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The Magazine of The Electrical Goods Industry www.gcmagazine.co.uk

INSIDE:

SUSTAINABLE PLANET How the alignment of technology, commercial interests and environmental responsibility are reshaping the domestic appliance industry in the UK

RETAIL HEALTH In this special feature, Get Connected looks at how the underpressure retail sector is doing, and what’s likely to happen in 2018

SPOTLIGHT ON…. GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation takes effect this May. Paula Tighe of law firm Wright Hassall advises on how it could affect businesses and what they can do to be ready

GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED TV is always a big industry story. George Cole assesses what came out of this year’s CES in Las Vegas

FROM THE BENCH Understanding the bigger picture

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CONTENTS

INSIDE... 04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word In and around the industry

13 14

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in May. Will you be ready?

Miele built-in wine conditioners

Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway Telephone: 01420 886 33 marlinda@gcmagazine.co.uk

Subscriptions & Circulation: (GCCD) Telephone: 01420 886 33 circulation@gcmagazine.co.uk

Magazine Advertising Sales: Brian Shilling Telephone: 01892 677 741 brian@gcmagazine.co.uk

Creative Director: Will Dobson will@gcmagazine.co.uk

Sharon Maslen Telephone: 01892 677 742 sharon@gcmagazine.co.uk Editorial & Publishing Director: Terry Heath Telephone: 01420 886 33 terry@gcmagazine.co.uk

Advertisement Production Administration: Will Dobson Telephone: 01342 850 456 artwork@gcmagazine.co.uk Production and Print: Blackmore Press, Shaftesbury, Dorset www.blackmore.co.uk

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher. Get Connected is published by Mud Hut Publishing Ltd, Greyfriar Cottage, Winchester Road, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire GU34 1SB.

Annual subscription rate (inc. postage): UK £88; Overseas £108. © Copyright 2018 Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Spotlight On GDPR

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The Product Gallery

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Sustainable Planet As consumers are faced with the realisation that personal lifestyle choices are important for the planet’s survival, GC examines how the alignment of great technology, commercial sense and ethical considerations is creating a platform of opportunity for an environment-friendly domestic appliance industry

22 Retail Health – Special Feature Retail is under pressure in the UK. GC gathers together the news and views on how we’re doing, and what the future might look like

25 From the Bench Alan Bennett takes a technical look at current TV panel technologies and what’s promising on the flat panel horizon

26 George Cole Gets Connected Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. Greyfriar Cottage, Winchester Road, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire. GU34 1SB

Sorting the TV gold from the five-minute wonders at CES 2018

www.gcmagazine.co.uk

JAN/FEB 2018

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EDITORIAL COMMENT

Retail is changing. No news there. We’re told that surveys say consumers who do go out shopping want “theatre”, they want a “retail experience”, they want all kinds of Virtual Reality and electronic connectivity and instant smart information in-store. There can be no objection to providing what the people want, but we do need to be careful not to rush to replace the human element before the machines are fully able to cope.

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mazon’s Go store, the “supermarket of when he was approached by customers, the future,” opened in Seattle last month interacted with – rather worryingly in these promising a fully human interaction-free sensitive times – “hello, gorgeous” and an experience. No checkouts. All customers’ offer of a hug. Standard enquiries like “where’s purchases monitored by sensors and cameras the beer?” and “where’s the cheese?”, were and paid for automatically via an app as they met, rather unhelpfully, with: “in the alcohol leave. But the sophisticated algorithms didn’t aisle” and “in the fridges.” Demoted to offering take into account that human customers don’t samples, he was only one sixth as successful as always behave in machine-readable ways. The a human in getting customers to sample pulled camera tracking technology was confused by pork. Luisa Margiotta, a member of the family “customers with similar body shapes.” And that runs the supermarket chain, said: “We find children, running around as they do, taking our customers love a personal interaction, and things off shelves then putting them speaking to our staff is a big part of back in a different place were that. Our staff members know also a problem. our regulars very well and In a Scottish supermarket, can have conversations on a humanoid robot was a daily basis, and I doubt “It’s hard to experimentally recruited robots would be able to imagine robots to help with customer fulfil this. It is possible, I being emotional if a service, but had to be believe, that robots could human was sacked sacked after a week assist with roles such as and sent back down when disconcerted warehouse-based tasks, to the job centre.” customers were slightly but I doubt they will ever anxious and observed eliminate the need for actively avoiding it. “Fabio”, human interaction.” I guess that says it all. Though Fabio must have had something about him, because, in a very human reaction, some of the staff were “reduced to tears” when he was put in his box and packed off back to Heriot-Watt University. It’s hard to imagine robots being emotional if a human was sacked and sent back down to the job centre. And maybe that’s the point. Finally, CES in Las Vegas, which again showcased the cutting-edge, Artificially Intelligent, extraordinarily innovative new technology that is, and will become part of all our lives, delivered an unwitting message. A power cut “paralysed” the show for some hours. A reminder that, from the smallest individual household to the largest of national and international health, business, security and communications infrastructures, without electricity nothing works. Something for the brightest brains of our electrical and electronics industries to think about.

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Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief

Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director

Will Dobson Creative Director

James McIntosh Consumer Consultant

George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant

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CARPHONE WAREHOUSE ISSUED £400,000 FINE FOR DATA PROTECTION FAILURE THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS

C Left to right: Paul Chisnall; Robert Hughes; previous Armstrong MD Jeremy Lowes; Thomas Lowes and Simon Quinlan

HUGHES ADDS SCALE WITH LATEST ACQUISITION H ughes Electrical has said it is set to become a leading player in the UK’s commercial laundry market after completing the acquisition of Newburybased Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems for an undisclosed sum. The newly acquired company, which has 45 employees, an annual turnover of £6.5m and also operates in Scotland, is a UK distributor for American company Alliance Laundry Systems, the largest worldwide producer of commercial laundry equipment. Armstrong has a route operation with coin-operated laundry machines in well over 100 locations, while its industrial arm supplies commercial laundries. It is also said to have a thriving spare parts business. Hughes’ commercial arm, launched in 2012, serves the care, hospitality, tourism and educational sectors, supplying, installing, servicing and repairing a range of specialist washing machines and dryers from the Miele Professional range. It has branches in Norwich, Leicester and Rochester with 26 members of staff. Following the merger Armstrong will remain in Newbury and Glasgow and will increase in size. It will continue to hold responsibility for distribution to dealers and route operations while absorbing Hughes’ commercial arm and staff members. Part of the business will be rebranded as Hughes

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Pro and look after the repair, servicing and product supply to customers. Armstrong was founded in 1878 and has remained in the hands of the Lowes family. Tom Lowes stays on the Armstrong board and will be joined by Simon Quinlan from Hughes Commercial and Paul Chisnall from Hughes Trade. “We are delighted with the deal, which we see as a merger of two likeminded wellestablished family businesses who share the same values,” said Hughes managing director Robert Hughes. “It is all a perfect fit for us as we look after the South East, Midlands and East Anglia while Armstrong services West London, along the M4 corridor to Wales, the South Coast and the area up to the Midlands and has a Glasgow-based operation. “Merging the two businesses will make us a very significant player in the commercial laundry market and operating in the majority of England and Scotland. We are all delighted that Tom Lowes has joined the new board and his experience will be invaluable as we take the combined businesses into a new and very exciting era.” Plans are afoot to open Hughes trade counters in the existing properties in Newbury and Glasgow to provide domestic equipment to local businesses and existing Armstrong customers.

arphone Warehouse has been issued with one of the largest fines by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), after one of its computer systems was compromised as a result of a cyberattack in 2015. The company’s failure to secure the system allowed unauthorised access to the personal data of over three million customers and 1,000 employees. The compromised customer data included names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, marital status and, for more than 18,000 customers, historical payment card details. The records for some Carphone Warehouse employees, including name, phone numbers, postcode, and car registration, were also accessed. The ICO considered that the personal data involved would significantly affect individuals’ privacy, leaving their data at risk of being misused. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “A company as large, well-resourced and established as Carphone Warehouse should have been actively assessing its data security systems and ensuring systems were robust and not vulnerable to such attacks. “Carphone Warehouse should be at the top of its game when it comes to cybersecurity, and it is concerning that the systemic failures we found related to rudimentary, commonplace measures.” Following a detailed investigation, the ICO identified multiple inadequacies in Carphone Warehouse’s approach to data security and determined that the company had failed to take adequate steps to protect the personal information. The incident also exposed inadequacies in the organisation’s technical security measures. Important elements of the software in use on the systems affected were out of date and the company failed to carry out routine security testing. There were also inadequate measures in place to identify and purge historic data. The ICO considered this to be a serious contravention of Principle 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998. From 25 May this year, the law is to become more stringent as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect. Data protection by design is one of the requirements and must be in every part of information processing, from the hardware and software to the procedures, guidelines, standards, and polices that an organisation has or should have. Companies and public bodies should ensure strong IT governance and information security measures are in place, tested and refreshed to comply with the provisions of the law.


THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS

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DIXONS CARPHONE CHIEF QUITS S

ebastian James, CEO of Dixons Carphone, Britain’s biggest electrical retail chain, has resigned, just a few weeks after the departure of the retailer’s finance director Humphrey Singer. Mr James, who joined Dixons Retail in 2008, became Chief Executive in 2012 and retained the role following the merger with Carphone Warehouse in 2014, is leaving to take up positions as senior vice president of Boots Alliance and president and managing director of Boots. He will be replaced by Alex Baldock, group chief executive of online retailer Shop Direct, who announced in October 2017 that he was leaving. Mr James said: “It has been an enormous privilege to lead this business and to work with “The company such passionate and committed colleagues over issued two profit the last few years. Together, I think that we can warnings last year, be very proud of the profound transformation and its shares fell that we have seen in Dixons Carphone and the more than 40% in a sound footing, customer affection, and place in 12-month period” the world that it now enjoys.” In December, (see www.gcmagazine.co.uk 13th December 2017), Dixons Carphone reported profit before tax fell to £61m for the 26 weeks ended

28th October 2017, down from £154m in the same period in the previous year. The company issued two profit warnings last year, and its shares fell more than 40% in a 12-month period. Reportedly, there had also been warnings from investors that the board should be considering succession planning at senior levels.

DOMESTIC FEARS WEIGH ON SMALL BUSINESS CONFIDENCE; PESSIMISM “PARTICULARLY PRONOUNCED” IN RETAIL SECTOR “It’s troubling Small businesses are beginning the new year with increased pessimism as surging operating costs, weak domestic growth and flagging consumer demand hamper profits, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

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he organisation’s Small Business Index (SBI) stood at -2.5 in Q4 2017, marking a fourth consecutive quarterly drop from a year-high of +20.0 in the first quarter of 2017. This is just the second negative reading recorded in the last five years. The first (-2.9) was registered in the wake of the EU referendum. The FSB said 31% of firms expect their performance to worsen over the next three months while 27% expect an improvement, and a record 14% of small business owners are planning to downsize, close or sell their business over the coming three months. 73% of firms reported a rise in operating costs compared to this time last year – the figure is

at a five-year high. Meanwhile, profitability has fallen. The proportion of small businesses (41%) reporting a fall in profits is at its highest since 2013. The domestic economy is mentioned most frequently by small firms as a barrier to achieving growth over the next 12 months. More than half are concerned it will stifle their ambitions. Consumer demand (34%), access to appropriately skilled staff (34%) and regulation (20%) are also frequently flagged as barriers to expansion. Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “As we progress to stage II of Brexit talks, negotiations with the EU27 are set to continue dominating the political agenda.

While the swift agreement of a transitional arrangement and an ambitious free trade agreement with the EU are absolutely critical, it is spiralling costs, weak growth and flagging consumer demand at home that are front of mind for small firms day-to-day. It’s troubling to see a record number of entrepreneurs seeking an exit as these challenges prove too much for many.” Cherry added that the late payment crisis means £18 billion is being withheld from small businesses across the UK, stifling investment for growth and causing thousands of firms to go bust every year. “Equally,” he said, “small firms in dozens of local authority areas are still being denied the

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to see a record number of entrepreneurs seeking an exit…”

emergency business rates support they were promised last spring. The delay may well have spelled the end for some firms left reeling by April’s bruising revaluation.” The FSB pointed out that pessimism among small firms is particularly pronounced in the retail and construction industries. Across both sectors, businesses reported significantly lower levels of confidence compared to Q4 2016. The FSB said that firms in these labour-intensive sectors will be hit hard by increases in auto-enrolment contributions from April.

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SONY CEO STEPS DOWN AS PROFITS RISE Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai is to step down from his role, effective 1st April 2018. He will be succeeded by current Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida.

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irai will move to the position of Chairman of the company, at which time Sony is to embark on its next mid-range corporate plan under a new management structure led by Yoshida. Kazuo Hirai, who became President and CEO in April 2012, said he had dedicated himself to transforming the company and enhancing its profitability, of which he is “very proud.” In the third and final year of the company’s current mid-range corporate plan, it is expecting to exceed its financial targets. “As the company approaches a crucial juncture, when we will embark on a new mid-range plan, I consider this to be the ideal time to pass the baton of leadership to new management, for the future of Sony and also for myself to embark on a new

chapter in my life,” said Hirai. The move was announced as Sony reported consolidated sales up 12% year-on-year to ¥2.672 billion in the third quarter of its financial year. Operating income was ¥350.8 billion, approximately 3.8 times that of the same quarter in the previous year. Net income was ¥295.9 billion. In its forecast for the full-year 2017, Sony said it expects consolidated sales to remain unchanged from its October forecast of ¥8.500 billion. Operating income has been revised upwards by ¥90 billion to ¥720 billion, and net income up by ¥100 billion to ¥480 billion, partially due to the recording of a ¥13.8 billion third-quarter gain resulting from recent tax reform in the US.

COMPONENTS BUSINESS DRIVES SAMSUNG EARNINGS S

amsung Electronics posted KRW 65.98 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 15.15 trillion in operating profit for the fourth quarter of 2017. Full-year revenue totalled KRW 239.58 trillion with an operating profit of KRW 53.65 trillion. Samsung said that Q4 earnings were driven by the Components business, but the Display Panel business, which manufactures OLED and LCD screens, saw increased shipments of OLED panels for premium smartphones. Profitability for LCD panels, however, decreased due to weak seasonality. The Consumer Electronics Division, including the Visual Display and Digital Appliances businesses, posted KRW 12.72 trillion in consolidated revenue and KRW 0.51 trillion in operating profit. For the CE Division in the coming year, the manufacturer said sales of ultra large-size TVs will continue to grow as the global market gears up for major international sporting events including the FIFA World Cup and Winter Olympics. The Digital Appliances Business is expected to improve earnings by expanding its B2B business and online sales.

ELECTROLUX SAYS “POSITIVE DEMAND TREND” EXPECTED TO CONTINUE

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lectrolux reported a strong performance in the fourth quarter of 2017 with operating income up from SEK 1.62 billion in the same period last year, to SEK 1.97 billion. Net sales rose from SEK 32.14 billion to SEK 32.37 billion. Commenting on 2017, President and CEO Jonas Samuelson said all

business areas delivered strong performance improvements. EMEA continued its profitability trend and delivered a margin of 7.2%; North America reached a record margin of 6.8%; Asia Pacific delivered a margin of 7.5%, while “a solid turnaround” was seen in Latin America.

Samuelson said the overall positive demand trend across most markets in 2017 is expected to continue in 2018. “We anticipate market demand for appliances in Europe to grow by 1-2% and in North America by 2-3% in 2018. In Latin America we expect market recovery to continue in 2018 with a growth rate of 3-5%.”

MIDWICH GROUP TRADES “COMFORTABLY AHEAD OF PREVIOUS EXPECTATIONS” AV and document solutions distributor Midwich said it expects to report revenue for 2017 of approximately £470 million, representing growth of around 28% over prior year.

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a trading update for the year ended 31 December 2017, the Group said its trading momentum continued in the second half of the year, with encouraging growth seen across all divisions. Acquisitions made in 2017 performed either in line or ahead of expectations. “The Group has delivered this revenue growth whilst continuing to improve gross margins in line with the Board’s expectations,” Midwich said in a statement. “Cash Group Managing Director generation to the year-end was also strong, finishing Stephen Fenby marginally ahead of the Board’s expectations. “As a result of this strong performance, the Board now anticipates reporting adjusted profit before tax for 2017 comfortably ahead of its previous expectations.”

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The company, however, warned of a negative impact from raw material costs in 2018, forecasting this to be approximately SEK 1.2 billion. “We will continue our efficiency measures to offset this headwind and also implement previously announced price increases,” said Samuelson.

WHIRLPOOL RESULTS HIT BY TAX REFORM CHARGE

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hirlpool Corporation posted a fourth-quarter GAAP net loss of $268 million, compared to GAAP net earnings of $180 million in the prior-year period. The fall included approximately $420 million related to tax reform. Net sales for the quarter amounted to $5.7 billion, an increase of 1% on Q4 last year. Sales fell by 1.6% excluding the impact of currency. Ongoing earnings per diluted share were down from $4.33 to $4.10. “Our unique global strategic position, coupled with favourable macro-economic conditions, gives us strong confidence towards our long-term value creation goals,” said Marc Bitzer, chief executive officer of Whirlpool Corporation. Full-year net sales totalled $21.3 billion, compared to $20.7 billion in 2016. Excluding the impact of currency, sales increased 1.5%. Operating profit was $1.1 billion, down from $1.4 billion in the prior year. Net earnings fell from $888 million to $360 million.


THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS

HAIER CLAIMS NO.1 WORLD STATUS IN DOMESTIC APPLIANCES WORLDWIDE

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ccording to Euromonitor research for 2017, Chinese company Haier has achieved No. 1 global status in major domestic appliances. Euromonitor figures show that Haier accounted for 14.2% of the world market in this sector, up 4.55% compared to 2016, and is ranked in the top 50 World’s Most Influential Brands 2017, as compiled by the World Brand Lab. The Euromonitor International 2017 certifications also show Haier as No.1 in the following categories within the MDA sector: Refrigeration Appliances (21.2% market share of sales per unit volume); Freezers (24.1% market share of sales per unit volume); Home Laundry Appliances (17.5% market share of sales per unit volume). Yannick Fierling, CEO Haier Europe, said: “Such recognition is proof once more of the group’s capacity to find its place in a fastchanging world. “The times are favourable to reinforce the strong partnership between Europe and China, a collaboration that comes with a rich past and a promising future. We are honoured to see more consumers choosing Haier products to equip their households, particularly in Europe, where quality is paramount. This is thanks to our sophisticated premium offer.”

V-ZUG TO WITHDRAW RETAIL OPERATIONS FROM UK & IRELAND

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wiss premium appliance manufacturer V-ZUG is to withdraw its retail operations from the UK and Ireland, effective 31 May 2018. The company said the move is primarily due to the increasingly negative prospects created by Brexit. “Economic conditions have changed drastically on account of the decision to leave the EU, which has also impacted on V-ZUG’s business operations and shows no signs of stopping,” the company said in a statement. V-ZUG is currently in talks with the three employees affected by the decision “to find solutions that will suit them all.” The Swiss manufacturer will continue to guarantee provision of all warranties and services. Orders that have been placed but not yet dispatched will be processed as normal.

“Economic conditions have changed drastically on account of the [UK’s] decision to leave the EU…”

£1.1M FACTORY INVESTMENT FOR AUDIO BUSINESS LINN

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usic system manufacturer Linn has invested £1.1m in its factory located near Glasgow. The company said the move will ensure that it “remains at the forefront of audio innovation for years to come.” The investment involves the upgrade of machinery across the entire production process, including new surface mount technology which allows greater accuracy and flexibility when populating circuit boards. Managing Director Gilad Tiefenbrun said: “We are

New MD for GDHA

Mark Davison

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Glen Dimplex Consumer Appliances (GDCA) has appointed Mark Davison as Managing Director of its domestic appliances business. Davison brings a wealth of experience to the group, including four years at Aga Rangemaster where he was Sales and Marketing Director. In his new role he will be responsible for driving Glen Dimplex Home Appliances’ growth strategy and direction, and working collaboratively with other brands within the GDCA portfolio.

Midwich appoints Head of European Operations AV and document solutions distributor Midwich has appointed James Parker as Head of European Operations to facilitate the Group’s expansion. He will James Parker predominantly focus on pre-acquisition due diligence, post-acquisition company integrations and Group-wide infrastructure projects. Parker will report to the Group’s European Director Tom Sumner.

passionate about precision engineering and this recent investment in renewing our production capabilities allows us to continue to innovate and create products with unbeatable performance.” Linn was founded by Ivor Tiefenbrun in 1973 and remains an independent business, with growth both in the UK and export markets. It has a turnover of £16.4m. The factory investment includes new metalwork machining capability, new surface mount technology and vapour phase soldering.

New face of marketing for Exclusively shows Brooke House Exhibitions, organiser of Pam Ballone Exclusively Housewares and Exclusively Electrical, has announced that consultant Pam Ballone will handle the Marketing and PR for the 2018 shows. The appointment follows the resignation of Vanessa Fortnam.

Caple appoints new business development manager Kitchen appliance brand Caple has appointed Fran Liston as its new business development manager responsible for Essex, Suffolk and East London. She joins Caple from Ridgeons, where she spent more than 14 years, most recently as group showroom manager. In her role with Caple, Liston will be responsible for selling and promoting the brand’s extensive portfolio of products to retailers, and supporting customers. She will report to Ritchie Pettifer, regional sales manager for the South East.

JAN/FEB 2018

Fran Liston

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ELECTRICAL PRODUCT SAFETY GOES “DEEPER THAN JUST ONE FIRM” A

House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report has criticised both Whirlpool, some of whose Hotpoint tumble dryers are implicated in household fires caused by a defect, and the Government, which has been “painfully slow” in improving a product safety regime which is “fragmented and poorly resourced.” Commenting on the Report on its official website, The Committee said it finds it “unacceptable that there are still one million defective Whirlpool tumble dryers in homes more than two years after the identification of a defect that has led to at least 750 fires since 2004. “The Committee is calling on Whirlpool to now resolve the risk from faulty machines within two weeks of being contacted by costumers. “The Committee finds Whirlpool’s inadequate response to the defect highlights the flaws in the UK’s safety regime and that serious consideration must now be given by the Government to establishing a single national product safety agency. The Committee also calls on the Government to respond by the end of February to the recommendations of an independent review on product safety, carried out by Lynn Faulds Wood, nearly two years ago.” Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “Whirlpool must once and for all put an end to the unacceptable situation where a million machines are acting as potential fire hazards in people’s homes,” but added that “these problems go deeper than just one firm. Whirlpool’s response has highlighted flaws in the UK’s product safety regime which is fragmented and poorly resourced. There is a strong case for a single national product safety agency. The Government must now implement the recommendations of an independent review on product safety, which they have been sitting on for nearly two years.” A spokesman for the company said: “Whirlpool’s extensive ongoing tumble dryer modification campaign has achieved a resolution rate more than three times the industry average for a product recall, and added that 1.7 million affected tumble dryers had been replaced or repaired, four million customers had been contacted directly, and the number of people contacting the company after the two-year awareness campaign had now fallen sharply. “We continue to urge consumers to contact us immediately if they believe they still own an affected appliance. We can assure consumers that if they contact us now, they can receive a resolution within one week.”

The Report’s recommendations include:  Whirlpool must explain how it will deal with the remaining defective and potentially dangerous machines with resolution for all customers within two weeks of contacting the company  Manufacturers should make available risk assessments as soon as any defects are identified  The Government must publish a full response to the 2016 Faulds Wood Review on the UK’s system for the recall of unsafe products by the end of February 2018 at the latest

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 Manufacturers of plastic backed fridge freezers should act to use safer materials, based on the number of fires associated with them A Government Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy spokesman promised a swift response to the recommendation of a national product safety authority.

GOVERNMENT CREATES NEW PRODUCT SAFETY BODY

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ollowing the report on electrical product safety published by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (see story this page), the Government has announced the creation of a new national oversight body “tasked with identifying consumer risks and managing responses to large-scale product recalls and repairs.” The new Office for Product Safety and Standards will, according to an official Government press release, begin work immediately. The new body, says the Government, “will enable the UK to meet the evolving challenges of product safety by responding to expanding international trade, the growth in online shopping and the increasing rate of product innovation.” The announcement comes as part of the government’s response to the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety. Established in October 2016 by former Consumer Minister Margot James, the group of product and fire safety experts was brought together to build on the recommendations made by Lynn Faulds Wood in her independent review into consumer product recalls. “In addition to providing support and advice for local authority Trading Standards teams,” says the release, “the office will co-ordinate work across local authorities where action is needed on a national scale and will ensure the UK continues to carry out appropriate border checks on imported products once the UK leaves the European Union.” Business Minister Andrew Griffiths added: “The new Office for Product Safety and Standards will strengthen the UK’s already tough product safety regime and will allow consumers to continue to buy secure in the knowledge there is an effective system in place if products need to be repaired or replaced.”

…a product safety regime which is “fragmented and poorly resourced”

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 The Government should actively explore the establishment of a single national product safety agency

Neil Gibbins, Chair of the working group, added: “The Government will continue to work with stakeholders such as consumer groups, manufacturers and retailers to ensure the office coordinates the UK’s product safety regime as effectively as possible. This will not lessen any of the legal responsibilities that sit with manufacturers, importers and retailers to present safe products to the market, and to take rapid effective action when safety issues arise with their products.” Other actions as part of the Government’s response to the working group include: ∠ working with the British Standards Institute to provide guidance on product recalls and corrective action ∠ conducting research to help manufacturers and retailers develop technological solutions to product marking and identification ∠ increasing the reach of Primary Authority to further share business, local authority and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) expertise to help protect consumers ∠ researching consumer behaviour to identify the best way to drive up the number of consumers registering appliances with manufacturers ∠ creating an expert panel to bring together trade associations, consumer and enforcement representatives to advise on product safety issues as they arise However, not all responses to this Government initiative have been positive. Alex Neil of consumer watchdog Which? said: "This action falls short of the full overhaul it so desperately needs. Consumers need an independent national body, which has real powers to protect them and get dangerous products out of their homes. Failure to do so continues the risk of further tragic consequences."


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GORENJE COMMITS TO ALUMINIUM BACKING ON COOLING LINES

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lovenian kitchen appliance manufacturer Gorenje has announced it will now only manufacture cooling products with aluminium flame-retardant backing.

Iztok Krulc Managing Director Gorenje UK

Taking a stance on the fire risk posed by plastic-backed appliances, the company said that, following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, its commitment to the campaign for safer appliances is a step in the right direction towards tackling the industrywide issue. The move follows the recent announcement of the UK Government’s creation of a new product safety body tasked with identifying consumer risks and managing responses to large-scale product recalls and repairs (see previous page). Speaking about the decision to implement aluminium backing on cooling lines, Iztok Krulc, managing

CIH PARTNERS WITH KITCHEN BATHROOM BUYING GROUP

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uying Group CIH has entered into a partnership with the Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG) to provide members with a comprehensive kitchen sales package, including access to deals from a variety of kitchen suppliers from the UK and Europe. The partnership will enable CIH members to offer fitted kitchens to their customers and to benefit from kitchen design training from industry professional Renee Mascari, Creative Director of Mascari Design in Nottingham. Members will also be provided with a kitchen CAD system from Compusoft Winner, and Stuart Cook CIH and Bill Miller will be supported with a warehouse and home delivery service and assistance in sourcing approved local kitchen installers. KBBG is part of DER KREIS, Europe’s leading kitchen and bathroom buying group. CIH Chief Executive Stuart Cook (pictured left) said the partnership is a “great opportunity” as it enables members to expand their businesses and to retail fitted kitchens. “We provide our members with a variety of electrical appliances and now, thanks to the KBBG, we can provide CIH members with furniture to complete the kitchen for their customers and become a one-stop shop. The independent electrical retail market can be challenging and we are thrilled to be able to strengthen our offering to our members.” KBBG Managing Director Bill Miller (right) described the partnership between the two buying groups as “a natural fit” as both share the same business ethos of supporting independent retailers. “Our objective is very simple,” Miller added. “To create a strong and sustainable independent channel to ensure retailers achieve their full business potential. “The independent market, for both kitchen specialists and electrical retailers, has had to face a huge number of challenges over the last five years. There is strength and greater protection in working together.”

director at Gorenje UK, said: “This is a sensitive topic but one we shouldn’t fail to approach. “Obviously this decision will have economical implications to the business; however, we want to reinforce our position as a responsible manufacturer, not just something superficial. “All Gorenje appliances fitted with the aluminium backing will have a stronger level of flame retardance, and taking this action we hope that other UK manufacturers will be encouraged to follow suit and do their bit for the consumers. “With home safety being central to our research development process, this initiative can reassure our

“…a step in the right direction towards tackling the industry-wide issue”

customers that caring for them and their families is of most importance to us and we’re not valuing style over substance.”

SHORTCUTS AEG’s SteamPro Multifunction Sous Vide Oven and 9000 Laundry Series have been voted winners in the Kitchen Appliance category and Household Appliance category of the Product of the Year 2018 Awards. Smeg has won seven accolades at the Good Design Awards 2017 in Chicago, Illinois, honouring the Italian brand’s SKA and MDA ranges. The winning products were: Dolce Stil Novo Blast Chiller; 60cm Linea oven; 45cm Linea oven; 90cm Opera range cooker; HBF02 Hand Blender; CJF01 Citrus Juicer and ECF01 Coffee Machine. The Awards are judged by an international jury of architects, designers and creative directors. Montpellier Domestic Appliances is promoting a semi-integrated dishwasher which was awarded a Which? Best Buy at the backend of 2017 with a score of 75%. The A+ rated 60cm MDI650X offers 12 place settings, nine programmes and flexible loading which provides two levels of adjustment for the top basket. AV and document solutions distributor Midwich has taken on the distribution of the full range of WyreStorm products in the UK. WyreStorm is a leading manufacturer of award-winning 4K and full HD AV signal distribution and control solutions over HDMI, HDBaseT and AV over IP. Vacuum cleaner brand SEBO has donated two vacuum cleaners to Medical Detection Dogs, a charity that trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease and is at the forefront of research into the fight against cancer and assisting people with lifethreatening diseases. SEBO donated an upright 300 Evolution and a cylinder Airbelt E1 to assist the charity in maintaining cleanliness in its facilities.

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AMAZON MARKETPLACE PROVIDES EXPORT BOOST FOR BRITISH SMES

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hile many electrical retailers are strongly opposed to the existence of Amazon’s Marketplace, others in the industry have positively embraced it. And the platform is now proving to be a valuable source of international revenue for all kinds of British retailers, with tens of thousands achieving export sales totalling in excess of £2.3bn in 2017. Half of all sales on Amazon’s global sites come from smaller, independent businesses selling on the platform, with UK SMEs exporting to customers across Europe, North America, Japan, China and India. New research by economics consultancy Keystone Strategy found that independent British businesses employ more than 85,000 people in the UK to run their sales activities on Amazon Marketplace. So successful has the Marketplace been for the retail superpower that it has opened registrations for the Amazon Academy 2018 programme to help boost SME exports. The Academies will take place across the UK, including in Glasgow, Newcastle and Cardiff, offering hundreds of small and medium-sized firms practical free advice on how to grow their export sales and succeed in the digital economy.

The move follows previous events in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham which were attended by more than 1,200 SMEs and entrepreneurs. The Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade, said: “The growth in SME exports on sites such as Amazon shows what can be achieved, and I welcome the company’s commitments to help more small companies go digital so they can grow their businesses and create jobs up and down the country.” “We are seeing a record number of British SMEs selling their products across Europe, North America, Japan, China and India, opening themselves to millions of additional potential customers through the power of the internet,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. Amazon said it offers a suite of support tools to help businesses export their products and services, including providing global delivery and distribution, managing customer services in the local language and translating hundreds of millions of productlistings each year on behalf of smaller businesses. As a result, six in ten UK-based businesses selling on Amazon Marketplace now export abroad.

JOHN LEWIS CREATES QUIET MARK WINDOW DISPLAYS

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ohn Lewis is dedicating window space at 16 flagship outlets to promote products that operate at low noise levels. The displays feature those accredited with the Quiet Mark, such as washing machines, tumble dryers, food processors and kettles from electrical brands including AEG, Dualit, Dyson and Magimix. The retailer is also featuring Quiet Mark-approved products prominently in its Wellbeing-themed windows, highlighting those designed to help users “relax and recharge”, such as the Lumie Bodyclock LUXE 750D, which supports healthy sleep. Laurence Mitchell, Technology Buyer for John Lewis, said there continues to be strong demand for Quiet Mark products with customers. “They highlight a new era of sound-design for consumer technology, which is taking centre stage as the desire for peace and quiet in a tech-frenzied world increases,” added Quiet Mark co-founder and MD Poppy Szkiler.

Three heads better than two

IT’S

not news that sales of vinyl have made a serious comeback for a number of reaso ns, and manufacturers have responded by produ cing new turntables that allow young “hip” vinyleers - and older enthusiasts with existing collections - to enjoy the warmth of the vinyl experience. But there’s now some evidence that casse tte tapes are beginning to find traction in the UK and the US, with sales at their highest for ten years, according to the BPI, and Tapeline, the last remaining cassette tape manu facturer in the UK, reports “probably 10% to 20% bigger sales this year [2017].” Artists such as Eminem, Metallica and Justin Bieber have recently released material on cassette. And as well as the fresh content available on this “retro” medi um, there must be millions of cassettes – both commercial relea ses and those homerecorded mix tapes that baby boomers were so fond of – in homes across the globe. Hence a GC reader who’s been with us from issue one writes this plea “to all radio manufacturers,” with a special emphasis on the importance of three-headed deck s: “Vinyl has at last made a progressive comeback. So much so that manufacturers are making new turntables for home and professional purposes. Now along comes the return of the cassette, and there are no cassette playe rs to play them on! I have done a lot of research asking peop le if they still want cassettes, and at least 70% of them still have cassettes but can’t play them because their players are broken, and no-one

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wants to repair them as they can’t get the parts. “May I make a suggestion to the main manufacturers [they know who they are], to get their designers to create a decent cassette player – and if it has a radio combined, make it with DAB/VHS, not Medium/ VHS. Medium wave has had its day and a lot of the transmitters are being turned off – like the one here in Bristol. “A lot of people I spoke to want casse tte decks to add to their hi-fi systems, preferably with three heads for true monitoring such as we have in our recor ding studios. In fact, a deck with twin cassettes and three heads would sell well to hundreds of hi-fi enthusiasts even with a price around £250 + VAT. I’m always being asked for twin cassette decks with monitoring heads, and I can’t even get them a standard single cassette deck as no-one is making them ! So please everyone, get some decent, affordable cassette decks and radio/cassettes on the mark et for 2018. I’ve just been listening to some of the new cassettes on a Marantz deck and the quality is equa l to CD; in fact, one was better than CD (18hz-20Khz!). So get cracking, boys, and good luck. I know you can do it.”

Don Todd, B.mus. DTP Radio Productions


SPOTLIGHT ON GDPR

SPOTLIGHT ON With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in May, it is crucial that businesses begin planning for its arrival sooner rather than later, according to Paula Tighe, Information Governance Director at leading law firm Wright Hassall

IMPLEMENTING YOUR PLAN EARLY

KEEP REVIEWING AND KEEP RECORDING

usinesses must allow themselves enough time to fully comprehend the new law, and begin pushing through the necessary changes early to avoid falling foul of the regulations. Compliance will not be achieved by leaving it to the last minute. The UK’s decision to leave the EU has no bearing on the new regulations - GDPR will still apply to any company who processes data within the EU.

Under the GDPR, when you are obtaining and processing personal and sensitive categories of data you need to record how this data will be retained and under what condition; for example, is the retention period required for legal, regulation and/or organisational purposes? The new regulations bring a requirement for all business affected by the GDPR to not only have a retention (data minimisation) policy and schedule, but to carry out mandatory Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) if they want to process personal data as part of normal business practices, or if it is to be processed on a new technological or information society system, or if it contains sensitive categories of data. These assessments will help you decide what are the likely effects on the individual, mitigate any risk and help you build in ‘privacy by design’ in how you obtain and process individuals data. Ensure you have a robust process for making the assessments and then record it, along with the outcome – a PIA is a simple step towards compliance, with the emphasis on what you do, rather than what you say you will do.

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RAISE AWARENESS AND REGISTER IT Businesses can help mitigate the risk of incurring penalties for non-compliance by recording the entire compliance process, making a note of any significant changes to company policy. Also known as the ‘data register’, this record will show information on the data your company currently holds, the reasons for processing it and how it was obtained in the first place. This will help you adhere to the new accountability principles of GDPR. Rather than obstructing your business or stopping you from being able to do things, compliance aims to improve standards by encouraging you to review existing polices and procedures, making them more effective where possible. Start by reviewing your existing digital and hard copy format privacy notices and policies to ensure they are concise, written in clear language, easy to understand and easily found. Finally, assess how you communicate these notices and policies with data subjects, ensuring you explain your reason for processing the data, how long it’s retained and how individuals can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office if they are dissatisfied.

RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL Once GDPR has been introduced, individuals will enjoy greater control over their personal data, which means companies will have to adapt their procedures accordingly. For example, data subjects will be able to request their personal information is edited,

Paula Tighe

or even deleted, at any time. Therefore, it is important that your business replaces existing procedures so that you can process any such requests swiftly and efficiently. Perhaps one of the key drivers for the changes is the right for an individual to prevent their data being used for direct marketing purposes, as is the right to challenge and prevent automated decision-making and profiling. Regardless of complaints or investigations, adopting transparent procedures will go a long way towards heading off any future problems with the regulator. If your company already handles data carefully under current data protection laws, then the switch over to GDPR should not create any big problems. You must comply within a month when an individual makes a subject access request to see what information you have about them. If you think the request has no merit, you can refuse, but you must tell them why and how they can complain to the regulator.

NEVER ASSUME YOU HAVE CONSENT One of the trickier areas of the new regulations is handling consent for personal data to be captured and used for more than just contact. Individuals must give clear consent for their data to be used, but must be allowed to revoke consent easily, at any time. If you change the way you want to use their data, you must obtain a new consent. Consent must be implicit, and your attempts to obtain or confirm consent will help mitigate any future problems at the hands of the regulator.

MAKE SOMEONE RESPONSIBLE AND KEEP IT UP If your company handles and processes data on a large scale, then it may be worth appointing a dedicated Data Protection Officer to oversee ongoing procedures. It does not have to be someone within your organisation – you might choose to appoint an appropriate individual on a part-time or consultancy basis. Remember, it’s not just electronically-held data that can pose a problem; you also need to consider written records, which are also covered by the regulations. Start by recording the transition over to GDPR compliance, as this will help protect your business during the initial months of GDPR. Those companies who do not keep a data register will suffer worse consequences than those who make an effort to meet the new requirements.

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PRODUCT GALLERY

New pyrolytic oven added to Prima+ collection for 2018 The Prima+ PRSO110 built-in single oven offers a 76-litre capacity and pyrolytic self-cleaning at 480˚C. It has 11 cooking functions, live digital temperature reading, a touch-control white LED display and a free 5-year parts and 2-year labour guarantee. PJH is supporting its new 2018 Prima Collection with a range of competitive display deals for stockists featuring the latest products in showroom displays. POS material is also available.

0800 8 77 88 99 | www.partners.pjh.uk

Miele introduces new built-in wine conditioners The new KWT6722iGS (pictured) has the capacity to hold up to 83 bottles and a SommelierSet comprising a glass holder and two decanting racks. It benefits from a FlexiFrame system which allows adjustment of the beech wood racks for different types and sizes of bottles, two independently controlled temperature zones and Miele’s one-degree temperature accuracy. Tinted glass doors prevent damage caused by UV rays and an Active AirClean filter protects the quality of the wine.

0330 160 6600 | www.miele.co.uk

Caple Sense 90cm single oven Caple’s Sense C2901 built-in electric single oven offers broad functionality and modern design. With a 95-litre capacity, the appliance is one of the largest single built-in ovens on the market. It incorporates Caple’s signature MotionHeat+, which is featured across the reinvented Sense range. The technology eliminates the need to preheat the oven and helps to achieve even cooking results, with no transfer of flavours or aromas.

0117 938 1900 | www.caple.co.uk

New FreshCare washing machines from Whirlpool Whirlpool has introduced a new range of freestanding washing machines that benefit from the brand’s FreshCare+™. The system gently and regularly massages garments with slow drum movements interspersed with injections of steam to keep them fresh and odour-free for up to six hours after the cycle has finished. The range is available in 7kg, 8kg and 9kg capacities.

www.whirlpool.co.uk

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PRODUCT GALLERY

KEF introduces R700 loudspeaker in new Black Edition KEF’s latest R700 loudspeaker retains all of the acoustic and engineering innovations of the original R700, but has a new finish featuring an all-black version of the brand’s Uni-Q driver array. It also sports a Black Edition trim ring, black Chrome plated terminals and matte black feet.

Barista T Smart® bean-to-cup coffee machine Melitta® has launched a new range of premium bean-to-cup coffee machines including models accredited with the Quiet Mark. The Barista T Smart® (pictured) is a fully automated one-touch machine with a Bean Select function for preparing different coffee specialities. The appliance boasts intelligent technology and an LCD text display that provides clear instructions. It also benefits from the Melitta Connect App – ‘My Coffee & Smart Service’.

www.kef.co.uk

Tangent launches waterproof portable wireless speaker Tangent Audio’s ‘Pebble Splash’ is said to meet the growing demand for speakers that can be used in the garden, in the shower or on the beach. In a compact design with black/grey finish, the unit has 2 x 5W power output, up to 10 hours’ battery life, connects simply via wireless Bluetooth or wired 3.5mm AUX mini-jack, and produces multi-directional stereo sound via multiple speaker drivers.

01952 671073 | www.melitta.co.uk

Belling brings 50cm induction cooker to market Belling’s 50cm induction cooker brings the technology to those with limited kitchen space. The all-electric FS50DOTi has a 62-litre gross capacity, with a fanned main oven and a conventional top oven with fixed rate dual circuit grill. The four-zone induction hob’s functions include programmable timers, power boost, defrost, pan overheat detection and a child lock.

www.belling.co.uk

www.tangent-audio.com

Servis expands retro cooling collection Servis has augmented its range of retro cooling with a 1950s eggshell blue combi fridge/freezer. The new 70/30-split appliance has one of the largest total net capacities for retro combi cooling, at 318 litres. It is frost-free and has adjustable shelving and a space-saving wine rack.

www.servis.co.uk

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SUSTAINABLE PLANET

NO MORE CROCODILE TEARS? “Mermaids’ Tears,” – the poignantly-named little pellets used in the manufacture of plastic products, now increasingly being found polluting the seas, poisoning marine life and entering the human food chain – are part of a bigger environmental picture. The recent media focus on plastic pollution in the oceans and on the shoreline seems to have generated some serious thinking about personal responsibility across all “green” issues

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here are signs that the “crocodile tears” of those who have been very willing to express sympathy for “the environment,” but are perhaps less proactive about modifying their own lifestyles, are being replaced by a genuine individual consciousness that this is everyone’s problem. When Storm Eleanor heralded acres of plastic coming to a beautiful beach near you, it brought home to us – quite literally - that what we, personally, do to “the environment” – not just with plastic, but through energy and water consumption, food waste, electrical and electronic waste and the squandering of resources – has consequences. In short, the Sustainable Planet is not abstract jargon; it’s something that everyone can do something practical to achieve.

RESPONSIBILITY BEGINS AT HOME Domestic electrical and electronic appliances – notably the perceived “guzzlers” such as washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers and always-on fridges and fridge/freezers - are for most consumers the obvious place where they can start making a difference in terms of energy and resource saving. To their credit, manufacturers have done and are doing a great deal to apply advanced technology to the production of more and more energy-efficient and resource-saving appliances, and to promote the benefits to consumers and retailers. It’s testament to the industry’s concerted efforts that efficiency and green

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MAKING IT HAPPEN

credentials have moved nearer the top of consumer priorities. The initial driver was, and still remains to a large extent, consumer selfinterest: rapidly rising domestic utilities charges have helped create a powerful incentive for householders to reduce domestic consumption without sacrificing performance, and the industry has been very effective in producing convincing figures to support a strong money-saving story for efficient appliances. This means that our industry in the UK is going into 2018 with a potent alignment of commercial, financial and ethical interests that is driving opportunities: manufacturers’ investment in environmentally friendly products is paying off; retailers’ investment in presenting and explaining green appliances is reaching a receptive audience; consumers can save money on household bills; and at the same time everybody can feel good about their contribution to a Sustainable Planet.

Commitment from the industry and their customers is real, but sometimes difficult to convert into action. As Donald Shepherd, Marketing Director at Beko plc, points out, “research shows [2017 survey commissioned by Grundig] that consumers have a strong desire to become more sustainable, and many consumers are trying to do this: 82% are doing some form of recycling; 75% aim to conserve energy; 74% say they are trying to reduce food waste.” But at the same time, says Shepherd, “94% of consumers want to live a more sustainable life but almost two thirds lack the time or aren’t sure how to do so.” The efficient electrical appliances exist. The consumer will is there. And at home is the obvious place to start looking for sustainable decision-making. What’s needed at this crucial time is an industry – both manufacturer and retailer – that keeps on driving home the eco (and money-saving) messages, keeps on combating the old myths about “guzzler” appliances, and is ready and willing to answer consumers’ questions by anticipating and dealing with the concerns of those who want to be more sustainable but “aren’t sure how to do so.” The recurrent questions are: “How much can I save by using a more efficient appliance?”; “Is an energy-efficient appliance more expensive to buy?”; “Does saving energy and water mean compromising on performance?”; “Are some


SUSTAINABLE PLANET

Caple’s Di 631 Dishwasher: A++ energy rated and uses as little as 11 litres of water

‘optional’ appliances – such as tumble dryers and dishwashers – always going to guzzle energy and water so much that we shouldn’t really buy them at all?” The industry does have convincing answers, but the myths persist, and every opportunity to dispel them should be seized.

MAINTAINING THE MESSAGE Manufacturers have delivered on the development of more efficient products, and all the manufacturers quoted here have appliances and technologies that help consumers contribute significantly to the Sustainable Planet agenda. They also support retailers in maintaining the message. Jennifer Taylor, Head of Brand at Hotpoint, says: “Hotpoint encourages retailers to discuss with customers exactly what they are looking for in an appliance. Showing and telling can help the customer to make a more informed decision, and the attention and interaction will leave a lasting impression.” Sara Bazeley, Brand Manager at Indesit, adds: “Indesit has collaborated with Energy Savings Trust to provide meaningful messaging that will resonate with consumers in an effort to support retailers at the point of sale. The messages are designed to educate and build consumer awareness of resource saving appliances and how they can benefit.” Beko’s Donald Shepherd points to the brand’s training team which is “actively supporting retailers to ensure their teams are up to speed on all the latest product innovations.”

better understand how far energy efficiency has come in the last few years, particularly if they haven’t purchased a new appliance for a long time.” Changes in the EU energy labelling system are due in “By making 2019. It may mean a remessages about education of consumers technology clear, the when the new system consumer will better takes effect, but it is understand how far energy more than anything a efficiency has come in the testament to how far the last few years, particularly consumer can benefit industry has advanced if they haven’t purchased from the investment in enhancing its green a new appliance for a in an eco-friendly credentials. Achievements long time” appliance. The energy in efficiency have taken label highlights the total many appliances off the amount of energy used labelling scale, necessitating per year and this is invaluable the use of A+ ratings to distinguish in being able to compare models the most energy efficient. This will and brands to find the appliance that is most be replaced with a simpler A-G energy rating affordable with maximum long-term savings.” scale, re-calibrated to take in the energy She is also keen that retailers clarify how the efficiency advances at the top end. As Sharp’s specific technologies – she cites Whirlpool’s Rita Balestrazzi points out, “product efficiency own 6th SENSE® “intelligent” technology has come a long way. So much so that even – can sense and adjust programmes for the energy labelling system is set to reflect maximum performance with minimum resource appliances’ greener credentials.” However, consumption. “By making messages about she is not complacent. “Whilst much has been technology clear,” she says, “the consumer will done for some of the most inefficient appliance categories, more can be achieved, especially as manufacturers continue to explore the energysaving benefits of smart technologies.”

ADDRESSING THE MYTHS

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL EU Energy labelling has become a helpful fixture on all domestic appliances, but Whirlpool Brand Manager Catherine Balderson emphasises that “it is very important for the retailer to explain what the label means in real terms, and how the

Belling’s A++ Sensicare 8kg FHD800 tumble dryer

There are still deep-seated popular beliefs in the UK that some appliances are incorrigible eco-offenders that can’t be rehabilitated. The perceived main offenders – as the majority of manufacturers contributing to this feature assert - are dishwashers, tumble dryers, washing machines and fridges and freezers. As one of the few appliances that’s always on, and is also responsible for keeping our food safe, fresh and flavoursome, the fridge/freezer is an important element in the Sustainable Planet agenda. Stuart Netscher, Head of Category at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, says “there is no getting away from the fact that cooling products are one of the few household appliances that are switched on 24/7 and are a big consumer of electricity. Consumers are becoming more aware of energy ratings, however energy

De Dietrich Connaisseur Chef De Dietrich ovens ensure precision cooking with easy to use components. The New De Dietrich Connaisseur Chef oven comes equipped with over 70 cooking functions including slow cooking, drying and French patisserie modes. The pre-set functions make high tech cooking simple with settings for meats such as chicken, veal and duck, to baking recipes including a choice of macaroons, warm chocolate cake and meringues. This unique technology sets the oven to the ideal temperature and determines the cooking time, so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your culinary creations. De Dietrich is available from AB Distributors

www.abdistributors.co.uk

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SUSTAINABLE PLANET

“There remains a huge disconnect with the consumer in their understanding of water consumption of a dishwasher compared to washing-up by hand”

efficiencies are driven by manufacturers and compliance requirements. There are now products on the market ranging from A+ to A+++ and these appliances can deliver significant savings.” The cooling category, because of its always-on nature and its key role in reducing food waste, is worthy of a dedicated feature, and next month’s “Cool Planet” feature will examine the category in detail. Penetration of dishwashers in the UK market is still slow. Indesit’s Sara Bazeley says “UK household penetration of dishwashers continues to improve. However, it’s still a long way off that of other countries in Europe and this demonstrates the need for retailers and manufacturers to encourage greater household penetration by continuing to work together to inform consumers of the many benefits these products offer. For many, there remains a huge disconnect with the consumer in their understanding of water consumption of a dishwasher compared to washing-up by hand.” Dishwashers are still thought to be much more energy-greedy and water-wasteful than washing up by hand; and also, UK householders see it as a “luxury” that they have no room for. The first objection has been comprehensively addressed by the industry, and we need to communicate that dishwashers use less energy and less water, save hours of time and are massively more hygienic than the dishcloth-and-teatowel option.

Sharp’s IntelliDos laundry feature gets optimum cleaning with precise detergent and softener dosage

The space problem is peculiarly British, and will be alleviated by newbuild house designs that make space for the dishwasher and put the washing machine conveniently in the utility room. There is a huge amount of puzzlement in Continental Europe about why we would want to wash our clothes and cook in the same room. Manufacturers have also risen to the challenge by producing slimline and compact models which pack in the place settings and deliver outstanding cleaning. Washing machines, as “wet” appliances that are perceived intensive energy users, are also seen as profligate. But, as with dishwashers, this only enhances the opportunity for the industry to show an impressive eco-progression.

Melitta® launches NEW Premium Barista TS Smart® Coffee Machine into UK Retail Coffee specialist Melitta®, part of the family-owned Melitta® Group, launches its NEW premium bean to cup coffee machine into retail – complete with the prestigious Quiet Mark icon in recognition of being among the quietest products on the market. The Barista TS Smart® is fitted with the intuitive Touch & Slide feature to simply and conveniently set and use the coffee machine by gently touching the sensor panels. Complete with a number of added NEW features including the Melitta Connect App – ‘My Coffee & Smart Service’, the Quiet as a Whisper Grinder (Quiet Mark) for quiet grinding with five different grind settings and a super convenient automatic ‘once a year’ cleaning, descaling and flushing programme.

Barista TS Smart® (RRP £1,199) For trade enquires please contact: 01952 671073 www.melitta.co.uk

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Luke Shipway, Product Manager at Caple, is upbeat about the sales opportunities. “For some people,” he says, “certain appliances stand out more than others because their eco credentials are more tangible. With dishwashers and washing machines, consumers can easily understand how using less water per wash can benefit the environment and how quicker and lower temperature cycles are more energy efficient.”

HOT TOPICS The tumble dryer, a hugely useful and convenient appliance in the British climate, also suffers undeservedly in consumers’ eyes. As Laura Davies, Head of Product for Laundry at Belling, says: “There are some products which have a longstanding reputation for being energy guzzlers, one example being the tumble dryer.” She cites her own Belling Sensicare range as an example of how technology has changed all that. “Manufacturers have made significant improvements to the energy performance of tumble dryers,” she says. Heat pump technology is an important advance. “Unlike the majority of dryers on the market, which release the hot air they create via a vent or a condenser unit,” she points out, “heat pump technology re-uses the hot air recycling it through the machine. This means the A++ energy rated tumble dryer uses 50% less energy than a standard class C dryer, saving up to £50 a year in energy bills.”

Indesit A++ eXtra dishwasher with dedicated BabyCare cycle


CARING FOR YOUR FABRIC AND OUR ENVIRONMENT We want to make a change for the better by being the best appliance company in the world, making a positive everyday difference in people’s lives and for our planet. With better technology, you take better care of your clothes and can extend the life of your wardrobe, while reducing your environmental footprint.

ProSense® Technology Built into our 6000, 7000, 8000 & 9000 series washing machine and tumble dryer ranges, ProSense® Technology automatically measures each load to provide a tailored cycle. Your laundry comes out with that fresh, new feeling every time, plus you save time, water and energy.

Part of AEG’s commitment to a sustainable future.

Available at leading retailers now. Find out more at aeg.co.uk/care


SUSTAINABLE PLANET

The new single DishDrawer™ Dishwasher from Fisher & Paykel Great for small households. The DD60SDFHX9 holds 6 Place Settings and is ergonomically designed so you don’t need to bend too much to load, unload, or top up with detergent, rinse aid & salt. Now comes with added programmes, such as Sanitise, which kills 99.9% of bacteria, quick wash to speed up all washes, and an Extra Dry programme to dry plastics. The true benefit, though, is being able to wash small loads quickly, with just enough water. It’s a true half load wash.

www.fisherpaykel.com/uk

08000 886 601

Email: sales@fisherpaykel.co.uk

SUSTAINABLE PLANET ON TAP Cooking is also benefiting Receiving a significant extra boost from technology. Induction from the massive campaign hobs, for example, to reduce single-use plastic have moved into the “Certain bottles, multi-function taps mainstream, affordable appliances stand that can deliver boiling, or space. Sharp’s out more than others near-boiling water, cold Balestrazzi points because their eco water and filtered water out that “the rise in credentials are from a single source, popularity of induction are another expanding hobs has been an more tangible” opportunity. Their speed and industry game-changer, convenience, plus the potential fulfilling demand for a to eliminate the wasteful boiling healthier and more efficient of an electric kettle, have made them way to heat food. Generating an aspirational installation in more and less burnt-off food contaminants, more homes. “There is a growing awareness,” induction reduces the risk of indoor air says Kelly Everest, Marketing Communications pollution, working especially well in smaller at Grohe, “about the environmental impact that kitchens, where there may not be room for products can have and making small changes an extractor hood.” And extractor hoods are around the home that will reduce energy and also in on the eco-friendly act. Falmec Brand water consumption. Filtered water taps also Manager Fiona Barker-Scott recommends provide an eco-friendly alternative to bottled, considering a recirculation system with reducing the user’s carbon footprint and superior filtration. They don’t need external conserving water.” ducting, “thus improving insulation in the Russell Owens, Marketing Director at home” and “preventing wastage from central Zip Water UK, says: “As well as completely heating.” She also advises consumers to “look eliminating the need for a kettle on the out for manufacturers who are offering more countertop, with the added benefit of chilled eco-friendly components, such as regenerable and sparkling water that has 25 times better and long-life recirculating filters.” filtration than a water filter jug, there’s no need Combi microwaves, according to Sharp’s for bottled water…” Bottled water, he says, Balestrazzi, “are also becoming important to can be up to 1,000 times more expensive than the eco trade, using two thirds less power than tap water, it takes three times the amount of electric ovens. One of the cheapest and most water to produce the plastic bottle, and, as efficient cooking methods, combi microwaves we are now constantly and graphically being are now trusted cooking appliances, with some reminded, environmentally unfriendly plastic offering even more cooking room thanks to bottles take 450 years to break down naturally. their flat tray designs.”

SMART SUSTAINABILITY The “connected” or “smart” home is becoming a reality, and is moving – under impetus from appliance manufacturers – into white goods, where its impact on sustainability is an important driver. “The Internet of Things,” says Beko’s Donald Shepherd, “has transformed our world. Our goal is to optimise intelligent, connected technologies to make sustainability relevant and tangible to the daily lives of consumers.” Whirlpool, says Catherine Balderson, is working on Smart Grid-enabled appliances, in the belief that “the strongest trends in appliance development on an eco-level will come from connected and Smart Grid-enabled products.” Smart Grid is, she adds, “essentially an intelligent energy distribution system which communicates with household appliances to ensure a more efficient and cost-effective distribution of electricity. Connected appliances hold the potential to take resource and economic savings to the next level.” A belief reflected by Indesit’s Sarah Bazeley: “We are expecting to see connectivity in appliances to develop significantly in the next couple of years.” She adds that “as connectivity develops the benefits will filter down the price bands to entry level, and this will bring the next functionality and resource saving to entry-level brands.” The unprecedented alignment between commercial and ethical interests is producing a massive field of opportunity for the electrical industry in the UK. Next month in GC Magazine: Our “Cool Planet” feature looks specifically at the fridges and freezers – the “always on” home appliances – where technology is helping reduce energy consumption and reduce waste by keeping food fresher for longer

Touch, Grind and Brew with New Premium Coffee Machine by Melitta® The new CI Touch® by Melitta® is among the all-rounders of Bean to Cup coffee machines with its onetouch function and new touch user panel. With just a simple gesture, four different coffee variations can be selected along with six additional coffee specialities via the recipe book function. Its high-quality, modern touch user interface is augmented with a high-resolution colour TFT display that guides coffee lovers with clear instructions for their respective application. What’s more, the CI Touch® uses the ‘Bean Select’ dual-chamber bean storage compartment which offers space for two different types of beans whilst the Double Cup mode allows two cups to be filled simultaneously. CI Touch® by Melitta® is available in both Silver and Black (RRP: £999.99).

For trade enquires please contact: 01952 671073 www.melitta.co.uk

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ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

Water saving and eliminating the need for plastic bottles are two vital eco reasons for investing in a filtered water tap. And there are great convenience reasons too: filtered water taps make carrying heavy bottles and journeys to the supermarket to load up on bottled water a thing of the past. Add to this the fact that filtered water taps enhance the taste of the water and bring the convenience of having chilled still, sparkling or semi-sparkling water or instant kettle-hot water ‘on tap’ anytime and there are many good reasons for consumers to invest in one!

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ROHE is taking an extra step towards the ideal “Sustainable Planet” with products such as its GROHE Blue Home and GROHE Red filtered water taps, which it hopes will become a popular feature in the modern-day kitchen. GROHE has managed to successfully combine consumer

needs and sustainable living to create products that are far more than the average kitchen gadget while delivering guilt-free enjoyment of water. Water is a precious natural resource and with demands being made on it, such as climate change, economic growth and a growing world population, it will become even more precious. The global demand for water is expected to increase by about 55% by 2050, which means sustainable water management is vital. As well as raising people’s awareness of the importance of water management, the development of intelligent technologies that offer water-saving solutions also play a key role. GROHE’s mission is to develop smart technologies that enable people to use water wisely and sustainably. This technology has been incorporated into smart electrical appliances like the GROHE Blue and Red taps, which save water, energy and reduce the use of plastic water bottles. This is important because, in the long term, bottled water is an unsustainable way to stay hydrated. The two big threats are the CO2 generated during the production of plastic bottles and the damage that waste plastic does to our ecosystems.

The innovative and eco-friendly GROHE Blue® Home water system provides three different types of delicious tasting filtered and chilled water on demand – sparkling, medium and still. Compared to bottled water, the GROHE Blue Home can reduce the contribution to consumers’ carbon footprint by approximately 61%. The newly WRAS-approved GROHE Red water system quickly delivers filtered water at a temperature of up to 99°C so homeowners will never have to wait for the kettle to boil again. As well as being easy to operate it is also very safe, making it the perfect choice for family homes as well as office environments. It is also simple to install, requiring just the space beneath a standard sink, power and water.

FACTS! » A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every

minute. By 2021, consumption is expected to rise by 20%.

» 7.7 billion single-use plastic water bottles are bought in the

UK each year – only just over half make it to recycling. Nonbiodegradable plastic bottles represent a serious problem.

» The bottled water industry is worth ~£2bn per year. » 7 litres of water are required to produce a litre of bottled

water… excludes energy and CO2 emissions.

» 1 recycled plastic bottle would save

enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.

Source: Nottingham University

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SPECIAL FEATURE: RETAIL HEALTH

The group acknowledged that economic conditions in the quarter had generally been better than originally thought, but high personal debt levels, the interest rate rise and Brexit uncertainty all conspired to soften demand and curtail spending at the tills. Dr Tim Denison, head of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “Online retailing has had a seismic impact on the way that retailers approach both Black Friday promotions and the Christmas trading period. High street footfall fell back sharply during the festive period when compared to last year as many consumers avoided the bad weather and stayed home to complete their Christmas shopping.”

FOOTFALL NOSEDIVES

Retail Health How did retail fare over the ‘Golden Quarter’ and what are the predictions for retail health in 2018?

T

he overall health of UK retail dropped one point in the fourth-quarter of 2017 as increased demand during the Black Friday promotional period and the late run-up to Christmas failed to prop up diminishing margins and rising costs. The KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT) said The Retail Health Index (RHI) dropped one point to 80, taking it back to the level it stood at in Q4 2014.

Quarter for the first time in five years. It is also predicted that retail health will drop again in Q1 2018, with Black Friday activity pulling forward-purchases away from the January sales and tougher economic conditions impacting on the spending power of consumers. Of the three main drivers of retail health – demand, margin and cost – it was margin that had the biggest impact on retailers throughout the final quarter of 2017. With

“…it was margin that had the biggest impact on retailers throughout the final quarter of 2017” Despite the positivity of some retailers’ trading results released post-Christmas, the RTT suggested that the detrimental effect of tightening margins and rising costs, coupled with a worsening economic climate and the fragility of consumer confidence, meant the sector delivered a negative performance in what traditionally has been the Golden

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extended promotions and heavy discounting across the sector in the run up to Christmas, margins suffered. Whilst trading results were largely poor across the non-food sector, the RTT was keen to highlight there were retailers that had bucked the trend, with the discounters performing particularly well on the high street.

Figures released at the beginning of February confirmed a slow start to the retail year, causing speculation that the shadow of Black Friday was still looming over the high street. Ipsos Retail Performance, which measures footfall in the non-food store sector, said shopper numbers fell by 6.6% in January compared to the same month last year, and were 27.1% down on December 2017. Stores in South East England and London were worst hit, with footfall down almost 12% compared to last January. In Northern England and Scotland heavy snowfall caused shopper numbers to slump in the second half of the month. This is the ninth consecutive month that store footfall declined compared to the previous year in the UK.

“This is the ninth consecutive month that store footfall declined…”


SPECIAL FEATURE: RETAIL HEALTH

BOXING DAY BLUES FOR DIXONS CARPHONE AS UK&I SALES FALTER Dixons Carphone said that Boxing Day sales did not quite mirror the promise of a very strong Black Friday week in its UK & Ireland electricals business, as it issued its Christmas trading statement for the 10 weeks ended 6 January 2018. Like-for-like revenue in electricals improved by approximately 1% as a result of sales successfully transferred from closed stores. Gross margin in the region fell, mainly due to mobile, while in electricals certain increased costs in margin were due to channel mix. Seb James, Group Chief Executive, whose resignation was announced by the business in January (see page 7 of this issue), said “we are very confident that we grew market share in pretty much every category,” noting particularly strong sales in Large-Screen TVs, Gaming, Smart Tech, and SIM-free phones. Group like-for-like revenue rose 6%, against strong comparables last year, with robust sales in Greece and the Nordics, where like-for-like revenues rose by 23% and 11% respectively. Group like-for-like revenue in the UK & Ireland in a “more cautious consumer environment” grew by 3%. The Group expects to deliver a full-year PBT in the range £365m to £385m (previously £360m to £400m) and, with rather better cash conversion this year, it expects year-end net debt to be c.£250m.

SEASONAL LIFT FOR JOHN LEWIS John Lewis said it “significantly outperformed the market again this year” as it released its trading statement for the six weeks ended 30th December. Gross sales of £1,034m were up 3.6% on last year and 3.1% on a like-for-like basis, outperforming the market by 4.5%, the retailer said. Black Friday was the most successful sales day in the firm’s history and contributed to its biggest week of sales, up 7.2% year on year. Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said the company built on last year’s strong peak-trading performance despite the challenging, highly promotional trading environment. “Across the three product areas there was a particularly good performance in Fashion, up 4.9%, and EHT up 5.0% while Home was down 0.3% as customers were more cautious about bigger purchases for their homes.” Mayfield added that the pressure on margin seen in the first half of the year intensified due to maintaining competitive prices, despite higher costs mainly due to the weaker exchange rate. This, he said, will negatively affect full-year financial results. “Looking ahead to 2018/19 we expect trading to be volatile due to the economic environment and anticipate that competitive intensity will continue, driven by the structural changes taking place in the retail industry.”

“Looking ahead to 2018/19 we expect trading to be volatile due to the economic environment…”

“At the start of the new year there is always much speculation and anticipation about how busy shops will be. This year was no exception, thanks to fears that Black Friday promotions could impact on the Winter Sales, not just pull forward demand from the festive period,” said Ipsos’s Dr Tim Denison. “Retailers reported mixed results on Christmas trading 2017. Whilst fashion brands Primark, Hugo Boss and more recently Joules, have posted positive results, M&S, Tesco and B&Q have all started the year with announcements of job cuts. Sales of high-ticket items have also struggled, strengthening the concern that shoppers would begin the year cautiously. “It’s been well documented that market conditions were exceptionally tough last year, and understandably the British public are remaining watchful as we start 2018. This is building an imperative for retailers to review their business models to operate differently in order to survive.”

LOWEST SALES GROWTH SINCE 2013 The Office for National Statistics confirmed a significant slowdown in retail sales for 2017 as it released the figures for December. Sales during the month increased 1.4% on the same month last year, but fell 1.5% compared with strong sales driven by Black Friday promotions in November. For the entire year, volumes purchased increased by 1.9%, the lowest annual growth since 2013, but the proportion of internet spending continued to rise, with almost one in every five pounds spent online by the end of 2017. ONS Senior Statistician Rhian Murphy said: “Consumers continue to move Christmas purchases earlier, with higher spending in November and lower spending in December

AO WORLD PLC “ON TRACK” IN LATEST TRADING UPDATE Online electrical retailer AO World plc said of the three months to December 2017 (the third quarter of its financial year) that the Group is “on track as it delivers continued revenue growth.” The UK business saw revenue up by 11.4%, and revenue at ao.com up 11.2% year on year. The European business “continued to grow strongly”, with an increase of 58.4% year on year on a constant currency basis (up 62.0% in GBP). Overall Group Revenue increased by 16.6% for the quarter, year on year. “We expect the Group’s performance for the full year to fall within the range of analysts’ expectations, but remain cautious given the uncertain UK economic outlook,” said a Group spokesperson. Steve Caunce, CEO, said sales growth in the UK business was achieved against a “fiercely competitive environment.” Customers in the UK benefitted from Black Friday deals over a two-week period. He added that, looking ahead, the company needs to be “mindful of the uncertain economic outlook particularly in the UK.”

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SPECIAL FEATURE: RETAIL HEALTH

“It may be that retailers will now find themselves caught in a cycle of discounting…” than seen in previous years. However, the longer-term picture is one of slowing growth, with increased prices squeezing people’s spending.”

ONLINE RETAIL SHOWING SIGNS OF MATURING According to figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, average year-on-year online retail sales growth in the UK declined significantly, from 15.9% in 2016 to 12.1% in 2017, and is expected to fall to around 9% by the end of 2018. Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG, said a fall in growth for 2017 was forecast, though it turned out to be sharper than expected. December’s year-on-year growth, at 9.1%, represented the year’s lowest and reflected the changing shape of Christmas shopping as sales were pulled forward into October and November by Black Friday, a trend which has been ongoing since 2014, when the sales event was widely adopted by UK retailers and consumers. The Index performance in 2016 was largely driven by strong sales growth through smartphones, but this slowed in 2017, with average growth of 77% from July to December falling to 50% year on year. Growth via tablets also stalled, rising just 0.7% in 2017. IMRG said growth for all devices is expected to slow further in 2018. “The macro economic factors – rising inflation, low wage growth, rise in the interest rate etc. – are likely to have been influential, and the first half of 2018 may be challenging too: discounting in the lead-up to Black Friday

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started deep into October in 2017 and has been widely available ever since,” Opie commented. “It may be that retailers will now find themselves caught in a cycle of discounting, which also happened in 2011 and 2015 and will probably extend long after the January sales, as the trading climate is tough at the moment.”

MORE ONLINE RETAILERS TURN TO BRICKS-AND-MORTAR According to a report from global real estate advisor Colliers International, a growing number of formerly “pure-play” online retailers are taking physical stores as the rate of internet sales growth looks set to slow during the next few years.

accelerate as increased online competition and lower rates of sales growth require them to find a competitive edge.”

CONSOLIDATION Dr Felicity Hardley, Senior Lecturer in marketing and business strategy at Westminster Business School, said 2018 may be the year of consolidation in retail. “The explosion of online businesses in every category means the slice of the market for different competitors is shrinking. For retailers that rely on shifting large volumes to meet profit targets, the likelihood of survival is also getting slimmer. Competitors not only need to think innovatively to compete in both spheres,

“The trend for pure-plays to take physical stores will undoubtedly accelerate…” By 2021, says the report, the rate of growth in e-commerce sales is forecast to decline from 11% to 7%, and online retailers are “increasingly using physical stores to bolster their sales and their brands.” In a fresh take on the showrooming phenomenon – until now understood by retailers in the UK to mean the practice of consumers using physical retail stores to look at products and get advice from staff, then going away to buy online at a cheaper price – pure-play online retailers are setting up their own bricks-and-mortar outlets as showrooms. “The primary intention of these stores,” said Colliers, “is not necessarily to generate sales through the tills but to reinforce customer loyalty – and spending – online.” It’s also noted in the research that this increasing presence of pure-plays on the High Street is being supplemented by a growing number of brands such as Samsung, Dyson and Volkswagen which previously sold through stockists but are now looking to go direct to the consumer through their own store networks. Colliers’ Head of Forecasting & Research Mark Charlton said: “The trend for pure-plays to take physical stores will undoubtedly

but may also need to think about how to outlive rivals.” Maureen Hinton, group research director, GlobalData Retail, said non-food retailers are the casualty of changing consumer demand. “With incomes being squeezed and leisure spending prioritised there is less money for discretionary purchases, leading to overcapacity in the market. This is behind much of the heavy discounting in 2017 and, with increasing costs, margins are narrowing further. “We are likely to see more casualties in 2018, as conditions will not improve.”


FROM THE BENCH

FROM THE BENCH

TV SCREEN TECHNOLOGIES As curved screens and 3D displays decline in the market, Alan Bennett describes the latest innovations in TV displays

OF

all the product categories we deal in, TV is perhaps the biggest, and direct-view displays continue to evolve. Some of them have been given the thumbs-down by the public; some show promise; while new developments come along, perhaps to stay...

QLED One which has caught on in recent months is Samsung’s QLED concept. This has been developed from the longer-established Quantum Dot technology (see my column in the July 2016 issue) in which tiny nanocrystals are used to regenerate light and colour for better purity and greater brightness. QLED takes this a stage further with a metallic admix in the quantum dots: this refinement improves image performance, and lends itself well to HDR (High Dynamic Range) systems, described in our March 2017 issue. QLED screens’ backlights radiate more widely than conventional ones, increasing the screen’s viewing angle. QLED’s potential for eliminating backlighting, called Pure QLED, involves self-emitting quantum dots to facilitate good black level, but this has not yet been implemented in production; thus current QLED screens cannot match OLED types in the reproduction of absolute black.

TALKING SCREENS Another development which has recently come to market is the ’talking screen’ developed by LG (Crystal Sound) and Sony (Acoustic Surface) and embodied, for instance, in the latter’s Bravia A1 models. Here the screen surface itself is made to vibrate by two or four actuators on its rear, in some ways similar to planar headphones and loudspeakers. This is a stereo/’3D’ system so that the sound follows the motion across the screen, especially effective in very large ones where the sound source and picture features can be some feet apart with conventional speakers. There’s no visible detriment to the image, but the technique is confined to OLED types. Even though the screen has a large surface area, normally conducive to bass reproduction, its range of movement is necessarily constricted; this limits the sound in volume, and to the mid-range and high frequencies, so that a separate subwoofer is still required. In the Sony models it is incorporated in a 6cm rear-facing unit which can double as a stand for the screen.

ROLL-UP SCREEN Presented at CES 2018 by LG was their prototype 65-inch roll-up direct-view screen, an OLED type with UHD/4K resolution. It rolls quietly up out of a box (also housing the picture-processing electronics and speakers) and has three stoppoints: fully up for 16:9 pictures; part-retracted for a cinema-style 21:9 image with no letterboxing black bars above or below; and further down (‘low-profile’) to leave a long narrow display strip, for instance to show weather forecasts, news headlines, text and graphic displays, sports scores, music titles etc. Apart from stand-alone mounting on a table or shelf the box could be incorporated in various types of furniture so that it would not be visible until it actually comes into operation. In these ways it combines the advantages of direct-view and projection systems without the need to darken the room, and gets rid of the obtrusive blind black rectangle of a switched-off TV screen in the room. There are no plans to market this type of screen in the immediate future, but we may see it commercially in the next year or two: it will be expensive, and people are cost-conscious, especially in the present financial environment…

THE WALL Another innovative screen technique was demonstrated at CES 2018: Samsung’s ‘Wall’. It’s based on a modular concept, in which the screen

is broken down into small modules which can be stacked together to build up into any required size. These building blocks have no bezels so that a large screen appears virtually seamless at normal viewing distances. The one shown at CES was over 10' wide and almost 6' tall (146"/3.7m diagonal), one which would be difficult to transport and install in conventional direct-view form, and would offer advantages (not financial ones!) over projection systems: indeed it is designed with home-cinema enthusiasts primarily in mind. The modular construction is not the only advanced feature of this prototype of Samsung’s, who alone amongst the leading setmakers have no large OLED TVs in production now. Here the pixels are made of microLEDs, non-organic Gallium Nitride semiconductors which can be made very small for this screen size, at present 0.8mm as opposed to >1mm for OLED elements. They also have a higher peak brightness of 2000 nits, more than OLEDs and comparable with the best LCD-based panels using LED backlights. This high brightness capability is very good for HDR reproduction, coming one day to TV broadcasting and already available in other media. MicroLEDs can be turned fully off to render true black, making for a (claimed) contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 (really now it depends on the ambient lighting), and promise a long operational life. All this would be good in more conventional, smaller one-piece picture panels, and Samsung may move in this direction at some stage in the future, perhaps. Meanwhile, the Wall is expected to go on sale some time this year or next, initially in a 75-inch size, no doubt at a high price!

Samsung ‘Wall’ 146-inch modular screen

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GEORGE COLE

 georgecole@gcmagazine.co.uk

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

This year’s CES show in Las Vegas gave us a good idea about the features and technologies television manufacturers will be pushing this year. The good news for retailers is that there are plenty of things to encourage consumers to upgrade their TVs, even those with 4K Ultra HD sets. But the bad news is that some developments might cause some people to hold off buying a new television.

8K Many consumers are still getting their heads around 4K TVs (and let’s be honest, some people are still unclear about what Full HD means), so the arrival of 8K will doubtless cause some head scratching. At CES, LG showed an 88-inch 8K set, while Samsung displayed an 85-inch version. 8K sets offer 7680 x 4320 resolution, compared with 3840 x 2160 for 4K, and 1920 x 1080 for Full HD. In other words, an 8K set has four times more pixels than a 4K set and 16 times more than Full HD. The result: images with stunning clarity. Well, that would be the case if you fed these sets true 8K picture sources. As things stand, there are no plans for 8K broadcasts (we’re still waiting for 4K from the mainstream TV channels) and even Ultra HD Blu-ray discs “only” offer 4K quality. Expect many - if not most - large screen sets over 65-inches in size to offer 8K by the end of the year. And also expect the only source of near-8K quality video to be upscaled 4K content.

OLED VERSUS LED Remember when consumers had to choose between plasma and LCD flat screen displays? Now, the battle has moved onto OLED (championed by LG) and LED (Samsung’s preference). LG showed an 88-inch OLED set, while Samsung proudly displayed a 146-inch modular TV dubbed The Wall (see From the Bench, page 25). The Wall uses MicroLED technology. Conventional LED sets are, in fact, LCD displays with LED backlighting, but MicroLED sets use microscopic, self-emitting LEDS. These are claimed to offer better contrast, faster response times, greater energy efficiency and improved contrast and dynamic range when compared with standard LCD sets.

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“...an 8K set has four times more pixels than a 4K set and 16 times more than Full HD. The result: images with stunning clarity.”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Proof that few things are new in consumer electronics can be discerned from the fact that MicroLED technology is almost twenty years old and, back in 2012, Sony unveiled a prototype 65-inch set (called Crystal LED) at CES, which used the same technology.

HDMI 2.1 The latest HDMI specification was released late last year and will start appearing on televisions this year. Most sets offer HDMI 2.0 connections. HDMI 2.1 is about future-proofing, and while it’s true that the future often arrives sooner than we think in consumer electronics, this really is one feature that television buyers need not lose too much sleep over today. HDMI 2.1 includes support for up to 10K resolution and 120 frames-per-second video. Bandwidth jumps from 18Gbps for HDMI 2.0 to 48Gbps, sufficient for uncompressed 8K video with HDR. New HDMI 2.1 cables will be available and doubtless carry a price premium (they will be backwards compatible with existing HDMI standards), but the message for consumers is: you won’t need to worry about HDMI 2.1 for some time yet.

Move over Smart TVs: AI is the buzzword for television this year. Many television manufacturers are incorporating artificial intelligence technology into their sets, some of them using technology from Google or Amazon; others deploying proprietary technology. AI will offer features such as voice control (for, say, switching channels or selecting video sources); super-smart search features and even intelligent upscaling, whereby the set “learns” how to upscale content for the optimum results. The public has taken smart speaker technology to its heart, and so TVs offering AI are bound to be a good sales proposition.

NOVELTY LG got a lot of publicity with its 65-inch OLED set that can be rolled up and down like a roller blind. It’s an impressive technical achievement, although it’s interesting to note that the company has no immediate plans to put it on the market. One suspects that there is a hefty price for such technology, which is why I believe it will appear in places such as high-end, luxury hotels long before we see it on the high street.


75” HD launched Ultra HD 4K TV launched 75” Ultra Ultra HD 4K 4K TV TV launched & by Mitchell & Brown Mitchell & Brown Brown by Mitchell

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TEL: 01204 324 325 EMAIL: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk TEL: 01204 324 325 EMAIL: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk TEL: 01204 324 325sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk EMAIL: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk 1204 324 325 EMAIL:

James House, Unit 36, Waters Meeting Industrial Estate, Britannia Way, Bolton, BL2 2HH James House, Unit 36, Waters Meeting Industrial Estate, Britannia Way, Bolton, BL2 2HH James House, Unit 36, Waters Meeting Industrial Estate, Britannia Way, Bolton, 2HH ouse, Unit 36, Waters Industrial Estate, Britannia Way,www.mitchellandbrown.co.uk Bolton, BL2 BL2 2HH Tel: 01204 324 325 Meeting Email: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk Web: Tel: 01204 324 325 Email: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk Web: www.mitchellandbrown.co.uk 01204 324 325 Email: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk Web: www.mitchellandbrown.co.uk 4 325 Tel:Email: sales@mitchellandbrown.co.uk Web: www.mitchellandbrown.co.uk


THE POWER BEHIND THE BRANDS

Award winning supplier for independent retailers

SDA supplier of the year 2017 Award

WINNER

Bira Direct Best Marketing 2017 Award

WINNER

Updated with 100s of new products and ranges - Out now!

New 2018 catalogue out now! To request your free copy please call 0844 557 3700 or email: marketing@connect-distribution.co.uk

t: 0844 557 3700 www.connect-distribution.co.uk Connect Distribution Services Ltd, Connect House, Small Heath Business Park, Talbot Way, Birmingham, B10 0HJ

Get Connected Magazine - Jan/Feb 2018  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Goods Industry. The sharpest, freshest, most relevant and commercially aware electrical trade...

Get Connected Magazine - Jan/Feb 2018  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Goods Industry. The sharpest, freshest, most relevant and commercially aware electrical trade...