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TV & SOUND PROJECTION As TVs get ever thinner, how challenging is it for manufacturers to offer high quality pictures with good quality sound?
1st-30th April 2018
Going the distance, delivering the goods
DESIGNER LIVING Good design, and how it is presented, provides opportunities galore for manufacturers and retailers to tap into consumersâ€™ desires and expectations
ONE MONTH OF AMAZING DEALS WITH
SUPER SPRING SAVINGS! GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED With the rise in popularity of a broad range of alternative viewing sources, is there a future for public service broadcasting?
FROM THE BENCH Dust build-up in electronic and electrical equipment is bad, and in some instances dangerous. Alan Bennett looks at treating the problem
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06 The Word
In and around the industry
Ultra-thin TV panels deliver on style and on image quality, but the thinner they get, the more difficult it is to match the superb pictures with immersive sound. GC looks at what the industry is doing to overcome this challenge
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TV & Sound Projection
Great design is not an out-of-reach aspiration, but an achievable expectation that extends into all areas of the home
25 George Cole Gets Connected
Is there a future for public service television? Will we be watching 4K UHD images on mobile devices when 5G services arrive? How far away is digital radio switchover?
26 From the Bench
Alan Bennett looks at the causes, effects and treatment for the build-up of dust in electronic and electrical equipment
Since last month’s Editorial Comment focused on some of the key retail figures coming out of the “golden quarter” – which, on the most optimistic assessment were rather bleak – the first quarter of 2018 has not offered much in the way of solid comfort or hope
here is no easy way to say this – and in any case those who are suffering are already well aware – but bricks-and-mortar retailing is never again going to be what it was in the latter part of the 20th and the early 21st centuries. We know that adverse conditions – such as consumers seeing their real wages shrink in the face of inflation, Brexit uncertainties and the continuing shift to online purchasing – have only intensified the decline of UK High Streets. Everyone tends to focus on the High Street, but recent figures from the BRC show that not only High Streets, but every place where bricks-andmortar stores operate, including retail parks and shopping malls, has suffered significant declines in footfall across most of the country. Footfall is a key marker of health wherever people congregate to shop, eat, browse and socialise. It’s the lifeblood of the whole social experience of “going shopping,” and it is ebbing away in what the BRC describes as a “longer term trend.” Shoppers notice, and their experience becomes less enjoyable when they sense a feeling of decline, of drifting away. What, if anything, can be done about it? It may be true that consumers are anticipating more disposable income as wages start to catch up with inflation. The consumer confidence index, though still negative, has even improved by a few points. But if they do feel like returning to retail venues – be they High Street, Mall or Retail Park – what do they find? Just from recent memory, we note Maplins is struggling to find a buyer and stores are closing; M&S is closing stores; Mothercare is “refinancing”, New Look is closing stores; Homebase is cutting up to 2,000 staff and closing up to 40 stores; Prezzo is closing 94 branches; Carpetright is struggling under onerous rent costs; Claire’s Accessories’ US parent has filed for Chapter 11 protection, creating some anxiety about what might happen to the 378 UK stores that may stay open, says the company, “for now.” Most of these are not electrical stores. Most are not independents. They’re debt-ridden, slow-moving chains that are not lean and agile enough to adapt quickly. But, crucially, they’re part of the whole “experience” of what used to
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be the national pastime of spending a day “out shopping.” Store closures leave great holes in the retail environment. There’s less to get the punters out. And there’s nothing as depressing as the echoing bleakness of an environment built for shoppers that has boarded-up gaps where stores used to be. Chicken-and-egg: consumers don’t go shopping because of a recession; shops suffer, struggle and close; shoppers return to find there are not so many shops to hold their attention, and don’t come again; more shops suffer… And online grows and grows. The most difficult failures to take, though, are those like Goodmans in Market Harborough, an independent family-run business with a great reputation that has served the town for half a century with sales and servicing of domestic appliances, now forced to close because nobody wants to buy it, even as a going concern. Goodmans, according to its customers, offered all the things that independents are told are their “unique” pluses: friendly honest service; helpful advice; reasonable prices; willingness to go the extra mile. But all of that has not been enough. The three brothers’ parting plea was for local shoppers to support smaller local businesses and “keep our town busy, full and vibrant.” Busy, full and vibrant. That’s the Holy Grail of shopping venues. Only retailers, local councils and Governments working together can find it.
Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director
Will Dobson Creative Director
James McIntosh Consumer Consultant
George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant
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THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
STORE OPENINGS AT LOWEST LEVEL IN SEVEN YEARS ∠ Retailers increasingly feeling impact of acceleration in online shopping ∠ Beauty product stores, speciality coffee shops, ice cream parlours and booksellers buck trend with net increase in stores ∠ Fall in bank, estate agent and travel agent numbers reflects rising customer demand for online and apps
he number of new high street stores opening in 2017 fell to 4,083 from 4,534 in 2016, according to research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC) for PwC. The data shows that the second half of the year saw substantially more closures and fewer openings than in the first six months, reflecting a tough trading environment due to factors such as a slowdown in consumer spending, rising staff and business rates costs, and a slowdown in food and beverage growth as consumer confidence reached a four-year low in December (Source: GfK). 5,855 outlets closed on Great Britain’s high streets in 2017 at a rate of 16 a day, a slight increase on the 15 stores a day closing in 2016, when 5,430 outlets shut. It is the second consecutive year that the number of closures has risen. The findings equate to an overall net loss of 1,772 stores in town centres in 2017. Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “2017 was tough for the British retail industry, particularly the second half of the year. We saw volatility from month to month and across different sectors as wage growth failed to keep up with inflation, forcing many shoppers to think more carefully about their spending habits. “On top of this, many retailers are increasingly feeling the impact of the acceleration of online shopping as consumers begin to feel more comfortable with the price transparency and reliability of delivery options offered by online players.” Hooker added: “We’ve seen a tough start to 2018, but it’s important to remember the British high street still plays a vital role in society and there are elements of growth amongst the headline numbers of decline.
“The winners at the moment, such as nail bars, coffee shops, bookstores and craft beer pubs, are all flourishing because they serve the needs of emerging consumer segments, such as experience-seeking millennials, and offer a differentiated physical proposition that online offerings can’t compete with.” London saw the greatest number of net closures (-336), the region being hardest hit by the business rates reassessment and a degree of saturation in the casual dining market. Lucy Stainton, Senior Relationship Manager (Retail) at LDC, said re-occupancy and evolution of the use of space is the most striking aspect of high street changes, as banks become coffee shops, pubs change to become nurseries and nail salons open in the space vacated by fashion stores. “In 2017, the sub-sectors with the highest growth rates largely have ‘experience’ in common, as consumers are still very social and want to engage with their high streets and physical space in a way which perhaps replaces traditional shopping activities, some of which has moved online.” Stainton predicted “continued green shoots of growth” across almost all subsectors as newer entrants and younger brands take this “shake out” as an opportunity to pick up available property. “Businesses with a relevant proposition and a strong understanding of their customer can absolutely still thrive in the right locations. Equally, more established brands who continue to tweak their offer and innovate on the way through will no doubt see positive results and retain their valued place on our high streets.”
MARKET HARBOROUGH INDEPENDENT CLOSES AFTER 50 YEARS
independent electrical retailer in Market Harborough has closed after 50 years’ trading in the town. Goodmans, which sold and serviced domestic appliances from major brands such as Miele, Bosch and AEG, had been run by three brothers and was established in the late ‘70s by their father. The brothers told their local newspaper that bricks and mortar retailing is “extremely challenging” nowadays and they had been unable to sell the business “even as a good going concern”. Goodmans clearly had a good reputation for its customer service. One reviewer wrote: “Quite simply the best Electrical Appliance store for miles. Friendly honest service, helpful advice and always willing to supply whatever I need at very reasonable prices.” Despite this, the family business underwent the same challenges as many small independents – stagnating prices due to the mass production of products and the subsequent rise of a throwaway society as goods became perceived as not worth repairing. And, of course, the move to online trading. The three brothers expressed their regret that the business would not continue to trade and had this to say to local shoppers: “We would urge you, where possible, to avoid the huge, faceless internet traders and their adventurous accountants and support the smaller local businesses in Market Harborough, who can still offer good value for money. “Keep our town busy, full and vibrant!”
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THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
‘BEAST FROM THE EAST’ DRIVES NON-FOOD PURCHASERS ONLINE Online sales of non-food products rise 7.9% in March while high street bears brunt of winter chill
igures released by the BRC and KPMG show that retail sales increased by 1.4% on a like-for-like basis in March, despite disruption caused by the cold weather fronts which hit much of the UK. The rise compares to a year-onyear fall of 1% during the same month last year. On a total basis, sales rose 2.3% against a decline of 0.2% in March 2017. The British Retail Consortium called the run-up to Easter a “roller coaster ride.” Helen Dickinson, Chief-Executive of the BRC, said: “March paints a volatile picture for sales, which experienced peaks and troughs to deliver some modest growth on last year. The positive distortion from the timing of Easter pushed sales up by over 15% during the holiday week compared with the rest of the month, only just making up for a sub-zero performance at the start of the month. “There’s no doubt that the ‘Beast from the East’ and its successor played a significant role in deterring shoppers from making store visits. But it didn’t dampen consumers’ appetites towards food purchases, which saw the anticipated spike from the Easter festivities. This was in stark contrast to nonfood sales which, despite some promotional-driven activity, bore the brunt of consumers’ disinterest in typical springtime purchases, as well as the ongoing spending squeeze on non-essentials.”
FURTHER REDUNDANCIES AT MAPLIN ELECTRONICS
aplin administrators PwC have announced a further 66 redundancies at the retailer’s head offices in London and Rotherham as the search for a buyer for the 217-strong store chain has so far failed. Maplin, which was acquired by private equity firm Rutland Partners in 2014 in an £85 million deal, fell into administration in February. PwC said the retailer had been hit hard by a slowdown in consumer spending and more
expensive imports as the pound weakened. This is the second round of redundancies at the firm’s head offices (57 in London and nine in Rotherham), following the 63 (55 in London and eight in Rotherham) made on 8th March. There are currently 79 employees retained at the head office operations. PwC said it remains open to interest from potential buyers and it will “continue to review the position of Maplin stores.”
SHOP PRICE DEFLATION OFFERS “WELCOME RESPITE” FOR CONSUMERS
hop price deflation accelerated in March driven by a substantial slowdown in food inflation, which reached its lowest rate for a year. Figures released by the BRC show that prices have been deflationary for 59 months and the 1% recorded in March is the deepest since February 2017. Food inflation slowed substantially, down from 1.6% in the previous month to 0.4% in March, representing the lowest rate since February 2017. In the non-food sector, deflation eased, with prices decreasing at a rate of 1.9% compared to a 2.2% decline in the previous month. BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson commented: “So, some welcome respite for consumers, particularly with the gap between inflation and wage growth finally narrowing. But with further wage increases on the horizon putting upward pressure on prices, consumers will continue to feel the grip on their spending power.”
“There’s no doubt that the ‘Beast from the East’ and its successor played a significant role in deterring shoppers from making store visits.”
Over the three months to March, in-store sales of non-food items declined 3.0% on a total basis and 4.0% on a like-for-like basis, while all nonfood sales over the same period decreased 1.8% on a like-for-like basis and 1.0% on a total basis. Online sales of non-food products during March showed strong growth, however, up 7.9% against a rise of 6.6% in March 2017. The online penetration rate also increased, up from 20.6% last year to 22.0%. “March was difficult for large parts of the UK retail industry,” said Paul Martin, Head of Retail at KPMG. “Seemingly endless cold weather dissuaded would-be shoppers from the high street and a number of retailers delivered bad news. Great hopes were placed on Easter trading, but whilst the latest figures point to overall improvement when compared to recent months, the Easter boost didn’t quite measure up to previous years. “The divide between food and non-food sales became further pronounced, with food clearly the winner. This came at the expense of other categories, with few others noting growth. Retailers with an online presence were far more fortunate, with a marked lift in all categories.
“SPRING” BRINGS A LIFT IN CONSUMER CONFIDENCE
Spring is in the air,” declared GfK’s Joe Staton as he revealed a 3-point uptick in consumer confidence during March. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to -7, with all of the constituent measures recording higher values. Staton, Head of Experience Innovation UK at the research analyst, said: “Despite the Beast from the East leaving the nation shivering under a blanket of snow, stoic UK consumers turned faintly bullish this March. “The prospect of wage rises finally outstripping declining inflation, high levels of employment with low-level interest rates, and finally some movement on the Brexit front, appear to have boosted our spirits.” The index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months increased three points; the measure for the general economic situation of the nation also increased three points; the major purchase index rose by two points, and the savings index increased one point. “It’s still a little early to be talking about green shoots, and the core score is, of course, still negative,” added Staton, “but this is definitely a movement in the right direction.”
WHICH? ACCUSED OF CAUSING UNNECESSARY FEAR AND ALARM AMONG CONSUMERS Which? is calling for plastic-backed cooling appliances to be removed from sale “urgently” and has labelled 250 models “Don’t Buys”, a move which AMDEA, the UK trade association for manufacturers of large and small domestic appliances, said would cause unnecessary fear and alarm among consumers.
he call from Which? follows an industry-wide investigation of more than 500 of the most popular refrigeration appliances on the market which shows that the backing material on 45% of the fridges, freezers and fridge freezers tested is made of “unsafe plastic that poses a potential fire risk,” according to Which?. The investigation also revealed that a number of models backed with plastic that manufacturers previously claimed was flame-retardant could also speed up the spread of a fire. In September 2017 Which? said it had stopped recommending almost 240 cooling products, dozens of which, ironically, it had previously awarded “Best Buy” status. The move coincided with the organisation’s call for manufacturers to reject “inadequate current safety standards” and to take immediate voluntary action to end the production of non-flame-retardant plastic-backed fridges, freezers and fridge freezers. Now Which? is “calling on manufacturers to make product safety a priority and immediately stop making refrigeration products with any plastic backing.”
ELECTROLUX DOES AWAY WITH PLASTIC BACKING ON REFRIGERATION PRODUCTS
lectrolux has announced that all of the Group’s fridges, freezers, and fridge freezers produced for the UK and Ireland markets will feature a metal or aluminised-based backing from the end of May 2018. The company said the move was in anticipation of potential future regulation updates. It follows similar action by other manufacturers such as Sharp Home Appliances and Gorenje.
WHIRLPOOL INTRODUCES METAL BACKS FOR ALL UK REFRIGERATION
hirlpool has introduced design upgrades that will see its entire portfolio of refrigeration appliances for sale in the UK manufactured with solid metal or aluminium laminate flame-retardant back panels by Q3 2018. Whirlpool said the move, which applies to all of its UK brands, means its cooling products will be fully compliant with new incoming UK and EU safety standards ahead of their expected introduction in 2019.
Which? added: “Retailers should immediately stop selling these products to keep them out of people’s homes and ensure consumers aren’t unknowingly spending hundreds of pounds on potentially unsafe appliances.” A spokesperson for AMDEA, the UK trade association for manufacturers of large and small domestic appliances, said the move by Which? would cause unnecessary fear and alarm among consumers. “Consumers should be reassured that all appliances on the market have to be safe and tested to the rigorous safety standards prevailing at the time. These standards are continuously revised or improved, but this does not mean that a previous generation of products is unsafe. “The latest revision to the domestic refrigeration safety standard is merely one instance of the continuing process of reappraisal of safety standards, but it exemplifies the positive approach that our industry takes to improving safety. “AMDEA is disappointed to see that Which? are attempting to intervene in this process and cause unnecessary fear and alarm among consumers.
“The aim with refrigeration – as with all domestic furniture, fixtures and fittings – is to improve fire retardance in case a fire starts elsewhere in the home. Fires starting in a fridge are extremely rare.” Which? itself conceded that fires due to refrigeration faults are rare: “Recent Which? research (March, 2018) looking at UK fire statistics showed that only 8% of fires caused by faulty appliances were caused by fridge-freezers, fridges or freezers.” A number of manufacturers have already committed to the switch from plastic to metal or metal-based backing, and that list continues to grow.
CABLE-RELATED FIRES “SIGNIFICANTLY DOWN” SAYS ACI The Approved Cables Initiative (ACI), which was set up in 2010 to highlight the growing issue of substandard cables in the UK, believes there has been a 15% fall in incidents of accidental electrical fires attributed to wiring, cables or plugs since it launched its Initiative.
ccording to the latest Government Fire Statistics collated by the Home Office from detailed information on incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services, there have been 962 fewer fires, “a significant reduction over the past seven years,” says the ACI. However, the organisation added that, despite the reduction in overall incidents, it remains concerned by the latest statistics. Of the 29,312 accidental electrical fires in England, 5,241 (18%) were attributed to wiring, cabling or plugs, and of these 2,693 (51%) were down to faulty electrical supplies and 1,728 (33%) were caused by faulty appliances and leads. The ACI lobbies for tougher legislation to eliminate substandard cable as well as “educating, monitoring, reporting and exposing those who cheat and ignore standards.” Director Llyr Roberts commented: “These
latest Government statistics demonstrate a fall in the number of fires caused by wiring, cables or plugs, which is encouraging and an indication that the work we are doing is delivering some success. It is, however, concerning that nearly a fifth of all accidental electrical fires in England are still caused by wiring, cabling or plugs. “At the ACI we see a steady stream of substandard cable product. We lobby and campaign for effective legislation to be introduced to address the serious issue of substandard electric cable entering the UK market, but our call is still being ignored. Voluntary co-operation is not enough. All electric cables should be independently third-party approved before being placed on the market, sold and installed in the UK. It is only by adopting such an approach that these figures could be reduced even further.”
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
DIXONS CARPHONE UK & IRELAND CEO TO LEAVE BUSINESS
ixons Carphone has announced that UK & Ireland CEO Katie Bickerstaffe is to step down from her role with the business. She will take up the position of Chief Executive Designate at the new energy supply business recently announced by SSE plc and Innogy SE later this year. “After ten wonderful years in the business I feel it is the right time to move onto my next challenge,” Bickerstaffe commented. “I am incredibly proud of the Group’s achievements over the last few years, laying the foundations for a great future.” “Katie’s dedication, passion and hard work has helped transform and strengthen the business into a market leader during a period of significant change,” commented Alex Baldock, Group Chief Executive of Dixons Carphone.
BEKO’S TERESA ARBUCKLE APPOINTED AMDEA CHAIR
eresa Arbuckle, Managing Director UK & Ireland of Beko Plc, has been elected Chair of the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA). She succeeds Simon Grantham, who steered the trade association during his tenure as Managing Director of Miele UK.
Hughes Trade has appointed Ed Robinson to the new position of Commercial Manager, based at the business’s Leicester branch. In his new role he will co-ordinate sales and rental enquiries, supporting the existing team at Hughes Trade’s commercial arm.
GLEN DIMPLEX FOUNDER RECEIVES PEACE AWARD
artin Naughton, founder of the Glen Dimplex Group, has been named one of three global business heads granted the Oslo Business for Peace Award for exceptional contributions to peace-building through business initiatives. The annual Award was established by the Business for Peace Foundation, whose aim is to “support, inspire, and recognise the global business leaders who are positively changing the face of business.” Each year, recipients are selected by an independent committee of Nobel Prize Laureates in Peace and Economics. Dundalk-born Naughton, who founded Glen Electric in Northern Ireland in 1973 and later acquired British-based Dimplex, was awarded an honorary knighthood in 2015 in recognition of his services to art, philanthropic causes and the Northern Ireland economy. The honour was presented to him by HRH the Prince of Wales. Commenting on the Peace Award, Naughton said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been recognised by Business for Peace for this award. Throughout my life in business, as founder of Glen Dimplex Group, I have been fortunate to have been able to play my part in effecting positive societal change.” Naughton joins 2018 Award winners Lori Blaker, president and CEO of TTi Global, and Edgar Montenegro, founder and CEO of Corpocampo. Previous laureates include Richard Branson (Virgin Group) and Elon Musk (Tesla and SolarCity).
Sabichi Homewares has announced the appointment of Neil Bradford as National Account Manager. Bradford, who previously spent 20 years with Portway Domestic Appliances, will assist Sabichi in the launch of a range of Major Domestic Appliances under the firm’s Haden brand later this year. His remit also includes the introduction of Haden's SDA products to independents.
Dan Twigg, who has held the role of Key Account Manager at BSH since 2014, has been appointed as BSH Sales Director, Kitchen Key Accounts. Miele has appointed Sam Bailey as Dan Twigg Sales and Marketing Director for its Professional Division in the GB territory. Bailey joins Miele from Dyson, where he held a number of key roles over a period of six years. Prior to this he was Miele’s CRM and Online Manager. He rejoins the company as Les Marshall, after 17 years as Sales and Marketing Director, announces his Sam Bailey retirement. Dixons Carphone has announced the appointment of Jonny Mason to its Board as Group Finance Director, effective from a date yet to be confirmed.
AO EXPECTS FULL-YEAR REVENUE INCREASE BUT LOSSES CONTINUE
A “WHICH?” WARNS CURRYS PC WORLD OVER ALLEGED ADVERTISING BREACHES
hich? says it has warned Currys PC World that “it may be in breach of the law” after “more than 100 customers complained they had been pressured into paying up to £40 more than the advertised price for a pre-setup laptop.” The consumer organisation says it has brought up the issue with the store “multiple times” since 2015, but it is still receiving reports that customers going into a store are being asked to pay more for laptops they have ordered online or seen advertised by Currys PC World at a lower price. Which? says customers were told in-store that pre-setup laptops were the only ones left in the shop, so they had to pay an additional setup fee which they were not told about at the time they made their order. Currys PC World offers an optional £35 ‘Knowhow’ setup service, as advertised on its website, which includes a USB recovery stick. But customers have reported to Which? that they were not told it was optional. “These stories,” says Which?, “suggest Currys PC World could be breaching the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations with ‘bait advertising’, a practice whereby a retailer lures someone into their store with attractive advertising, knowing they can’t honour the offer or there’s only a limited supply of stock.” A Currys PC Word spokesperson said: “We are urgently rebriefing our stores now to remind them that, in the small number of cases where only pre-setup models are available, customers should not be charged for the service when they buy their laptop.”
CV-LIBRARY RELAUNCHES RETAIL JOB SITE
ndependent job board CV-Library has announced the relaunch of its retail job site – JobsRetail.co.uk – with the aim of expanding its network of 800-plus recruitment partners and “connecting the very best retail candidates to employers across the sector.” CV-Library said it already has over 1,700,000 retail candidates on its site who make an average of 71,500 applications every month. Any relevant jobs on CV-Library will automatically be posted onto Jobs Retail free of charge, delivering more traffic to clients’ jobs. Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of the firm, said: “The retail sector continues to face ongoing uncertainty and it’s important that organisations across the industry prioritise establishing an effective hiring and retention strategy. With our help, and the relaunch of this site, we hope to offer employers across the industry the opportunity to find and recruit the best possible talent.”
O World has announced that fullyear trading for the year to 31st March 2017 is expected to fall within the range of current market forecasts. Group revenue is expected to be around £796m, up 14% and slightly above the mid-point of analysts’ expectations. An adjusted EBITDA loss of c.£4.2m is expected. Overall UK revenue for the year is expected to be in the region of £680m, up 8% year on year with revenue from AO.com up 9% to around £606m. The company said growth in Q4 was
achieved in what remains a competitive market, with limited advertising spend. In Europe, revenue growth of c.55% in local currency is expected for the year. AO said operations in the region are on trajectory to achieve targets in its existing territories in FY21. “As a result of our strong momentum we have now reached an inflection point in the financial performance in these existing Europe operations and expect to see further progress as we move forward,” the company said in a statement.
RETAILERS NEED TO INVEST IN VISUALISATION TECHNOLOGY TO BOOST ONLINE SALES
study has found that almost half of shoppers would be more inclined to purchase big-ticket items online if they had access to technology that helped them to better visualise and understand how products work, without having to see them in-store. The survey of 1,000 shoppers, conducted by e-commerce agency PushON, found that 45% of people would be more inclined to spend larger amounts of money online if such technology was available to them before they commit to a purchase. Specifically, 40% of consumers would like to use Augmented Reality (AR) – for example, via an app that would allow them to place virtual images of products in a real-word scenario – to test goods before they buy and to get a feel for how they will look in real life. Technology seems to hold many of the answers when it comes to encouraging more people to shop online for higher-value purchases. 52% of shoppers think retailers should invest in technology that enables a better omnichannel experience so the shopping
journey is seamless in-store and online, while 32% would like to use online services such as Artificial Intelligence chatbots to get instant answers to questions. Meanwhile, 17% want to see one-click online shopping to make check-out easier, but aligned with such convenience comes the demand for improved online security. 41% would like to see developments in this area so they feel confident that their money is safe when making expensive purchases. Sam Rutley, managing director of PushON, said: “By utilising technology, such as digital chatbots that can act as online customer service assistants or AR apps to help visualise products, retailers will be able to provide shoppers with the same level of service and information they would get in-store. “This will go a long way towards increasing consumer buying confidence through the higher levels of assurance this technology can offer, meaning they’ll feel comfortable spending more online. “Technology is the future, and retailers can’t afford to ignore the changes that are happening within the sector.”
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NO “GIMMICKY FEATURES” FOR HOOVER
oover has announced details of its 2018 product launches, stating that its new appliances will offer clear benefits over gimmicky features that don’t provide any added value for consumers. The new launches will include AI laundry appliances, hybrid tumble dryers, cordless vacuums with increased run times, eye-catching cooling appliances and the introduction of the built-in Hoover Vogue Premium Collection, which comprises cooking appliances with a minimalistic look and includes a sous-vide oven and touch-screen blast chiller. Steve Macdonald, marketing director, Freestanding Division, Hoover Candy UK, commented: “Whether caring for their homes, clothes or food, the technology we’re using in our products is there to create real benefit for consumers, like suggesting the most economical programme, rather than having gimmicky features that don’t provide any added value. “This year marks our 110th anniversary, so it’s important for us to utilise that knowledge and experience to demonstrate that we’ve never stopped innovating in order to produce the products that we know consumers want in their homes and retailers need in their stock room.”
“…great to be part of something that makes a real difference to the local community” Staff from four branches of Hughes Electrical joined a team of volunteers to help clean the beach in Old Hunstanton, an event organised by marine conservation charity Sea Shepherd UK. The team filled sacks with beer cans, bottles, paper, cigarette packets, all sorts of plastic items, “and one of us even came across a car tyre,” said Hughes’ Mark Page. Part of the Hughes beach brigade (left to right): David Youngs, Mark Page and Warren Sayer.
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TV AND SOUND PROJECTION Panasonic FZ952B OLED TV with external sound blade speaker integrated into the TV stand
Ultra-thin TV panels deliver on style and on image quality, but the thinner they get, the more difficult it is to match the superb pictures with rich, immersive sound. George Cole looks at what the industry is doing to overcome this challenge
ne of the advantages of big, bulky CRT televisions was that manufacturers could cram large speakers inside the cabinets to produce a big, beefy sound. But 21st century consumers love large, ultra-flat televisions. As TVs get ever thinner, how challenging is it for manufacturers to offer high quality pictures with good quality sound? Jonathan Bennett, marketing director, Q Acoustics, notes: “It is very challenging for TV manufacturers, since there is no longer free space within the TV to incorporate speaker cabinets or subwoofers for high impact bass which many consumers expect.” Dan Fletcher, managing director, Orbitsound, believes that “it’s impossible with any current technology to make a good sounding ultra-thin TV within the current design vogue. Modern TVs like to be seen as ‘all screen’ from the front, so the sound is projected sideways, or bounced off a wall behind before it reaches the listener. This will cause distortion and lack of clarity.”
SOUND THINKING But TV manufacturers are more optimistic. Rob Taylor, head of TV, Panasonic UK and Ireland, says: “It’s true that TVs are becoming thinner and therefore equipping these sleek new panels with oversized speakers is becoming more difficult. However, this is a challenge that TV designers have enjoyed overcoming. There has been a lot of thought and consideration into how we can deliver a rich audio solution for even the slimmest of all TVs, such as OLED.” Mike Somerset, UK and Ireland TV marketing, Sony, says: “Our AF8 BRAVIA OLED series incorporates Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology that emanates the sound directly from the
“…it’s impossible with any current technology to make a good sounding ultra-thin TV”
screen itself. The AF8 Series offers viewers an innovative listening experience in a slim and CALLED TO THE BAR stylish TV set.” Carolyn Anderson, LG’s head Sound bars have transformed television sound of UK marketing, says: “TVs are getting thinner and these products are evolving, says James and thinner so it is important for companies Attfield, MD of Turnstone AV, the UK distributor to innovate and make sure that just because for the Vogel’s brand. “Vogel’s SoundMount is a they are, sound quality isn’t sacrificed. Our full-motion TV bracket with a built-in sound bar SIGNATURE OLED TV W – just 3.85mm thin – and wireless subwoofer. We also have a fully includes a Dolby Atmos-equipped sound bar, so motorised version – MotionSoundMount. Music neither picture nor sound is compromised.” can also be streamed to the sound bar from a Various technologies or systems are being smartphone or tablet.” used in your sets to deliver the best possible Sony’s HT-ZF9 and HT-XF9000 sound bars sound. Dilek Karakurt, Sony’s UK and Ireland HAV support Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, and are marketing manager, advises that, in addition to also equipped with Sony’s Vertical Surround Acoustic Surface technology, “Sony ClearAudio+ Engine technology. The front speakers produce is a technology used by the XF90 Smart TV “three-dimensional acoustics, to create an that automatically fine tunes audio for a more immersive sound field.” Sony’s HT-ZF9 is the first lifelike and immersive experience. S-Force Front 3.1-channel sound bar to support Dolby Atmos. Surround PRO emulates a three-dimensional Orbitsound’s Fletcher believes its Airsound sound field using only two front speakers.” technology is “a major step forward for sound Panasonic’s Taylor adds: “One approach that bars. Stereo or multichannel systems normally we have taken is the use of an external speaker away from the main panel of the TV. An example of this is the Panasonic FZ952B OLED TV, which features an external sound blade speaker integrated into the TV stand of the ultra slim OLED Panel. With an external speaker, the Panasonic engineers have been able to boost the power and diversify the range of sound to give a wider sound field.” LG’s Anderson states: “We were the first company to implement uncompressed Dolby TrueHD lossless sound technology into our premium, flagship OLED TV range. Vogel’s MotionSoundMount: motorised full-motion TV bracket with a built-in sound bar and wireless subwoofer LG’s 2017 OLED TVs come with Dolby Atmos.”
TV AND SOUND PROJECTION
need the listener to be in the ‘sweet spot’. The problem is that home movies are a shared experience. We have focused on making a soundstage that is good for everyone.” LG’s Anderson argues that the brand’s SJ9 is “not only one of the slimmest Dolby Atmos sound bars around but it also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in to allow for simple smartphone connectivity, whilst built-in Chromecast capability ensures that all major streaming services are supported. In addition, the SJ9’s Sound up-converting feature increases the quality of standard audio files to 24bit/192kHz.” She adds that LG’s recent partnership with Meridian Audio will benefit a range of 2018 LG audio products with innovative audio enhancements.
BETTER TECHNOLOGY, BETTER CHOICE Q Acoustics’ Bennett says “form factor and connectivity are the key areas that we’re seeing. If a customer buys a sound bar it has to look visually stunning, and if they don’t have the space, they typically want the same sound performance in a more compact product, which is why sound bases are becoming much more popular. As TV broadcasters introduce more services, I expect to see Dolby ATMOS becoming more of a standard feature over the coming years.” Orbitsound’s Fletcher believes that sound bars have eclipsed surround-sound systems. “Consumers realise,” he contends, “that life is better when you keep things simple. Consequently surround-sound speaker systems no longer take centre stage in the consumer audio space. Sound bars are much preferred by consumers for their simplicity, and actually better overall experience, in my view. Surround-sound may have died away in terms of speakers, but much of the technology has remained. The challenge for speaker manufacturers is to recreate the surround-sound experience from a single box.”
“Sound bars are much preferred by consumers for their simplicity”
But “with the rise of on-demand,” points out LG’s Anderson, “and streaming services such as Netflix offering surround-sound technology, it has never been more important for consumers to combine enhanced viewing and sound to offer the most immersive home cinema experience. The increased popularity of gaming has also meant many gamers are keen to invest in surround-sound technology to ensure they are immersed in the action.” The view of Panasonic’s Taylor is that “it really depends on your environment. If you have a wide expansive rectangular living room, then surround-sound is one hundred percent for you! However, if you’re in a smaller room, chances are that the sound will be a disappointment.” Q Acoustics’ Bennett adds: “We find that most of our customers are very happy with 180-degree, front facing audio, combined with a subwoofer.”
RETAILERS IN THE SWEET SPOT One thing everyone does agree on is that retailers play a key role in educating consumers on the possibilities of today’s TV sound products and solutions. “It is important,” says Sony’s Somerset, “for retail partners to be able to fully demonstrate the key features of products that can enhance the consumer viewing experience. We run comprehensive training programmes to ensure we train as many retailers as possible on new ranges and technologies across our home products.” Advice from Panasonic’s Taylor is that “the temptation is to attach a sound bar to it and
LG with soundbar utilising ThinQ connectivity
let it roar, but before you do that, it’s worth considering the TV sound in isolation as some TVs deliver really great innovative sound quality.” He adds that one of the best ways to demonstrate a great-sounding TV is to move through various types of content. Play something rich with dialogue, such as a drama or a news programme, and this will show customers how clear and precise the mid-range can be. Then move to something fast-paced and more dynamic in its sound, such as a sports event, which will show off the ability to handle a range of sound such as ambient sounds from the crowds, with commentators’ voices over the top, and neither should blur or mix into the other. “Then, of course, crank the volume and play an action scene to showcase whether the TV can deliver that low frequency bass sound required to lure people into thinking they’re actually in the cinema,” he says.
LISTEN WELL TO HELP CUSTOMERS HEAR WELL “There are a number of elements that retailers should consider when helping customers decide upon home audio solutions,” advises LG’s Anderson. “Gaining an understanding of the areas the customer wants to listen in is vital, as well as ensuring they offer a suitable portfolio of suggested products for their individual customers to invest in accordingly. For example, a connected sound bar for the living room, a pair of speakers for the study, and a portable unit for the kitchen, are tailored options which suit the varying needs and uses of each room.” She adds that retailers should also maximise the potential of in-store demonstrations. “LG urges retailers to feature Wi-Fi within stores, so that products can easily be connected and customers can experience first-hand how simple and effortless the process of connecting products to each other is. For example, if the customer is able to connect their own smartphone to display units in store, playing their own music, the benefits of such a wireless system are made instantly apparent to the customer, directly demonstrating their convenience and innovations.” Q Acoustics’ Bennett believes the secret is: “Keep it simple and let customers hear the TV sound experience in store with and without a sound bar or sound base. The experience is often comparable to looking at a legacy TV next to a 4K HDR screen.” A final word from Orbitsound’s Fletcher is that “retailers should try to ensure that background noise is kept to a minimum to draw attention to the sound. Also, the demonstration material should be high quality and rich in detail. Low resolution movies (or streamed clips) are notorious for reducing the audio quality in preference to the picture quality. Always make sure the streamed content is from an original source, with a decent overall bitrate. Everybody loves big noisy scenes, but equally important are quieter moments where dialogue needs to be understood. In general, more recent material has superb sound production – play something current!”
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Whirlpool introduces silver-coloured finishes to laundry range Whirlpool has added two silver-coloured washing machines to its range of freestanding laundry appliances – the Supreme Care 10 kg model FSCR 10432 S and the FreshCare+ 8 kg model FWG 81496 S. Both models benefit from the brand’s 6TH SENSE® technology, which saves up to 70% in energy, water and time.
Stoves extends Mini Range collection ‘Karakuri’ – Sharp’s first metal-backed fridge freezer Sharp Home Appliances’ Karakuri 5-door fridge freezer is the first of the brand’s metal-backed cooling to come to market. The unit offers a gross storage capacity of 758 litres and sports a concealed water dispenser that spins into sight when motion involving a glass or cup is detected. The design protects the water dispenser from dust and household allergens. Karakuri is available in cool white, two-tone black and black mirror glass finishes.
Stoves has applied its Richmond range cooker design to a collection of four new Mini Range options available in Hot Jalapeno Red, Cream, or Black. The 60cm models are the first Stoves appliances to feature Zeus technology, a smart connected timer application which is easy to operate via an app. The new cookers come in Ceramic, Dual Fuel, Gas, and Induction.
Kuhla introduces table-top wine cooler Kuhla, a new brand in the cooling sector which launched at the end of 2017 with a range of table-top fridges, is adding to its collection with a glass-fronted wine cooler (model ref: KGBCLR1BGB), scheduled for launch shortly before the May bank holiday weekend. The 14-bottle appliance is A+ rated for energy and offers a temperature range from 5°C - 15°C.
Ruark launches connected wireless speaker Ruark’s first connected wireless speaker, the MRx, is a standalone sound system that can also be paired with the brand’s R2 or R7 models to create a multi-room network. The unit features Bluetooth with aptX for CD-quality direct streaming and works with Spotify Connect, Deezer and TIDAL (Amazon Music coming soon). Ruark’s ‘Link’ app provides full control via iOS and Android devices. The MRx is available in Rich Walnut or Soft Grey finishes.
Caple Sense C3371 electric double oven Caple has added to its built-in Sense range of appliances with the launch of the C3371 A-rated electric double oven offering 101 litres of total capacity. The 40-litre cavity has four functions and the 61-litre cavity has eight. The appliance has a touch-control programmable electronic timer, easy-clean enamel interiors and catalytic liners in both cavities. The Sense range is finished in black glass with stainless steel trim and white LED displays.
Power for all with Bosch Unlimited cordless vacuum cleaner The new Bosch Unlimited cordless stick vacuum cleaner offers up to 60 minutes of runtime supplied via Bosch’s ‘Power For ALL’ 18V battery, which is compatible with other Bosch battery-operated products. The charging station recharges the battery in around 40 minutes and a DigitalSpin motor offers powerful cleaning.
0344 892 8979 | www.bosch-home.co.uk
Soundcast added to Connected Distribution portfolio Connected Distribution has partnered with Soundcast to bring the company’s Bluetooth and wireless weather-resistant portable audio products to UK consumers. The VG1 speaker (pictured) comes with dual aluminium drivers and a weighted bass radiator. Two units can be synced together for dedicated left and right stereo playback over Bluetooth with Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo (TWS) technology.
and useful”… The opportunities of designer living “Designer Living” is no longer just about exclusive labels that everyone knows but few can afford. Great design is not an out-of-reach aspiration, but an achievable expectation that extends into all the places where we do our living – including, most importantly, the home
ccess to good design is better in the 21st century than it’s ever been, and the best advice to householders still comes from 19th century designer William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” All the electrical goods in UK homes: the flat panel TV, the coffee machine, the washing machine, the dishwasher, the toaster, the oven, the fridge/freezer, the sound system, the hob, the extractor hood… are an integral part of home life. These are the things your customers see, use and react with every day, so how they look and how they perform has a powerful influence on the quality of everyday living. Design, and how it’s presented, is full of opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to tap into consumer expectations; to offer great design that fulfils customers’ individual aspirations about how they want to live their lives – and also, importantly, how they project their tastes and lifestyle to others.
All of the manufacturers and retailers we spoke to agree that good design has to be a combination of functionality and appearance of usefulness and beauty - brought together by quality engineering. Tastes and practical needs may differ, but every part of the home is an opportunity for consumers to create their own take on the combination of aesthetics and function that is the mark of all good design, and that expresses individual personality through the way they live.
NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE… Looking good is Important, and it’s often what customers are drawn to first in a showroom environment. But there has to be substance – in the shape of performance and fulfilment of particular lifestyle needs – to back it up. As Maurizio Severgnini, MD at Bertazzoni UK & Eire, says, the brand’s design philosophy is “built on the beliefs of Roman architect Vitruvius,” who encouraged focus on
“Good design doesn’t end at aesthetics, it incorporates technology too and how much the product can not only help but add value to a consumer’s life”
three themes: “firmitas, utilitas and venustas – strength, functionality and beauty.” Whether the definition of design as a marriage of form and function comes from the 19th century or the 1st century BC, it’s absolutely relevant to electrical appliances in a 21st century home. Luke Shipway, product manager at Caple, puts it simply: “Good design encompasses both form and function and is not purely about aesthetics. Good appliance design must always be coupled with the latest technology and enhanced functionality to ensure that as well as looking stunning, it also meets the needs and demands of the user.” Hoover Candy freestanding division marketing director Steve MacDonald supports the consensus: “Good design doesn’t end at aesthetics, it incorporates LG ultra-thin panel for minimalist design impact
Bertazzoni Professional Series: Co-ordination of the open plan living space
technology too and how much the product can not only help but add value to a consumer’s life. To us, the cornerstone of good design is features that benefit the user, rather than provide just a gimmick.” And from Steve Dickson, head of category for Range cooking at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, comes the assertion: “Good design should seamlessly combine style with usability, especially in our industry. A kitchen appliance is a work horse, it can’t be beautiful but ineffective. It must withstand daily use and accommodate the changing needs of a family.” Lucy King, product manager at Smeg UK, where the success of “statement” appliances such as the FAB fridge has led to the brand’s rollout of distinctive brand-defining aesthetics across its other products, acknowledges that the reputation of a brand cannot rest on “iconic” looks alone: “Truly good design must be beautiful, practical and built for the purpose. It needs to look good without sacrificing the performance in any way. These two elements go hand in hand.” Emphasising that good looks are not enough in domestic appliances, Hotpoint head of brand Jennifer Taylor charts the buying process: “Aesthetics draw the customer’s attention in the showroom, which is why the exterior design of the appliance is so important. Impressive functionality of the appliances, however, is
ultimately what drives a sale.” To sum up, extraction specialist Novy’s country manager, Owain Harrison, says: “In appliances, design is only great design when the aesthetic of the product complements or enhances its quality and functionality.” And Beko plc senior brand manager Iain Starkey puts it in a nutshell: “We
need to ensure we’re providing [consumers] with appliances that help them save time, and look the part too.”
De Dietrich: Style & Substance Few French manufacturers can boast over 300 years of history as La Maison De Dietrich can. Since its creation they have provided a constant stream of innovations such as the first domestic cooker, the pyrolytic oven and the saturated steam oven. Revisiting steel, glass, stainless steel and copper through the eyes of a master craftsman, De Dietrich has transformed raw materials into breathtaking results, making this a uniquely sophisticated collection at the cutting edge of technology. The NEW ovens and hobs are available in four stunning colour ranges, Absolute Black, Platinum, Pure White and Iron Grey. Introducing new innovations like ‘Chef Mode’ De Dietrich transforms the cooking experience into an art of precision and excellence by incorporating the same De Dietrich know-how with cooking methods worthy of great chefs.
The new collection is available from AB Distributors – www.abdistributors.co.uk
Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer™: Beauty meets functionality Unique to Fisher & Paykel, the DishDrawer™ features two separately operating drawers, allowing you to choose your desired wash program for each drawer. There’s no need to use both drawers at the same time, offering a true half load wash if you only have a few items to clean. All drawers come with fully flexible racking, allowing you to wash all those big pots and pans, whilst you fill up the other drawer with all your crockery and cutlery from the day.
www.fisherpaykel.com/uk | 0800 088 6605
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT? If it’s clear that looks need to be supported by substance, it’s also equally clear to most manufacturers – especially in this age of short attention spans and massive competition for visual engagement, when it takes less than a second to make the decision to “swipe left” – that customers may never have the chance to get to know the functionality and depth of technological character of any appliance, unless it grabs their initial visual attention. GDHA’s Steve Dickson is very clear on this initial appeal: “I think consumers have minimum design expectations which must be met. The design and aesthetic are the first thing a consumer notices. If a product is not aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t matter how good the features are because the consumer will look elsewhere.” Kitchen Aid’s channel controller, Lee Collett, expresses the primacy of lifestyle choices, and the central role of the kitchen, in dramatic terms: “The kitchen is the concert hall of the home and the distinctive and iconic design of appliances has never before been so important.” Rita Ballestrazzi of Sharp Home Appliances acknowledges the pulling power of co-ordinated good looks, and their relation to householders’ aspirations and
lifestyles, by citing the aesthetics-driven world of fashion. “Whilst good looks per se are always likely to turn heads,” she says, “they rouse most sales interest when developed in response to an overarching trend or theme. Now very much a fashion domain, the kitchen is comparable to a head-to-toe designer outfit, requiring matching items to be brought together to complete the look.” And Whirlpool brand manager Catherine Baldersdon also emphasises the opportunities for selfexpression that the domestic environment offers: “Constantly on show to visitors, it is important to many homeowners that their appliances are stylish in design and perhaps even add that soughtafter ‘wow factor’ to the kitchen.”
are key, great ‘statement’ design that looks elegant and contemporary is of utmost importance.” LG, as a company embracing both consumer electronics and domestic appliances, knows that “consumers are now looking for their home electronics and home appliances to make a statement in their homes,” and believes that “consumers pay attention to style and design, whether they are conscious of it or not. For every decision a consumer makes when buying a product, the style and design factor is almost always taken into consideration. Attention to detail is what differentiates a fridge from being a machine that cools foods to a centrepiece in the family home.” Whether the centrepiece is a razor-thin OLED TV in the living room or a fridge/freezer in the kitchen, the consistency of design is so important that LG’s “Signature” line of products takes in ranges of both consumer electronics and domestic appliances, asserting LG’s belief that “design empowers a brand, because it represents its identity.”
WHITE, BROWN AND SMALL
MAKING THE MATCH
Consumer electronics and small appliances are at least as much subject to consumers’ design demands. Speaking for the stylistically important SKA sector, which offers a means for householders to lift a kitchen scheme with a choice of built-in and countertop accessories that are both useful and eyecatching, coffee maker specialist Melitta’s consumer & trade marketing manager Nigel Morrison says: “Whilst assurances of quality and functionality
Retailers and manufacturers are well aware that the relationship between consumers and the electricals they put in their homes may start, like a lot of other important relationships, with visual attraction, but to develop longer-term (which,
“There is always a customer base that is willing to pay more for a stylish appliance”
JURA: No compromise on quality Developed by a dedicated team of Swiss engineers, JURA has revolutionised the way coffee should be enjoyed with the launch of the all-new S8 bean-to-cup coffee machine to its domestic range. As a business that lives and breathes coffee every day, JURA believes you shouldn’t have to compromise on the quality of your coffee and this new model is no exception to that rule. With innovation, precision, and quality in its DNA, this machine can indulge your customers in more than 15 expertly made speciality coffees; they offer revolutionary technology that extracts the perfect flavour from the beans, a one touch function, ultra-modern design, and can even be programmed and operated remotely with the JURA App.
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in the case of major purchases for the home, it necessarily has to) there have to be practical, useful, life-enhancing qualities in the shape of great technology that make the relationship last and deepen. This is what good design can do. But there are other factors, connected to changing 21st century lifestyles and individual consumer tastes and circumstances, that also have to be taken into account when matching appliances to customers. These factors are myriad, and they are where the art of retailer matchmaking is really needed: Built-in or freestanding? Open plan living? City apartment or country pile? Tight for space? Big family, couple or singleton? Traditional, retro, modern or eclectic? Time-poor or at leisure? Big budget or limited finances? Collectively, the manufacturers who spoke to GC have design solutions for all of these combinations.
ProofVision: Design for life As one of the UK’s leading names in water resistant electronics and fittings for the bathroom, ‘ProofVision’ has announced the launch of its latest product, the stylish wall mounted toothbrush charger. Designed by ProofVision to address the problem of untidy cables from conventional charging units, the In-Wall Toothbrush Charger is compatible with all Oral B and Braun toothbrushes and offers a simple to install and convenient solution for homeowners looking to create a sleek bathroom design. Not only is the charger a great addition to any new bathroom design, but it can also be fitted in existing bathrooms to replace unused shaver sockets.
firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 203 4111 693 www.proofvision.co.uk
CHOICES Speaking up for built-in, Beko’s Iain Starkey says: “There is a definite correlation between the trend for open-plan living and built-in appliances. People want their homes and kitchens to look the part, and built-inn appliances help create a sleek, modern look. It’s also influenced by the rise in new build homes, and home owners choosing to replace instead of repair their old appliances. We’ve seen eight years of consecutive growth for built-in appliances. The sector is now worth £1,036 million with the value share at 29%. In 2017 every single category except laundry saw positive growth in the builtin sector. Cooling and dishwashers saw a big
uplift (+23% value growth.) As living spaces get increasingly smaller, people are adjusting to less space in their kitchens but still maintain very high expectations.” The Electrolux Group, with brands Zanussi, Electrolux and AEG “covering the full range of market pricing,” says that “when it comes to sleek kitchen design, integrated appliances are the perfect solution. Consumers are looking for clean lines and intelligent design, which can be a challenge. There isn’t always the option to have a hob and separate hood, for example, and a common issue with compact living spaces
– in particular, studio homes with combined living and kitchen areas – is lingering cooking vapours.” The Group cites its AEG ComboHob, which is easy to install and offers the clean, uncluttered lines of an induction hob together with an integrated extractor fan “designed to remove any cooking vapours during the process and afterwards.” Fiona Barker-Scott, brand manager at extractor specialist Falmec, says: “With openplan living becoming an ever-increasing trend in the homes of today, we are also seeing more island installations – a popular choice as they
Hotpoint microwave demonstrating the power of clean design
Stoves brings Richmond aesthetic to “Mini Range” format Stoves has applied its timeless and traditional Richmond range cooker aesthetic to four new 60cm freestanding cookers offering Ceramic, Dual Fuel, Gas and Induction options – all with large touchcontrol LED programmer, full-width grill pan, easy-clean enamel interior, and an AA energy rating. The new Stoves Richmond 60 cm Mini Ranges are available in a choice of three colours – Hot Jalapeno Red, Cream, or Black – making the sought-after range cooker look available to smaller kitchens, while maintaining capacity and functionality including a double oven with grill in the top cavity, a dedicated pizza setting, dough-proving, defrost and slow-cooking functions. The Richmond Mini Ranges are also equipped with GDHA’s Zeus smart connected timer application.
offer both high performance and show-stopping visual spectacles. For homes with smaller kitchens, multi-functional appliances are proving popular.” She also brings up the important issue of noise in open plan and restricted space environments. “Extractors,” she says, “are becoming increasingly quieter after years of many consumers finding them too noisy. As the kitchen is now identified as a central hub of the home, it is likely that loud and noisy extractors will be seen as a thing of the past and barely audible systems will take precedence.” It’s a point echoed by extractor specialists Novy. “Another burgeoning trend in the market is for extraction appliances that can be installed extremely easily as they are purely recirculation models, yet due to advanced technologies in noise reduction and grease filtration these appliances are quiet and effective.”
KEEPING IT TOGETHER Hotpoint’s Jennifer Taylor told GC: “Due to a surge in open-plan living, the design of appliances has become a top purchasing consideration with consumers. Banks of neat built-in appliances, which feature matching design aesthetics to create beautiful synergy in the kitchen, and across the living space, are currently a major design trend in the market.” She also points out that “research from Mintel has found that the average size of a family home in the UK has shrunk by two metres over the past ten years. Sufficient space is a huge issue for many consumers, with compact living a reality for many. However, thanks to technological advances, compact living no longer means having to compromise on design, functionality or performance.” Indesit brand manager Sara Bazeley, acknowledging that the kitchen has become “a place for socialising and entertaining,” asserts that “whether a small enclosed area or open plan living space, it is essential to provide an uncluttered area. Built-in appliances not only have an aesthetically pleasing look and
the flexibility for offering a variety of design combinations, they are also practical as they release vital worktop and under counter space.”
PAYING THE PRICE The received wisdom is that great electricals design – encompassing aesthetics and functionality – comes at a price. But, talking to manufacturers at all price points in the market, there is a feeling that the democratisation of good design – through the trickle-down of high-end standards into the mid- and lowerbudget sectors – is happening as much in white goods as it is in consumer electronics and small appliances. The concensus is that whilst, as Bertazzoni’s Maurizio Severgnini says, “customers acknowledge that they are making an investment in a kitchen… so are often prepared to pay more for style and design,” it’s also true, in the words of GDHA’s Steve Dickson, that “good design doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive, but it does have to offer value for money.” Gorenje UK product manager Richard Mackey believes “design and technological features have made their way into most market points, even in affordable, entrylevel products. It’s not always necessary for consumers to pay more for such features. However, quality aesthetics with unique design aspects are undoubtedly an aspirational product, so do sit at the higher end of the market. For the consumer, it’s generally accepted that appliances with superior aesthetics cost more than those with a more simple, basic look, but multiple features and technology are becoming more of an expectation in more budget and mid-market options.” Steve Macdonald of Hoover Candy UK’s freestanding division, believes “some consumers are prepared to pay more for premium models, should they have the disposable income to do so. Much the same as the automotive industry, consumers can choose models with added extras to personalise their vehicles and there’s definitely more of this happening within our sector.” His Hoover Candy colleague in the built-in division,
“Multiple features and technology are becoming more of an expectation in more budget and midmarket options”
Daniel Dewey, says “there’s been a definite growth in consumers looking for statement appliances and, as with all sectors, there is always a customer base that is willing to pay more for a stylish appliance.” De Dietrich, a brand proud of its 300-year heritage of French design, claims its appliances’ “Origine France Garantie” certification is a reassurance so “customers with exacting standards can see this as a point of reference when they look for outstanding, prestigious, top quality products.” There is a willingness to pay more, “particularly if products have exciting technological features and performance.”
DESIGN FOR RETAIL The advice from manufacturers to retailers, who are all offering greater or lesser levels of support, training and in-store display/POS facilities, is as expected, and largely what good retailers are already doing: Know your trends; create displays that show the products to advantage, particularly when co-ordination of aesthetics is impressive; have working appliances for demo whenever possible; ask the questions that will help you understand customers’ individual home circumstances and aspirations; know your customer base, particularly in terms of budget flexibility. Clearly, the trends are towards technological advances in consumer electronics, major appliances and small appliances that deliver actual, demonstrable living benefits. Induction is growing in importance; “smart” appliances that integrate into the connected home, are a growing trend; and, as James Aldridge, SDA buyer at buying group CI(H) advises, do not forget the value of small domestic appliances that can “add a splash of colour in the kitchen.” Whatever your customer base, there is opportunity to make designer living – as it applies to creating a home environment – a powerful enticement. And it’s evident that store showrooms are the place – if you can get the footfall – to show it off.
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
IS THERE A FUTURE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE TELEVISION? O fcom recently published a report on the future of public service broadcasting, and on the face of it it made grim reading for anyone who supports PBS platforms such as the BBC and Channel 4. The report – which looked at the UK market - noted that one third of homes subscribe to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime; eight out of ten adults use catch-up TV to binge watch box sets; 40 million people access YouTube every month; children are watching one third less television than a decade ago and young British teenagers recognise YouTube more than they do the BBC. Many more people are watching TV and video on their smartphones and tablets using 4G networks, and 5G services are on the way. In some quarters, there is a growing clamour to end the BBC licence fee, the argument being that more and more people are opting for alternative services such as Sky, Netflix, YouTube. The same argument was made in Switzerland and the country held a national referendum to see whether the Swiss TV and radio licence should be scrapped. However, 71% of those taking part in the referendum opted to retain the licence fee. Would we get the same result in the UK? It’s hard to tell, but my guess is that the majority of
DIGITAL RADIO: CLOSER TO THE MILESTONE The next time stats for digital radio listening are released, they will show that more people are now listening to radio on digital platforms than analogue. In February, the radio research company Rajar revealed that digital now accounts for 49.9% of radio listening. But don’t expect much to happen when the 50% milestone is reached. Leaving aside Brexit, the government has bigger fish to fry than forcing millions of consumers to abandon their analogue radios. There’s also the question that DAB coverage has yet to reach FM coverage, and millions of vehicles still have analogue radios. Expect to hear a lot of noise from digital radio supporters in a few months’ time, but also expect to see little action from the government.
consumers still support the TV licence. Ofcom also makes a strong case for public service TV. It points out that digital terrestrial TV is in 19 million homes and that the UK’s broadband infrastructure couldn’t support millions of us streaming high definition content to viewing devices. Ofcom also notes that more than 40% of televisions cannot connect to the internet (and in
my experience, a fair number of smart TVs and network-ready PVRs will not easily connect to a home Wi-Fi network). Ofcom believes that free-toair television has at least ten years left as a viable TV platform. I suspect it will be much longer than this, because despite all the hype, high-speed reliable broadband is long way from becoming a universal service.
GOING MOBILE There’s no doubt that many more people will be watching TV and video on a smartphone, especially when 5G services arrive. But will anyone be watching 4K ultra high definition images on their mobile device? The answer has to be “no”, and that will remain the case for some time yet. None of today’s smartphones have screens that can take advantage of 4K resolution, that is, 3840 x 2160 pixels. The new Samsung Galaxy S9 has a screen resolution of 2960 x 1440 pixels. There’s also the fact that 4K transmissions require a lot more data – the bitrate for a live stream broadcast is up to 20 Mbps. So you can see how 4K puts a strain on 4G networks – and greatly increases the cost consumers have to pay to receive the service.
So, it makes little sense for mobile operators to offer Ultra HD video – for now. Instead, mobile operators like BT are looking at HD HDR (high definition, high dynamic range) services. The bitrate for HD HDR streams is around 7 Mbps, or up to a third of that required for 4K. In March, BT ran an HD HDR trial which involved broadcasting HD HDR pictures from the Spurs/Juventus game. Viewers used an app developed by BT to view the images. An impressive achievement, but for now, 4K remains a large screen experience.
FROM THE BENCH
FROM THE BENCH
“The only way to deal with dust in electrical and electronic equipment is manual removal, vital for safety in kitchen appliances and for correct operation and reliability in entertainment gear.”
Dust build-up is very bad for electronic and electrical equipment. Alan Bennett looks at its causes, effects and treatment
ust is pulled into any airstream generated by heat or cooling fans in domestic equipment. It settles on and around hot surfaces, fan blades and constrictions in its path like ventilation grilles. Once there it can have several effects, primarily overheating due to blanketing; and clouding of optical surfaces. Overheating may cause poor reliability, outright failure and high power consumption, e.g. in fridges and freezers where the motor has to work long and hard to maintain the set temperature. Worst of all is the potential fire risk, especially from dust and fluff in domestic appliances like tumble dryers. Until something happens its presence is not usually obvious...
PROJECTION TVS All projection TV sets have internal optics, mainly of glass and plastic, and virtually all have a cooling fan pulling air through ventilation grilles. Ceiling-mounted projectors are particularly vulnerable to dust and – where viewers smoke tobacco – build-up of other deposits. The effect of these on the picture is ‘fogging’ and loss of definition where the dusty surface passes all three colours; and in the case of pollution of individual R, G, and B lenses and colour-panels, colour aberrations like dots or blobs in any colour, tinting, ‘contouring ‘ and flickering, halo effects and shading in any hue. The dusty surface does not even have to be in focus of the picture to upset image rendition so that lamps and colour wheels with dust deposits can spoil the picture. The lamp is the hottest part of a projector. If its cooling is impaired it is vulnerable to premature failure or at best reduced life. The projector may unpredictably shut down, triggered by thermal sensors in the optics. Even so, I’ve seen plastic components in a molten state, and burnt optical chips where overheating has taken place. For some projectors (mainly older types) and PCs, dismantling and cleaning instructions can be found on (e.g.) YouTube and via search engines. More on cleaning below.
COMPUTERS PCs, too, are very vulnerable to internal dust build-up, often initially visible from outside on air grilles and fan blades. The hottest-running components in a PC are the central processor and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) chips, particularly where high-definition gaming or fast video rendering goes on; here the cooling requirements are crucial. I have seen a GPU chip reduced to a molten blob in the face of heavy dust deposits on its heat sink, fan and grille. Some of my hard-bitten gaming and video-editing customers have bubbling glass tubes and pipes, reminiscent of Frankenstein’s laboratory, to supplement or replace the aircooling in their computers.
AV BOXES Starting with audio amplifiers, ‘passive’ heat sinking is the norm in all but the largest ones, and on this account dust is less of a problem than in the categories above. Disc players, both audio and video, commonly fail due to dust on the surface of the scanning lens – the usual symptom of this is failure to read the disc at all due to fogging of the laser light beam and consequent ‘no disc’ or similar indication; and skipping or track-sticking, even with a clean disc. Top-loading CD spinners are easily dealt with,
but front-loading players require dismantling, and in-car types can be a pain to deal with. Manual cleaning is always better and more effective than cleaning discs... Sometimes other equipment can present problems due to inadequate ventilation or dust build-up, for instance digital TV tuner boxes, a typical symptom here being intermittent cut-out or picture freezing after running for a while. The ‘vinyl revival ‘ has brought back the potential problem of dust on the stylus, easily and quickly accumulating but effectively dealt with by very careful use of a stylus brush – I’ve still got one from the first time round, along with a velvety anti-static disc brush!
DUST REMOVAL The only way to deal with dust in electrical and electronic equipment is manual removal, vital for safety in kitchen appliances and for correct operation and reliability in entertainment gear. There are two choices, canned compressed air and vacuum; I prefer the latter – squirting air just moves the dust around whereas vacuuming removes it altogether. You can get anti-static vacuum cleaners from manufacturers like Metro and Vodex, but I have never had any problem with static damage, always using a conductive wrist strap while cleaning up with a crevice nozzle and a cylinder or handheld vacuum cleaner, along with a range of ordinary paintbrushes, the longer their bristles the better. Thoroughly clean the fan, ventilation grilles, heatsinks, any air filters and the PC board. Sometimes the deposits are so thick that it is best done in an outbuilding, garage or out in the open. Cleaning lenses, optical surfaces and lamps is best done, for me anyway, with purpose-designed anti-static wipes and fluid; kits of these are available from wholesalers and accessory dealers. For the little lenses in disc players I find that very tiny cotton buds with a special non-residue fluid are perfect – again specialist kits are available for this purpose, designed to be harmless to the lens coating. Old hands may remember, as I do, the smell – like no other – of dust burning off mains droppers and glass valves long ago.
Designing the technology behind great cookers Visit the website for details on the full cooker range for 2018 or call 01949 862010 to order a trade information pack www.amica-international.co.uk www.amica.ie
SEE IT. HEAR IT. FEEL IT. Live the Game Contact your account manager for information and pricing on 01379 649200.
Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Goods Industry. The sharpest, freshest, most relevant and commercially aware electrical trade...
Published on Apr 17, 2018
Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Goods Industry. The sharpest, freshest, most relevant and commercially aware electrical trade...