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TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING Space is at a premium in many town and city homes, but the choice of kitchen appliances available today means consumers do not have to compromise either on style or functionality

PORTABLE CE DEVICES Life on the go: The evolving world of portable devices that keep consumers connected and entertained


GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED Changing standards in the world of CE technology

FROM THE BENCH Old sound technologies enjoy a resurgence



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The Word


GC Product Design Awards 2016

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The Product Gallery Town & Apartment Living


Portable CE Devices

Editorial Comment In and around the industry

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

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Small spaces require big ideas

GC looks at the constantly evolving market of portable consumer electronics devices


George Cole Gets Connected


From the Bench

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The winners are revealed

Ever-changing technology in the world of CE

Alan Bennett on anachronistic audio systems





COMMENT LAST MONTH WE GAVE A “FINAL” WORD ON THE BHS AFFAIR, BUT THIS STORY JUST KEEPS ON GIVING, AND IT’S RAISED WIDER ISSUES THAT ARE RELEVANT TO ALL OF US IN BUSINESS. SO PERHAPS ANOTHER VISIT IS JUSTIFIED... “Whether from a business, then hile holidaying allowing it to go into recently in you owe millions or administration with the Med on his just thousands, it can little prospect of spectacularly vulgar its creditors or be perfectly legal to walk £100 million super pensioners ever yacht, Sir Philip away from business getting paid, is not Green warned MP creditors with your confined to a few big Frank Field, who players. It’s endemic had apparently made personal assets in the system. Whether remarks detrimental to intact.“ you owe millions or his reputation, that he just thousands, it can be might sue. perfectly legal to walk away A reputation is a precious from business creditors with your thing to a businessman, and if personal assets intact. The result can be you’re sitting on your £100 million (yes, crippling. “Just” a few thousand can be enough that’s £100,000,000) yacht, having taken some to tip a hard-pressed small business creditor £300 or £400 million out of a business, then over the edge, and the knock-on effect drains sold it for £1 with a £570 million pension the lifeblood from our vital small businesses. fund deficit just prior to its going into Each case is different, of course, but among administration, who could blame you for suing the genuine, honest business people who have to protect it? failed through circumstances beyond their Frank Field had suggested that Sir Philip’s control, there are also those who cynically behaviour vis-a-vis BHS might lead some manipulate the law for their own personal people to believe that business is “not about benefit. If it’s “legal,” why not take advantage? spreading wealth but is about nicking money So does the law need changing? Is it possible off other people.” to encourage genuine entrepreneurs to take It’s a fairly forthright statement, but at risks to generate wealth for us all, while closing the risk of being sued, we don’t see that it’s the loopholes through which the rogues escape entirely outrageous. Not that we are calling their liabilities? A difficult question, but one Sir Philip a thief. Just that, in the world of big that needs addressing. business, it might appear that the law allows In the meantime, Sir Philip is reportedly behaviour that is at odds with “some people’s” negotiating if, and how much, he might pay sense of right and wrong. Sir Philip has said – back into the BHS pension scheme. He’s every probably quite rightly – that he has not broken reason to negotiate hard. Have you any idea of the law. the day-to-day running costs of a £100,000,000 And therein lies the problem that affects super yacht cruising the Med? us all. The practice of drawing money


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Zanussi is celebrating 100 years of innovative design, simple solutions, and easy time-saving products – with no sign of slowing down in 2016! What started as a one man wood-burning stove business in a corner of Italy has grown phenomenally into Europe’s best-loved white goods brand. Today it offers an outstanding range of cooking, cooling and laundry appliances to a customer base spanning 70 countries. Zanussi entered the laundry market in the 1950’s with inclusive and affordable appliances that were far ahead of their time. Up until then doing the laundry was an exhaustive task carried out only by hand and sheer will power. The 1980’s saw the launch of the Jetsystem: a washing machine with revolutionary

spray-wash technology that enabled water and energy consumption to be matched automatically to the size of the wash load. Today, this technology known as AutoSense, is found in the majority of Zanussi washing machines, meaning the only decision your customers ever need to make is when they want the laundry to be done. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, and more than 60 years of laundry innovations, Zanussi is giving away one of its LINDO300 washing machines with a huge 10kg capacity. Making the most of modern technology, this machine will automatically sense the weight of your washing and adjust the amount of time, water and energy required. Its XXL door makes loading a breeze and an inverter motor keeps the noise down.


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oole-based TV supplier Linsar UK Ltd has been placed into administration following financial difficulties and the threat of a winding-up petition by one of its creditors. A pre-packaged sale of part of the company’s assets has been made to Australian consumer goods sourcing and distribution business Tempo Group for the

sum of £102,500 – “goodwill” amounting to almost £80,000 of that figure and the balance comprising business intellectual property rights, spare parts, customer contracts, certificate of approval, stock and office equipment. Linsar directors Barry Kick and Terry Reed have been retained by Tempo but will not be directors or

shareholders in the new business. Linsar had released information to the press early in July stating that Tempo Group had acquired the brand and its assets, but made no mention of the fact that the business was in administration. According to the administrators, unsecured creditors include Vestel Limited and HM Revenue & Customs.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE SALARIES IN RETAIL SECTOR RECORDS SHARPEST STILL RISING FALL IN 26 YEARS S C onsumer confidence fell at its fastest rate in 26 years in July following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index dropped 11 points from -1 to -12 since the survey conducted before the referendum, and posted a 3-point drop from the -9 recorded by the analyst’s Brexit Special early in July. The Index dates back to 1974 and July saw the sharpest month-bymonth fall since March 1990. Joe Staton, Head of Market Dynamics at GfK, said: “Consumers in post-Brexit Britain are reporting higher levels of concern this month. We’ve seen a very significant drop in confidence, as is clear from the fall in each of our key measures, with the biggest decrease occurring in the outlook for the general economic situation in the next 12 months. “Although the rate of decline is slower than reported in the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU, consumers in the UK were also less optimistic about the state of their personal financial situation going forward.” Staton added, however, that the Index continues to remain at a relatively elevated level by historic standards. “Its future trajectory depends on whether we enter a new period of damaging economic uncertainty or restore confidence by embracing a positive stance on negotiating a new deal for the UK,” he said.

alaries in the retail sector continued to increase in July, with data showing growth of 8% compared to the previous year. According to independent job site CV-Library, the retail industry saw the highest rate of UK salary growth, placing it at number one on the list of the top five sectors that posted the biggest increase in July. 1. Retail – 8% 2. Legal – 7.2% 3. Accounting/Finance – 6.9% 4. Education – 5.9% 5. Property – 5.7% In further positive news for the sector, CV-Library said that candidate registrations increased 1.5% year on year, and application rates were up by 3.3%. The data did, however, reveal a year-on-year drop in job postings, down 17.5% from July 2015.



shop prices continued to fall in July with deflation reported at 1.6% for the month, following a 2.0% decline in June. Non-food deflation decelerated to 2.2% from 2.8% in June, while food deflation



remained at 0.8% for the second consecutive month. Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: "While we may have become accustomed to prices falling, it's worth noting that this month's figures

have seen the rate of deflation decelerate. “It's too early to say if this is the beginning of the end of sustained price deflation or whether pressures in the wider economy could merely mark the end of the beginning."

basis in July and 1.9% in total – ahead of the 12-month 1.2% average – as consumers took advantage of some well-timed summer promotions.

According to the BRC/KPMG monthly sales monitor, 1.9% marked the strongest growth since January this year. Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the solid sales figures may come as a shock to some, given early indicators suggesting that consumer activity was slowing in the wake of the referendum result. “However,” she added, “little has materially changed for most UK households in the wake of June 23rd, so it is not surprising to us that sales are simply responding to their normal underlying drivers. “The big question for retailers is whether that success can be carried forward into full-price sales.” David McCorquodale, Head of Retail at KPMG, said warmer weather helped blow away some of the post-referendum blues, boosting the UK feel-good factor and giving consumers a sense that life goes on following the initial shock of the Brexit vote. “This first full month of retail sales figures post-vote suggests that UK shopping patterns haven’t changed versus previous years,” he commented. “For retailers, plans to improve productivity remain top of mind to guard against recent increases to their cost base, as well as making sure they can weather what are likely to be more uncertain times ahead.”







Warranty has revamped its Safeguard off-the-shelf warranty solution which is designed specifically for independent retailers. Safeguard has been an established warranty brand for over eight years, providing independent retailers with a post-sale repair and cover service without having to sign up to the minimum volume deals typically required for white-labelled warranty offerings. But, according to UK Warranty, the rise in appetite and awareness of warranty products has resulted in Safeguard facing some intense competition over the past 3 years. Managing Director Neil Martin said the new product offers retailers even more flexibility than before. “We have overhauled our sales portal, meaning it is even easier for retailers to register sales and download and dispatch policy documentation. The portal also provides more visibility over the repair and returns process, allowing retailers to book service calls or repair the appliance themselves and claim their rebate.” Martin added that retailers have the choice between Safeguard, Safeguard Plus, which includes Accidental Damage, and Safeguard Replacement Cover for Small Domestic Appliances. The new pricing structure means that Safeguard is now the most competitive point-of-sale solution available on the market, he said. Safeguard now also offers the flexibility to add Accidental Damage on a net-rated basis, ensuring retailers can control their own selling price. Retailers also have the option to supply replacements and conduct their own repairs. “We want to ensure retailers are given the option to use warranties to benefit their business, be this as a promotional tool, after sales customer proposition or as an additional revenue stream,” commented Martin. “Our new retailer portal gives sellers the opportunity to conduct end of guarantee promotional activity as well as providing excellent value for money. We have benchmarked Safeguard against a number of leading brands and concluded that Safeguard offers retailers the best net-rates currently available in the market at this time.” UK Warranty also plans to launch a 12-month Direct Debit facility in the near future. Late summer has been given as the proposed date.

and Home Appliance manufacturer Vestel has announced it is launching a range of Full HD TVs with Freeview Play and 4K Ultra HD models with 4K content available via Netflix and YouTube. The units will be available under the Finlux brand, but retailers can also obtain them from Vestel OEM and have them branded under any name they choose. The new Freeview Play TVs offer over 60 standard definition broadcast channels and up to a further 15 in HD. The BBC’s Red Button+ service is also available, bringing viewers a choice of content from BBC Online and BBC iPlayer

along with additional BBC video streams from live events. “With this launch we’re tapping into the real demands of consumers, offering a TV solution that can make the transition from linear to on-demand TV seamless and easy,” said Sadi Acikalin, UK Commercial Director for Vestel. “Our partnership with Freeview marks our ongoing commitment to meaningful innovation – real change that can genuinely transform and enhance the viewing experience of the majority of UK viewers.” Retailers interested in stocking the products or obtaining further information should contact Vestel on 0333 0146 400 or email info@vestel-uk.com.



ppliance specialist Caple has pledged to keep prices at current levels on all products in its portfolio. The announcement comes ahead of the release of the company’s latest price guide, which will be available from September, and follows proposed price rises by a number of other appliance suppliers. Caple managing director Danny Lay said: “We are always looking at ways in which we can support our retailers and protect their margins. In the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, many manufacturers have announced price increases. However, we are keen to reassure our retailers that this is not something that Caple is planning to do.” Caple said that maintaining product prices at current levels is the latest step it has taken in order to show its support for retailers and to make their lives easier.

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ew research conducted by Verdict and British Land shows that 89% of all UK retail sales touch a physical store during the customer journey, highlighting the important role of bricks & mortar in the omnichannel era. According to the study, £278bn of all UK retail sales touched a store in 2015, through physical sales, click & collect and online sales browsed in store, boosting physical retail by 5% and demonstrating how physical and online complement each other to provide a lift for retailers that have embraced omni-channel to deliver a seamless customer experience.

The uplift rises to 9% when food & grocery sales are removed from the equation as few online sales in this sector touch a store during the customer journey. Electricals, however, rely heavily on stores and boost physical retail by 32%. 49% of all electrical purchases are made in store and 65% of sales rely on a store to occur. Patrick O’Brien, Content Director for Verdict Retail, said: “Electricals is one of the most mature online markets, with customers using a variety of channels in their shopper journey. The prevalence of showrooming is resulting in a number of retailers repurposing their physical stores,

utilising them to display products and promote online sales rather than just to fulfil immediate sales. We expect this trend to grow as stores continue to migrate to the showcase model.” The research also shows that the age groups most attached to stores are 16-24 and 25-34 year olds. Their use of online pure-play retailers is also notably low. Far from showing a pure-play generation of young shoppers, the study reaffirms physical shopping’s role as a recreational and social activity that is here to stay. Ben Dimson, Head of Retail Business Development for British Land, said: “The True Value of Stores

research reveals a number of thought-provoking insights, such as the importance of stores for under 35s and the varied role of the store across sectors. “We expect to see continued demand for physical stores from a variety of operators, and this research helps to cement their place within retailers’ plans in an omni-channel age. Even online pure-plays are dipping their toe into the world of physical, taking pop-up space or temporary units. In doing so, they benefit from the halo effect that stores offer – generating online sales and strengthening customer relationships.”

APPLICATIONS FOR NEW SHOPS FALL 9% IN 2015/16 T he number of applications to build new retail stores has fallen 9% in the past year, from 7,360 to 6,700, marking the seventh consecutive year of declines. Research released by commercial law firm EMW shows that applications are down by nearly half that of the pre-recession peak of 11,900 in 2008/09, as high street retailers’ market share continues to move online. "With online retailers continuing to win market share, high street firms have less of an appetite to open new shops, instead opting to develop online services or squeeze extra profits from existing space by changing the shopping experience or repurposing stores to act more as showrooms or collection points,” said Aimee Barrable, Principal at EMW. "Recent high-profile closures will lead to more retail space becoming available on the market. Those retailers still looking to expand their high

street presence might look to acquire some of these recently vacated stores instead of applying for any new retail developments. "Also, it may be that many retailers wait before committing to any new shop developments until they have a clearer picture of the economy in the aftermath of the Brexit vote." David Saenz, UK General Manager at delivery firm Stuart, said the drop in building applications for new shops highlights the continued consumer appetite for the on-demand shopping that led to the rise of ecommerce in the first place. “This demand for ecommerce over the last decade has completely reshaped the concept of retail as we know it, but does this mean the death of the high street? With the likes of Amazon investing in their first bricks and mortar stores, the answer is a resounding ‘no’,” he commented.


meg UK has opened its latest shop-in-shop experience at Anfield-based Built In Kitchen Appliances. The Liverpool store houses over 80 of Smeg’s bestselling products in a prominent 100 square metre area decked with LED lighting and Smeg branding. SmegZones incorporate a wide range of built-in and freestanding appliances including the Italian brand’s signature cooker collections,



side-by side refrigeration, dishwashing, washing machines and sinks & taps. Steve Woods, managing director of Built In Kitchen Appliances, said:

“We’re really impressed with the use of space and how striking the area is aesthetically, reflecting Smeg’s design heritage and standout products in an inspiring setting.”

Woods added that the business is looking forward to capitalising on the extensive display. The Anfield store is the eighth SmegZone installation.




ohn Lewis has announced that its store in Chelmsford’s new Bond Street development will open its doors to customers on Thursday 29th September. The 90,000 sq ft shop represents an £18 million investment in the development, which is situated in the heart of the City centre. Branch manager Laura Rawstron said: “The business has had ambition to open a shop in Essex for some time now, and the Bond Street development couldn't be a better proposition for us.” The retail and leisure development links direct to the existing high street retail pitch and offers a combination of open-air shopping, riverside restaurants, a cinema and public space.




ughes Electrical has supported a new initiative in North Norfolk which aims to help local people with learning difficulties. The retailer has donated and installed a 55” TV at the Sheringham Community Hub on Cromer Road. The Hub can support 20 people a day in teaching the skills necessary to enable them to live as independent a life as possible. It also endeavours to find positions in local (Left to right): Kim Harvey, service manager at Independence organisations to help them integrate Matters, Simon Morton and Denis Coogans into the community. “We have two rooms where we teach ‘independence skills’ such as how to be a good host, the value of money, how to use bank cards, safety issues, how to cook and how to use public transport,” explained Sheringham Hub team manager Denis Coogans. “We like to support local business and so approached Hughes in Cromer about a cooker, fridge and vacuum cleaner which were our main priorities. We also wanted a TV but did not have the budget so were amazed and delighted when Hughes offered to donate and install a top-of-the-range set for us.” “We were delighted to play our part by donating a TV, knowing that it will play a vital role in helping to equip people with the necessary skills to lead an independent life,” said Simon Morton, manager of Hughes’ Cromer store.


UK Sales and Marketing Director Andy Warren explains what’s in store for Sharp Home Appliances and what it’s planning for IFA 2016. What can retail partners expect from Sharp Home Appliances? “From the beginning, our aim, our point of difference has always been to offer retailers and their customers much greater support. “We know that to earn repeat custom and long-lasting retail relationships, it takes a genuine commitment to service, especially during the after-sales period when retailers are often left unheard and unsupported.

“At IFA 2015, we vowed to offer 24/7 customer care via Twitter and LiveChat, a next day engineer call-out service as well as a fix or replace product guarantee if repairs cannot be made within 48 hours of any issue being reported. “We have put this all into practice and now, for IFA 2016, we will be demonstrating how we can take even greater responsibility for customer care with our new plans to build an after-sales service into the products themselves.”

IFA 2016 Preview “This year’s Show will be a springboard for our major entry into both the built-in and freestanding markets. It will mark the launch of a vast range of appliances that have all been inspired by feedback from our retailers. “As well as record-breaking home innovation for both the laundry and dishwashing sectors, Sharp Home Appliances will be launching a dynamic built-in series and a next-generation smart appliance range.”

Discover more about Sharp Home Appliances and preview what the brand will be unveiling at IFA 2016:






ELECTROLUX POSTS IMPROVEMENT IN Q2 EARNINGS Electrolux’s operating income for the second quarter increased significantly, from SEK 921m to SEK 1,564m, against the same period in the previous year.


et sales declined from SEK 31,355m to SEK 29,983m, but income for the period increased from SEK 608m to SEK 1,079m. Of the Group’s six business areas, four achieved an operating margin above 6%. The improvement was particularly strong in Major Appliances EMEA and Major Appliances North America. Market demand for appliances “Market in Europe continued to grow, demand for increasing by 4%. Electrolux appliances in President and CEO Jonas Europe continued Samuelson said: “We now expect to grow, the European market demand increasing to grow by 2% to 4% in 2016. by 4%.” Following the Brexit referendum, the outlook for UK demand and the British Pound is uncertain.”



hirlpool Corporation has posted second-quarter earnings of $320 million, up from $177 million in the same period last year. Operating profit rose from $273 million to $366 million on sales of $5.2 billion. "We delivered another quarter of record earnings and margin expansion while overcoming challenges in several key countries through focused execution of our plans," said Jeff M. Fettig, chairman and chief executive officer of Whirlpool Corporation. "Our leading portfolio of brands, innovative new


AO REPORTS STRONG FIRST QUARTER Online retailer AO World has reported that the business performed well in its first quarter ended 30 June 2016.


he retailer said in a trading statement that year-on-year growth in AO-branded UK sales was up 29% and total UK revenue grew 25%, driven predominantly by improving brand recognition. Chairman Richard Rose, who stepped down following the company’s AGM, said: "The business remains on track with its long-term strategic plan. Customer satisfaction continues to be exceptional in all of our territories, and development of the UK computing and German audiovisual categories progresses as we look forward to launching them for our customers later this year. Our brand awareness continues to grow, underpinned by our unique culture, values and proposition.” Rose added that the company is mindful of recent economic uncertainty

following Brexit and its potential effect on consumer confidence and foreign exchange exposure of its suppliers, “but despite this, our expectations for the UK business, over the whole financial year, remain unchanged,” he said. The business’s progress in Europe was described as “pleasing,” with revenue in Euros up 101% year on year. “The Netherlands rollout continues and we have commenced deliveries from our Regional Distribution Centre in Bergheim. We expect our operations to be fully up and running from there by the end of our second quarter and we look forward to accelerating growth over the second half of the year as a result. Our expectations for the European business over the whole financial year remain in line with our previous guidance."

SKY POSTS 12% RISE IN OPERATING PROFIT products and strong ongoing cost productivity programmes have enabled us to continue creating significant value for our shareholders." Based on its strong first-half performance, the company said it is raising its full-year earnings per share guidance range to $11.50 to $12.00 on a GAAP basis, and $14.25 to $14.75 on an ongoing basis.


ky has announced a 7% increase in Group revenues and a 12% rise in operating profit for the year ended 30th June 2016. The communications company posted revenues of £11.96 billion and said it added 808,000 customers during the year, taking its total customer base to 21.8 million. Operating profit rose to £1.56 billion. In the UK and Ireland, revenue was up 7% and exceeded £8 billion for the first time, with operating profit up 11% to £1.5 billion.

Group Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said it had been “another excellent year” for the business. The Sky Board proposed a full-year dividend of 33.5 pence, delivering the twelfth consecutive year of dividend growth.



mazon reported earnings of $857 million for its fiscal second quarter, compared with $92 million in the same period last year. Operating income rose from $464 million to $1.3 billion, on sales of $30.4 billion, up 31% on the prior year period. The company’s Web Services division (AWS) posted a 58% rise in sales to £2.9 billion and recorded a 121% lift in operating income to $863 million. In its highlights for the quarter, Amazon said its second annual Prime Day was the biggest day ever for the business and was also a record day for Amazon devices globally. Compared to Prime Day 2015, worldwide orders grew by more than 60% and orders from third-party sellers with Prime Day deals almost tripled.











Invented for modern families who like to share happy moments with their friends and children, the new Haier Series 70 offers a wider space to creativity. Smart, energy-efficient, clean and reliable, this high capacity fridge will get your cooking inspired. 10

Haier Appliances UK. Co, visit us at www.haier.com/uk







ontpellier Appliances has launched a redesigned website which better reflects the image of the brand and delivers an enhanced user experience. The move comes as the MDA brand rolls out its new Priority Partner Programme (PPP). The new website is clearly laid out, with information and images for each product offered in laundry, dishwashing, cooling and cooking, providing at first glance the key features of appliances with access to full specifications, user manuals and a ‘Where to Buy’ section. Gary Millar, Head of Marketing at Montpellier Appliances, said the brand’s aim was to create a user-friendly browsing experience. “The site’s homepage features bright colours, it is uncluttered and faster and easier to navigate.

“We wanted to give our customers an opportunity to get to know us better, who we are, what our brand stands for, our products, and most of all the service levels we pride ourselves on delivering.” Montpellier’s new Priority Partner Programme, introduced at the DAD tradeshow at Chepstow Racecourse at the end of July, will make around 25 products available through agency agreements, commencing 1st October 2016. Commenting on the initiative, Adrian Gillman, MD of distribution partner DAD, said retailers will have to become a Montpellier agent to buy the products. The business is looking for retailers who really know and will support both the products and the brand. “In return for their support, PPP products will return healthy margins in an extremely

competitive marketplace,” he said. “It’s all about margin at the end of the day. You don’t want to stock anything you can’t make any margin on. It just wouldn’t be a business would it?”

See www.gcmagazine.co.uk for the stories behind the news...  Britain’s withdrawal from EU prompts supply chain considerations for retailers  LG and Volkswagen to develop connected car platform  Enhanced viewer experience for Humax FVP-4000T  EXTREME/OTONE speaker creations gain listing at HMV  REPIC reaches WEEE recycling milestone  InSinkErator® hosts summer masterclass with Jenny Bristow

 SHORTCUTS Hoover has introduced a new built-in appliances brochure combining lifestyle imagery with full product information along with technical drawings, dimension listings and installation requirements. The publication has been produced with retailers and consumers in mind. New Dawn Innovations brand VQ, formerly View Quest, has received the Digital Tick for its current range of FM/DAB digital radios and Bluetooth speakers. Candy has launched a new built-in appliance collection brochure showing its latest products available to kitchen studios. The publication provides detailed product information, listing key features, installation requirements, accessories, finish and safety features. Technical drawings and full dimension listings are also provided. Whirlpool is offering a five-year labour and ten-year parts guarantee on selected models in its new premium product range, including the recently launched 6th Sense



Live® connected appliances. The offer is available until 20th November 2016. InSinkErator® has achieved class A and B sound-level ratings for its food waste disposers in a test conducted by Swedish independent acoustics consultancy ACAD International. The top-of-therange Evolution 200 model which has a noise level of 25dB(A) was awarded the top A-class rating. The Evolution 100 and M Series 66 models both achieved B class ratings, with noise levels of 27dB(A) and 26dB(A) respectively. Candy is running a gift with purchase promotion offering consumers a tenpiece bundle of Egyptian cotton towels with the purchase of selected integrated washing machines and washer dryers. The offer runs until 30th September 2016.


lovenian brand Gorenje has rationalised its Gorenje+ built-in appliance range to bring only the bestselling models to retailers. The range first launched late in 2014 and includes a selection of ovens, hobs, dishwashers, hoods, fridge freezers and coffee machines. In recognition of the changes to the appliance collection, Gorenje has invested in a dedicated online brochure which includes detailed specifications and technical drawings. “We are constantly refining our product range to ensure we offer retailers the best products and profit margins possible, and our recent adaptations to the range further demonstrates our ongoing commitment to supporting retailers,” said Stuart Benson, sales director at Gorenje UK.






meg UK has announced that its new fleet of gas installation vans is now operational in the south of England, with a team of Gas Safe accredited engineers providing home delivery and installation of the company’s gas-fuelled products. Smeg said the move is an “impressive first” for the business and one which demonstrates its ongoing commitment to delivering the very best standard of service to customers. At full capacity, the team will be able to service 9-10 orders per day, providing one-stop-shop home delivery & installation and gas exchanges. Smeg UK managing director Mike Giddings said: “Providing a seamless customer experience is key to the Smeg philosophy. Being able to offer a fully integrated fitting service will allow us to be part of this customer experience from start to finish, which is something that makes us very proud.”


harp Home Appliances has announced it will be building on its “For Life” brand proposition at this year’s IFA in Berlin, with “Technology-enriched life” the overarching theme for the show. The brand will occupy a 770 sq m stand (No. 108) in Hall 9, showcasing how its home innovation can impact and enhance many aspects of life. The exhibit is underpinned by six display themes conveying Sharp’s ongoing commitment to delivering help that can overcome the challenges in everyday kitchen routines. Head of Sales and Marketing for Europe Alberico Lissoni said: “IFA 2015 was our introduction to Europe – a declaration of our intent. IFA 2016 will be the springboard for our major entry into both the built-in and freestanding sectors. “Visitors to this year’s show will be the first to see our expansive range of trendsetting

home appliances, all of which have been inspired by our conversations and engagement with retailers as well as by our independent market research. “Retailers will also find out how our For Life proposition promises to deliver much greater support for partners, especially during the after-sales period. “We have already fulfilled our pledge to prepare 24/7 customer care via Twitter and LiveChat, a next-day engineer service and a fix or replace product guarantee if repairs cannot be made within 48 hours of any issue being reported. “At IFA, we will demonstrate the next step in our For Life brand vision, sharing our future plans to build an after-sales service into the products themselves.”


Moves WEEE compliance scheme REPIC has expanded its team with the appointment of Vikki Law to the role of Compliance and Quality Manager and Ben Froggatt as Accounts Assistant.



UK plug checker tool, originally designed by Electrical Safety First to help trading standards identify potentially dangerous or counterfeit electrical items, has been granted a design copyright. Users of the plug checker need to undertake three simple checks relating to the placement, shape and length of a plug’s pins. Should the plug fail on any of these tests, ESF recommends that the appliance should not be used. Common products which can carry substandard plugs include chargers, travel adapters, hair straighteners, fans, kitchen appliances and power tools.

Lloyd Platt and Chris Bloxsome

Vikki Law and Ben Froggatt

Diss-based distributor Midwich has announced the appointment of longstanding employees Lloyd Platt and Chris Bloxsome to its Samsung Specialist Team. Platt becomes Senior Product Manager and Bloxsome takes on the role of Specialist. Both will focus on Large Format Display and Commercial and Hotel TV.

BSH Home Appliances has appointed five of its internal Customer Service employees to Area Service Manager roles. (Left to right:) Former technical trainer Chris Richardson for the Central region; engineer Stuart Chisholm for the Surrey Area; engineer Ian Bayliss for the Chilterns and South Wales; engineer Simon Mell for the North East. Former Gaggenau Customer Service Team Leader Ian Hadlow takes on two new roles – ASM for the North West & West of London and manager of the team of Gaggenau engineers. Electrical Safety First has appointed Geraldine Cosh as Business Development Manager for its new consultancy service which was established to help improve product safety and recall processes. Parent company of audio brands, including QUAD, Wharfedale and Audiolab, IAG has announced the appointment of Darrell Huggins as Group CEO. Darrell Higgins AUGUST 2016 GET CONNECTED







wiss high-end loudspeaker brand PIEGA is setting up a UK subsidiary, operational from 1st September 2016, and has appointed nationwide independent sales force Big Red Sales to handle its sales presence in the market. Big Red Sales director and founder John Reddington is to sit on the board of the new subsidiary, with Terry Harrison as company secretary. Turnstone AV, under the leadership of James Attfield, will handle distribution from its headquarters in Andover. PIEGA was founded in 1986 by Leo Greiner and Kurt Scheuch and continues to be a family-run business. Its core technology is bespoke ribbon drivers and ribbon tweeters, employed since its first loudspeaker was introduced 28 years ago. The company was also one of the first to use extruded aluminium enclosures. Commenting on PIEGA’s debut onto the UK market, co-founder Leo Greiner said: “We are very excited to be having



ortable audio retailer Custom Cable, the main retailer behind London’s headroom show, has rebranded its business as Audio Sanctuary. The name change comes with an all-new website and a “bigger and better” in-store experience with a number of new brands and product lines. The new store space offers additional rooms in which customers can discover the new product ranges, choosing from a wide variety of the world’s leading brands and receiving expert advice from staff. A repair and refresh service for headphones is also available. “The new Audio Sanctuary offers more choice, more space, plus an even better shopping experience whether shopping in-store or online,” the retailer said.

a significant presence in the UK and delighted to have a partnership with Big Red Sales, who we are confident will help us promote and market our brand to discerning high-end British hi-fi retailers.” Big Red Sales founder John Reddington added: “Based on considerable experience of loudspeakers during my career in the industry I am very impressed with the high quality and style of the PIEGA products. And I am confident they will be highly attractive to discerning audiophiles. So I am delighted that we are now helping to launch its leading-edge products to the hi-fi specialist companies within our retailer base.” The PIEGA Classic Range of traditional wooden cabinets will be the first products available from 1st September. Other launches will follow. For further information contact: sales@piegaloudspeakers.co.uk www.piega.co.uk



ohn Lewis has announced it will have a physical presence in Australia for the first time with the opening of shop-in-shops within six branches of leading Australian department store Myer. The first will open before Christmas 2016 in Myer's newly refurbished Warringah store in the outskirts of Sydney. This will be followed by additional openings in Melbourne, Perth, Bondi, Chadstone and Myer's flagship store in Sydney in February 2017. Katie Jordan, Head of International Development at John Lewis, said: “There is a real synergy between Myer's customer base and ours, and we believe they are the perfect partner for our first Australian shop-in-shops.” John Lewis will have 30 shop-in-shops worldwide when the Myer concessions are completed. The announcement was coupled with the news that the retailer has extended the number of countries it delivers to through johnlewis.com from 33 to 40, with the addition of Hong Kong, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Switzerland, the Philippines and Malaysia. Customers can also now pay in ten additional currencies. In the past twelve months, John Lewis's online international traffic has increased by 15% and online international sales have grown by 50%.



he expansion of digital radio station choice, including the launch of the second national DAB commercial network in March and strong in-car listening growth, has driven digital radio listening to a new high of 45.3%, according to Rajar Q2 2016 data. The annual increase of 5.4% represents the highest ever percentage



growth in digital listening since records began. Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said the record-breaking figure was prompted by the expansion of consumer choice with the successful launch of 16 new digital stations on the second commercial national DAB network, Sound Digital.

“Other key factors in digital growth are the nearly 50% increase in digital listening in cars and the expansion of local DAB coverage, which has helped increase digital listening to local stations,” he added. Growth was recorded across all digital platforms, with DAB’s share of listening increasing to 32.2% to

account for over 71% of total digital listening. Online listening share rose to 8% and now accounts for 18% of digital listening, while DTV’s share grew to 5.1% and accounts for 11%. Incar digital listening hours grew by 49% year on year to 24.5% of all listening. Overall digital reach increased by 2.3 million listeners year on year.



A 100 years ago, doing the laundry was both time and space consuming. Today, just push one button and… done! So you can spend time with friends and family instead of your laundry! EASY





ig Red Sales, which operates a countrywide network of sales representatives, joined with one of its clients, TV mount manufacturer Vogel’s, to cohost a “Sunseeker Day” for some of its top retailers. The winning retailers, selected from among Vogel’s top performers in a prize draw held earlier this year, were treated to a full day of sun, sea and fine dining. They boarded a Sunseeker luxury motor yacht at

Southampton’s Ocean Village Marina, and in bright sunshine they enjoyed cool sea breezes and on-board refreshments during a cruise that took in the Needles off the Isle of Wight. Docking at Lymington, the winners were driven to the renowned Chewton Glen for a leisurely lunch before boarding the Sunseeker again for the return cruise to Southampton. The fine, sunny weather and the quality of the

experience and hosting combined to create a memorable day of fun and relaxation for these hardworking retailers. As one remarked as they disembarked at Southampton: “I‘m always a bit anxious about leaving the business for a day, but this was absolutely fantastic. Really relaxing. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it.” The winning retailers on board were: Paul Dodds of Soundtrack; Rupesh Patel of

Southpoint/Oxted Electrical; Phil Parker of Music Matters; Angus Webb of Daniels TV; Dan Poole of Hills Radio; Peter Iles, Windsor Manager of Jennings Sound & Vision; Les Davis and Steve Hicks of Ashton Davis. Hosting on the Sunseeker was James Attfield representing Vogel’s, with Big Red Sales’ Robert McDougall and Tracy West.

The party was met for lunch at Chewrton Glen by host John Reddington, Chris Reddington, Jo Giggs and Tim Noyes of Big Red Sales. John Reddington said: “I sincerely thank you all for your support to both businesses and we look forward to holding similar events later this year and in 2017.”



urrys PC World installed a super fan at London Victoria Station in anticipation of a predicted August heat wave. Commuters were given the opportunity to cool down inside The Big Chill, which was constructed of 88 Dyson fans, in a promotional stunt ahead of the rise in temperatures. The retailer said fan sales were up by “a staggering 1164%” during the peak of the July heat wave.



hree members of staff at Hughes Electrical have raised almost £9,000 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, after cycling 500 miles in five days through



Cambridgeshire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. The trio, Nigel Jeavons, Malcolm Tuff and David Youngs, visited 34 Hughes

stores across the five counties en route. “Our original target was to raise £5,000 so the fact we have nearly doubled that is great news,” said Nigel Jeavons. “While we are all keen cyclists, 30-40 miles a day was our usual limit, so having to more than double that for five consecutive days was a tough ask but somehow we managed it.” The cyclists presented the cheque to EAAA chief executive Patrick Peal at the charity’s Norwich base. “These guys really pushed themselves in support of EAAA,” commented Peal. “We're all really grateful.”



DA brand Indesit washed over 200 festival goers’ laundry loads at this summer’s Camp Bestival, which took place late July at Lulworth Castle in Dorset. The Indesit Full Time Launderette was part of a number of highlights created by the brand, including a variety of fun football-themed activities, as it attended the event for the 3rd consecutive year.



Electronics achieved another Guinness World Records title for largest image created using light bulbs to demonstrate the energy efficiency of its Centum System™ refrigerator. A total of 18,072 individual fluorescent bulbs were used to create the 12-metre by 9.6-metre image of the refrigerator. The finished work of art broke the previous record of 11,022 bulbs, set in 2014. The light bulb image marks the second Centum Systemrelated Guinness World Records title set this year. In April, LG proved the stability of its Centum washing machine by constructing the tallest house of playing cards on top of the appliance while it was spinning at 1,000 RPM.




our votes have been counted and verified, and the honoured group which has earned the right to use the Get Connected Product Design Awards 2016 logo has been decided. The winning products are shown here, together with a description of each. Get Connected would like to thank all those who participated this year, with special mention for the trade readership who cast their votes and helped to choose the products worthy of the Product of the Year title.


BLOMBERG KFD4952XD TWO DOOR + TWO DRAWER FRIDGE FREEZER This A+ fridge freezer with water dispenser incorporates Blue Light Technology which helps fruit and vegetables stay fresh for longer. Its dual cooling system maintains ideal humidity in the fridge and freezer and ensures no transfer of odours. Multiple air vents in both compartments maintain even temperatures throughout.


LEADING DESIGN COOKING HOTPOINT OPENSPACE OSD89EDE OVEN Part of the brand’s eye-catching Luce collection, this Openspace model offers 77 litres of capacity – 20% more capacity than a traditional single oven. The appliance can be used as one ‘Extra Large Space’ with Hotpoint’s Intelligent Cooking System, which automatically sets the time and temperature, or split into two sections, allowing users to cook at two different temperatures with independent programme timers.

LEADING DESIGN MDA COLLECTIONS SMEG VICTORIA APPLIANCE COLLECTION Smeg’s Victoria collection offers a co-ordinated, classic countrystyle design for the kitchen. The collection includes the Red Dot award-winning TR4110 range cooker, built-in double and single ovens, compact ovens, induction and gas hobs, slim-line 60cm range cookers, chimney hoods and warming drawers. The Victoria side-by-side refrigeration range completes the collection. AUGUST 2016 GET CONNECTED


LEADING DESIGN GARMENT CARE BEKO 12KG WY124854M WASHING MACHINE The hero product in Beko’s new washing machine line-up is this 12kg model which offers a setting that can complete a full load in just 28 minutes. The A+++ energy-rated appliance has an Automatic Water Reduction function, Aquafusion Technology which reduces the amount of detergent wasted and significantly enhances the wash performance, and a Steam Therapy Programme that reduces creases and ironing time.

LEADING DESIGN FLOORCARE IROBOT ROOMBA 980 This appliance connects to the cloud and is controllable from iRobot’s new ‘Home’ app, which enables users to manage the cleaner’s schedule and clean the home remotely. Visual Localization technology intelligently maps floors and avoids obstacles and a Carpet Boost function provides up to 10 times the air power by automatically increasing the performance of the motor on carpets and rugs.

LEADING DESIGN DISHWASHERS BEKO DFN28320 6-LITRE DISHWASHER A standout feature of this dishwasher is its ability to wash 13 place settings using just 6 litres of water. It offers the flexibility of washing a full load in 30 or 58 minutes, depending on the level of soiling. An additional spray arm and high water pressure at the bottom of the compartment produces an intensive wash zone for heavily soiled dishes. Steam Gloss technology provides effective drying, resulting in glasses and dishes which are up to 30% shinier.

LEADING DESIGN AV FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES VOGEL’S DESIGNMOUNT NEXT 7345 This wall-mount is designed to make the TV appear to float in the air with no cables in sight. Cables are neatly concealed and connected to a media player or speaker system at any height required. The tempered black glass of the AV Multi Support offers room for other equipment, and several supports can be stacked on the column to create a media centre. Vogel’s patented SMM lets users move the screen with their fingertip; patented SPS protects it from bumping into the wall when turning.

LEADING DESIGN SMALL DOMESTIC APPLIANCES SMEG SDA RANGE A relative newcomer to the SDA sector, Smeg’s first collection of retro-style kettles, toasters, stand mixers and blenders brought initial success. The SMF01 stand mixer received five stars from titles including T3, the Daily Mail and Metro newspapers, an iF Design Award and a Good Design Award, and the BLF01 blender received a Red Dot Design Award. Retailers can expect the collection to be expanded with slow juicers, citrus juicers, stick blenders, espresso machines and drip-filter coffee machines.

RUARK AUDIO R1 MKIII TABLETOP RADIO The R1 MkIII DAB/FM radio claims “class leading” sound quality in an easy to operate one-box solution “packed with cutting-edge technology and functionality.” The Bluetooth receiver accommodates wireless music streaming, and this model also has a comprehensive dual alarm and a USB charge port which will recharge most smartphones. An optional CarryPack and BackPack allow music to be enjoyed where mains power is not available. 18





BRAUN CARESTYLE 3 COMPACT IRONING SYSTEM Braun’s recently launched CareStyle 3 ironing system range comprises three compact models offering varying steam outputs and a breadth of features. iCare technology uses smart textile protection to set the correct temperature for each type of fabric and the Eloxal 3D BackGlide soleplate glides easily over buttons and zips. The appliances have a two-litre water tank within a separate base unit, so the iron itself is light when in use. j


LOEWE’S FIRST OLED TV TO LAUNCH IN SEPTEMBER Loewe has announced the launch its first OLED television, stating that it “may reasonably be considered the finest in the world.” The Bild 7 incorporates a state-of the-art OLED panel, custom-made for Loewe by LG. Loewe has added a number of features including class-leading sound, sophisticated picture processing, an integrated hard drive and wideranging connectivity. The unit will be priced at £4,490 for the 55-inch screen (Bild 7.55) and £6,490 for the 65-inch screen (Bild 7.65). j


RUARK MARKS 30TH ANNIVERSARY WITH EYE-CATCHING R1 RADIO The limited edition model is finished in a vibrant Swiss Red soft lacquer and has an intricate commemorative badge machined into the cabinet. As with other R1s, the anniversary edition features a RotoDial control system and an OLED display, offering a control interface that is clear and intuitive to use. j


TEFAL UNVEILS ITS FIRST CONNECTED APPLIANCES Tefal has added two connected appliances to its SDA range – the ActiFry Smart XL and Cook4Me Connect – both of which are controlled via Bluetooth and a dedicated app. The Cook4Me Connect (pictured) can be controlled from any room in the home via an app that provides demonstrations on how to cook recipes and lets users send additional recipes straight to the appliance. Users can also personalise recipes, comment on their favourites and share them with friends. j


01753 834900 | www.tefal.co.uk



HISENSE LAUNCHES NEW ULED SET Hisense’s new M7000 ULED TV offers 4K, HDR, local dimming and powerful smart functionality at an affordable price of £799 for the 55inch screen and £1,199 for the 65-inch model. The brand’s proprietary ULED software optimises the purity and brightness of LED light, delivering an extremely wide colour gamut. As a result, the M7000 is able to produce superb clarity and bold colours with an organic sense of reality. j


FLEX+ INDUCTION HOBS FROM GDHA COOKING BRANDS GDHA has launched its first flexible induction hobs under its Stoves, Belling and New World brands, bringing the technology to consumers at a range of price points and offering clear trade-up opportunities for retailers. The Stoves Flex+ models use a technically advanced Octa induction system which offers optimum coverage and flexibility, with two or three large bridgeable areas offering power levels up to 3.7kW. j

0844 248 4149 | www.gdha.com

MIELE INTRODUCES HANDLE-LESS BUILT-IN APPLIANCES Miele is to introduce a handle-free collection of built-in cooking appliances with Graphite Grey, Obsidian Black and Brilliant White glass finishes. The new ArtLine range comprises ovens, combination steam ovens (for 45cm and 60cm recesses) and microwave combination ovens, which can be complemented with a handle-less coffee machine, warming drawer and Sous Vide vacuum sealing drawer in the same colour options. The collection will launch in September 2016. j


HAIER LAUNCHES CUBE SERIES FRIDGE FREEZERS IN THE UK Haier’s new Cube Series fridge freezers have a stylish four-door design with capacity split between the refrigerator, freezer and an adjustable MyZone compartment which offers a selection of three temperature options. One of the models incorporates two cooling systems that control the refrigerator and freezer independently. A high-humidity zone preserves fruits and vegetables, extending the shelf life of fresh foods to between three and seven days. j

www.haier.com/uk AUGUST 2016 GET CONNECTED





he attraction of the cosmopolitan atmosphere and all that it embodies continues to drive the expansion of the UK’s conurbations and the demand for homes; hence, for 21st century city developers, the only way is up, and London alone is reported to have a total of 435 tall buildings in the pipeline. As major towns and cities have become more crowded, the nation’s suburbs have been consumed by disorderly urban sprawls. High-rise living blocks, many of which are unsightly fixtures, blot the landscape, and period homes, once grand and spacious, have been sub-divided into shoebox sized flats to accommodate a vast populace in search of the “vibrant” existence promised of city life. According to a recent study by Urban Demographics, which took in 59 cities across England and Wales, 76% of city dwellers live in a flat, a word which by definition evokes the image of a dull, soulless space, uninviting and devoid of character. By comparison, ‘apartment’ has a much more prestigious ring to it, inducing the vision of luxury living in a generous open-plan space complete with breathtaking views of the city skyline. But whatever type of residence consumers call “home”, most will want the interior to be welcoming and the kitchen to be well laid out and appealing, with resourceful means of storage and the necessary domestic appliances to make life easier. Retailers kitting out the kitchens of town and city dwellings may well find themselves faced with little more than an alcove off the main living area and, with this, the challenge of creating the illusion of space where little exists.




It is widely acknowledged that the average footprint of UK homes is shrinking and the structure of the typical household is changing. According to government figures, 35% of households are occupied by just two people, and 29% of people now live alone. So it’s not surprising that Lucy King, product manager at Smeg UK, comments that consumers shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they need a massive six-burner hob. For small and single occupancy households, she suggests that opting for slim-line domino-style hobs could provide the solution. “Low-level hobs create an uncluttered feel, while induction hobs, when paired against a sleek black kitchen surface, aren’t immediately visible to the eye, ensuring a completely undisturbed look.” She also suggests creating a column layout with, for example, a built-in oven complemented by an integrated microwave or coffee machine to create a focal point for the kitchen and to optimise countertop space. “Worktop space in a small kitchen is rarely sufficient for preparing culinary masterpieces, and cluttering surfaces with objects and appliances means even less space is available,” adds Jennifer Spragg, Senior Brand Manager for Whirlpool. “With some clever planning, however, the consumer can make the most of a small space by incorporating a few compact integrated appliances. By installing built-in appliances, rather than situating the microwave or coffee machine on

“Integrating wet appliances is an obvious way to help streamline the kitchen”


Bringing a little bit of nature into the home: The SieMatic URBAN Kitchen with Herb Garden from Urban Interior

the worktop, the consumer can benefit from a clutter-free and efficient kitchen environment which offers functionality at the fingertips. And built-in appliances can be flexible in where they are situated, utilising mid-height cupboard space if under-counter space is limited.

“Integrated compact appliances with multifunctional technology in the minimum of space are more and more able to perform a wide variety of tasks, meaning they are increasingly popular. And their clean, streamlined and seamless look creates the illusion of space.

Generally, Whirlpool appliances have fewer buttons and knobs, neat integrated handles, and high-tech, light-touch

BRITANNIA LIVING: GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES Britannia Living, the premium kitchen appliance specialist, has launched its first mini range cookers – the Delphi Professional 60cm collection. Perfect for small spaces and apartment living, the two new 60cm freestanding Britannia models, which feature a multifunction 55-litre net capacity oven, are available in dual fuel or, for those looking for a greener option, with an induction hotplate. The new products deliver the professional aesthetic of Britannia’s Delphi range cookers but are suitable for those with less space in their kitchen. Both A-energy rated models are available in a stainless steel finish and comprise a number of key features, including eight cooking functions, telescopic shelves, a rollout storage compartment, LED clock and programmer. www.britannialiving.co.uk | 03444 639 70




“No longer do we wish to hide the extractor hood discreetly behind a furniture door”

intuitive interactive control panels which make it easy for them to integrate subtly into any kitchen/living area.” “It may sound obvious, but whites, creams and various other pale colour palettes will create the illusion of a light and airy space,” adds Smeg’s King. “Avoid any dark, heavy finishes on walls and surfaces. Mirrors work wonders in kitchens – place opposite a window to create a double effect of light filtering in through the glass.”


Stoves mini range cooker provides a solution for those pressed for space

FLEXIBLE INDUCTION FROM STOVES Glen Dimplex Home Appliances (GDHA) has launched its first flexible induction hobs across its three cooking brands – Stoves, Belling and New World – including one of the most powerful induction hobs on the market. Appealing to the premium audience, Stoves Flex+ models – the 60cm SIHF604T and the 90cm SIHF906T – both use a technologically advanced Octa induction system to offer optimum coverage and flexibility, with two or three huge bridgeable areas that are amongst the most powerful on the market, with power levels up to 3.7kW. Offering a range of professional features including heat boost, ten power settings, independent digital touch-slider controls and timers for each zone, the Stoves products are expected to compete comfortably at the top end of the market. www.stoves.co.uk | 0844 248 4149



Owain Harrison, UK head of sales and marketing Hoover Candy Baumatic (Built-in), maintains that appliances have a “huge” role to play when it comes to compact kitchen environments and can be integral to changing the overall look and feel of the space. “We use our kitchens every day and as such they are a crucial part of the home. From entertaining friends and family to cooking and cleaning, the kitchen is central to daily life and homeowners are increasingly making it the true heart of the home by creating open-plan living spaces, and this is even more important in smaller dwellings.” Harrison believes this trend has had a real impact on the appliance market, as consumers are progressively opting for built-in appliances to achieve a seamless aesthetic that won’t disrupt the design of the overall living area. “For those with a compact kitchen, an appliance that offers additional functionality can be helpful, to ensure it is earning its place,” he adds. “The Candy domino hob range, for example, offers the benefits of both gas and induction cooking whilst taking up only a small area on the kitchen counter.” Caple managing director Danny Lay comments that standard appliances may overpower a compact kitchen and make the space appear even smaller. “Compact and slim-line appliances provide a fantastic alternative,” he advises. “These enable the homeowner to extend their range of options with far greater flexibility. A compact appliance can have more than one main function; for example, a combination microwave which is also a conventional oven and grill in one.” Lay believes that, if well designed, it is possible for a small kitchen to present a design statement. “A wall of built-in appliances with, for example, a coffee machine, steam oven and microwave, which sit together perfectly, will provide incredible versatility in the kitchen. When a collection of appliances is placed in a group it will save the user time and space and provide a sleek, modern finish.” Martin Wilson, Product Manager for Built-in Hot appliances at Electrolux,

Consumers demand for better coffee Whilst coffee makers continue to see double digit growth, Bean to Cup continues to deliver the most rapid growth in both volume and value sales in 2016 within the category**.

De’Longhi - Italian Design and Passion De’Longhi has mastered the art of coffee preparation with the unique Italian know-how for artisan coffee. With a De’Longhi bean to cup, consumers can bring Barista quality to the home, serving the perfect coffee taste and all at the touch of a button.

Discover more at: www.delonghi.co.uk or call: 02392 392555 **GfK RT GB, Hot Beverage Makers Market, Volume & Value Sales Dec 2014-Nov 2015, compared to other Espresso and Filter markets

*Source: independent research institute, value sales leader from June to May 2016


On all De’longhi bean to cup machines

FREE Coffee Link App now available for download


SALTER NUTRITWIST Get healthy with the new Salter NutriTwist, an easy to use 2 in 1 personal & stick blender that makes keeping a healthy lifestyle convenient. With its 500W power motor and turbo function, whip up extra tasty smoothies and juices in next to no time, as well as soups and salsas. Includes a 600ml capacity BPA-free bottle and sports drink lid, allowing you to enjoy favourite smoothies on the go. Features healthy ‘getting you started’ recipes for both the personal and stick blender. Available in metallic red and titanium colour. www.saltercookshop.com | sales@upgs.com 0161 934 2283

“Consumers shouldn’t be fooled into thinking they need a massive six-burner hob”

suggests choosing a brand that caters for all of the customer’s appliance requirements to achieve a matching design throughout the room. “Compact ovens, microwaves and coffee makers are great if you want to create and customise the kitchen to their needs, while also creating a stunning focal point in the room. A bank of appliances that fit flush in the kitchen is an ideal way to optimise space without compromising on features.” He also advises recommending compact appliances that have all the functions of full sized models.


“Historically, as small spaces can often only accommodate built-in appliances, there has always been the assumption that the capacity offered by products such as range cookers is out of reach of those with small homes. However, this is 26


Liebherr’s built-under pullout larder fridge

no longer the case,” asserts Alex Hinton, Head of Category for Built-In at GDHA. “The growth in the popularity of range cooking has actually stimulated further innovation and new product introductions in the built-in sector, with increasing interest in larger cavity built-in ovens, typically 70 litres or above.” Hinton says GDHA is responding to this with new products later this year. These will combine large capacities with multi-function capabilities, quality interior accessories such as wide-width oven trays and features such as digital touch displays: “These products will provide a great alternative for those looking for more capacity without going down the freestanding or range cooker route.” But Michael Haigh, Head of CRM at Britannia Living, believes consumers have more choice than they might immediately think. “There has been a blurring of the boundaries between built-in and freestanding, which means it’s no longer necessary to compromise. For example, range cookers are quite distinctive in their styling, but we’ve recently borrowed that aesthetic and applied it to a 60cm product – the Delphi Professional Mini Range – allowing those with smaller kitchens access to a statement appliance.”

Commenting on the desire for openplan living as a “fashion statement” in itself, Kelly Penn, marketing manager, Hoover Candy Baumatic, says: “For those that live in flats or apartments, where space is always going to be at a premium, this has resulted in two key considerations when planning the layout: firstly, the kitchen furniture – often contemporary and handle-less to deliver a streamlined and uncluttered aesthetic – has to complement the style of the rest of the room. This usually means that laundry, cooling and dishwashing appliances are integrated and hidden behind cabinetry doors. All the on-show cooking appliances must be attractive and functional and should also equally be space-efficient, because even in a compact environment, people still want to entertain at home.” Penn adds that “it is what’s on the inside that matters.” The development


SALTER NUTRIVORTEX The new Salter NutriVortex marks the arrival of the next generation in nutritional blenders. With 1200W ultra charged power, the NutriVortex offers a faster and more effective way of extracting nutrients, meaning that delicious drinks can be made even smoother. Unique Vortex technology generated through the ribs on the signature Storm Cups further enhances nutrient extraction, performance and taste.

of appliances that sit within a standard platform yet offer super-sized cavities is one of the specialities of the Hoover Candy Group. Baumatic, part of that Group, has a number of appliances with larger than average capacities which Penn believes are ideal for town and apartment living.


Compact living areas mean the interior space in cooling appliances is also an important consideration. Products need to act as a larder for all sorts of

The innovative All in One blade has been designed to juice whole fruits (an entire Apple!) and for a large variety of functions including extraction, chopping, grinding, crushing and more. As well as the 1 x 1L and 2 x 800ml Storm Cups, the Nutri Vortex 1200 includes a 1.5L blending jug, giving the appliance its biggest capacity to date. www.saltercookshop.com sales@upgs.com | 0161 934 2283

foodstuffs, including those contained in jars and bottles. And the style of such appliances is a chief factor too. Sharp Home Appliances’ Rita Balestrazzi believes the refrigerator is still the “go to” appliance when it comes to creating the “wow factor.” She also notes that American-style product is being adapted to suit tighter spaces: “Offering generous total net capacities of 541 litres, some tall 2-door models can take up to 10cm less space thanks to their 88cm widths. Such models are offering black light-reflecting

glass designs which can help to create the illusion of additional space.” But she adds that 60/40 and 50/50 combi freestanding fridge freezers are ideal for smaller kitchens.

INTERACTIVE CONTROL PANEL Guides you step-by-step through every recipe AUTOMATICALLY SETS COOKING TIME & temperature for each recipe 50 PRE-PROGRAMMED RECIPES Starters, Mains & Desserts Over 30 recipes cook in less than 15min Over 20 vegetarian dishes





“Some are designed with space-saver doors so that they can be seamlessly fitted beside integrated kitchen cabinets, creating a minimalist, streamlined look. Opening at a maximum 90-degree angle, these space-saving doors prevent any scrapes and clumsy collisions with neighbouring kitchen furniture. Shelving is also extremely practical and enables consumers to pull the trays out further so food can be more easily accessed.” “American-style fridge freezers have paved the way in the cooling market, with more and more consumers wanting to create a statement look or focal point within their kitchens,” says Sertac Sertler, Head of Product Management at Beko Plc. “Whilst built-in appliances are often designed to look as if they blend in, freestanding cooling appliances are there to make an impact. “Our range of compact Beko combi fridge freezers is designed specifically to appeal to those with limited space. Available in black, white or stainless steel, our latest model features sleek new handles that have been extended for ease of use. We’ve also added 50L more internal capacity to ensure that there is plenty of space when it comes to making the most of those supermarket deals.” Sertler believes that the appliance is “the ideal solution for smaller kitchen spaces,” maintaining that it punches above its weight with 124 litres of freezing capacity. Gorenje Sales Director Stuart Benson suggests that a bold colour choice in cooling is one way of achieving a statement in the kitchen, “as is having appliances with unique and quirky appearances,” he adds, highlighting the Gorenje Retro cooling collection, which comes in a choice of ten colours. If kitchen space is very limited, Tim Hutchinson, Divisional Manager for Liebherr UK, suggests consumers optimise what’s available with integrated or under-counter fridge freezers. “The ability to conceal the appliance in unused spaces will ensure the most practical use of space. Liebherr offers models which can be discreetly hidden in a smaller design scheme – ideal for town or apartment living.”


Britannia’s Haigh draws attention to the fact that it is particularly important to prioritise extraction in a small space to ensure rooms don’t become overwhelmed with odour. “Ceiling or Downdraft hoods can be a great solution as they have a minimal footprint, whilst Pendant hoods give the consumer the option of turning a functional appliance into a design feature,” he advises. “No longer do we wish to hide the extractor hood discreetly behind a furniture door,” adds Whirlpool’s Spragg. “Today it is often a focal point in the kitchen. Manufacturers have introduced an array of stunning and beautiful designs in materials that make these appliances works of art. “Hoods have evolved from neat, integrated extractors to spectacular chimney hoods in luscious stainless steel, and some with the addition of glass. Hoods are now more than ever designed to be hung on the wall in full view to be admired and to make a lifestyle statement. It is a really exciting appliance and there is something to address everyone’s needs.”


For those with compact kitchens or openplan living areas the operational noise levels of appliances should be taken into consideration. Dishwashers that loudly

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Zanussi ZDM17301SA compact dishwasher with six place settings

slosh their way through programmes and washing machines that jump and thump through the spin cycle are not conducive to comfortable living. And where the luxury of a utility room is not present, there is also the style aspect to take into account. Integrating wet appliances is an obvious way to help streamline the kitchen, thereby creating a greater sense of space. Dishwashers are available in a variety of sizes in both freestanding and built-in versions; so, with a bit of ingenuity, it should be possible to fit one into the smallest of kitchens. Andrew Wasdell, Electrolux brands UK & IE, Product Manager, Dishwashing & FS Cookers, suggests that consumers with smaller spaces should view the dishwasher as an extra cupboard as it offers the convenience of a number of dishwashing functions, including glassware care, and storage space too. “However,” he says, “it is important to remember that just because someone lives in a smaller home it does not mean that they do not need a full-size dishwasher, especially if they are a keen cook. A dishwasher makes the cooking experience easier and more enjoyable through removing the hassle of a large clean-up afterwards.” “A dishwasher is of considerable benefit to any busy household as it stores all the dishes waiting to be washed, and after washing, keeps them tidy until ready to be put away – enabling worktops to remain



REVOLUTIONARY HAIER DUO LAUNCHED IN THE UK To simplify the tedious task of doing laundry for families, Haier, the world’s number one Major Appliances Brand*, launches the Haier Duo revolutionary washing machine in the UK this summer. The first of its kind, Haier’s latest laundry appliance features not one, but two drums, for two wash cycles to run simultaneously, according to the user’s needs. Highly economical with an A+++ - 30% energy rating and intuitive digital interface, a protective Pillow Drum and Smart Drive Motors®, the Haier Duo offers an optimised washing experience.

A Positive Spin on Laundry Washing

KEY CHARACTERISTICS:  Dimensions (H x W x D): 128 x 60 x 60 cm  Capacity: 12kg (upper drum: 4 kg, lower drum: 8 kg)  Turns per minute: 1200 (upper drum), 1500 (lower drum)  Number of programmes: 12 (upper drum), 18 (lower drum)  Energy Consumption: A+++ -30%, 208 kWh/year  Water Consumption: 13087 L/year, 4,96 L/kg  Sound level: 50dB/70dB  2 Smart Drive® motors, with 10 year warranty  User Interface: 7-inch TFT touchscreen  Protective «Pillow Drum»

The Haier Duo is available in the UK at a suggested retail price of £1,299.


sers wash on average 220 loads of laundry over the course of a year, equivalent to more than 330 hours’ washing time. With its innovative dual-drum design, Haier Duo was created as a way to help users save time without having to wait between cycles to wash fabrics of varying colours and materials – a testament of Haier’s ability to creatively develop practical solutions for daily use. Capable of washing up to 12kg of laundry (upper drum 4kg, lower drum 8kg), the Haier Duo features 30 wash programmes, 12 for the upper drum and 18 for the lower drum. The appliance incorporates two circular beltless “Smart Drive®” motors with 10-year warranty connected direct to the drums and operates at optimum noise levels of up to 70db. The integrated “Pillow Drum” padding protects delicate fabrics, providing a smoother washing experience. Other intuitive features include the Smart Dual Spray® for flufffree washing, Smart Opening door technology, Anti-Stain, and Anti-Bacterial Treatment (ABT®) which prevents 99.8% of bacteria within both the detergent drawer and gasket from multiplying. The Haier Duo’s digital interface gained international recognition last year when it received the IF Design Award 2015. The 7-inch TFT touchscreen allows users to customise wash cycles and offers advice on their programmes, making the Haier Duo ideal for families, with problem-free washing guaranteed every time. Find more about this product at www.haier.co.uk AUGUST 2016 GET CONNECTED



clutter free,” says Whirlpool’s Spragg. “A couple of plates here and there can go unnoticed within a large open-plan kitchen, but they can quickly clutter a small kitchen.” Laundry can also be problematic for those living in a small environment. The endless cycle of wearing to washing, ironing to wardrobe is a constant source of disorder. By the time one lot is wardrobed, the next pile is mounting, and clothes airers and ironing stacks can create the impression of chaos, even in larger living areas. Lisa Keogh, Electrolux brands UK & IE, Product Manager, Fabric Care, recommends a washer dryer for smaller kitchens, noting that such products have “greatly improved” in recent years. “Consumers can rest assured that high quality machines will wash and care for clothes to the same standard as separate appliances,” she asserts. Ros Collins, BSH Category Manager Freestanding Laundry, believes that a washer dryer can provide a “great option” for smaller homes as products are now much more energy and water efficient, but she recommends installing separate appliances if the room exists. “If space is no issue, then having both can help speed up the laundry process as users can dry while they wash. A separate dryer will always provide better drying efficiency than a combined machine because the drums are larger and allow for crease-free drying. With a washer dryer, the capacity for drying is less than the capacity for washing.”

BODM984X 90CM VANTAGE BUILT-IN ELECTRIC DOUBLE OVEN An energy efficient double oven with generous interior capacities A new addition to the Baumatic Vantage cooking collection, this stylish A/A rated double oven is packed with features and functionality, and benefits from larger than average internal capacities with a 42-litre top oven and a 68-litre main oven. With 12 oven functions including fan assisted, fan and grill, conventional cooking and pizza function, this double oven also comes with an array of accessories. Featuring full-width black glass doors, handles and edging are finished in stainless steel, while the control panel incorporates an LED full programmer together with two sets of ontrend over-sized rotary controls that adjust functions and temperature for both ovens. Baumatic: 01189 311 110 | Built-in-sales@hoovercandy.com | www.baumatic.co.uk

Collins adds that [as with a number of other brands’ laundry appliances] BSH’s machines can be stacked on top of each other, “which is great for keeping the footprint to one appliance while having the convenience of two, particularly if they are being kept in a utility room.” “It is perfectly possible to create a stunning and highly functional kitchen in restricted space,” concludes Simon Freear, country manager for Amica UK and Ireland. “Lifestyle considerations have to be taken on board: whether cooking is a hobby or a chore, whether people are neat-freaks and like all clutter to be cleared away as soon as humanly possible. Consider whether laundry appliances can be located out of the kitchen, in a cloakroom cupboard for example – a combined washer dryer offers washing and drying in one programme, as long as loads are kept under 6kg or thereabouts.”

Caple’s Wi155 compact wine cabinet stores up to seven Bordeaux-style 75ml wine bottles





he portable CE market is constantly evolving as new fashions, trends and technologies emerge, so it pays to look at what’s happening today and what is likely to happen tomorrow. Various sectors are performing well in THE PORTABLE CE MARKET IS SO DIVERSE – IT CATERS FOR CONSUMERS OF today’s market. Panasonic notes that all ALL AGES AND FEATURES SO MANY PRODUCTS, FORMATS AND TECHNOLOGIES. of its connected range is continuing to grow, with the market up 120% year on BUT DIVERSITY COMES AT A PRICE. HOW DO RETAILERS KNOW WHICH year in wireless speaker systems. Sammy PRODUCTS ARE BEST FOR INCREASING FOOTFALL, GENERATING SALES AND Smith, assistant product manager for BOOSTING MARGINS? GEORGE COLE REPORTS audio, says household penetration is still quite low in this area, “but this leaves plenty of room for future marketing activity for awareness growth,” he adds. The headphones market is also Sony’s AS100V Action Cam with Wi-Fi & GPS growing, according to Smith. “Our new Wings BTS50 sports headphones are the official Team GB headphones for the Rio Olympics. Having diversity in the range has really helped grow our awareness and brand credibility in this area.” LG, which recently launched the JonOne portable speaker series, sees peak sales in the period running from Black Friday to Christmas, with portable audio devices often being the perfect size and price point to make a great gift. “We also see some sales growth in the run up to summer, as smaller portable audio speakers are ideal for travellers,” comments head of brand Dawn Stockell. “As the interest and “People understanding of the internet of things continues to grow, expect a higher we will begin to see greater quality experience opportunities for portable with portable devices to be integrated into an ecosystem of smart devices in devices” the connected home.” portable devices. More and more are continue to grow in popularity and are using phones and tablets for films, great for consumers on the go who want QUALITY MATTERS TV, music and more. TV and films are to avoid wires or background noise.” “With the rise of smartphones and tablets, streamed in high definition. Audio is hi-fi Sony’s new additions include the wireless, more and more consumers are listening or lossless on streaming services now. Our noise cancelling model h.ear on and the to their music on the move; hence, the future focus is on products that enable accessories market has been flooded with new wireless neckband style h.ear in. The a high quality listening experience, portable speakers and headphones h.ear headphones also match the NWwith freedom from a particular that use wireless Bluetooth and A25HN/NW-A27HN Walkmans. Sony’s place where the sound is the NFC [Near Field Communication] newly announced h.ear go speakers are best. Our airSOUND technology technology,” maintains also ideal for those wanting to share delivers a hi-fi sound to a Orbitsound managing director music, while the SRS-HG1 is the world’s wide area, without limiting and product designer Daniel smallest portable High-Resolution Audio the user to a ‘sweet spot’.” Fletcher. He adds that wireless speaker with Google Cast, Spotify retailers should really be Connect and multi-room capability. The Panasonic BTD10 looking for quality. “There brand’s Extra Bass range includes the STAYING AHEAD Bluetooth headphones are thousands of low cost, MDR-XB650BT headphones, and SRS-XB3 When it comes to choosing low quality Bluetooth and SRS-XB2 speakers. which products to stock, speakers available for the Matt Coupe, head of sound cost of a happy meal, or at Sony UK, suggests WEARABLES less! These speakers are accessories such as “For independent electrical retailers, the big not good. For some people, headphones are key as turnover in the portable CE device sector price matters, but our core they make perfect gifts was lost to multiples and phone shops not market is a consumer for commuters and music too long after the first cassette Walkman,” who doesn’t compromise or sport enthusiasts. says Ralph Allen, MD of Techlink. on the sound quality “They are also purchased “However,” he adds, “mobile phones, because of the price point. by consumers investing smart devices, tablets, and now wearables, “People expect a higher in a home audio set up,” he have created their own mega-sector quality experience with adds. “Bluetooth headphones for accessories and consumables, and AUGUST 2016 GET CONNECTED



independent retailers are well positioned to capitalise on this high value, high margin and often impulse purchase sector.” Allen says that the growing wearable sector, particularly fitness trackers, is developing rapidly and there is certainly potential for independents here in the run up to Christmas. Sony’s Coupe also thinks the wearable market has much potential: “Sports wearables are still proving popular, with the trend moving towards smarter devices such as Sony’s Smart B-Trainer, an all-in-one device that combines a sport device and a music player which measures and records training statistics.”


The camera industry trade body CIPA revealed that global shipments of digital cameras in May 2016 were 17 million, a 54% fall on the previous year’s figures. Many put this decline down to the impact of smartphones, but Techlink’s Allen sees an opportunity for retailers: “Thankfully, for accessory retailers, using smart devices for imaging puts a high drain on internal batteries, further fueling the market for portable power products.” “Some consumers will continue to use digital cameras for their professional quality pictures and others will continue to use their smart phones for convenience,” says Barnaby Sykes, head of imaging at Panasonic UK. “While we’ve seen a minor reduction of sales at the lower end of our range, our mid-level and high-end products are continuing

LG has collaborated with artist JonOne to create a range of urban graffiti speakers

Sony DSC-HX90 compact digital camera

Techlink’s Recharge products offer 90% charge capacity after 500 cycles

to grow.” Simona Bara, marketing manager at Sony UK, adds that more photos are being taken than ever before, and she believes that this is, in part, due to users becoming interested in photography by initially using their smartphone and then looking to upgrade to a device that offers better picture quality, zoom or higher resolution to print photos.


As portable products of all kinds offer more features and higher performance, the pressure on battery technology to deliver even longer running times clearly increases. But is battery technology keeping up with the portable CE technology? Techlink’s Allen says: “Lithium Ion and lithium polymer technologies are well established, and there have only been small improvements in absolute charge density, or how much power you can squeeze into a fixed volume battery. At the same time, smart devices have got thinner, lighter, and in the case of wearables, much smaller. There is a real disconnect here, and that has fuelled the massive portable power product market. 32


“One of the common consumer misconceptions in the portable power sector is that all power products are the same. That is a very long way from the truth. A cheap unbranded USB-output power pack might only hold 70-80% of the stated charge from new; will lose 1-5% maximum capacity every cycle, and be virtually useless after a dozen cycles. These facts are vital tools for retailers selling higher quality, higher value power packs like Recharge by Techlink.” Allen says Recharge products are guaranteed to offer 90% charge capacity after 500 cycles. “For smart devices, tablets, wearables, photography equipment, cycle computers, navigation equipment, and in fact any portable device that charges by USB, portable power is an essential accessory ripe for retailers to capitalise on,” he adds. Orbitsound’s Fletcher believes the consumer technology sector really needs a big breakthrough in terms of battery capability, in terms of capacity mainly, but also recharge speed and lifespan. “Batteries are not going to change overnight,” he says, “so we should focus on making devices that do not need the user to constantly be looking for a power outlet.” Sony’s Coupe adds: “Sony’s battery technology is continuously improving. With a battery life of up to 12 hours, our SRS-XB2 speaker means you can party all day long and our MDRXB650BT headphones can run for up to 30 hours.”


Looking ahead at what the portable device sector will offer, Panasonic’s Sammy Smith, assistant product manager for audio, says he expects to see longer battery life, wider ranges for wireless speakers and continued innovation from manufacturers. “Bluetooth,” he adds, “really is the future, and any product that doesn’t come with Bluetooth as standard is really going to struggle, according to our retailers’ feedback.”




all know that technology doesn’t stand still, and it looks as if the MHEG technology that drives today’s interactive red-button TV services like EPGs and catch-up TV is being supplanted by a newer standard, HbbTV, short for Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV. As the name suggests, HbbTV combines interactive TV with broadcast TV. The UK has been using the MHEG standard for many years (the MHEG standard was first set in 1997) for interactive TV services, but HbbTV was only launched seven years ago. However, since then, HbbTV has garnered a lot of support – it’s used in 15 countries, has more than 30 million devices supporting it, and even Freesat and Freeview Play both use the technology.

FROM MHEG TO HBBTV Now the BBC has said that MHEG will no longer be a mandatory requirement for its interactive TV services, and plans to migrate to HbbTV. Earlier this year, the BBC announced that from this September it would no longer support devices that used first-generation MHEG technology, meaning owners of such equipment would not be able to use services like iPlayer. The BBC’s move makes sense; after all, interactive TV has come a long way, with HD, live streaming and live catch-up just a few of the new features that have been added to interactive services in recent years. The move to HbbTV should make it easier to develop and deliver interactive content and services, and provide devices that are


his is turning out to be quite a year for anniversaries. Last month, I commented on the anniversaries for DVD and VHS, and in summer, Blu-ray reached its tenth anniversary since the format’s launch in 2006. Hard to believe now, that Blu-ray was launched on the back of a format war, with Toshiba’s HD-DVD (backed by Microsoft) slugging it out for market share. It was a bit of a one-sided contest, and in early 2008, Toshiba pulled the plug on HD-DVD. So, where is Blu-ray today – and where will it be tomorrow? Despite the challenging economic climate and competition from streaming services (more on this below), Blu-ray sales are holding up pretty well. The British Association for Screen Entertainment (BASE – formerly the British Video Association) reports that UK Blu-ray sales reached 231 million units, down from 252 million the previous year. Sales were worth some £17.5 million. Since its launch, Blu-ray has evolved, albeit not always successfully (anyone for 3D Blu-ray?), but its latest version, Ultra High Definition Blu-ray, seems to have got off to a fair start, at least in the US, where a Home Media Magazine survey suggests that UHD Blu-ray sales are four times faster than Blu-ray’s were in a corresponding period after launch. The magazine says 228,000 UHD Blu-ray discs were sold in the early stages of the launch, compared with 57,000 when Blu-ray was first launched.

more flexible and convenient to use. The big issue is how the migration to HbbTV will be handled. More than 100 million TVs support MHEG today and it will be interesting to see how many will be affected by this decision. One hopes that the supporters behind the BBC’s latest move – the BBC, Digital TV Group, Freeview and Digital UK, will provide retailers and consumers with plenty of advice and information on what it all means for them, and their TVs and set-top boxes...

“The world has changed since Blu-ray arrived and the future for physical formats is not so clear. ”

The world has changed since Blu-ray arrived and the future for physical formats is not so clear. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates may have backed the wrong horse initially with HD-DVD, but back in 2005, Gates made this prescient remark. He said that Blu-ray would be “the last physical format there will ever be. Everything’s going to be streamed directly or on a hard disk.” This was long before fast broadband and superefficient video codecs were widely available. Today, streaming and video downloading are the dominant revenue streams for the video industry, accounting for around 52% of the market and this figure is set to grow. I think Blu-ray sales will continue to be eaten away by streaming, but I don’t see the format disappearing in the short to medium term, because there are still many people who like physical discs. But that looks like being a different story in about twenty year’s time. AUGUST 2016 GET CONNECTED




recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in old sound technologies: vinyl records and, to a lesser extent, valve amplifiers. What has driven this? For some it is hard to see. Vinyl records appeared on the market around 1950, and gradually superseded 78rpm shellac discs which were more bulky and fragile. They declined around 1990, supplanted by CD, and began to come back about nine years ago, rising in the UK to sales of 2.1m albums in 2015. A 12-inch vinyl album typically costs £12 to £20, and these fashionable ‘collectibles’ are enthusiastically promoted (surprisingly, perhaps) by Sainsbury’s, through 170 of its branches; Tesco sells them in 55 shops, while music chains such as HMV and enthusiast retailers are doing increasing business in vinyl. Regarding the hardware, sales of turntables, cartridges and accessories have burgeoned (though still forming a niche market) through specialist shops and increasingly through general retailers. Panasonic (notably having brought out new Technics turntables), Sony and other major manufacturers now cater for this sector again.


Vinyl discs come mainly in two sizes, 12˝/33rpm and 7”/45rpm. Made of a polyvinyl compound and almost unbreakable, they carry the music (see diagram) in a spiral groove about 30 microns deep and 60 microns wide, spaced at roughly 100 per cm. The sides of the groove are at 45° to the disc surface, thus 90° to each other, and are tracked by a needle-like stylus generally made of sapphire or diamond. The left-hand stereo signal is impressed as a ‘wiggle’ in one wall and the right-hand signal in the other. The stylus bears on the record with an effective weight of 1-2gm, and the pickup cartridge turns its movement into electrical signals, usually by magnetic means. This is boosted in an analogue amplifier or converted into a digital datastream, eventually to be applied to a pair of loudspeakers.

2016 valve amplifier by Icon Audio



frequency response is restricted, and its bandwidth is reduced as playback progresses towards the disc centre. The choice of music is limited regarding artists and albums. Its attractions are its ‘physicals’ and the ‘signature’ sound it imparts to music. These are what drive people to buy vinyl records and equipment. Their characteristic sound (perhaps even including the pops and hisses!) and pure nostalgia are two factors; another significant one lies in the physical aspects: the feel and look of

the discs, the artwork on the sleeve and label, the sight of the record going round, the lowering of the stylus. Such are the propensities of people, not only those who were around when this medium was in its heyday...


Another revival, not as great as that of vinyl, is that of valves in audio amplifiers. Amplifying valves have been around for 110 years! Their evacuated glass tubes, ranging from the size of a man’s thumb to


Compared with digital media, vinyl has several disadvantages: it is easily scratched and abraded, leading to pops, crackles and groove-jumping. It’s relatively bulky and limited to about 30 minutes (12”) and 4 minutes (7”) playing time per side. Its low34


Vinyl groove and stereo pickup

that of a sausage roll for home and studio use, contain a central heated cathode surrounded by a cylindrical anode. Electrons are ‘boiled’ off the cathode and attracted towards the anode, which carries a high positive voltage. Their passage is regulated by a negatively-charged control grid wound around the cathode and carrying the audio signal. This signal, inverted and much magnified, appears at the anode and thus amplification is achieved. Valves have many drawbacks compared with transistor and IC amplifiers. They are expensive and bulky; their output power is limited and their bass response can be curtailed by the transformers required to match their high operating voltage and impedance to the loudspeakers they drive; they are physically (but not electrically) fragile; they run hot and are energyinefficient; they wear out, and sometimes fail unexpectedly; and they are not really practical for multichannel (surround) systems, being generally limited to mono or stereo set-ups. Even so, they are treasured by discerning enthusiasts, and new valves are still being produced in Asia and Eastern Europe. Secondhand valve amplifiers command high prices on eBay, while new ones are being manufactured now by several companies. Prices range widely, from £100 through £600 (15-60W), £850 (50+50W, 4×KT88) and up to £12,500 or more for a 250+250W stereo unit. Not cheap!


Still their attraction for some endures, for many of the same reasons as vinyl discs: the physicals and the timbre of their sound reproduction. People like to see them, open to view and glowing red, and to imagine the invisible throbbing inside. Valves actually distort the signal! Even so, their sound is held to be ‘sweeter’, more ‘textured’ and less harsh and sterile than that from transistor and IC amplifiers, particularly in the middle and upper frequency ranges. It’s felt to be warmer and more natural in terms of tone, pitch colour and timbre, in spite of – or even because of, perhaps – the harmonic distortion that valves introduce. I am not going to take sides here, but what is certain is that there is a decent profit in high quality vinyl players, accessories and valve amplifiers.










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Get Connected Magazine - August 2016  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Goods Industry. INSIDE: 04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word In and around the industry 17 GC Prod...

Get Connected Magazine - August 2016  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Goods Industry. INSIDE: 04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word In and around the industry 17 GC Prod...