on this and many other programmes. “As the show is on television throughout the autumn, it gives consumers time to add products to their wish list for the festive season.”
“Sma appliance markets always see an uplift in sales in Q4 as t he run up to t he peak Christmas season gets underway” business was extremely buoyant last season and we are hoping for the same for the run up to the festive period for 2019.”
COFFEE CULTURE Looking at the products deemed most sought after, Aldridge says Euronics agents had particular success with coffee machines. “With a wide range of different types of coffee machines now available, including bean-to-cup, capsule or
SMALL KITCHEN APPLIANCES
are clearly visible, attractively displayed and within reach. Ensure the point-of-sale material is up-to-date and correctly positioned to enable the customer to absorb all the product information.” KitchenAid’s Lee Collett suggests retailers give consideration to hosting interactive product demonstrations. “This will give customers a unique opportunity to get to know the appliances on display. There are many quick and easy tasks that demonstrate the agility and timesaving benefits of small domestic appliances, with perfect and consistent results every time. At the same time, they will really bring your showroom to life and leave your customers wanting more.”
CUSTOMER SERVICE COMES AT A PRICE Bosch VitaMaxx vacuum blender
HOW WAS IT FOR YOU?
Looking at how the small appliance sector fared during the Christmas season last year in terms of sales, CIH’s Aldridge says business was “extremely buoyant”, and the group is hoping for the same in the run up to the period in 2019. “With the festive season around the corner, as well as Black Friday sales, we expect the SDA market to perform well as consumers look to invest in gifts for loved ones in addition to updating their appliances in preparation for cooking festive dishes and party favourites.” Aldridge’s words are basically echoed by Caroline Ross, Marketing Manager at Groupe SEB UK: “Small appliance markets always see an uplift in sales in Q4 as the run up to the peak Christmas season gets underway. This was certainly the case in 2018 and this year will be no different. “Typically, food preparation products and those that enhance the entertaining experience always perform well during the Christmas runup sales period as they both carry high-degree gift and entertaining purchase elements.”
All in all, small appliances offer terrific sales opportunities – and a colourful way to brighten the shelves – and, as CIH’s Aldridge points out, savvy dealers can take advantage of popular
Although margins are determined by the brand names stocked or retail outlets’ individual pricing policies, CIH’s Aldridge rightly points out that there is more to making a sale than price alone, particularly with consumers’ propensity for checking competitor prices on the internet whilst in store. “It is very difficult to compete with this,” he asserts. “However, the
“Consumers also hold a strong associat ion wit h t he food prep market when it comes to healt hy products” holidays such as Christmas using themed displays either in-store, in the shop window, or both, to draw consumers inside. He advises retailers to: “take the time to make sure all items
independent retailer has something the internet can never offer: face-to-face engagement to show, demonstrate and tell, and (of course) excellent customer service.”
NEW YEAR, NEW YOU The food prep category offers an extraordinarily wide range of products, from food processors, blenders and mixers to appliances that drift in and out of fashion such as the ice cream maker and electric knife. In general, it tends to be driven at the top end by appliances for those who love to cook – heavy-duty mixers, professional food processors and powerful hand-blenders – and consumers also hold a strong association with the food prep market when it comes to “healthy” products. Blenders, smoothie makers and multipurpose food processors are seen by some as providing a quick, easy and tasty way to get the recommended 5-a-day dose of fruit and vegetables. Smeg’s Lucy King says health consciousness has been a rapidly increasing trend throughout 2019, and retailers may see consumers opting for blenders or slow juicers once the season of indulgence is over. She highlights those looking towards “a ‘new year, new you’ come 2020.”
Tefal Cake Factory: a cake maker that takes the guesswork out of baking
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HEATING & AIR TREATMENT
Changing Seasons Blueair Classic air purifier: A stylish and efficient way to achieve a purer atmosphere in the home
“How we heat and cool our homes wi drast icay change in t he coming years ” which includes the Dimplex brand, explores how this is affecting sales of heating and air treatment products.
CREATING CUT-THROUGH IN A CHANGING CLIMATE
here is a large and growing number of sophisticated heating and air treatment products from both established and newcomer brands, and retailers who stock well and can explain to their customers how to take control of their home environment will be well placed to profit from the surge in consumer concern.
Climate change, more extreme weather events, carbon emissions targets, an increase in allergies and respiratory problems and a growing public concern for air quality inside and outside our homes are combining to create an unprecedented consumer interest in making the atmosphere in their homes both comfortable and healthy. Talking to potential customers will identify what their specific needs are – whether it is an effective, efficient source of heating, a cooling product for when the temperature rises, a dehumidifier to reduce damp or condensation, an air purifier to remove allergens and dust or smoke particles, or a stylish, realistic décor enhancer – and may lead to conversations that result in sales of appliances that your customer may not even have been aware of. As the UK becomes the first major economy to commit to ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050, coupled with the hottest July on record and the potential for a new ‘Beast from the East’ this winter, Karen Trewick from Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation,
2019 saw the UK become the first major world economy to pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050, which will mean how we heat and cool our homes will drastically change in the coming years. Earlier this year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer added a touch of green to the Spring Statement by announcing the introduction of a ‘Future Homes Standard’ in 2025, which will set minimum environmental standards for all new housing, including being fitted with low carbon heating systems and meeting world-leading levels of
efficiency. While this is a standard for newly-built homes, existing properties are likely to follow suit in order to achieve the 2050 net zero target. Climate change and the net zero pledge is already informing consumer preferences for more sustainable and energy-efficient products, backed by recent regulations, such as Lot 20. Meanwhile, climate change is resulting in extreme temperatures, which was particularly evident this summer, when we saw the recordbreaking July heat interspersed with some of the wettest days in 2019. Indeed, many retailers recorded significant fan sales in July as Brits battled to stay cool in the heatwave – indicating that retailers that held their nerve and stock were able to maximise this to their advantage by meeting the last-minute requirements of their customers. The same thinking applies to winter as well. Scientists from University College London have suggested that January and February 2020 could be among the coldest for decades – with Britain facing a new “Beast from the East”, so we would urge retailers to ensure they have Dimplex’s Brayford: Modern electric heating with traditional styling
A GET CONNECTED SUPPLEMENT
ESSE: A traditional woodburner with auto ignition
good stocks of portable heating and fires to meet this potential demand. By looking deeper into these issues and regulations, we can identify some fascinating trends that inform consumer purchasing habits. These offer retailers the opportunity to advise eco-savvy consumers on how to achieve a greener home, as well as promoting the benefits of electric products which offer versatility and can stand the test of time.
wall-mounted fire, which comes with Bluetooth speakers to add the sound of crackling logs or even play music, or patio heaters with an LED light and Bluetooth speaker which can be connected to music apps.
4. HOME IS WHERE THE HEARTH IS
1. GOING, GOING GREENER In continuing to lead the march on climate change, June saw the UK government set out new legislation designed to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 – the first target of its kind set by any major economy. Adding further green pressure is an increasingly eco-savvy consumer profile, with more and more consumers seeking out heating and cooling solutions that are kinder to the environment. With this in mind, oil-free radiators offer a number of benefits over oil-filled. Not only are they more energy efficient as they heat up more quickly than oil-filled models, they are also easier to recycle than oil-filled radiators when their life comes to an end – a key message that should be music to the ears of savvy retailers. What’s more, the benefits of going oil-free cannot be overstated. According to calculations by GDHV, if we converted every oil-filled radiator on the market each year in the UK to an oil- free model, we could save one million litres of oil, the equivalent of over 350,000 family cars – making oil-free radiators a no brainer when it comes to selecting a portable radiator.
HEATING & AIR TREATMENT
Driven by the smartphone revolution, many high-specification heating products, offer Bluetooth compatibility, which can enable quicker, easier and more accurate controls particularly for those with mobility issues who might otherwise struggle to operate controls on the appliance. Bluetooth compatibility also extends to electric fires. For example, the Dimplex Artesia
As a long-acknowledged focal point of any home, fireplaces continue to attract attention with consumers continuing to invest in the character and tradition that a fireplace adds. With the housing marketing reporting a lack of properties up for sale, many homeowners are potentially holding off moving and considering updating certain aspects of their home instead. Electric fires are a simple way to update a fireplace as they offer the beauty of a real fire but with the simplicity of electric. With climate change only becoming more prevalent, and the growing pressures on UK businesses and consumers to embrace net zero, retailers must have a quick-win repertoire of efficient products to upsell as and when the consumer demand is high.
“Climate change and t he net zero pledge is already informing consumer preferences for more sustainable and energy-efficient products ”
2. LOT 20 ENERGY EFFICIENCY We should also consider regulatory trends, particularly Lot 20, which is part of the EU’s Energy Using Product Directive (EUPD), and is the single biggest piece of legislation to impact space heating in recent years. Under the regulations which came into force last year, all electric space heaters manufactured for sale into the EU must comply with minimum efficiency standards. The new regulations apply to appliances which provide heat to indoor spaces by generating heat within the room in which they are situated. This includes a long list of products including electric radiators, portable heating and electric fires. Redesigned products offer a better quality, more energy efficient appliance, both of which are appealing propositions to the eco-savvy consumer. It is easy to see the enhanced sales and margin opportunities for retailers.
3. STAY CONNECTED In today’s fast paced society, where everything is seemingly controlled from a screen in the palm of our hands, connectivity of devices is proving to be a big draw for sales of electrical items.
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TV & AV
I can see
now…? The TV is still the centrepiece of entertainment in the home, and manufacturers keep on pulling new technological rabbits out of the hat, many of them dedicated to enhancing the hardware’s ability to screen images so highly defined that they reach – or surpass – the human eye’s capability to see the difference. It’s exciting, but is it business? Panasonic’s prototype “Megacon” TV: Two screens working together
a lack of content will persist over the coming years, curtailing consumer demand.”
part from the quality of the screen images and the sound, not much else is getting clearer in the UK TV sector. Unquestionably, it’s exciting from a technology viewpoint, with IFA 2019 last month showcasing a number of developments. Panasonic showed its prototype dual panel LCD TV screen codenamed “Megacon” (standing for Mega Contrast, though Panasonic might want to rethink the branding before launch), which claims black performance close to an OLED plus high brightness; there was also an OLED screen from Panasonic that becomes transparent when off. Hisense had its latest developments in laser TV, and new ULED technology including 8K. In fact, it was the Chinese manufacturers – including Hisense, Haier and TCL, who expressed, in a number of “power briefings” at IFA, a collective determination to challenge the established leaders in Europe and become major players here within three years. In this context, though, Matthew Rubin, senior market analyst at Futuresource Consulting, said: “In the battle for brand share, both Samsung and LG are losing ground due to incursions from the value end of the TV market. However, combined with Sony, their dominance of the premium segment ensures they are better-positioned to defend profit margins when compared to the government-supported Chinese brands.” “Price reductions for premium technologies like 4K have started to open up the mass market,” notes Futuresource Consulting, and Rubin goes on to say that “4K UHD TV shipments will command more than half the market in 2019. Futuresource expects the global installed base of 4K UHD TVs will exceed
960 million by the end of 2023, equivalent to over 42% market penetration.” In a wider context, “major investment in South East Asian production has not only helped the local market, but also driven down large screen pricing across the globe.”
HOW MANY Ks? It’s now no longer possible to mention 4K without immediately thinking 8K. If 4K is projected to reach something less than half of market penetration over the next four years, what’s the future for 8K? Just after IFA 2018 George Cole asked: “Does the world need 8K?”, having seen Samsung’s 8K Q900R at the show and looked ahead to a 2019 that would see Sharp, Sony, Toshiba and LG making sixteen-times-greaterthan-HD resolution available to consumers. George’s question was based on the fact that 4K hadn’t been fully embraced by the public, and lack of 4K content was a problem. George came down on the side of technological progress, arguing that “the CE market is driven by innovation, and this is just the next step in the development of TV.” Only confirmed Luddites could disagree with that, though anyone who has to make a living selling CE products might question the commercial wisdom of piling fresh innovation into the market before the last advance has had a chance to earn back its R&D costs. Futuresource Consulting’s Matthew Rubin says: “Although it faces a range of challenges, 8K is standing on the threshold of growth. Sets are being showcased by most brands and will grow from just 0.1% of global shipments in 2019 to exceed 2% by 2023. China will be the biggest driver of growth in 2019, accounting for nearly one third of shipments, as disposable income continues to climb. However, we expect
CONTENT ISSUES Lack of content is still a massive issue for UHD and beyond, but the sources of content are changing fast, disrupting the market. An Ofcom report says YouTube and Netflix are now the third and fourth most popular TV channels in the UK. Nearly 50% of homes subscribe to a streaming service (eg Netflix), and perhaps most worryingly, more than a million UK homes don’t own a TV set, viewing instead on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Although the majority of viewing in the UK is still of traditionally linear broadcast content, it is younger consumers leading the migration to streaming, and away from TV screens, so the next generation will create a further shift. TV will have to keep on coming up with attractions to ensure it holds the attention of UK consumers. And it can do that: after all, the iPod sparked an obsession for quantity over quality, but consumers are learning to love quality again and to realise that hi-fi wasn’t just some 20th century old people’s product.
WHERE IS THE MONEY SPENT? “Trends towards online and multi-channel or ‘click and collect’ retail models are continuing to reduce high street footfall, which can play a large part in bundling and upsell opportunities,” says Stephen Mears, Research Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “Online now accounts for 25% of all CE retail volumes in the UK, with multi-channel methods taking a further 37%. “Physical retail accounts for the remaining 48%, and is on a downward trajectory across all categories. Nevertheless, there are reasons for retailers to remain optimistic, particularly as there is a general consumer preference to physically interact with CE products prior to purchase. With the right multi-channel strategies, retailers can use this to their advantage.”
PICK OF THE SEASON
A GET CONNECTED SUPPLEMENT
Step up your morning brew slow-style with Melitta®’s new porcelain Pour Over Sets
olours of the world as coffee specialist Melitta®, part of the family-owned Melitta® Group, introduces its new range of porcelain Pour Over Sets, guaranteed to brighten up any kitchen environment. Available in pastel Blue, Grey, Pink and Yellow, the Classic Edition Pour Over Set includes a stylish 600ml porcelain jug, a porcelain filter (which is the centrepiece of the Pour Over range) plus five Melitta® filter papers to ensure the perfect pour. This new range
complements Melitta®’s current red and white Heritage range. The Classic Edition Pour Over Set offers an elegant yet equally convenient alternative to the single-serve cup – perfect for larger quantities of handmade coffee serving up to four cups. The Classic Edition Pour Over Sets by Melitta® have a RRP of £39.99.
01952 671077 | www.melitta.co.uk
Home comforts from Russell Hobbs
ussell Hobbs has expanded into the heating and dehumidifier markets to keep our consumers warm and comfortable in autumn/winter 2019 and beyond. Our 20L and 10L dehumidifiers will tackle damp rooms, reduce humidity and help to dry laundry, making them a useful addition to a utility room as winter draws in. All products have a two-year guarantee – a free one-year manufacturer guarantee with a free second-year guarantee available upon registering the product.
IceKing: Cool storage for the season of entertaining
See the big picture with TCL
istributor D.A.D’s collection of IceKing-branded A+ and A++ chest freezers have capacities ranging from 60 litres to 560 litres and boast high quality with an emphasis on efficiency – the perfect solution for households requiring additional freezer space during the festive season. All models have flame-retardant backing and -15°C freezer guard, which secures the appliances’ operation if located in outbuildings. A 2-year warranty offers consumers peace of mind.
CL’s 75-inch QLED 8K TVs incorporate our latest Quantum Dot display technology and 8K www.tcl.eu/uk resolution, and support Dolby Atmos® audio technology to create premium home theatre sound performance. An integrated AI soundbar allows the sound system to work independently when the TV is turned off. The simple, elegant design, just 14.5mm at its thinnest point, makes this TV one of the thinnest 75-inch direct backlight products in the industry.
Cook like a pro with the ILVE Ultra Combi Oven
LVE’s Ultra Combi Oven offers steam, microwave and conventional cooking, with Combination mode www.ilveappliances.co.uk enabling the mixing of cooking methods. Nine specialist programmes bring professional culinary techniques into the home, making entertaining a doddle! The steam oven temperature can be adjusted by 1°C, which is particularly useful for accurate sous-vide cooking.
ARE YOU READY FOR
BLACK ? Y A D I R F Handle the surge in sales with ease, with a new retail system which streamlines your business flow.
• Carrier Integration Book a shipment with a single click
• Web Integration Real-time Amazon, eBay and Website updates
• Warehouse Stock Management Point & scan warehouse stock management eliminates pick and pack errors
0845 125 9192 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.findesolutions.com “ W E
L E A D …
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This month features "Changing Seasons" – a Special Integral Supplement: A seasonal look at electrical & electrical products & ideas ahead of...
Published on Oct 16, 2019
This month features "Changing Seasons" – a Special Integral Supplement: A seasonal look at electrical & electrical products & ideas ahead of...