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AUGUST 2018

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

INSIDE:

HOME ENTERTAINMENT We’ve come a long way from three “watch it or miss it” TV channels and music on vinyl, tape or CD. George Cole looks at the current home entertainment choices bonanza, and the opportunities it provides

TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING Shrinking homes and expanding consumer expectations mean manufacturers and retailers have huge opportunities to show how modern appliances can deliver big performance in smaller spaces

GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED If the CD is on its way out, what’s the replacement? And signs that even digital downloads are becoming “old school”

FROM THE BENCH Headphones: Alan Bennett looks at a sophisticated and choice-rich part of the accessories market in the UK


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CONTENTS

INSIDE... 04

Editorial Comment

06 The Word

In and around the industry

11 14

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

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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.

George Cole Gets Connected Who’s buying CDs, and are music downloads on their way out?

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Product Gallery

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Town & Apartment Living Homes are getting smaller, but consumers still want it all. It’s a huge opportunity for manufacturers and retailers

20 From the Bench

Alan Bennett looks at the growing and diversifying headphones market

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Home Entertainment There’s a brave new world of consumer expectation about how technology can keep on enhancing the home entertainment experience. George Cole looks at the opportunities

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EDITORIAL COMMENT

There is no such thing as “THE HIGH STREET.” Something the late Margaret Thatcher might have said. But it’s true, and we have been saying so in these columns for years. No matter how many “experts”, gurus, Government panels, enquiries, reports and Daily Mail (and other publications’) Campaigns throw themselves at it, no initiative that has a mission to “Save the High Street” will ever succeed.

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he reason is, as we’ve said so many times before, that High Streets are all different. Why they’re there in the first place, and how they serve – or fail to serve – their local community, are factors unique to each High Street, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution because there’s no universal High Street blueprint. Mary Portas’ ill-fated campaign speaks for itself. Bill Grimsey is on his second report, with no evidence that the first one did anything to help. The simple fact is that High Streets, as shopping destinations, decline when people stop shopping there. Why that happens is complex, but ultimately boils down to this: 1). High Streets don’t have what consumers want to buy; or 2). Consumers are buying what they want somewhere else. Given that demand for TVs, white goods, clothes, food and drink doesn’t seem to have gone away, it must be that consumers are getting these things somewhere other than on their local High Street. This is not “disaster” (as Bill Grimsey in his latest report calls it.) It’s evolution. And evolution produces extinction events. We’re seeing that now, and having a juggler and a band on a Saturday for a “fun family day out” will not – as we have already seen – reverse the evolutionary process. One thing Mr Grimsey did get right is that “Westminster can’t save the High Street….” But we already knew that. Likewise, we know that greedy local councils are accelerating decline with parking charges and over-inflated business rates. But, like all elected politicians, they think short-term and would rather rake in the money now than take any bold longer-term decisions that might work, but would come to fruition in the future, when some other politician could take the credit. Why Bill Grimsey believes that devolution of powers and responsibilities to local government would get better results than Westminster is difficult to understand. If there’s anything better known for corruption, self-seeking, cronyism, profiteering, mendacity, incompetence, arrogance and abuse of office than central government, it’s local government. This comes to light nationally from time to time (as in the Council of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea after the

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Grenfell Tower disaster), but mostly nobody notices or cares – beyond the British pastime of mild grumbling. We’re not saying local councils are all the same, but, again, each has individual characteristics and the seeds of success or failure are specific to the location. No matter how many surveys of consumers suggest they’d go to their High Street more if it had an artisan baker, a family butcher, a specialist greengrocer and a wet fish shop, we know that’s not actually true. High Streets had all of these things, and lost them because not enough people patronised them: the principle of “use it or lose it” demonstrated. In any case, thinking the only way to succeed is to somehow recreate the “golden age” of the British High Street is very wrong-headed. We have to accept that “revitalisation” may well not include a broad mix of bricks-and-mortar outlets retailing a range of goods. The “High Street experience” looks, in many cases, to be more about a mix of coffee shops, restaurants and two-bed flats. That’s evolution, and we have to face the fact of extinction for some types of retail outlet. Offering an “experience,” a “social hub” for the community is a good concept. But judging by a pedestrianised, smartened-up but still rather desolate high street near me, a lot of its current denizens seem to bring their own experiences.

Rather than engaging with people who are actually there with them, they “socialise” by smartphone with people who are not actually there, and get entertained by watching youtube videos of a kitten with its head stuck in a teacup or some lunatic cementing his head into a microwave. This is not a counsel of despair, but of reality. If politicians (national or local), gurus, experts, consultants can’t help us (because they either know nothing and care less about retail, or have left it to make a better living standing on the sidelines and telling us why we’re doing it all wrong), who can? The answer is what it’s always been (and will be again after politicians have made a total balls-up of Brexit, for example): businesses will have to pick up the pieces, get on with it and find ways to help themselves. Business people (including retailers) know more about business than politicians or consultants, and the need to make a living by actually doing something, rather than telling someone else how to do it, concentrates the mind wonderfully. The beauty of this self-help philosophy is that every retailer knows his business, his customer-base and his individual location and circumstances better than anyone else. There is no such thing as “THE High Street,” but there is definitely such a thing as “THIS High Street.”


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THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE DROPS TWO POINTS C

onsumer confidence fell two points in June on a marked deterioration in optimism about the general state of the economy. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index dropped to -9, with declines across all measures. Sentiment on the general state of the economy in the past 12 months and for the coming 12 months sent both measures tumbling four points, while the major purchase index – an indication of consumers’ propensity to spend on big-ticket items such as electricals – fell one point to zero, at a time when Britain’s challenged retail sector is headline news. “Shoppers are holding on to their cash, and consumers in general seem set on their path of self-imposed austerity,” said Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK. “When will the strong jobs market and low interest rates boost the economic mood? That’s the key to confidence increasing more generally.” The Overall Index Score has now registered zero or negative for 30 months and Staton pointed to the contrast with 2015, when there was a full year of positive numbers. “The trend since those 2015 figures has been resolutely downwards and it’s difficult to see the direction changing in the run-up to the UK leaving the European Union in March 2019,” he commented.

DIXONS CARPHONE CHIEF “CONFIDENT” IN LONG-TERM PROSPECTS

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ixons Carphone has reported annual pretax profits of £382 million, down from £500 million in 2016/17, as per the Group’s trading statement at the end of May in which it announced the closure of 92 stores. Group revenue for the year to 28th April rose 4% to £10.5bn on a like-for-like basis, with the UK & Ireland accounting for £6.6bn of this – a like-for-like rise of 2% on 2016/17. The company said that challenges in the UK mobile market continued – fewer upgrades and contractual constraints – and the margin in electricals was impacted in the second half largely by category and channel mix. Business in the Nordics and Greece fared better with respective rises of 9% and 11%. Group Chief Executive Alex Baldock, who joined the company in April this year, said: “Recent events have underlined that we have plenty of work to do, and it will take time, but I’m even more confident than the day I took the job in our long-term prospects.”

BIG-SCREEN TVS HELP LIFT RETAIL SALES Demand for beer, barbecues and bigscreen TVs helped to drive an increase in retail sales in June as the nation basked in stupefying temperatures and the blush of World Cup fever.

UK

retail sales increased 1.1% on a like-for-like basis compared to 1.2% in the same month last year. Total sales rose 2.3% against an increase of 2.0% in June 2017. Although above the 3-month and 12-month averages of 1.2% and 1.5% respectively, BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said the performance was “not sensational.” Beer, barbecues and big TVs may have lifted sales, but spending on many other items fell. “The reality is that sales don’t grow on the feel-good factor alone. With household incomes still barely growing faster than inflation, conditions for consumers and retailers remain extremely tough. And things could get tougher. Once the euphoria of sporting success subsides; without a deal on Brexit, shoppers face the prospect of significant price increases and shortages of everyday goods.”

UNIDENTIFIABLE FIRE-RISK APPLIANCES PUTTING LIVES AT RISK

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hich? is calling for the Office for Product Safety and Standards to include commitments in its forthcoming strategy to ensure that manufacturers use fireproof labelling on all of their appliances so that unsafe white goods can be identified and removed from consumers’ homes. The consumer magazine said people’s lives are potentially being put at risk as fire officers are increasingly unable to identify the make and model of appliances that cause fires.

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It follows an analysis of the most recent UK fire data, which shows there were 3,203 fires caused by faulty appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge freezers between 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017, but fire investigators could only identify information about the brand or appliance model in 33% (1,044 in 2016/17) of fires. Which? said this is a significant drop on the previous three years, when fire investigators were able to identify the make and model in almost half of fires,

and means it is becoming even harder for the authorities to link dangerous products to domestic fires and gather the evidence necessary to initiate a product recall. “This critical flaw means that fire statistics cannot currently be used by bodies such as Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety and Standards to hold the manufacturers of these unsafe products accountable,” said Which? Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said: “The number of fires caused by faulty

washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge freezers has stayed shockingly high for a number of years, but our research shows it’s getting harder to identify the make and model of the appliance in the majority of instances. “The Government must set out in its forthcoming product safety strategy how it will ensure that manufacturers use fireproof labelling on all of their appliances, so that identified dangerous white goods can be quickly removed from people’s homes and potentially save lives.”


THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS

Tim Taylor

Smeg UK has announced the appointment of Tim Taylor as Regional Sales Manager, responsible for developing distributor and key kitchen studios’ relationships in the north of England and Scotland. Taylor has previously worked with well-known distributors and manufacturers and has a number of years’ experience in the appliance industry. He will report to Stuart Benson, Head of Built In.

InSinkErator® has appointed Anne Kaarlela to the role of Marketing Communications Manager for Europe and Russia. She joins the food waste disposer and steaming hot water tap manufacturer with a background in marketing communications and brand development, having worked in both inhouse and agency roles.

Anne Kaarlela

THE WORD

Hoover Candy Group has appointed Nick Platt as business director for built-in appliances, responsible for maximising trading opportunities with retailers and ensuring the built-in product portfolio offers “real points of difference”. Platt has almost 20 years’ experience and has held various positions in distribution and retailing across the kitchen, bathroom, electricals and appliance industries.

Nick Platt

Tim Griffin has been appointed managing director of the Exertis Group and divisional managing director of DCC Technology. Exertis is the trading name of DCC Technology, one of the four divisions of DCC plc, an international sales, marketing and support services group. In his new position, Griffin will assume global responsibility for the strategic direction and performance of Exertis as it builds on its success and geographic expansion. He will report to Donal Murphy, CEO of DCC plc.

Tim Griffin

Field Sales Representative/Sales Agents – Consumer Electronics Industry Salary £40K+, including Commission & Bonuses Location: Nationwide (not including Scotland)

Big Brands, Dynamic Sales

Big Red Sales Ltd are looking for additional Field Sales Representatives to join their existing national sales team which is growing due to the continued success of the business and an additional new well-known brand.

Big Red Sales is 10 years old and our structure needs to expand to prepare for the pre-Christmas selling season and onwards into 2019! Our company works with blue chip brands such as Sennheiser, Morphy Richards, Vogel’s, Dual, Loewe, Revo, Mitchell & Brown and Gallo Acoustics within the consumer electronics industry. The company have a unique concept in the UK, following a well-known practice in the USA and Europe, where the manufacturers are provided with a dynamic, out sourced, efficient route to market.

You must be a dynamic self-starter, driven by success and possess a strong knowledge of consumer electronics products. You will have experience of FMCG selling principles and also regional key accounts experience. You will need to be able to plan the overall sales strategy for your area, including promotional activity, to ensure that new and existing product lines are communicated effectively. Importantly you will have a record of achieving/exceeding your targets and will have the following skills and experience:

• Knowledge and interest in consumer electronics • A good communicator, both verbal and written with good computer skills • A full UK driving licence This could be the stepping stone you need to make your mark in a growing and successful industry, either as PAYE or self-employed. If you’ve got what it takes send your CV to jo@bigredsales.co.uk or call her on 01344 899023.

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WHIRLPOOL SHAFTED BY EMEA REGION W hirlpool Corporation has reported second-quarter sales down from $5.35 billion to $5.14 billion and a loss of $657 million compared to a profit of $189 million in the same quarter last year. The company said its results were negatively impacted by approximately $860 million, which included asset impairment charges related to Whirlpool Europe, Middle East and Africa and a preliminary settlement with the French Competition Authority. Following a weak performance in the EMEA area, Whirlpool said it is taking “strong actions” to restore profitability in the second half of 2018. The region posted second-quarter net sales of $1.1 billion, compared to $1.2 billion in the same prior-year period. Excluding the impact of

currency, sales declined by 12.3%. An EBIT loss of $25 million, compared to a loss of $2 million in Q2 2017, was recorded. Whirlpool said the favourable impacts of product price/mix and restructuring benefits were more than offset by unit volume declines, raw material inflation and unfavourable foreign currency impacts. In its outlook for the full-year 2018 the company revised its adjusted profits downwards, stating that favourable product price/mix and share repurchases are expected to be more than offset by lower global revenue growth, increased expectations for global cost inflation, and a weaker than expected performance in the EMEA region. Whirlpool now expects ongoing earnings per diluted share of $14.20 to $14.80.

PROFITS RISE BUT LG CAUTIOUS FOR SECOND HALF

LG

Electronics has reported consolidated global sales of KRW 15.02 trillion and operating profits of KRW 771 billion for the second quarter of 2018. Sales rose 3.2% while operating profits increased 16.1% from the same period last year. Strong profitability from home appliances & air solutions and premium home entertainment products offset second-quarter operating losses from vehicle components and mobile communications. First-half 2018 sales and operating profits were at all-time record highs. Revenues increased 3.2% to KRW 30.14 trillion and operating income rose 18.5% to KRW 1.88 trillion. LG said that in light of uncertainties surrounding market conditions, competition and the international trade landscape going forward, it enters the second half of the year with an intense focus on cost competitiveness and profitable growth.

Letter to the Editor Independent electrical retailer Andrew Foord of Foord Electrical Centre, who has been serving his local community in the Romney Marsh area of Kent since the early ‘80s, responds to a letter published in the June/July issue of Get Connected in which Big Red Sales founder John Reddington shared some of his shopping experiences (particularly in regard to shirts with top pockets):

I

always look forward to your excellent publication arriving in the post as its articles are so relative and interesting. The letter from the ever “glass full to the brim” Mr John Reddington made me smile. I wonder if he saw the irony? He being a great promoter of the independent. When shopping for new shirts did he look at an independent men’s outfitters for them as his first choice? No. He only went to that shop because the large store did not stock what he required – if they had, he would never have purchased from the independent. Sadly, this is an everyday occurrence. The majority of the enquiries we receive are either for obscure products, or the installation is difficult, bad access, bad plumbing etc. or from the very elderly who are unable to cope with a new appliance and expect free call backs when they simply forget how to operate the item purchased. I wonder when Mr Reddington needs to buy other items of clothing like socks or underwear, will he return to the independent? Very sadly, many of our customers, no matter how good a service we have provided, return to the large stores first, believing they are cheaper or more convenient. When the internet/large stores can’t supply, or they have a problem or need free advice, that’s when the consumer thinks of the independent. As we know, without the support of conventional sales, offering all the benefits you have when purchasing from an independent become harder to maintain. Yours, Andrew Foord Foord Electrical Centre John Reddington’s letter can be viewed online via this link https://bit.ly/2NROnsv

CANDY GROUP OPENS PRODUCTION UNIT FOR “INTELLIGENT” APPLIANCES Candy Group has officially opened a new production unit in Eskişehir, North-West Turkey, following an investment of €15 million in a property already owned by the Group. The new facility has an estimated annual production capacity of around 800,000 units and will employ 300 workers. It has been created to develop a new high-efficiency production process aimed at creating smart appliances and is the Candy Group’s second production unit in Turkey.

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THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS

NEW RESEARCH REVEALS AMAZON’S RETAIL DOMINANCE N

ew research released by global eCommerce consultancy Salmon reveals the level of online behemoth Amazon’s retail domination and its continuing influence on consumer shopping behaviours. The Future Shopper study, published on Amazon’s Prime Day, shows that the retailer leads as consumers’ preferred starting point for shopping and it is also where consumers complete the majority of their online purchases. Over 3,500 people who shop online in the UK and US were surveyed for the report. Top findings of the study included: • 35% of all UK online spend goes through Amazon, 52% in the US • 51% of shoppers start their journey on Amazon (compared to 16% on Google) and 55% purchase their goods on Amazon, showing where you start is usually where you finish your shop • Price (64%) and free delivery (54%) is considered more important than brand (39%)

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SHORTCUTS InSinkErator® has invested in a dedicated UK distribution base to improve customer service levels and support the company's growth. The new facility in Milton Keynes will offer new and improved services including reduced lead times and direct delivery to customers.

Loewe’s range of OLED Ultra HD TV displays are now available within the cloud-based design software tool The Cinema Designer (TCD), enabling integrators to create technically accurate media room designs with full documentation in minutes.

Indesit is offering consumers six months’ free supply of Ariel washing liquid or Ariel 3in1 pods with the purchase of selected appliances from its laundry range. The offer runs until 30th September 2018.

Hotpoint is offering consumers a free sixmonth supply of either Ariel washing liquid or 3in1 PODs with purchases of selected laundry appliances. The promotion runs until 20th September 2018 and applies both to washing machines and washer dryers.

Acoustic Energy has appointed Mian Audio Distribution as its dealer support specialist for UK independent retailers. Mian has also taken on the UK sales and distribution for specialist Hi-Fi manufacturer Leema Acoustics.

InSinkErator®, supplier of food waste disposers and steaming hot water taps, has joined the Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG) as a new supplier.

• 72% of consumers are more likely to shop with retailers that are digitally innovative – up from 60% in 2017 • 57% of shoppers are now prepared to use Programmatic Commerce™ (automated shopping technology using IoT-connected devices) compared to 46% in 2017 and only 10% in 2016 • Shoppers who don’t start their journey on Amazon or Google are more likely to shop on: eBay (11%), a retailer’s website (7%), the brand’s own website (6%) or social media sites (3%) • Amazon’s delivery services – Prime and Prime Now – have also had an impact on delivery expectations, with 22% of consumers now expecting same-day delivery and 43% expecting delivery within 24 hours Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Innovation and Consultancy at Salmon, said: “While Amazon’s dominance of the online retail market is no secret, few could have predicted how it has become not only the starting point in the online shopping journey, but also the predominant channel for product purchase. It’s clear that Amazon has set the standard for consumer expectations with its focus on price, delivery and innovation.” Jat Sahi, Digital Lead for Retail at Fujitsu, said the research underlines how much consumer expectations have shifted as a result of digital disruption in retail. “Retailers such as Amazon have set new standards for convenience and low prices and as a result over half of consumers start their shopping journey on Amazon. This statistic represents a mandate for transformation. In a dynamic retail climate where structural issues such as inflation and low wage growth are also taking their toll, retailers need to make fundamental changes.” Sahi believes the way forward is highlighted by the growing consumer appetite for a “technologically augmented” shopping experience. “This is a huge opportunity for retailers to tap into the two key drivers of 21st century retail spending, convenience and experience,” he said. “For example, connecting the consumer journey across mobile, desktop and in-store can offer new ways to make shopping more seamless, while technology such as augmented reality can create a more immersive browsing experience.” Sahi added that Fujitsu’s own research found that only half of retailers have a digital strategy in place to develop a superior customer journey.

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EPE INTERNATIONAL EXPANDS DISTRIBUTION Bradford-based SDA distributor EPE International has acquired a new 50,000 sq ft warehouse unit after outgrowing its current distribution centre.

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he new building at Euroway Trading Estate in Bradford will help the firm boost distribution capacity to accommodate the growth it has experienced since its launch in 2003. The business has 60 staff and a turnover in excess of £20 million. Plans are in place to hire a further 20 people across different business functions and the company is reviewing opportunities for “strategic acquisitions” to help develop its market share. The expansion was supported by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking by way of a £3 million loan.

@GC_Team

COMMUNITY SPIRIT…

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ughes Electrical has stepped in to help a local preschool create a special herb garden to assist with pupils’ sensory experiences. The company provided the necessary plants, pots and compost, and volunteered some labour too. Hughes’ Tom Hunn is pictured helping one of the pupils get to grips with the planting.

TP VISION PARTNERS WITH BOWERS & WILKINS

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EPE International and Lloyds Bank teams with MP for Bradford South Judith Cummins (far right)

icensee for Philips TV, TP Vision, and British audio engineering company Bowers & Wilkins have agreed a new multi-year exclusive partnership to create products that set new reference visual and audio performance standards in the TV market – a move that is said to be “one of the most exciting developments in the television sector for some time,” according to the two companies. The partnership will bring together the technologies and expertise of both businesses and will enable the sharing of internal engineering resources. Martijn Smelt, Chief Marketing Officer for TP Vision, said the industry has allowed sound quality to be the “poor relation” when considering TV performance for far too long. The first experience of the potential of the new partnership will be unveiled at IFA in Berlin later this year.

EXCLUSIVELY SHOW EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS BIG RED SALES EXPANDS FURTHER WITH NEW TV BRAND

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ationwide sales agency Big Red Sales has added Boltonbased TV brand Mitchell & Brown to its portfolio of clients. Mitchell & Brown’s 29-strong range of TVs includes LED models ranging from 24”to 75” featuring T2 Freeview HD, Smart, 4K UHD and Freeview Play built in. Big Red Sales founder John Reddington said: “Mitchell & Brown is one of the most exciting new brands in consumer electronics. Their models have been carefully selected, providing the latest technology with great designs at affordable prices. And their 7-year warranty is second to none. “We are delighted to be adding them to our current list of top brand manufacturers, as we know their products will be highly attractive to our customer base of 1,000-plus retailers.”

GOOD CAUSES REWARDED BY STOVES

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inners of the latest Stoves Community Kitchens campaign have been announced by the cooking brand following the reopening of entries earlier this year. The £10,000 campaign, which aims to help local community projects and has been running since 2015, saw applications “flood in” from across the UK and more 5,000 votes cast by the public. The first prize of £5,000 worth of cooking appliances went to Kentish Town City Farm in Camden, London. Dunbar-based charity The Ridge’s Sunny Soups came second, winning £3,000 worth of appliances. And in third place, receiving £2,000 worth of appliances, was St. Helens-based community project Ashtons Greens Community Allotments.

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rganiser of the 2018 Exclusively Electricals & Exclusively Housewares has said this year’s event “exceeded even our high expectations” after reporting a significant increase in buyer attendance. Show Director Simon Boyd said: “The results are in and visitor numbers are up by an impressive 10%.” He labelled the June event “a sell-out show of leading proactive exhibitors” and said: “The show team are delighted with the mix and quality of retailers that attended.” This year’s show was supported by more than 150 leading exhibitors

including 32 new ones in housewares, tabletop and small domestic appliances, offering numerous new products and brands. Boyd said the event “embraced many new retailers who are championing new and evolving routes to market, alongside large respected high street names and, of course, our hardworking and determined independents, embracing change from all corners of the UK.” The 2019 Exclusively Show will take place at the Business Design Centre, London on 11th and 12th June.

ONKYO & PIONEER CORP. TRANSFERS EUROPEAN BUSINESS TO AQIPA

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nkyo & Pioneer Corporation and Austrian-headquartered CE distributor Aqipa GmbH have announced an agreement for the transfer of business activities relating to the hi-fi and home cinema brands Pioneer, Onkyo, Integra, Teac and Esoteric to Aqipa. The deal, which applies to all European markets, is said to be worth around €140 million in revenue. All business activities relating to sales, marketing, after sales service, customer care, finance, spare parts and distribution for the aforementioned hi-fi and home cinema brands in Europe will be transferred to Aqipa with effect from 1st October 2018.


GEORGE COLE

 georgecole@gcmagazine.co.uk

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

CD OR NOT CD?

“YouGov found that 53% of CD fans were over 55, with just 6 in the 16-24 bracket.”

THAT IS A QUESTION

Here are a couple of quick questions for you: When was the last time you bought a CD? And when was the last time you played a CD? I’ll start the ball rolling.

I

last purchased a CD a couple of weeks ago. But the last time I played a CD was over a month ago. Although I buy CDs, I invariably rip them into iTunes and play the music on my PC, iPod or smartphone. If I want to listen to music in the front room, more often than not, I’ll use my iPod dock and not one of the four CD players (which include a DVD player and a Blu-ray player) I have in that room. I can hear the hi-fi purists tut-tutting, but in my defence, at my age, my ears are not what they used to be, and a high-end Hi-Fi system would probably be wasted on them.

A CD REPLACEMENT?

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hat do the following have in common: digital audio tape (DAT); digital compact cassette (DCC); and MiniDisc? Yes. They are all obsolete music formats, but more to the point, they were once championed as the replacement for the compact disc. The CD may have seen off a few challengers in its time, but that doesn’t stop companies trying to usurp it. The latest is US company TVM Bio, which is promoting the USB Music card. The card would play in any device with a USB port and could store music, images and video clips. It sounds appealing, but I really can’t see this format taking off in any big way. The odd artist might use it for promoting a concert or a new album, but USB Music cards will not be the next CD.

Reports of the CDs demise have been going a long time – I’ve written a few of them myself, but it does seem that the format is facing a slow decline into obsolescence. The giant US music retailer Best Buy now only sells selected CDs, while in the UK, a recent YouGov poll found that it was older people (like me) that were mostly propping up the format. YouGov found that 42% of respondents listen to music through CDs, and 41% of this group said it was their favourite way of listening to music. No surprises that there is a big generational gap when it comes to the CD. YouGov found that 53% of CD fans were over 55, with just

6% in the 16-24 bracket. There was some mixed news for the CD. More than two thirds of respondents (64%) expect to be using CDs in the next five years. Also, it isn’t a case of either or – 25% of CD users also listen to streaming services. But long term, the writing is on the wall for the CD as today’s younger generation become tomorrow’s middle-aged. An earlier YouGov survey of 2,011 children aged 6-18 found that two thirds of them didn’t know what a floppy disk was. It’s not that bad when it comes to recognising CDs, but one day the compact disc will become an object of curiosity for many people.

DOWNLOADS – A THREATENED FORMAT?

IT’S

not just physical music formats facing decline. The latest rumours swirling around the internet suggested that Apple is planning to axe downloads from its iTunes store at the end of March 2019. It’s another sign of how much streaming services have come to dominate the music landscape. Apple has more than 40 million paying subscribers for its Apple Music streaming service and clearly sees this as the future. Last year, Apple stopped producing iPod Nano and Shuffle models, after stopping development of these products many years earlier.

MEMORY LANE

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recently had a double dose of nostalgia with the news that a VHS rental store had opened in my home town of Liverpool. VideOdyssey aims to offer customers around 500 VHS titles for rental, some of which have never been available on DVD. There’s also a hardware rental scheme for customers who don’t own a VHS deck. Will it tap into the market for nostalgia? I hope so. It’s a quirky concept that might just attract enough people with fond memories of those bulky video cassettes.

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PRODUCT GALLERY

Denon announces two advanced AV receivers Denon is launching two versatile AV receivers both featuring the very latest in audio decoding, voice control and streaming technology. The AVR-X4500H and AVR-X3500H promise “masses” of power and cutting-edge 3D surround sound. The AVR-X3500H (£899) is available August 2018 and the AVR-X4500H (£1,499) will be available September 2018.

www.denon.co.uk

Bowers & Wilkins introduces Prestige Editions with premium Santos Rosewood finish Bowers & Wilkins has created new Prestige Editions of its 802 and 805 loudspeakers featuring a Santos Rosewood veneer highlighted with thirteen coats of lacquer to deliver a rich finish with luxurious colour and distinctive grain pattern – a process that takes over four weeks. The models are acoustically unchanged from standard 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers and feature the same advanced specification.

www.bowers-wilkins.co.uk

iKnob Hob from Teka WISH The iKNOB 60cm flexible induction Hob (IT6450), part of the Teka WISH range of appliances, has a detachable magnetic controller (the iKNOB) which sits at the front edge of the hob. Attaching it activates the appliance’s functions and allows the user to select the power level and cooking time for each zone. When removed it facilitates easier cleaning.

www.partners.pjh.uk | www.teka.com/en-gb/

Amica launches “washday wonders” Amica has launched a range of A+++ washing machines with a number of new features to deliver the best wash possible. The 7kg WMS714 has a 1400rpm spin, variable wash temperature, 16 programmes, Pause, Stain Level Selection, memory function and an anti-allergenic wash. WMS 814 has an 8kg capacity, and top-of-the-range WMS914 a 9kg capacity. All feature the new Opti Dose, Add+ and Steam Touch functions and have selfcleaning drums.

01949 862010 www.amica-international.co.uk

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PRODUCT GALLERY

Esse adds to woodfired cooking family Esse has added two new British-built models to its woodburning family. The Bakeheart provides radiant heat, a graduated temperature cooking hob, 32-litre baking oven and is compatible with a domestic boiler, so it can provide hot water as well as heating and cooking facilities without the need for mains services. The Warmheart is a smaller unit but still, says ESSE, has the capacity to “provide ample heat to cook for the whole family” as well as heating the room.

www.esse.com

Gorenje adds new finishes to Retro collection Gorenje has introduced three new finishes to its Retro cooling collection, bringing the existing six colour options to a total of nine. From August onwards, model numbers ORB153, ORK193 and ONRK193 – all of which have an A+++ energy rating and incorporate Gorenje’s advanced IonAir food preservation technology – will be also available in Apple, Copper and Olive.

020 8247 39 80 | www.gorenje.co.uk

Stoves launches Deluxe Range Cooker collection GDHA brand Stoves has launched a new collection of range cookers developed to a high specification and premium finish, which it believes offers retailers the highest quality in range cooking appliances. The collection comprises 36 models, totalling 72 different SKUs across three sizes (900mm, 1000mm and 1100mm), four fuel options (dual fuel, dual fuel gas-through-glass, electric induction and gas), and three finishes (black, classic cream and stainless steel).

www.stoves.co.uk

Hotpoint freestanding countertop microwave The Hotpoint Supreme Chef combination microwave oven (MWH 338 SX) features forced air, an XXL grill and Dual Crisp technology which crisps both the top and bottom of the dish. Multiwave technology evenly distributes microwaves from two entry points, resulting in no hot or cold spots and uniform cooking results. A Chef Menu offers the user a series of automatic recipes.

www.hotpoint.co.uk

AIRUNO launches shelf-style island cooker hood AIRUNO’s 100cm wide, A-rated shelf-style island cooker hood offers recirculation extraction with a maximum rate of 815 m3/h and an operational noise-level of 45-71db(A). It has soft-touch controls, a speed indicator and auto switch-off and features six LED lights. The shelf storage space also has LED lighting.

www.airuno.co.uk

AUGUST 2018

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TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING Beko oven: Big on function, small on space

Smaller Spaces… UK homes, for many reasons, are getting smaller. Last year’s RIBA figures, suggesting half of new homes being built are too small for occupiers “to live comfortably and cohesively,” show no signs of being reversed in the foreseeable future. Figures from the same source show apartments – especially in London and city centres where accommodation is more expensive – form the greatest proportion of sale and rent transactions. This is a huge opportunity for electrical manufacturers and retailers

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lthough householders are accepting that they may be living in smaller spaces than previous generations, they definitely do not want to accept compromises on their lifestyle aspirations, and the demand to live “comfortably and cohesively” is, if anything, greater than ever before. The lifestyle priorities of 21st century town & apartment living are: Space saving: All of the appliances necessary to 21st century living must be fitted into the available space; Performance: “Compact” should never mean a compromise on premium performance; Style: Tighter dimensions and the trend for open plan living mean there’s no hiding place, so creative design solutions and good looks are vital; Quiet: The more intimately we live with domestic appliances, the less noise we want them to make; Clean air: With small spaces and openplan environments, intrusive kitchen smells, condensation and grease must be minimised How do we satisfy this difficult “no compromise” demand to have it all, and to fit it all into the available space, however small?

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receiving close attention. “Integrated models have seen significant popularity recently,” says Severgnini, “with 31% of households now owning a built-in oven, as they enable people to maximise available floor space without having to sacrifice quality or design”. “One trend that has continued to go from strength to strength is the demand for built-in appliances,” agrees Salah Sun, Built-in Cooking Product Manager at Beko plc. “We’ve seen sales of built-in ovens grow by 4.6% (sales value) over the past year, as consumers move away from traditional freestanding cookers. These figures suggest that home owners are paying more attention to the way their kitchens look and the functionality their ovens provide. “Owners of small kitchens,” adds Salah Sun, “will most likely choose a single oven to cater for their needs. Interestingly, although retailers are ranging more double ovens.” One solution to the

space/functionality dilemma, suggest Beko, is the company’s Split & Cook Oven, with an internal divider that allows for cooking two different dishes at different temperatures at the same time. Caple product manager Luke Shipway is also an advocate of integrated, versatile and matching appliances where a “statement” such as a big range cooker or US-style fridge/ freezer might overpower a smaller space. “Integrated appliances,” he says, “provide a fantastic alternative, and when chosen from the STYLE AND FUNCTION same collection will create “Consumers BUILT-IN a seamless, streamlined with a small Feedback from the industry finish, which is particularly kitchen should is that the priorities are important in bijoux known, the response has kitchens. Compact and look at appliances been comprehensive, slimline appliances enable that have dual and that design and homeowners to extend functionality” performance solutions are their range of appliance already in place across all options and can offer greater sectors of domestic appliance flexibility.” He cites Caple’s manufacture. Sara Bazeley, brand own ranges, where microwave, manager at Indesit, acknowledges: “The grill and conventional oven in one is an footprint of the home is diminishing, with the option, as is steam, conventional oven and grill, kitchen amalgamating with the living space, which all available at 45cm with matching design and is now a place for not only cooking, but socialising fascias, “vital for a uniform look. A built-in coffee and entertaining too. The consumer is therefore machine or microwave,” he adds, “can also help looking to streamline the kitchen, and built-in to make the most of a smaller kitchen as they can appliances are perfect to achieve a seamless, free up valuable worktop space and will create a stylish look.” real focal point in the kitchen when installed in a Maurizio Severgnini, managing director at bank of appliances.” Bertazzoni UK & Eire, says that “with living spaces Jennifer Taylor, head of brand at Hotpoint, in the UK some of the smallest across Europe, typifies the confidence that major suppliers making the most of space is a focus for many UK can deliver what’s needed: “Through modern consumers.” appliance innovation, the size of an appliance It’s a focus that the industry has already no longer dictates its functionality and there adopted, with most manufacturers being well is now a raft of multifunctional appliances on on top of developments. Built-in solutions and the market, which are compact but offer the versatility are among the principal advances, user a tremendous level of functionality.” It’s and cooking, being a primary kitchen activity, is a confidence that is supported by Whirlpool


TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING

brand communications director Ian Moverly: “Technological advances mean that compact living no longer has to be a compromise on functionality or performance.” He would go even further, claiming in some instances (citing Whirlpool’s Absolute range as an example) that whilst “larger, full-sized appliances are crammed with new technology… compact and smaller appliances… can actually offer greater functionality than their larger counterparts.”

COMMUNICATING THE CONFIDENCE With all this industry confidence, how do manufacturers and retailers work to communicate the best of design and technology to consumers who are very keen to live expansively in their smaller spaces? As ever, product knowledge, backed by understanding of customer needs and the ability to show how they can be fulfilled, are the keys. This may mean leading customers along a path of discovery, introducing relatively new technologies, teaming them with fresh design ideas and innovative combinations, perhaps offering solutions to small-space living concerns – such as noise and air quality – that may not even have occurred to them, and then showing how they can be stylishly incorporated into an overall plan for living well. There are great opportunities for selling up if the right choices are offered to modern urban dwellers. For example, induction is now a mainstream technology but may not yet have registered strongly with homemakers; it is an outstanding contribution to town & apartment living, offering as it does clean, uncluttered surfaces that can double as countertop space; safety; energy efficiency; and the versatility of zoned configurations to cope with all hob cooking requirements. Team it imaginatively with other technologies, and a compelling sales story emerges. As Bertazzoni’s Severgnini says, for example: “Opting for an induction top accompanied by integrated extraction is also a great way to create a beautiful focal point in a room that is not only functional, but is also well contained and would still fit in a smaller kitchen space.” And Fiona Barker-Scott, brand manager for Falmec UK, adds: “Opting for multi-functional appliances that are housed in one system are great for small kitchen spaces. One-piece induction hob and extractor systems … offer a sleek design thanks to a surface-mounted

InSinkErator: A combi tap makes a stylish statement and does a lot

Falmec: When cooker hoods work in a multifunction space

installation. Meanwhile, the need for an overhead extractor is eliminated which means the kitchen will avoid looking cluttered or too ‘busy’.” The concept of meeting multiple challenges with integrated combinations is at the heart of compact but stylish living. Develop the concept and solutions begin to look like uncompromising and achievable aspirations. At this stage, the necessary turns into the desirable, and talk about creating a great environment takes precedence over basic problem-solving.

models, are more common. This is because recirculation models that don’t have to be fitted near to any external walls provide many of the benefits, as it means they can be installed in almost any space.” “Extractors are becoming increasingly quieter after years of many consumers finding them too noisy,” adds Falmec’s Fiona Barker-Scott. “Most extractors now have a noise level of around 65 dB, so seeking a product lower than 60 dB (average conversation level) is advisable.” Similarly, if appliance noise comes up in contexts including extraction, the answers already exist. Bearing in mind that “normal” conversation is reckoned to be around 50 to 65dB(A), the operational noise levels of all appliances, from extractors to washing machines to dishwashers to refrigerators, can be referenced in this context. Most manufacturers provide operational noise level references for their appliances, and it’s comforting, if you’re going to be living within a few open-plan feet of a dishwasher or washing machine, to know that it won’t interfere with a quiet chat over dinner.

SOLVING PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY ARISE “In a small kitchen or open plan apartment,” says Airuno designer cooker hoods chairman Geoff Baker, “efficient extraction is vitally important, but in order to create a minimalist, uncluttered look the extractor itself needs to be discreet or even hidden. There are several options to achieve this – with flush fitting ceiling extractors or cupboard extraction hoods working well in these spaces. A cupboard hood has the added benefit of creating a streamlined look to complement the rest of the kitchen cupboards and some even offer extra storage space, which can be in short supply in a small kitchen.” Nick Platt, business director, built-in appliances, Hoover Candy, says: “When it comes to cooking in open plan spaces, it’s key for customers to have certain appliances, such as extractors, that perform better than ever. A hood that performs well ensures open plan living spaces don’t become full of steam or smells from cooking. The biggest consideration for those in apartments is that ducted models are often hard to install due to the lack of external walls. In most apartments, recirculation, rather than ducted

Steam Combination Cooking – Tasty, Healthy and Nutritional Using technology inspired by professional chefs, De Dietrich’s steam cooking process creates tasty, healthy and nutritional food, fast! When the oven is in Steam Expert Mode, the steam levels can be adjusted between 20% and 100%, allowing you to steam cook a variety of foods to perfection. Meanwhile, the Culinary Guide has a selection of pre-set recipes that cook a dish to precision by simply entering the weight of the dish. While it cooks, the oven’s sensors will automatically adjust cooking time, temperature and steam percentage so you are left with a tasty dish, full of vitamins and minerals. The new collection is available from AB Distributors.

abdistributors.co.uk

AUGUST 2018

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TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING

As Richard Mackey, product and marketing Caple: “Banking” manager, Gorenje UK, remarks: “Here at Gorenje, appliances makes we’d always recommend advising customers compact look stylish that live in open plan spaces to try and opt for lower dB ratings. 60dB is the equivalent to a normal conversation, so this is an “built-in easy noise level to deal with appliances are in small homes.” perfect to achieve Nigel Morrison, Consumer and Trade Marketing a seamless, Manager at Melitta UK, function cooking and food stylish look” advises retailers and prep products which offer customers to take note of style, versatility and efficiency. the Quiet Mark accreditation. The market trend for multi“They have done the complex functional cooking and food prep assessment,” he says, “and the presence products continues to experience growth. of the Mark on a product gives the consumer These products offer the consumer endless confidence that it has been independently and options to tailor their recipes to their taste, expertly assessed and is at the quiet end of the ensuring they maximize their kitchen workspace.” spectrum for that product type.” And Hotpoint’s Jennifer Taylor puts the argument – endorsed by all of the white goods MULTIFUNCTIONAL SENSE manufacturers we spoke to – that a dishwasher is In practical terms, a kitchen is not only for cooking, more than worth its place in a small kitchen, and but will have to house refrigeration, dishwashing, nobody aspiring to stylish town & apartment living laundry (given that a utility room is not on the should be without one: “Kitchen space is at an allcards) and small appliances. With modern time premium. The perfect appliance for discreetly appliances, it can be done. As Stuart Netscher, concealing the dirty dishes is the dishwasher, Head of Category for Cooling and Laundry at but it’s still, unfortunately, criticised for taking up Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, says: “From a too much space in the kitchen. However, with practical perspective, consumers with a small the rise of compact living, slimline models are kitchen should look at appliances that have dual becoming increasingly popular with the consumer, functionality, such as fridge/freezers or washer as many cannot imagine their kitchen without a dryers.” Max McCormick, Product Manager for dishwasher, despite space being tight.” Kitchens at Miele GB, concurs: “Multifunctional Many slimline models are available, and will appliances are also a great space-saving option. always solve more space-related problems than Microwave or Steam combination ovens provide they cause in a small kitchen. Steve Macdonald, consumers with versatility and convenience business director of freestanding, Hoover Candy, by operating as a microwave or steam oven points out: “Slimline dishwashers offer clear respectively, as well as a conventional oven. benefits to those working with smaller kitchen Offering combined cooking processes for the spaces. Standard dishwashers are around best results, these multifunctional ovens save 600mm in width, whereas slimline models are consumers the need to purchase two separate around 450mm.” appliances, which otherwise may crowd a MAKING STATEMENTS compact kitchen.” There is, say manufacturers, plenty of scope for Dominik Pytel, Marketing Director of Groupe compact home makers who still want to make SEB UK Ltd., whose Tefal ActFry range offers a design statement, while taking advantage of healthy convenience options, speaks up for the the latest technology. Gino Grossi, Leisure brand claims of multi-function small appliances on the manager at Beko plc, says even a range cooker worktop: “Kitchen worktop space is at a premium is not out of the question: “Range cookers come as kitchens have become proportionally smaller. in a variety of widths from 110cm to 90cm, plus a Yet consumers continue to seek high-design, high-

60cm model which enables those with little space to have all the style and features of a traditional range cooker in the most compact kitchen.” And according to GDHA’s Stuart Netscher, the fridge/freezer, traditionally used as a “statement” piece, is still viable in a small space. “Cooling appliances,” he says, “can provide a focal point without being over-sized thanks to some of their exterior features. For instance, a 60cm or 70cm wide freestanding stainless steel fridge-freezer, with exterior electronic control, easy open door handles and water through door - taking design cues from American side-by-sides - looks great in a smaller kitchen.” Thinking of multi-functional “statements,” Anne Kaarlela, marketing communications manager, Europe and Russia, for InSinkErator, believes waste disposal units and combination hot/filtered water taps are great ways to get maximum function with minimum space, while making “an elegant statement.” She contends: “A food waste disposer is a perfect addition to compact dwellings, as it eliminates food waste and the unpleasant food odours emitting from the often numerous kitchen bins. What’s more, the overall hygiene and the finished appearance of the kitchen is improved.” She adds: “Whether you are making a simple cup of tea, blanching vegetables or rinsing rice, a combination tap can save both time and money. What’s more, valuable worktop space can be saved by ditching the kettle and water filter jug, and installing a combination tap.” It can also, she says, eliminate the need for bottled water – saving on money, storage space and the environmental scourge of single-use plastics all at once. It’s clear that the products exist to turn the “problem” of limited space into a great sales story on how customers can actually enhance the comfort and cohesion of their town & apartment living.

Smart Living with Melitta® Barista TS Smart® Coffee Machine Get connected with Melitta’s® premium Barista TS Smart bean to cup coffee machine complete with a number of added NEW features including the Melitta Connect App which can be managed conveniently from your smart phone including programming and saving My Coffee Profiles. This app allows you to create your very own coffee specialities – along with assisted tutorials on cleaning and maintaining the appliance. Other great features include: Touch & Slide to simply and conveniently set and use the coffee machine by gently touching the sensor panels, Quiet as a Whisper Grinder (Quiet Mark) for quiet grinding and the prestigious Quiet Mark icon in recognition of being among the quietest products on the market. Barista TS Smart® (RRP £1,199) For trade enquires please contact: 01952 671077 | melitta.co.uk

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FROM THE BENCH

FROM THE BENCH

HEADPHONES

Headphones are an important part of the accessories market. Alan Bennett surveys them, from simple to exotic

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ost headphones are in effect tiny moving-coil loudspeakers, but much more efficient in delivering sound. Passive ones just connect to the ‘phones’ jack (3.5mm) of the driver, while wireless types use rechargeable batteries (e.g. USB charge, 3 to 20 hours runtime) and Bluetooth communication (see last month’s column for details of this.) A typical pair of headphones has an impedance of about 32Ω, which at first seems a poor match for an amplifier with an output impedance of 4 to 8Ω. In fact, it is ideal for two reasons: the sound level is easily regulated by the amplifier’s volume control; and the lower source impedance provides heavy damping for the headphones, reducing distortion due to resonances etc. Headphone sensitivity is generally between 80 and 125dB/W at 1kHz and the safe limit – to avoid ear damage – is about 100dBA SPL; this corresponds to about 1V RMS input voltage. High quality headphones can reproduce sounds from 20Hz to 20kHz in frequency, at least as wide a range as loudspeakers. Some ’phones claim a much wider frequency range, but of course their response drops off rapidly at the extremes of this frequency spectrum.

TYPES Headphones come in three basic forms. For home use the favourite, perhaps, is the overear variant, which completely surrounds each ear with a squashy band; these are properly known as circumaural types. Generally on the heavy side, they offer a degree of passive noise cancelling by virtue of the absorbency of their outer rings. The best and most expensive ’phones are generally of this kind. Next come on-ear types, supra-aural, having pads which press lightly on the outer ear. They may feel uncomfortable to some users, and can leak sound in both directions, but are capable of good sound reproduction, and like over-ear ’phones have a headband to hold them in place. Either of these types may have open- (more natural sound, more two-way sound leakage) or -closed backs, the latter offering better bass reproduction and some ambient noise suppression. The third variant is the earbud, of which there are two types, one directed at the outer ear and sitting

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Sony headphone anatomy

Nuraphone (it has an unusual form factor, combining in-ear and over-ear profiles) retails at about £350, and can be optimised to match the characteristic and profile of the listener’s hearing in the way deaf-aids are electroacoustically tailored to their users. It’s done via an app and an internal measuring microphone embedded in each headphone. Also via an app (Connect) the Sony XB950 Extra Bass model can be fine-tuned for individual music renditions, and offers presets for outdoor stage, club, or NOISE-CANCELLING PHONES arena-style sound. As we have seen, some kinds of passive Also available are surround-sound and even earphone provide suppression of ambient noise. Dolby Atmos ’phones and drivers, though I must In noise-cancelling types this is achieved by one confess that in my experience none of them are or more on-board microphones whose signals as effective or ‘real’-sounding as a loudspeaker are inverted and added to the main sound feed: ensemble. With headphones the illusion is at the balance point this cancels out sound from achieved by HRTFs, Head -Related Transfer outside – to a degree largely determined by the Functions. These are complex, but basically price paid! Claims of up to 30dB suppression depend on varying phase (relative timing) and are commonly made by manufacturers. Some level of sound delivered to each ear, depending noise-cancelling ’phones can be ‘tuned’ or on its point of origin on the original sound stage. optimised for different ambient conditions, As with frequency tailoring it depends to some e.g. engine noise or human speech, while the degree on the listener’s individual physical and Orosound/Tilde type has eight microphones for acoustic characteristics. this purpose, with 360° pick up; and an optional Into the exotic bracket, too, come specialised ‘window’ for acceptance of (e.g.) speech headphone amplifiers in two categories: in a segment of 60°. ‘boosters’ and, more common, ones incorporating D-A EXOTICS convertors, generally All that I’ve mentioned here working from a PC via a “High quality so far have been primarily USB link. You can pay headphones can stereo types. There over £12,000 for one are several variants incorporating valves! reproduce sounds which go beyond this in This brings me to from 20Hz to 20kHz various ways. One from prices generally. Who in frequency, at least in his senses would as wide a range as feed a £10 headset loudspeakers.” from equipment costing hundreds or thousands of pounds? I don’t believe that headphones under, say, £100 are worthy of stocking by a self-respecting dealer! Good ones retail at £300 upwards and amongst them my favourite is the Sony model Earcandi Standard 1000XM2, selling at about £330. This Custom Moulded noise-cancelling type has high-res audio support Earphone System using Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth wireless coupling technology. Its battery life compares well with competing types. There can be more profit in selling good headphones than there is in many a TV model...

in its pit; this gives little suppression of ambient noise. The other type is inserted in the actual ear canal, and greatly reduces noise from outside. Some users find buds uncomfortable, mitigated perhaps by customisation to match their ear-canal profile, for instance by Earcandi, www.earcandi.com. Buds are widely used by people out of doors, e.g. walkers, joggers and commuters, where their ‘spitting’-effect sound leakage may irritate others...


HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Sony: Fresh technology and a stylish slim bezel

“Home Entertainment” is still traditionally about sound and vision, but the big revolution has been in the choice of content, where we get it from, how we access it and how we watch and listen to it. George Cole assesses what’s on offer and the fresh opportunities it offers retailers to help consumers get what they want, when they want it

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tereo or multichannel; 4K or HD; physical or digital; wired or wireless – the home entertainment market offers so many options. This means that retailers can play a pivotal role in helping consumers find the right products to suit their needs. But what are the biggest trends and developments in home entertainment today? James Jackson, technology director, Freeview Play, says: “There are now thousands of shows that a viewer could decide to watch when they turn on their TV, whether via live broadcast or through on demand services. As this world of enormous choice continues to grow, ensuring that TVs are designed for users to easily find new content is a huge focus for the home entertainment industry. We can expect major developments in this area in the not too distant future, where functionality such as image-based content discovery, greater personalisation, play lists and voice search all work together to transform the way viewers watch the TV they love.”

EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE CREATING TRENDS updates for current models and the HEOS multi“Consumers are looking for the ultimate room range). The new HEOS HomeCinema HS2 home entertainment experience, including sound bar with wireless sub-woofer will get an 4K playback with larger screen sizes,” says update in August for Apple AirPlay2, as will many Mike Somerset, Sony UK and Ireland TV current Denon and Marantz network products. marketing manager. “However, consumers are Marantz offers a new range of AV Receivers with also more concerned with the way technology voice control, a new Network player with HEOS looks in the home, so we’re seeing TV bezels (NA6006). Polk has launched the Command become thinner and designs more minimal and Bar sound bar with built-in Alexa and a wireless sleek.” subwoofer. There is also a new Polk Assist smart Denon says: “The obvious [trends] are music speaker with Google Assistant and Chromecast. and video streaming, the resurgence of vinyl Wireless technology and connectivity are discs and voice control. Also, the ever-expanding important in this market, notes worlds of multi-room and portable audio.” Freeview’s Jackson: “The Companies have launched many new integration of Wi-Fi products to cater for these trends. technology into every new Sony’s AF8 BRAVIA OLED includes Freeview Play television “Retailers can Acoustic Surface technology, with and set-top box has play a pivotal music, sound and dialogue coming been transformative in role in helping directly from the screen. The ZD9 enabling consumers consumers find the is a 4K HDR LCD TV with Backlight to access a fully right products” Master Drive, which analyses images and corrects colour and contrast of each object individually. KDXF90 and KD-XF85 TVs have stand legs with removable covers, enabling users to route cables down the inside of them, providing tidier cable management. The HT-XF9000 is a Dolby Atmos compatible sound bar. VOICE & WIRELESS Denon has a new updated range of network AV Receivers with Amazon voice control when using an Alexa device such as the Echo Dot (plus

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AUGUST 2018

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HOME ENTERTAINMENT Polk Audio Definitive Technology Demand Series bookshelf speaker

connected television experience. Consumers see this integration of comprehensive connectivity options as hugely valuable in expanding their viewing choices whist making it easy to choose between on demand and live TV viewing on the largest screens in their homes.” He notes that beyond the home, 4G mobile networks and public Wi-Fi are expanding options to consume in new ways. “This is an area which Freeview is committed to supporting – including through our own mobile app which we plan to deliver later this year.”

ACCESS ALL AREAS Lucia Seston-Ferdinand, “Consumers Sony UK and Ireland V&S see this marketing manager, says: off the kitchen lights” or “Wireless technology “Set the thermostat to integration of and connectivity is very 20 degrees.” comprehensive important in this market as Amazon Alexaconnectivity it offers a seamless home enabled devices can options as hugely entertainment experience, control Sony 4K HDR valuable…” with fewer wires and greater BRAVIA TV models with accessibility. As more and Android TV. With this update more connected devices enter users can now ask Alexa to the market, consumers now have perform basic TV functions such the ability to create a complete smart as changing the volume. home eco-system through a single hub, like PHYSICAL PRESENCE? the Sony smart speaker with Google Assistant With the rise of online content, wireless devices built-in, the LF-S50G.” Google Assistant allows and streaming services, the question is whether the voice controlled speaker to offer access there is still a place for physical media in the to information such as travel, weather and home entertainment market. everyday questions. The assistant is brought Denon thinks so. “There is still a place; to life with the simple voice command “OK the vinyl revival is a prime example. Also, not Google” and offers seamless connection everyone has fast broadband and, for the very through Bluetooth and NFC. best quality and most reliable movie playback, Blu-ray and DVD still very much have their place, as does the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format for those who want the absolute best quality currently available.” Freeview’s Jackson notes that “whilst the market for physical media is still important, the reality is that IP is the only way of delivering the enormous content choice that viewers need. Freeview Play has thousands of pieces of content Sony UBP-X700: Supports both freely available at one time, an physical and digital media offering that physical media simply cannot hope to compete Sony’s Somerset adds: “Sony has also with. That said, I see the likes of DVDs going announced that selected 4K HDR TVs with the way of vinyl, a way of viewers collecting and Android TV now have the Google Assistant protecting favourite content, rather than their built in, providing an integrated smart home primary means of accessing it.” experience. With the help of Sony’s voice Alex Stocker, Sony UK and Ireland HAV operated remote, the Google Assistant marketing manager, states: “Streaming content allows quick access to films, music and other is growing in popularity year on year, but content, as well as control over smart home consumers don’t just want digital media; they devices and easy information search – all via want content to be available at the touch of a Sony Android TV.” Google Assistant means a button. Sony TV remotes identify this consumer suitably-compatible TV can be become a smart need by having Google Play, YouTube and home hub to more than 1500 compatible smart Netflix buttons so that these smart functions are home devices from over 225 popular brands. available instantly to consumers. Additionally, This includes for instance light and thermostat through the Sony Music Centre App users can control through simple commands, such as “Turn stream music on demand through a number of

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Sony audio products, including headphones, sound bars and speakers. As well as this, consumers can link their compatible audio products through the app to create a multi-room set-up, all without wires.” But, Stocker adds, “despite digital media becoming more and more popular, there’s still a place for physical media. Cinephiles enjoy 4K Blu-rays that produce an immersive cinematic experience, playing UHD content in the most realistic possible way - something which is often not possible through streaming. Retailers will also find that physical media sales increase seasonally around events such as Christmas, as DVDs are often gifted.” Sony’s UBP-X700 Blu-ray player supports both physical and digital media, with consumers able to play 4K Blu-ray discs and access 4K streaming services from Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube.

RETAILER SUPPORT With the home entertainment market offering so much choice, what help or advice is available for retailers looking to sell home entertainment products or systems? Denon says: “There are some great training initiatives for retailers in the industry these days, so take advantage of them (via RETRA and Clarity Alliance), and any training that is offered by manufacturers.” Freeview’s Jackson adds: “The home entertainment industry is not cheap, and making that bit of extra effort to understand what each customer really needs will make a massive difference when trying to cut through in an extremely competitive market place. It is worth remembering that most customers probably won’t know exactly what they want when they come into a store, so take that bit of extra time to explain what features actually mean and demonstrate how they work.” Sony’s Somerset agrees that “demonstration is key because it gives consumers a chance to see how products sound and feel, as well as giving them an idea of which product best suits their lifestyle and enhances their listening experience. Ease of access to products, good choice and a range of price points and brands in store, and active displays are ideal as consumers like to test before they buy. Having well trained staff on the shop floor who can communicate the technology messages effectively is important.”


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Profile for Get Connected Magazine

Get Connected Magazine - August 2018  

4 Editorial Comment 6 The Word - In and around the industry 11 George Cole Gets Connected - Who’s buying CDs, and are music downloads on the...

Get Connected Magazine - August 2018  

4 Editorial Comment 6 The Word - In and around the industry 11 George Cole Gets Connected - Who’s buying CDs, and are music downloads on the...