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NOV/DEC 2019

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


THE KITCHEN STUDIO Kitchens are very big business, and it’s not only the specialist kitchen furniture studios who can benefit from the rich opportunities to help customers create the “heart of the home”

h 1st - 30t BER NOVEM


MONTH-LONG SALE MULTI-ROOM AUDIO & HOME CINEMA George Cole finds that size isn’t important when setting up the perfect home entertainment configurations in the modern home


GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED It’s all change as online services leave some consumers behind and the mystifying resurgence of the cassette tape takes us back to more tangled times

FROM THE BENCH Alan Bennett remembers a time when electrical retail was a better business to be in, and rental and repairs were a big component of profitable trading

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Editorial Comment


Product Gallery

The Word In and around the industry

10 Multi-Room Audio & Home Cinema George Cole investigates this big, varied and technologically exciting market, and finds – among other things – that size doesn’t matter



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Candy’s A+++ Rapid’Ó can be voice controlled with the help of Google Home and Amazon Alexa

The Kitchen Studio Kitchens – from the supply of a single appliance to the total furniture, appliances and installation of a full kitchen refurbishment, are a rich and constantly refreshing part of the UK electricals market. Not everyone does the wood, but all electrical retailers can benefit

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

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George Cole Gets Connected George Cole muses on the developments since the revolution of teletext, and notes that while some consumers could be left behind by the advance of online services, others can reminisce about the good old days of cassette tapes

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Some of the figures who shape our industry take an end-of-year look at where we’ve been and where we may be going in 2020

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From the Bench Alan Bennett remembers 1999, when Betamax was not yet out, online shopping was only just in, and repairs were a profitable part of the electrical business


NOV/DEC 2019

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This is the time of year when this column takes a look back over the past year, and looks ahead at what might be on the cards for electrical retail and the wider world of retail and commerce in the year ahead. But does anyone want to remember 2019? And who in their right mind would want to venture predictions for 2020?

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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

evertheless, here goes: A recurring If businesses don’t know what to do or how to theme for some years has been the “Save invest, the economy suffers, your customers the High Street” rhetoric that’s been swirling suffer, and if they can’t, or won’t, spend their around the trade press. We have consistently money, retail suffers. maintained that campaigns based on that Politics is not business, and politicians, for all theme are misguided, because all High Streets their spin and bluster, are not businesspeople. are different and there is no universal remedy. As always, it’s commerce that runs things Ill-fated initiatives such as that by self-styled on the ground, makes decisions, adapts to “queen of shops” Mary Portas pretty circumstances, creates ideas and gets much prove the point. Solutions, on with it. And without knowing where they exist, are for what the future holds, none of individual retailers to find that happens. For instance, at a local level, working, consumer confidence “As always, where they can, with increased in September it’s commerce that local authorities. when there was the runs things on the So, apart from as long prospect of a result by ground, makes decisions, ago as 2016 warning October 31st. When against allowing that didn’t happen, adapts to circumstances, predatory assetconfidence plunged creates ideas and gets strippers – the private again the next month. on with it.” equity companies, the So however you vote “turnaround specialists” on December 12th, the and the Philip Greens, Mike Christmas message to the Ashleys and Dominic Chappells whole pack of politicians is “for of this world – to grab our iconic retail heaven’s sake just give us a result – names and bleed them dry, we have not tried any result – so we can plan what to do next.” to teach any grandmothers to suck eggs. They Not exactly “tidings of comfort and joy” for didn’t cause the initial pressures, but certainly this festive season. But a sincere hope for the exacerbated and profited from them. end of uncertainty, and a sincere wish for a Talking of 2016, what is clearly evident – and happy and prosperous 2020. we have to apologise for mentioning the “B” word – is that Brexit is still the elephant in the room. In 2016 we were discussing the “shock” result of the referendum. Significantly, the warnings at that time that just voting to leave would trigger dire economic consequences did not materialise. That’s because businesses thought they had a result, and thought they could plan and invest with some certainty. Nobody knew that, at the end of 2019, we would be looking at a December general election – the second since the referendum – still in the EU, still not knowing when, or even if, we would be leaving, and watching Parliament turn in on itself, incapable of making a decision and apparently indifferent to pleas for an outcome – any outcome – so businesses could plan with certainty. And there is the problem. No clarity means no cogent planning, no investment, no moves to adapt to a new reality. This affects retail deeply.

NOV/DEC 2019







“EXTRAORDINARY” DISCOUNTING BRINGS SMALL INCREASE IN OCTOBER SALES Retailers cutting prices to entice shoppers into purchasing brought a slight lift in sales during October but the longer-term trend remains depressed, with figures showing the 12-month average growth falling to a new low of 0.1%.


hief Executive of the British Retail Consortium Helen Dickinson said October represented “an extraordinary period of discounting” as the organisation reported overall retail sales up by 0.6%, against a rise of 1.3% in October 2018. Like-for-like growth increased by 0.1%. Sales of non-food items for the three months to October fell 1.9% on a like-for-like and 1.8% on a total basis, with in-store sales declining 3.7% and 3.6% respectively and online sales growing 5.1%, down from 7.6% growth in October 2018. Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail at KPMG, said: “Growth of 0.1% like-for-like in October would normally be little cause for celebration, but after several disappointing months, any tiny hints of growth are most welcome. Retailers have clearly been peddling hard to win over disengaged shoppers, especially given continued Brexit uncertainty. “Online sales have returned closer to normality, with a 5.1% uptick in October, but growth online remains muted. Fierce focus will be placed on the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday events to kick things into better shape.”



igures released by Ipsos Retail Performance, which measures retail traffic in non-food stores, have triggered uncertainty about this year’s festive sales period – traditionally known as the golden quarter, the time during which many retailers make the majority of their profits. The Ipsos report shows footfall falling rapidly and consumers spending only on essentials. Shopper numbers in the third quarter of the year dropped by 7.9% after a year-on-year fall of 9.9% in September. “In the run up to peak trading, the wobble in demand couldn’t be more ill-timed for the sector,” said Dr. Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos. “If households are bracing themselves for Brexit and are unsettled by the political and economic confusion, then demand could recover quite quickly. “If, however, the reasons revolve more around households choosing to put their discretionary spend to other uses, the outlook for the golden quarter would be more serious.”


ingering uncertainty over the drawn-out process of Brexit brought more pressure to bear on retailers in October, as consumer confidence, like the UK’s prospects for leaving the EU on Hallowe’en, slipped away. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index declined two points to –14, with all five measures used to determine the score decreasing. With public sentiment on the General Economic Situation over the last 12 months at -33 and for the 12 months ahead at -37, it’s clear that the constant manoeuvring by those in the House of Commons has deeply unsettled both business and consumers. Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK, said: “People can only feel confident if they believe the external environment is stable…” How consumers view their personal finances also suffered, with Staton firmly placing the blame on “the ongoing machinations in Westminster” for a fall of 3 points in this measure during October. “This deterioration in sentiment regarding our personal financial affairs is worrying, as strong consumer spending has been the main driver of economic growth since the Referendum in 2016 against a backdrop of low inflation, low interest rates, low wage growth and high employment. “Nobody wants to see consumer spending reduce and let’s hope it doesn’t happen. But Brexit’s continuing uncertainty and the spectre of a general election is not helpful.”



hop prices fell for the fifth consecutive month in October as retailers sought to accelerate demand under an “uncertain economic outlook” in the run up to the festive season. According to figures from the BRC and Nielsen, overall prices dropped 0.4%, with a 1.5% decline in non-food items contributing to that performance. Food prices increased 1.6% year on year. “With an uncertain economic outlook at the start of the golden quarter, the industry has been working hard to stimulate demand and to keep price increases as low as possible,” said Mike Watkins, Head of Retailer and Business Insight at Nielsen. “Seasonal ranges are now in store, and we can expect an increase in promotional activity in the run up to Christmas, which will give shoppers further savings at the checkout.” BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson commented on relatively weak sales during the year and said “retailers hope that Black Friday and Christmas will reverse this trend with the help of lower prices.”



he BRC has called for Government to review its high street policies after it estimated that 85,000 retail jobs had been lost in the past year. The organisation based its assessment on figures from the Office for National Statistics, which showed



NOV/DEC 2019

a 2.8% fall in retail jobs in the third quarter of the year. Meanwhile, year-on-year average pay for new retail jobs fell by 3.2% in the same quarter, according to UK independent job board CV-Library, with applications dropping by a “staggering” 26.1% and advertised jobs falling by

13.7% since 2018 as the sector remained under pressure from excessive business rates, the transformation to digital and the lingering effects of Brexit. “The employment data released by CV-Library echoes findings from the latest Retail Health Index, which states that the third quarter of 2019 saw retail

health drop to a historic low,” said CVLibrary founder and CEO Lee Biggins. The BRC said it expected the long-term decline in employment to continue due to the combined effect of ongoing structural change [in retail], weak consumer spending and fierce competition in the industry.





erman appliance manufacturer Miele is to “bundle” its operating business into eight individual units with the loss of around 1,070 jobs globally. 240 jobs could be shed in Germany by the end of 2021, mainly at the company’s Central Headquarters in Gütersloh. Outside Germany around 830 jobs may be affected. The family-run business said the need for

“urgent action” was due to far-reaching changes in consumer habits as a result of digitalisation and the increasingly price-aggressive behaviour of Asian corporations. The company said savings of around €190 million per year are expected to create the financial latitude to increase its sales power and investments significantly in digital marketing and new areas of business. “Enforced redundancies are to be avoided wherever possible. In return, it is planned to create around 470 new jobs, for instance in the area of digital competence,” a statement released by the business said. “The Executive Board is fully aware of the huge impact of these cuts on the employees concerned. Consequently, every effort will be made to arrive at responsible and socially acceptable solutions which reflect the values of the company.



loucestershire-based D.A.D has acquired MCD (Merchant City Distributors), which is to become a Trade Centre for retailers and contractors in Scotland and the North of England, and part of the Gillman’s Electrical Group (GEG). Neil Ward, D.A.D’s Regional Sales Manager for Scotland, Northern Ireland and North East England, will also take on the role of Branch Trade Manager. Ward has over 33 years’ experience in the industry and was instrumental in setting up the initial relationship between D.A.D and MCD with regard to distribution in Scotland six years ago. A new team of directors comprises Managing Director David Towell, Financial Director Steven MacAllister and Operations Director Pauline Docherty. “This is an exciting acquisition for us after a long and successful relationship with MCD, who are based in East Kilbride, Glasgow,” said Adrian Gillman, Chairman of GEG. “We will offer a Click & Collect service to trade

“The next phase will include detailed negotiations with Works Councils, which will commence immediately.” The company also referred to preparations for the future relationship between its Gütersloh washing machine plant and new production plant in the Polish town of Ksawerów, which will result in the loss of around 650 jobs at Gütersloh through to the end of 2025. Executive Directors and Co-Proprietors of the business, Dr. Markus Miele and Dr. Reinhard Zinkann, said: “Implementing the proposed changes will be a tour de force which will only be possible with the support and the backing of the workforce. “But such effort will be worthwhile as we are all making an essential contribution to sustainably securing Miele’s standing as the sound, strong and independent family-owned company it is today.”


A customers in Scotland with a strong range of products that will always be in stock. Pricing will match that which we offer at D.A.D to ensure our customers remain competitive in the field. “The new team brings a wealth of experience, and an updated user-friendly website is currently under construction. Customers will also see an updated showroom shortly, including a new trade counter.” Jackie Millen has been appointed Regional Sales Manager at D.A.D, responsible for Northern Ireland, following Nigel Ward’s change of role. Millen spent eight years with Panasonic in a similar position.

mica has partnered with Reach2 Academy Trust, a growing charitable organisation currently supporting some 55 primary academies across England, to provide Community Fridges to tackle both food waste and hunger amongst poor and disadvantaged families. Initial beneficiaries of the scheme are Unity Primary Academy in Colchester (pictured) and Sir Martin Frobisher Primary Academy in Clacton.

WHIRLPOOL REPORTS “STRONG” THIRD QUARTER W hirlpool Corporation has reported “strong global net earnings margin expansion” driven by a gain on the sale of the Embraco compressor business, a favourable price/mix, and cost

reduction actions. Third-quarter net sales were $5.1 billion, compared to $5.3 billion in the same prior-year period, a decrease of 4.4%. GAAP net earnings of $358 million were

achieved, against $210 million in the third quarter of 2018. Marc Bitzer, chairman and chief executive officer of Whirlpool Corporation, said: “Our fundamentals remain strong, and

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we made solid progress against our stated priorities with nearbreakeven performance in [the] Europe, Middle East and Africa [region], and strong results in North America.”




WHIRLPOOL ATTACKED FOR USING NDAS TO “SILENCE CUSTOMERS” MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee have declared it “astonishing” that four years on from Whirlpool revealing defects in its tumble dryers as many as 800,000 defective machines could still be present in people’s homes, and criticised the company’s use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to “silence customers”.


Whirlpool vice president Jeff Noel had this to say: he safety issue concerns tumble dryers “People’s safety is our top priority, which is why manufactured under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Whirlpool welcomes the report by the BEIS Select Creda, Swan and Proline brands between 2004 Committee to raise awareness of ongoing safety and 2015, which were subject to a fire safety improvements in the UK. warning first issued by Whirlpool some “Through our ongoing campaign four years ago and a subsequent we have resolved this potential product recall in July this year safety issue – which concerns after pressure from the “A recall tumble dryers produced by Government. the previous owner of the The Committee’s report should have been company – for more than on the safety of electrical implemented when 1.75 million people. This is goods in the UK criticises the faults were first up to five times the average Whirlpool for its slow success rate for a product response in modifying or discovered with the recall in the UK. replacing faulty machines machines back in “We applaud any efforts and its efforts to deflect 2015...” that create uniform standards the concerns of safety that are applied across all organisations and customers industries. We pledge to continue rather than focusing on practical to work with the OPSS and members of steps to address the safety problems. the BEIS Select Committee and Government “Whirlpool’s response to fixing safety to help advance product safety in the UK.” flaws in its tumble dryers has too often owed more to PR management than to taking the practical steps to make its machines safe for customers,” said Rachel Reeves, Chair of the BEIS Committee. Accusing the Peterborough-based company of failing to live up to the duties it owes to its customers, Reeves said: “Whirlpool’s prime obligation was to fix the safety issues with its tumble dryers rather than in engage in disgraceful tactics such as using NDAs to Exertis has entered into an exclusive supplier silence customers who have been the victim of fires agreement with Toshiba Audio for its range of involving its products.” sound systems and accessories. The report welcomed the recall of Whirlpool’s defective machines, announced in July, but expressed Invision has been appointed UK distributor for regret that it took “far too long” for the Government ELAC’s range of audio products which includes to force the decision. It also called on the Government loudspeakers, turntables, amplifiers and music to press ahead with a new review of the safety of the streamers. modification and to investigate other possible sources of fires in Whirlpool’s tumble dryers after expressing Hoover has signed an initial two-year deal to concerns also shared by safety organisations. become the principal club sponsor of Rugby Martyn Allen, Technical Director of Electrical Safety League team Warrington Wolves. First, said the report was “a damning indictment” of Whirlpool’s handling of the recall, adding that it “echoes many of our own concerns.” “We welcome these strong words and hope they ensure some vital lessons are learnt. A recall should have been implemented when the faults were first discovered with the machines back in 2015 and had Whirlpool done this, we may have seen fewer fires attributed to affected tumble dryers. “Furthermore, NDAs should not be used for a safety issue such as this and the Select Committee is right to criticise Whirlpool’s use of them.”

The report also criticised the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), set up in January 2018, stating that the “Whirlpool saga” provided it with an ideal opportunity to stamp its authority on product safety and address a serious a major product safety issue. “Sadly, OPSS have not delivered,” it said. Rachel Reeves said this highlighted the need for a tough and independent national safety body with the teeth to stand up for consumers. “The Government’s Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is not fit for purpose and should be scrapped,” she commented. “It should be replaced by a truly independent body equipped with the full array of powers necessary to ensure that people have confidence in the safety of electrical goods in their homes.”




NOV/DEC 2019

Kati Eagle

Exertis has promoted Kati Eagle to UK purchasing director. She succeeds Mark Kahr, who has moved to an Exertis Group position as global procurement director. Indesit has received the top prize at Domestic & General’s (D&G) annual Total Excellence and Quality (TEQ) awards. Hotpoint, Indesit’s sister brand, also received a top spot, coming in third place. Hoover is bringing its ‘The Way You Live’ campaign featuring hero models from the brand’s cooking, washing and floorcare collections to more than 13 million viewers in the UK through several major online Video OnDemand (VOD) platforms.





ohn Lewis & Partners has introduced a major pilot at its Oxford store to encourage a ‘reduce, reuse & return’ culture among customers, which could provide a blueprint for the retailer’s other stores. The pilot will test eight ways in which the business and its customers can reduce their impact on the planet, potentially saving thousands of tonnes of plastic and packaging from going to landfill.

Amongst the initiatives are reusable Click & Collect bags made from 100% recycled materials and removal and recycling of Click & Collect packaging. Stephen Cawley, Partner and Head of Sustainability at John Lewis, said: “Our message that we want customers to take away just the product that they love and reduce and reuse the packaging that they don’t will be clearly communicated throughout the shop.” The retailer also plans to offer customers booking home deliveries the chance to help reduce carbon emissions and traffic by selecting an ‘Eco-delivery’ slot when a van would be near their home. John Lewis & Partners has committed to making all of its own-brand product packaging either easily recyclable or reusable by 2023.



eeds-based Passmore Group has added kitchens to its portfolio as a standalone service in order to support an ambition to achieve 60% growth by March 2022. The 54 year-old family-run business, which incorporates More Bathrooms, More Ability and More Build, has extended its existing showroom in Leeds to include More Kitchens, providing customers with a one-stop-shop for their main home improvement items. Passmore’s headquarters in Wortley, Leeds will showcase a combination of traditional, linear, classic and contemporary kitchen designs. The expansion has also paved way for the appointment of eight new team members, including six kitchen fitters. Pictured left to right: Rob Hands (installations surveyor), Tony Passmore (MD), Steve Passmore (operations director), Desiree Eddy (marketing executive).



uying group CIH’s Euronics golf day this year produced a team of worthy winners comprising members and suppliers in a competition held at The Forest of Arden Golf Club. The winning team (pictured L to R), Simon Williams of Modern Aids Ltd, Frank Craig of Frank B. Craig and Shaun English and James Coad of BSH, were presented with trophies during the post-golf dinner, alongside golfers Trevor Smith of Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, who was nearest the pin on hole eight, and Tim Clutton of Hisense, who achieved the longest drive from hole 12.



he Smart Technology Product Safety Stakeholder group, led by Electrical Safety First and law firm DLA Piper and comprising businesses and organisations involved in the production and sale of smart devices, has published a smart home guide for the “absolute beginner”. The publication covers what households need to know about the smart home, from the initial planning, to buying, installing and using smart devices. The guide is free to download at: https://tinyurl.com/ydvuod5y

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NOV/DEC 2019




Barista-style coffee the Caple way… Caple’s CM465GM built-in coffee machine with steam nozzle offers 30 auto programmes, five drink sizes and five strengths to choose from, and coffee can be made using fresh or ground beans. The grinder has thirteen settings, so users can determine how finely the beans are ground. A convenient auto timer means the appliance can be set to switch on and warm up at a particular time. The unit is part of Caple’s Sense range and is finished in gunmetal grey.


Hoover claims “world first” with H-KEEPHEAT oven launch Hoover’s new built-in WiFi oven, H-KEEPHEAT, billed as “the first and only oven designed to both cook and preserve food”, is capable of keeping cooked items in preservation mode for seven days. Individual portions are vacuum packed before being placed back in the oven for storage. Cooked food when sealed and cooled can also be kept in the refrigerator and reheated in the oven when required. The H-KEEPHEAT is a 75L unit that can be split into two cavities.


Marantz PM7000N launches November 2019 Marantz has launched its first fully discrete integrated Hi-Fi amplifier with high-resolution music streaming capabilities. With HEOS technology built in, listeners can stream music from Amazon Music (HD), Spotify Free, Deezer and more, or from local music file libraries. The PM7000N is built for the “music connoisseur”, with hand-selected high-grade audio components delivering quality sound with Hi-Res Audio support and an integrated phono stage.


Marshall’s most popular ‘phones get Google Assistant Marshall has launched its new Major III Voice headphones, equipping the brand’s most popular set with integrated Google Assistant. With a press and hold of the voice button, users can tell the Assistant to play a favourite playlist, read text messages or give directions while on the go, or ask for the latest on weather, traffic, reminders and more. The unit delivers up to 60 hours of wireless playtime on a single charge.




NOV/DEC 2019


NEFF brings 80,000+ recipes to customers NEFF has partnered with ckbk to offer customers 80,000+ curated recipes via an extensive database of recipes by recognised chefs. The ckbk platform is also integrated with Home Connect, which enables users to monitor and control their WiFi-enabled N90 NEFF ovens through the Home Connect app or via voice control. When recipes are selected, the oven will automatically select the correct temperature, time and cooking method.

Candy’s new laundry models Candy has launched a washing machine offering what it claims is the world’s most ecofriendly A-class programme. The A+++ Rapid’Ó, available in 9kg and 10kg capacities, can be voice controlled with the help of Google Home and Amazon Alexa digital butlers or remotely via the Candy simply-Fi App. The model has nine quick-wash programmes, from 14 to 60 minutes, a wide door sited close to the top of the machine and a Smart Console for easy management of programmes.


AIRUNO expands collection with new island model AIRUNO has expanded its product range with the anthracite and black glass Verdi island hood, which delivers recirculated extraction at a maximum rate of 765 m3/h. The appliance has a noise level of just 47dB(A) and boasts an A rating for energy. Four speed settings are operated via a soft-touch control panel. The Verdi is available in 90cm and 120cm, both of which feature an energy efficient LED strip light along the length of their underside.


Canton Smart Soundbar 10 brings Atmos to the party Canton’s latest soundbar delivers Dolby Atmos cinema sound, multiroom connectivity and music streaming via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and supports hi-res audio up to 24-bit/192kHz. It has eight drive units: four upward-firing (bass/Atmos) and four front-facing (2x midrange, 2x treble), and provides connectivity options including 4x HDMI with 4K HDR passthrough.

www.canton.de | Exertis Unlimited: 01279 822800

NOV/DEC 2019




Samsung QLED TV: All 2019 models are paired with a Q-Series soundbar

As the quality, connectivity, versatility and availability of visual and audio content in the home continues to advance, George Cole looks at how the perception of domestic multi-room audio and home cinema systems is changing, and why a big experience no longer necessarily demands a big space


or many people, multi-room audio and home cinema means having a large room, but this isn’t necessarily the case, as James Thomas, LG product manager – home entertainment, notes. “When it comes to theatre setups at home, room size doesn’t matter,” he says. “In fact, there are lots of options to suit every kind of space, including smaller living rooms. Following a revolution in home entertainment technology and product design, TVs and speakers are getting slimmer and more compact, taking up less space, whilst providing an immersive viewing and audio experience.” He adds that OLED TVs really showcase the space-saving benefits achieved with the technology, by not needing a backlight: “LG OLED W Series TVs can simply be mounted flush to a wall by utilising a clip and magnet system. In addition, the soundbars are designed to sit neatly below your TV, while wireless sub-woofers are easy and convenient to hide away in the corner of your room. With these design revolutions as well as the variety of sizes and sound capabilities available, home cinema setups work great for every space, large or small.”

MORE SOUND, FEWER SPEAKERS Barney Sykes, Panasonic head of marketing for imaging, audio and telephone, says: “We offer a diverse range of home cinema systems and soundbars to suit each home and every need.



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Thanks to virtual sound it is possible to enjoy the thrill of an immersive large-scale surround sound speaker setup, without all the speakers and cables.” For small living rooms, the Panasonic HTB200 features smart networking Bluetooth and a two-channel system. Claire Poux, Sony UK&I head of sound, adds: “Sony has a variety of multi-room/home cinema options to suit different consumer needs and at different price points.” Sony’s HT-X8500 Dolby Atmos soundbar can create three-dimensional audio without the need for extra speakers. James Parker, head of TV product management at Samsung Electronics UK, advises that “to maximise the home cinema experience, we have paired every 2019 QLED TV model with a Q-Series soundbar. Earlier this year we launched our MicroLED technology in The Wall, which can be customised to suit in any home environment regardless of size.”

THE ESSENCE OF ENTERTAINMENT What are the essential basics required to deliver a quality audio and video experience in the living room? James Thomas says “the home cinema of 2019 is all about a great TV and a great sound system working seamlessly together for a more immersive way to experience music or movies. For immersive sound, a soundbar with Dolby Atmos would be a good start. The integration of Dolby Atmos allows the sound to move around you in a three-dimensional space,

“When it comes to theatre setups at home, room size doesn’t matter”

so you feel like you’re inside the action. In terms of picture, investing in an OLED TV is a great way to bring the home cinema experience to life.” Samsung’s Parker adds: “People are using their TVs and audio systems in a huge variety of scenarios, from enjoying a new blockbuster to playing their favourite game, and as such the technology being used needs to be adaptive to that to ensure the best possible experience for each scenario.” He cites the company’s Adaptive Sound Technology “that analyses the content playing on a viewer’s TV and adjust in real time to the ideal sound settings for any given scene. The HW-Q70R and HW-Q60R will automatically switch to the adaptive sound mode when connected to a Samsung 2019 QLED TV. They also feature Samsung’s proprietary Acoustic Beam technology, which has a unique speaker design firing through an array of fine holes to create a panoramic soundscape that fills every corner of a room with immersive audio.” Claire Poux says pairing Sony’s HT-X8500 or HT-S350 soundbar with the UBP-X700 Bluray player will deliver an immersive viewing experience. “The X700 supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision and lets you access a world of 4K streaming services at your fingertips. The player also supports Dolby Atmos. The HT-X8500 soundbar lets users experience cinematic


Panasonic HTB700 soundbar with Dolby Atmos: Taking the shape of the room into account for an “immersive soundstage”

surround sound at home and includes a built-in dual subwoofer for a deep bass sound. And with Cinema Mode on, one of the seven optimised sound modes can help users experience every film at its best. The X8500 also incorporates Bluetooth wireless connectivity and allows users to connect the soundbar wirelessly to the TV.” “One of the most essential things to make your TV viewing experience even better is a soundbar,” says Barney Sykes. “It can mean the difference between simply watching something and immersing yourself in it. Dolby Atmos comes as a standard with Panasonic’s new HTB900 and HTB700 soundbars, which brings the shape of your room into the equation in order to deliver the most immersive soundstage possible. A 4K Blu-ray player will really unleash the potential of your 4K TV. Panasonic’s DP-UB450 Blu-ray player features HDR10+ as well as Dolby Vision.”

STREAMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS But are consumers moving away from physical formats to streaming for audio and video in the home? “Recent research by LG (2018) has found

of increasing connectivity, improved quality and more sophisticated technology. Netflix and Amazon have an almost endless 4K catalogue and the BBC has started testing 4K streaming. Sky Q and BT Sport have movies and football games available to watch in 4K.” However, Barney Skyes notes that “despite streaming platforms gaining popularity in recent years, the sales of physical discs, such as 4K UHD Blu-ray are growing as well thanks to 4K TV becoming more accessible to consumers. In order to get the most out of 4K TV, physical formats deliver the best picture and sound quality that maximise the advances in TV technologies.” Claire Poux adds: “We’ve found that viewers haven’t moved away from physical formats.”


LG’s C9 4K OLED TVs : part of the technological innovation that is making OLED a “living room standard”

that consumers are increasingly choosing to watch new films at home (66%), rather than at the cinema: a trend that is continuing to have a significant impact on audio and video products as customers choose to invest more in their own home theatre setups,” notes James Thomas. “Now that modern TVs come with the latest streaming apps pre-installed - such as Netflix and Amazon Prime - they make for an easy and convenient alternative to physical formats, offering hundreds of films to choose from, delivered straight to your living room instantly and on demand. Streaming services are already a staple of the modern home cinema, and their popularity will only continue to rise as we see physical formats slowly become obsolete.” James Parker agrees. “Recent trends,” he says, “show consumers are moving more towards online streaming platforms as a result

What technologies are set to be the next big thing in multi-room audio and home cinema? James Parker says “the next trend for multi-room audio experiences is a move towards a more cinematic experience in the home. Consumers nowadays are purchasing larger screens, with 75-inch screens showing the largest growth in the TV market. Consumers are also consuming more content at home in better quality than ever before, thanks to streaming services. These large screens deserve a befitting audio experience, which we believe can be provided through a cinematic soundbar with object-based audio, rather than a complicated hi-fi system. As it is now possible

to stream content in Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos, consumers can create phenomenal audio-visual experiences at home by pairing award winning soundbars with cutting edge TVs to deliver unparalleled viewing experiences.” Claire Poux adds: “The audio and streaming market is on the rise as more and more people are looking for smart products with multiple features including increased connectivity.” “It is an exciting time for the home entertainment industry with technological innovations taking place at a fast pace,” contends James Thomas. “With more consumers opting to watch films at home, picture and sound quality without compromise are key. We continue to see consumers upgrade their home setups, replacing traditional audio speakers with connected, sleek soundbars and compact systems which deliver higher quality and immersive audio through Dolby Atmos and Meridian Audio. In addition, the breakthrough in OLED technology, available at a range of prices to fit a broad spectrum of budgets, will see OLED becoming a living room standard – much like LED currently is today. Finally, we are seeing an increase in interest for 8K TVs, although 8K content is sparse for now.” The message is clear: big sound and big picture doesn’t always mean a big budget or a big room. The latest sound and picture technologies are more compact, more discreet and easier to operate thanks to wireless connectivity. There is certainly plenty to tempt both new and old fans of multi-room audio and home cinema.

Sony HT-X500 Dolby Atmos soundbar: “3D audio without the extra speakers”

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Caple’s Zeta Baltic Blue Ultragloss Light Grey Kitchen: The modern, handleless, uncluttered high gloss look favoured by many UK consumers

Over to you in the studio… We call this feature “The Kitchen Studio” to acknowledge the importance of design, style, aesthetics, presentation and refined technologies in the 21st century kitchen. But this doesn’t exclude kitchen appliance retailers who are not into kitchen furniture: there is something in consumers’ demand for style in the kitchen that all retailers can profit from, and the rich choice of looks, styles, materials and budgets available from manufacturers today means every outlet has some opportunity to benefit from the “studio” vibe


conversation with leading manufacturers, certain information about 21st century kitchen trends is apparent. We know that TV property programmes emphasise the prime importance of a value-enhancing “wow factor” kitchen. We know that TV cooking programmes drive consumer aspirations for both aesthetics and performance. We know that the UK trend for smaller houses and open-plan living, with the kitchen more on show as part of multi-purpose spaces, creates a demand for kitchens that look superb as well as functioning brilliantly. We know that “contemporary” kitchen styling with matching banks of integrated, built-in appliances is favoured because it addresses the space and multi-use issues. And we know that white or neutral colours are favourite finishes for cabinetry, while stainless steel and black are still up there as popular choices for appliances.



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But we also know that these useful trade data, collected by manufacturers through extensive surveys of UK consumers, don’t tell the whole story. While they are a valuable guide to the main trends, they still leave room for retailers to find the niches where distinctive, less mainstream furniture and appliances appeal to particular kinds of customers. Of course, it makes sense for retailers to take advantage of manufacturers’ data on UK consumers’ mainstream preferences; this may be exactly the market you are aiming at. But the consumers who are not part of the mainstream also represent a huge sector of the total kitchens and appliances market, and beyond the high-gloss uncluttered modernity many customers look for there is a thriving market for other equally current looks such as painted shaker-style cabinetry and farmhouse chic, enhanced with colour accents and individual statement appliances. And the

“The trend has been to create a larger kitchen that is combined with a dining and living area”

“industrial” look, with serious stainless steel “professional kitchen” appliances and cabinetry has gained a lot of traction, partly through exposure on TV cooking programmes.

FINDING THE VISION You may or may not have a kitchen studio showroom or be in the business of selling furniture as well as appliances (though, if the means are available to invest in showroom space, design and training, going into wood is a move that’s proven productive for more than one hard-pressed retailer). But retailers can, with what they’ve got already, assess their customer base, marshal their resources, present the vision and engage with customers’ individual needs and aspirations. A totally new kitchen offers the opportunity to present a complete vision and sell the appliances to populate it. But not everyone is looking for a total kitchen refit. Appliances are the heart of the kitchen, and selling the right ones – freestanding or built-in to suit the circumstances – is open to every retailer. Built-in may be the go-to category for design-led kitchens, but freestanding “statement” appliances such as a fridge/freezer or a range cooker are still not only relevant but sometimes key components in the aesthetics. Distress purchases are still a major driver of kitchen appliance sales, and seeing how replacement appliances can work with and revitalise an existing kitchen is a key skill that retailers have. Statement appliances can



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upgrade the look of an entire kitchen. A good choice of replacement appliances, slotted into an existing scheme, can provide a new lease of life. Small kitchen appliances are now been used as stylish accessories as well as functional items. Extraction – more important in open plan situations – now offers multiple choices of quiet, efficient and design-enhancing models that can either be discreetly hidden within existing cabinetry or put on full display as powerful design statements in their own right. Range cookers, more and more popular with younger customers, now come in a choice of sizes to suit all environments from a big farmhouse kitchen to a compact apartment, and equipped with an array of the latest technologies. And all-inone cold/hot/boiling/filtered taps are a design statement, an energy saver and a space saver (reducing the need for kettle or water filter on the worktop.) Everyone has an aspiration and everyone needs a kitchen, but not everyone has a clear vision of how to achieve it. Retailers are able to understand the aspiration and translate it into a vision their customers can engage with - and afford. It adds up to a potent but sometimes confusing set of possibilities.

OVER TO YOU…. Clearly, how retailers and manufacturers work together is an important element in this huge and exciting market, and manufacturers have been talking to GC about their research findings, their experience of the UK market and their own take on how to maximise potential. Doug Haswell, furniture manager at Caple, believes that “trends are moving towards kitchen doors which will be easy to maintain. So, kitchen furniture which is durable, such as doors which will not show fingerprints and general kitchen marks, mess, grease, are more in demand. With gloss doors, acrylic-faced furniture is becoming more popular as these tend to be more durable than lacquered doors.” For appliances, he sees that “consumers are looking for a whole host of intelligent features and innovative controls which will deliver outstanding cooking results. The ultimate cooking wall makes cooking quicker and easier with appliances placed together, and this should include a multi-functional oven



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have changed over the past few years. Whereas kettles and coffee machines never used to be considered as Christmas gifts, they are now luxury items that people actively covet. “It’s an opportunity retailers should take advantage of, as just a few simple engagements with customers asking about their Christmas shopping plans can help convince them to tick a few items off their list.” Senior Hotpoint brand manager Catherine Balderson focuses on “Retailers can, research into trends. “Research conducted with what they’ve by Houzz,” she says, got already, present “has outlined that the vision and engage 55% of UK consumers with customers’ favour a contemporary with a large capacity, kitchen style, with individual needs and pre-set recipes to stainless steel and aspirations” deliver fantastic cooking black remaining the results and a variety most popular colour of of programmes and a appliances, favoured by combination microwave which 45% and 23% respectively.” She provides extra cooking facilities and also notes one of the outstanding speeds up cooking times with a number of design and technology developments that functions, and warming drawers to keep dishes is revolutionising the look of the kitchen. “The and plates warm.” He adds that “more people sleek black glass of induction hobs blends are now looking for pyrolytic functionality from seamlessly into worktops, and with subsequent their oven in line with this being a standard preappliances that may be finished in stainless requisite already in France.” steel or black, the two most dominant colours of Geoff Baker, chairman of designer cooker kitchen appliances in the UK: 41% of homeowners hoods brand Airuno, says: “Two key changes included an induction hob as part of their kitchen have taken place in recent years. Firstly, renovation plans, with only 29% of consumers kitchens have become smaller as house sizes opting for a gas hob.” Most manufacturers we have continued to shrink, forcing consumers to talked to concur that induction is a technology invest in smaller or space saving appliances. In with a proven future. the extractor market, this has resulted in built-in For Indesit brand manager Sara Bazeley, the cupboard hoods becoming more popular. These focus is on “built-in appliances with incredible hoods can be installed into existing cabinetry functionality, time-saving technology and stunning and – by not requiring additional wall space design,” which are “now available at a range of help maximise the space that is available. Many price points in the market, meaning consumers also feature additional storage space, making do not need to overspend to achieve the look them ideal for small kitchens. and finish they desire. Design is important at any “Discreet and subtle appliances are also point in the market place and top-end looks filter suited to smaller kitchens, so flush fitting down to entry level. Consumers can now achieve countertop extractors which blend in with the a high-end look at an entry-level budget.” rest of the kitchen and unobtrusive ceiling hoods are very much on trend too. Downdraft extractors which can be retracted out of view when not in use are another good option, with glass models that allow light to circulate a popular choice. “The other key change is the rise of smart technology. When it comes to extractors, this means those that feature hob to hood technology, which InSinkErator brushed gold tap combines enables the hob to control the hood mult-functionality wirelessly and adjust the extraction with standout design rate as required so that consumers can concentrate on cooking.”

SMALL PACKAGES, BIG TRENDS Shalika Hooda, brand manager at Beko, emphasises that, at this time of year, gift opportunities abound. “The types of gifts consumers are considering

STYLISH IN STEEL SENSE has welcomed a new addition to the range, introducing SENSE STEEL, the third generation of cooking. The collection encapsulates the renowned sleek SENSE design with simple touch controls, unrivalled functionality and incredible performance. The much-loved classic, stainless steel finish has been transformed into an ultra-contemporary look with fingerprint resistant coating to ensure your appliances remain flawless at all times. For a limited time only, receive a free Meater+ Wireless Smart Meat Thermometer for each C2402SS or C2105SS purchased. Another reason to choose SENSE. #StylishInSteel

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KitchenAid in black stainless steel demonstrating the design and function benefits of a bank of appliances

their success. Technology drives demand for ‘premiumisation’, and consumers are willing to pay for products that will provide them with more time, security and health benefits.”


And InSinkErator marketing communications manager Anne Kaarlela extols the virtues of food waste disposers, which “allow food waste to be dealt with instantly, hygienically and in a sustainable manner, with the further benefits of saving space and improving cleanliness in the kitchen.”

TRENDS AND MORE TRENDS Whirlpool marketing director Marco Falaschetti, while acknowledging the predominance of white or neutral coloured cabinetry with “a modern aesthetic,” remarks that a survey indicates that “the classic, country-house style is more popular in the UK and Ireland than in other European countries, accounting for 20% of the production in the UK and Ireland compared to only 4% of the Italian production and 10% of the French production.” But he also emphasises the key role of appliances. “Regardless of preferred style, the design of domestic appliances is very important to think about when making a new purchase,” pointing out that manufacturers are meticulous in producing appliance collections that match in every detail. “This ensures total symmetry,”

he says, “and the appliances blend seamlessly together to give the kitchen a sophisticated and designer feel.” He also adds his own belief in the virtues of induction: “In the hob sector, induction has seen a real growth in sales as consumers begin to appreciate the tremendous efficiency, speed, safety, controllability and economical cooking on offer. One of the most attractive benefits of induction cooking is flexible cooking zones; a benefit that makes induction an increasingly popular and a sought-after choice for the consumer.” For KitchenAid, positioned as a luxury brand, channel controller Lee Collett acknowledges, and welcomes, the fact that “a kitchen is a serious financial investment and synergy of design is essential, particularly at the luxury end of the market. As a result, there is a growing design trend to bank, either vertically or horizontally, built-in cooking appliances to create a stunning effect.” He also remarks that, according to research, the kitchen is a prime place for consumers to go premium. “In the UK, there is a quest for ‘premiumisation’, with consumers favouring products that demonstrate

ESSE’s new 990 Hybrid is an elegant range cooker with real fire in its belly. Part wood-burning cook stove, part contemporary electric range cooker, the new 990 Hybrid is a dual-fuel range cooker that offers the choice and versatility of cooking with solid fuel or electricity. The right hand side of the ESSE Hybrid is an all-electric affair, comprising two cooking ovens, a full-width grill and a generous hotplate, delivering fingertip control and flexibility with all the style and elegance of an ESSE. The left hand side of the hybrid is dominated by a traditional firebox which powers the large circular hotplate above and the deep oven below. Whether you’re baking rustic pizzas in the wood-fired oven or griddling a steak on the sizzling hot hob, ESSE’s new 990 Hybrid brings a taste of the great outdoors into the kitchen.



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Finally, Bill Miller, manager director of the Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG), brought home some insights from European Küchenmeile Fair in Germany, where he visited a number of kitchen manufacturers and suppliers. “The trend has been to create a larger kitchen that is combined with a dining and living area,” he says. “This extra space allows for the introduction of an island, which remains a popular design configuration. This has enticed the consumer to invest in style and quality. There is a continuing demand for soft and pale grey tones for the furniture, while there is an enduring popularity for the contemporary handle-less kitchen furniture design. This lends itself well to the modern UK home, creating a clean and uncluttered open plan format in the ground floor space.” He notes with interest that “the most prominent trend was the continuance of the amalgamation of the ground floor living space. However, the difference was that the entire open plan living space was integrated by using the same furniture range throughout. This trend was independent of the market sector, or whether the manufacturer was large or small. Kitchen furniture was used across the entire kitchen and living space. One manufacturer even included an office using the same furniture. “It made the living space area very fluid, and it was often difficult to define the divide across the ground floor. One kitchen furniture manufacturer went one stage further, presenting an entire apartment with the same furniture, including the kitchen, living and dining area, bathroom and bedroom, all completed using the same furniture range. This is a very interesting trend and it will be fascinating to see if it crosses the channel and makes any inroads into the UK marketplace. It is something to watch and see if the consumer is genuinely interested in adopting the same furniture throughout their entire home. “The colour trend remains grey and white, with little interest in brighter colours, except as a feature here and there. However, it is interesting to note that the black furniture door is emerging both in a matt and a textured finish. Some of the more unusual introductions included a number of new door finishes from Bauformat, which included an ombre-type door that appeared to change colour with the light.” The kitchen design and appliances market in the UK is nothing if not diverse, and the retail opportunities range from a single standalone appliance to the provision of full cabinetry and appliances. Adopting the “studio mentality” may well pay dividends for retailers who are willing to open up their opportunities and present an attractive vision to their customers, be they “value” or premium buyers.




ALL CHANGE – AGAIN Change was the big theme of last month’s column and recent events mean revisiting it. Two major changes to the BBC’s TV service begin in 2020. The first is the news that the text red button service is to be scrapped. Those of us of a certain age will remember what life was like before the internet arrived…


the 1970s, the BBC and ITV launched teletext services, which enabled viewers to access information, such as news, weather and sport on their TV screen. It was a revelation. Now, instead of waiting for the next news bulletin or reading about it in the next day’s newspaper, information could be accessed in real-time. The BBC’s teletext service, Ceefax, ended in 1999, and the red button service took its place. Now, the text function is to end (the red button will still be used for interactive TV services like choosing what court to Ofcom’s 2018 report notes watch at Wimbledon). that in 2011, less than “The BBC’s teletext The BBC argues that a third of adults (27%) service, Ceefax, with the internet so used a smartphone. In ended in 1999, and prevalent, there’s now 2018, this figure had the red button service no need to provide the increased to 78%. But took its place.” red button service for that still leaves more text information. They add than one in five adults that viewers will be able to without a smartphone, access information via the BBC which translates into millions news website and their mobile of disenfranchised viewers. The app. But the BBC’s move has prompted BBC has been asked to look at its protests, particularly from older viewers who decision again, but I’m afraid it’s unlikely to shift don’t have online access or own a smartphone. its position. But as we move towards online

services and a cashless society, many people are going to struggle to keep up.

CHANGES FOR IPLAYER The BBC’s iPlayer service, launched in 2007, is being revamped next year. Amongst the changes will be most programmes being available for up to a year after broadcast, rather than thirty days as is the case now (in the early days of iPlayer, the limit was seven days). It’s all part of the BBC’s strategy to fight back against the rise of Nexflix, which has seen iPlayer’s share of the UK TV streaming market fall from 40% to 15%. Meanwhile, by the time you read this, the new BBC/ITV streaming subscription service Britbox may well have been launched.

ITUNES – ALL CHANGE News that Apple has dropped its iTunes music service from its latest Macintosh operating system (Catalina) also marks the end of an era. iTunes changed the rules of the game when it came to digital music. The Apple iTunes store was launched in 2003 and consumers could purchase single tracks or albums from a vast music catalogue. They could even burn their music files onto CDs. Later on, The Beatles’ music was on iTunes, a sign of how the music industry recognised the importance of digital music. Today, most music revenue is from digital sources. But the demise of iTunes (which will, however, still be on Windows PCs) shows how streaming has raced ahead in terms of becoming the music medium of choice for millions.



here’s one change that has had me scratching my head: the return of the compact cassette. In the first half of 2019, UK music cassette sales were 36,000 – a 115% rise year-on-year. This year, Sony launched a new Walkman cassette player to celebrate the format’s 40th anniversary. Apparently, a number of younger consumers like the retro factor of tape, but for those of us who grew up with cassettes, it’s another story – reduced audio quality (even when using high-grade tape and noise reduction); tangled and snarled tapes; the pain of trying to locate a track in the middle of the tape, and many pre-recorded music cassettes rejigged the running order of albums in order to get the music to fit both sides of the cassette. Also, it’s worth putting this “revival” in context. In 1989 – when cassette tape sales were at their zenith - some 83 million units were sold globally. The latest sales figures are a mere drop in the ocean.

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he past year has not been easy for retailers, manufacturers and other trading partners in the electrical industry, and 2020 does not promise any quick fixes. The only certainty is that all trading partners in the supply chain will need to work together, listen to each other, offer mutual support, and have the vision and strategy not only to survive, but to carry momentum into an upturn in business for all as we face an ever-changing retail landscape, and what may potentially be a very different relationship with our EU neighbours. The future is in your hands. GC Magazine hears from some of the “industry movers” committed to promoting their obligation to retailers, society and environment

Peter Spencer, General Manager UK & Ireland at Electrolux, explains how the business is addressing global challenges


has been an exciting year for Electrolux, as we celebrated our 100th anniversary and launched The Better Living Programme, our commitment to shaping better and more sustainable living around the world. With bold targets focusing on better eating, better garment care and better home environment, the initiative widens the scope of Electrolux’s commitment to sustainability and enables the company and its brands to contribute in a meaningful way on key global challenges. “Included in this is our pledge to take action on food-related challenges, with a mission to inspire and engage 300,000 children, consumers and professionals to adopt better food habits and sustainable ways of cooking by 2030. Assisting us on this mission is the Electrolux Food Foundation, which has been set up to support and fund employee-driven projects that take action on food challenges. In the UK, the partnership between our Zanussi brand and not-for-profit organisation Cook School is actively contributing to this mission, as we have reached over 1,200 primary school children in 2019 alone. In 2020, we will see



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this programme grow nationally, reaching over 10,000 children and their families. “Such an intrinsic focus on sustainability and having a positive impact on the environment/ community we live and work in is at the core of our business and is built into our purpose of shaping living for the better. Electrolux was recently recognised as a leader in the household durables industry in the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for the 12th consecutive year, and we continue to take pride how our appliances help improve people’s lives, whether by helping them to create greattasting food, to care for the clothes they love or simply to help them care for the environment in their home. “As we move into 2020, we continue to reinvent our Taste, Care & Wellbeing experiences based on the changing needs of today’s consumers, addressing pain-points through innovative technology. There will be an increased focus in the industry towards smart and connected appliances, and products with technologies that either make the consumer’s life easier or allow consumers to get more out of the appliance.”


Ben Jones, Senior Product Manager, Hama UK, outlines the company’s major achievements and developments


romising to be a landmark year for Hama UK, 2020 and the onset of a new decade brings with it the beginning of our 30th anniversary year – and we have much to celebrate! Starting out as a small photo distribution business back in 1990, Hama UK has since embarked on a momentous three-decade journey to the thriving one-stop accessory solution of today. “Our notable presence at IFA is just one example of the scale to which the company has grown, with the iconic Hama central sphere, complete with resident

e-sports team, emphasising our continuing heavy focus towards the rapidly advancing gaming sector. Pioneering smart home, audio and 8k displays drove home the extensiveness of our range in an equally engaging way. “The Euronics Showcase was another key exhibition event in our calendar for 2019. Many of those attending would have walked past and perused our prominently located stand, where two-times What Hi-Fi? Multi-room System Product of the Year winners, Audio Pro, was a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

While the country is poised to Leave, there is one thing that will Remain following Brexit, says David Allen, Managing Director of Recycling Lives Compliance Services


hough the economic and political uncertainty of Brexit still lingers, we in the waste industry can be certain of one thing at least – producer responsibility regulations will remain. The UK will continue to enforce much of the EU’s waste legislation covering WEEE, packaging and batteries. “This is good news for the environment, and for companies like ours. We assume producers’ responsibility for complying with these regulations, working with leading brands including Hisense, Makita, Sharp, Magimix, Russell Hobbs and Technika and kitchen appliance producers PJH Distribution and Apelson Appliances. “Despite this certainty, there have been challenges for our sector and clients this year. Producer costs have seen steep increases as a result of the way certain aspects of legislation are being enforced by UK regulators. We have worked hard to minimise cost increases for our clients through our innovative approach to sourcing evidence of recycling. As part of the national Recycling Lives Group we have direct access to approved WEEE treatment facilities nationwide, meaning we are as close as possible to the root costs for recycling. We also support the operations of the Recycling Lives charity as it changes lives, including rehabilitating offenders by employing them in WEEE recycling. “After a year of challenge and the looming prospect of change, we are looking forward to what 2020 has in store. While the UK will be ending its relationship with the EU, we will be using the opportunities this brings to further cement our relationships with clients, existing and new. We’re keen to work with more electricals and electronics businesses to further support charity work as well as deliver sound commercials and a first-rate service.”

“With more innovations, concepts and product developments planned than ever before, Hama has already set the wheels in motion for strategic 2020 Q1 cross-channel expansion. Taking up a stand at the infinitely popular Spring Fair at the NEC in February, we aim to showcase our comprehensive instore solutions to a wide range of retailers whilst highlighting our underlying dedication to the independent store through the presence of our strongest asset: our experienced on-the-road sales team.”

As we move into a new decade, and with a review of the WEEE Regulations expected, REPIC CEO Mark Burrows-Smith outlines why the industry needs better intelligence on the lifetime and fate of electricals, and calls for collaboration across the electricals sector to improve intelligence on the relationship between EEE going onto the market and WEEE ending its life


is becoming increasingly difficult for electrical producers to meet the WEEE collection targets, and the data for the first half of the year indicates that the 2019 target will not be met. How as an industry can we address this important issue? “There are many channels for consumers to consider when disposing of or recycling their unwanted electrical goods. Many people choose to donate goods, pass them on to family members or sell old EEE products online through second-hand marketplaces. Some people hold on to old electricals ‘just in case’ and some recycle them, but others opt to throw them in the bin. Whilst the behaviour of consumers is complex, the impact on return of waste products back to compliance schemes is more straightforward: not enough WEEE is arising in society to meet the targets – or there is a shortfall of WEEE relative to sales. “Together, electrical producers, retailers, WEEE collectors and recyclers need to bridge the data gap to improve our collective understanding of EEE and WEEE flows. More accurate data will allow for more informed decision-making, paving the way to a more circular economy as we head into the next decade.” Download REPIC’s latest Industry Insights report for more on this topic: https://repic-weee-insights.co.uk

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DIGITAL, RENTAL, SERVICEABLE, PROFITABLE… The electrical retailing scene was very different twenty years ago. Alan Bennett looks back

installing lots of satellite dishes for people who wanted the wide range of channels offered by the new Sky digital transmissions. In the workshop we were busy 1990S camcorder with CRT TV servicing dismantled for even though reliability service had greatly improved by this time. Spares the end of 1999 there was concern availability was about what was known as Y2K or the reasonable and service Millennium bug. It related to PC-based data still available, calendars’ transition to year 2000 and especially if you had links the possible bugs that would arise. with the manufacturers – this Would PCs and aeroplanes crash? depended largely on the volume Would nuclear weapons be unleashed? of sales you did with their products. inch – along with tube-type In the event nothing much happened… VCR service, too, was booming: video front- and rear-projection models decks had many wearing parts, and a good trade were the norm for ‘proper’ home cinema IN THE SHOP was being done by specialists who rebuilt head then, along with meaty audio amplifiers and By today’s standards 1999 was a very good year drums with new ferrite chips. In the early days loudspeakers. Movies were rented in tape or for the electrical trade. The rental market was still of digital TV the trade was involved in servicing disc form, largely from high street outlets such strong, and a good money-spinner for those who DTV equipment and I must admit we struggled as Blockbuster, many of them independent. We could find the means to finance it. At that time we with some of the hardware, more than with DVD did a good trade in this sphere alongside our had thousands of TVs and VCRs on rental, along machines whose failures were often down to retail and other rental business. It was to be with an increasing number of white goods. Rental mechanical problems and the need for cleaning eight years before thinscreen TV, in LCD form, is still a mainstay of our business today, and and lubrication, jobs that we had become familiar overtook CRT TV sales. washing machines and the like a good proportion with in video recorders. Apart from fixing and VCRs were going strong for us at that time. of it. Digital TV broadcasting was just a year old aligning dishes and aerials none of the skills we The battle between VHS and Betamax had died and both the equipment and the subscriptions had acquired with analogue set-top boxes were down, VHS having emerged as the winner with its were handled by retailers. Its take-up was to be transferable to digital receivers. At least greater availability of models, features and climbing rapidly, fuelled by the wide these boxes were light in weight: 1999 CRT TVs, pre-recorded tapes – it was a pain range of programmes available especially in the larger sizes, were very heavy and for cassette renters to duplicate from Sky and ONdigital, bulky so that transportation between workshop, their stocks, and we found the forerunner of today’s showroom and customers called for brawn! it so even though we “Shop-floor Freeview service. favoured Betamax VCRs business has now E-COMMERCE Ominously – though for sale and rental. In been clobbered by Shop-floor business has now been clobbered we didn’t know it at fact, Beta format had internet trading. In 1999 by internet trading. In 1999 it was just starting to the time – interactive less than three years take off, described by some commentators as ‘an shopping (Open) it was just starting to to go. By this time online retail explosion’, though as yet it had had launched shortly before VCRs had become take off, described by little effect on traditional shop retailing. Its turnover Christmas. very sophisticated some commentators at that stage was about £600m, a small fraction The availability with, for instance, fouras ‘an online retail of the total at that time; few amongst us dreamed of large screens and head drums for good explosion’...” of the effect it would have in years to come, or good quality sound, still frame and ‘trick’-play realised that electrical goods would become one especially from disc players, features, while various of the prime categories of e-commerce, lending encouraged interest in home digital tape formats had itself to that much more readily than other classes cinema. And so did we, because emerged, including Digital8 and of product. Less than a third of the UK’s top 100 this was, as now, a high-value sector of Mini-DV. These latter gave rise to pocket retailers had their own websites, and of them only the market, and often involved value addition camcorders, but the lives of digital tape formats 30% were transactional, i.e. offering sales facilities. by installation. Home cinema calls for a large were short because of the rise of disc-based In 1999 around one in 50 people used the net to screen; big flat screen TVs had been available in digital systems which continue today, though now buy, for instance, Christmas presents. There was 42 inch plasma form for a couple of years, at a in decline, usurped by internet streaming. much concern about card security in those days. huge price, very ugly and thick, and with a picture SERVICE SCENE How things have changed in 20 years, all to performance inferior in many ways to CRT (glass) In those days repair and other services were the consumer’s benefit and very little to ours in sets, especially in terms of colour rendering and still going strong. Outdoors our riggers were the trade! off-axis viewing. Large CRT screens – up to 36




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Profile for Get Connected Magazine

Get Connected Magazine - November/December 2019  

Featuring: 10 Multi-Room Audio & Home Cinema George Cole investigates this big, varied and technologically exciting market, and finds – amo...

Get Connected Magazine - November/December 2019  

Featuring: 10 Multi-Room Audio & Home Cinema George Cole investigates this big, varied and technologically exciting market, and finds – amo...