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FORGET ABOUT VACUUMING FOR WEEKS AT A TIME.
GOOD HEALTH STARTS IN THE KITCHEN As the health and wellbeing trend continues to drive individuals towards healthier ways to cook, GC looks at the kitchen appliances that can assist, simplify and perfect the cooking experience, even for those new to the activity
COOL PLANET Climate change is an opportunity for retailers, and with energy savings becoming more important to consumers this year due to substantial rises in the price of electric and gas, there’s never been a better time for consumers to trade up to the best performing cooling appliances
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GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED
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Is the digital camera doomed?
FROM THE BENCH Alan Bennett discusses the ‘right to repair’ movement
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INSIDE... 04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word
In and around the industry
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Good Health Begins in the Kitchen
George Cole Gets Connected Are digital cameras facing market extinction? How do you cope when your PVR loses all your recordings? And has DAB Radio listening reached its peak in the UK?
With the UK consumer becoming more aware of health and wellbeing issues, GC examines how those who want to achieve and maintain a healthier diet can take advantage of the cooking appliances now available to help them – and how retailers can create healthier sales by being ready to explain
20 Cool Planet
Still on the healthy living theme, GC looks at how the energy saving credentials of our “always-on” refrigeration appliances have made dramatic improvements, and how much of a retail opportunity this presents
22 From the Bench
Alan Bennett looks at both sides of the “Right to Repair” movement and discusses its pros and cons from a professional’s point of view
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In 2018 pork pies gave way to quiches. Coffee pods were added and CD-ROMs were thrown out in 2016. We should all keep an eye on what’s in the “basket” for 2019
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his is the time of It’s no surprise that smart year when the basket speakers – such as those from of goods and services Amazon Echo and Google – have used by the ONS to calculate the been added to the basket in 2019. But rate of inflation in the UK is reviewed. What notice, as well, the inclusion of bakewear this the UK consumer needs – or wants – to buy is year. A sign that UK householders are buying changing all the time, for all sorts of reasons. tins and trays on a regular basis because they ONS senior statistician Philip Goodling says: are cooking – or intend to cook – at home a “We want to reflect modern spending habits, lot more. Again, see this month’s feature on and the alterations we have made highlight Healthy Cooking, and the retail opportunities shifting consumer behaviour, whether that it holds. is in technology, the home or the way we Finally, talking of baskets – and porky pies: communicate with one another.” March 29th may or may not be a Big Day for us Even if you don’t sell coffee pods, pork all, so we have to mention it. Deal or No Deal? pies or quiches, there are always insights into At the time of writing, Noel Edmonds has more shifting consumer tastes and wants chance of making sense of the process that are relevant to the electrical than the collective wisdom of the industry. The inclusion of Houses of Parliament. coffee pods in 2016 The point is that, mere acknowledged that poddays from the deadline, “Even if you don’t system coffee machines and after nearly three sell coffee pods, had become a part of years of turmoil, pork pies or quiches, UK living, just as the nobody knows what’s there are always insights rejection of CD-ROMs next. “Business into shifting consumer recognised they’d needs certainty” is tastes and wants that been overtaken by a truth universally are relevant to the software downloads. acknowledged… electrical industry” We can see the How big a proportion immediate relevance of of the domestic digital camcorders coming appliances and consumer out of the basket in 2018, and electronics we sell is the replacement of digital TV manufactured by and imported recorders and receivers such as Sky and from Europe and from Asia? Or, to put it Freeview boxes by digital media players such another way, is there a single electrical retailer as Chromecast and Apple TV. But when pork in the UK who sells electrical goods exclusively pies are out and quiches, yoga bottoms and made in Britain? athleisurewear are in, the signal our industry With all the focus on “the deal”, we are also picks up is that health, wellbeing, good diet apt to forget that the deal is not THE deal. It’s and, by association, more mindfulness about just an agreement that lets us start negotiating, the environment, are becoming a part of UK detail by complicated detail, the Real Deal: consumer thinking. A point particularly apposite what our future trading relationship with the EU to this issue of Get Connected, where Healthy will look like. Given our track record so far, we Cooking and energy-saving cooling appliances could be looking at another ten years. have established their clear relevance to what We have no clue what we’re going to do. we, as an industry, are selling today. Have you?
Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief
Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director
Will Dobson Creative Director
James McIntosh Consumer Consultant
George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant
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BREXIT UNCERTAINTY PUTS BRAKES ON RETAIL SPENDING
igures released by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG show that UK retail sales decreased by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis in February against an increase of 0.6% on the same period last year. The decline follows a modest recovery in January as the first week in particular was lifted by consumers taking advantage of New Year discounts.
BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson put February’s decline down to “uncertainty surrounding the UK’s imminent exit from the European Union.” The slowdown was not limited to physical stores – growth in online non-food sales fell well below the 6.9% twelve-month average. The category grew 5.4%, against growth of 6.4% in February last year.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE “FRANKLY AMAZING” DESPITE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
onsumer confidence in the UK increased one point in February, despite the uncertainty around Brexit, and according to researcher GfK, it is not showing any sign of making the dramatic drop seen after the June 2016 Brexit Referendum or in the early days of the last financial downturn. Whilst still in negative territory, the overall score of -13 reflects an increase in sentiment for the general economic situation and consumers’ personal finances over the next 12 months, and an upsurge in both the Savings and Major Purchase indices. Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK, said “it is frankly amazing that confidence is so stoic and stable in a world of sharp political instability and fear of the unknown.” Andy Soloman, CEO of customer experience-enhancing service provider Yomdel, said the result “pretty much sums up Brexit on a basic level whereby nothing makes any rational sense.”
STORE CLOSURES AND JOB LOSSES AT BRIGHTHOUSE
ent-to-own retail chain BrightHouse is to shut 30 stores – around a tenth of its estate – with the potential loss of 350 jobs. The move follows the recent report of halfyear losses at the company rising to £22.1 million and comes as the FCA fixes a price cap on rent-to-own firms (See page 8 of this issue). The company said it was working to redeploy as many people as possible into alternative roles, but redundancies would be inevitable. “We will be speaking to all customers affected by the store closures and either transferring them to another local store or serving them online. We’re also introducing PayPoint, allowing customers to pay BrightHouse in cash at 28,000 locations across the UK.” BrightHouse currently employs around 3,000 people.
BONUS CUT AT JOHN LEWIS AS NON-FOOD PROFITS TUMBLE
he John Lewis Partnership announced the lowest staff bonus since the 1950s as profits finished substantially lower in what Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield called a “challenging” year, particularly in non-food. Partnership management and staff received a 3% bonus after profits fell 45% to £160 million for the year ended 26 January 2019. Operating profit recovered strongly in Waitrose & Partners, up 18% to £203.2m, mainly due to improved gross margins. However, it fell sharply, by 56% to £114.7m, in John Lewis & Partners because of weaker Home sales, gross margin
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pressure, higher IT costs, the property impact of new shops and lower profit on asset sales. Sales at John Lewis & Partners were up 0.7%, but down 1.4% on a like-for-like basis. The strongest growth came in areas where the company made the greatest investments in new product and services, including the expansion of its own-brand electricals range, which resulted in sales up 11.2%. Sir Charlie Mayfield said: “We expect 2019 trading conditions to remain challenging but are confident in our strategic direction and customer offer across both brands.”
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
HMV BOUGHT OUT OF ADMINISTRATION
MV, which went into administration in December 2018 following what owners of the ailing chain called a “tsunami” of retail challenges, has been bought out of administration by Canadian company Sunrise Records which secured the deal against competition including Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct. Sunrise Records will buy 100 HMV stores for an undisclosed sum, saving a reported 1,487 jobs, but 27 stores will close at the cost of some 450 redundancies. Doug Putman, owner of Sunrise Records, has
a track record of entrepreneurship in Canada. He bought Sunrise Records in 2014, and in 2017 bought HMV’s Canadian business, creating a nationwide chain of some 80 outlets. HMV went into administration late last year following disappointing Christmas trading. Its then owners, Hilco Capital, a “specialist” in restructuring ailing businesses, was at the time called a “vulture fund” in the press and accused of having taken close to £50 million in fees out of the struggling chain during its 5-year ownership period. HMV paid no corporation tax during that time.
FAIR TAX MARK ACCREDITATION FOR RICHER SOUNDS
ational CE retailer Richer Sounds has been recertified as a Fair Tax Mark business for the third successive year, demonstrating its commitment to paying the right amount of corporation tax at the right time and in the right place. It is estimated that £400bn of global corporate profits are shifted annually to tax havens, with corporate tax revenue losses in the UK of approximately £7bn per annum, according to Fair Tax Mark. Chief Executive of the organisation Paul Monaghan said: “All too often
Corporation Tax is presented as a burden, but it shouldn’t be. Not when considered against the huge array of public services it helps fund – from education, health and social care, to flood defence, roads, policing and defence. It also plays a crucial role in holding the whole tax system together, helping to counter financial inequalities and rebalance distorted economies, which is why it’s so important that more businesses step forward and say what they pay with pride.” Richer Sounds is part of a growing movement of businesses
demonstrating their commitment to tax transparency. CEO of the retail business Julie Abraham said: “It’s so important to us that we give back to society as a whole, in addition to looking after our colleagues, because our workforce is educated, protected, kept healthy and safe by the people and services that are funded by our taxes. “We are absolutely committed to paying our share and feel strongly that any business that earns revenue in the UK has a moral obligation to make a fair contribution to the running of this country.”
AO CEO STEPS DOWN AO
World’s Steve Caunce has stepped down as CEO and from his position on the Board of the company after leading the business for two years. Caunce has been a key member of the Group’s management team for over 13 years and will remain involved in the business on a part-time basis as an adviser to the CEO and the Board. The Board has reappointed AO founder John Roberts, who led the business until February 2017 as CEO. “I have decided to step down at a time when I feel AO is well placed to continue to thrive as a leader in our sector. I look forward to contributing to the AO team as we execute our strategy,” said Caunce. “Steve has played a vital part in AO’s development and in the last two years has created the foundations for our future success. I look forward to continuing to work with him, as I have over the last 13 years,” commented John Roberts. “AO’s future is incredibly bright given our depth of talent at all levels of the business. I am fully committed to the business and the execution of our focused strategy and can’t wait to get stuck in again as CEO as we move onto the next exciting stage of the AO story.”
SHOP PRICE INFLATION AT SIX-YEAR HIGH S
hop price inflation accelerated in February to 0.7%, up from 0.4% in January and the highest inflation rate since March 2013. According to the BRC/Nielsen shop price index, non-food prices rose by 0.2% year on year – the first time the category has been inflationary in six years. The BRC said this reflects the ongoing slow release of significant cost
pressures which have built up in the supply chain over the last two years, notably from the currency depreciation in 2016 and the rise in oil prices last year. But the organisation warned that weak discretionary spending and intense competition are likely to again drive heavy discounting amongst retailers. Food inflation inched up slightly to 1.6%, up from 1.5% in January.
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FCA CONFIRMS INTRODUCTION NEW OMNI-CHANNEL APPROACH OF RENT-TO-OWN PRICE CAP FOR CIH/EURONICS
he Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed that the price cap to protect customers of rent-to-own retailers will be introduced from 1 April 2019 and will apply to any new products RTO firms introduce to the market for the first time. RTO customers are in some cases currently paying in total more than four times the retail price of some goods. The cap will save UK consumers up to £22.7 million a year. The FCA confirmed in a Policy Statement that the following measures will apply to the RTO sector:
setting a total credit cap of 100% introducing a requirement on firms to benchmark base prices (including delivery and installation) against the prices charged by three mainstream retailers preventing firms increasing their prices for insurance premiums (e.g. theft and accidental damage cover), extended warranties, or arrears charges, to recoup lost revenue from the price cap Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, said the price cap has been designed to target some of the most excessive prices in the rent-to-own market and the organisation will be keeping a close watch on firms’ compliance. “We will review the impact of the price cap in 2020 and if further work is needed to protect these customers we are prepared to intervene again,” he commented. The move to introduce a price cap on the RTO sector follows the publication of the FCA’s Consultation Paper in November 2018 outlining the organisation’s intentions to protect vulnerable consumers from the high prices being charged in this market. The FCA’s previous work has resulted in redress packages worth nearly £16 million in total for around 340,000 consumers of RTO firms BrightHouse, PerfectHome and Buy As You View.
uying group CIH has upgraded its website to reflect a “new omni-channel approach” to the business of selling electricals, providing stock availability information and the option for consumers to click & collect goods from a range of locations. The platform provides additional detailed product information to ensure an easier and quicker shopping experience and advises of the delivery and installation options available. A Service & Support area provides advice on a raft of transaction subjects, ranging from the group’s Price Match Guarantee and Payment Methods to Returns & Cancellations, Recycling and more… It also provides a Live Chat option as part of the Customer Service offering. Robert Blair, Head of Marketing and eCommerce at CIH, boasted that the new Euronics platform is “one of the best online offerings in the UK,” but constant monitoring for continuous improvement will be the group’s focus for 2019, he said. “Our new omni-channel approach is to grow our brand awareness, while strengthening the support for our agents and increasing the value to our suppliers,” Blair added.
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Waterproof TV manufacturer Aquavision has announced changes to its UK Custom Install distribution process, making products available either direct from the company or through distributor Habitech. CI distributor Invision has entered into a distribution partnership with mirror-TV manufacturer ad notam. BSH Home Appliances, manufacturer of the Bosch, NEFF, Siemens and Gaggenau brands, has been officially recognised as a Top Employer for 2019 by the Top Employers Institute. Whirlpool has been named as a Top Employer UK and Top Employer Europe for 2019 for the second consecutive year, having been certified by the Top Employer Institute in six Countries (UK, France, Italy, Poland, Russia and South Africa). Bertazzoni has partnered with EQ Software as its business management software provider to give retailers easy access to its product portfolio. A digital version of the brand’s catalogue will be available to users of the software to help them produce quotes quickly and with more accuracy.
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LG POSTS RECORD FULLYEAR REVENUES LG
ASIAN ALLIANCE PROVIDES LOEWE WITH “STRONG PLATFORM FOR SUCCESS”
oewe’s production facility in Kronach, Germany is to become an independent entity following a tie-up with Japanese Toyoichi Tsusho Co. Ltd. Loewe said the partnership includes the supply of major electronic components and the setup of a just-in-time supply chain structure within Kronach. It will also include the joint development of major system components for future smart entertainment solutions. “With Toyoichi we’ve found a reliable and financially strong partner to further boost Loewe’s competitiveness and internationalisation,” said Dr. Ralf Vogt, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Executive Management Board of Loewe Technologies GmbH, who was appointed early this year. Vogt succeeded Mark Hüsges, who relinquished the role to become Chairman of the newly founded Loewe Advisory Board, a move significant to the establishment of the Loewe-Toyoichi alliance. “We have always pointed out that we are open to accept new investors to enhance the Loewe Group. This process is far advanced now. For this reason, the separation of investor and Executive Management level within our organisation represents a consistent next step at this point in time,” commented Hüsges. The company said it will benefit hugely from the procurement power of Toyoichi and new production orders from the firm’s network of partners within Asia, alongside contracts from regional partners within Europe. “The newly established German-Japanese alliance complements the existing well-proven and longstanding partnerships Loewe has with Hisense and LG Display,” commented Loewe’s Vogt. Toyoichi has supplied Loewe, LG Display and Hisense with LCD displays since 2015. Yutaka Hayashi, Chairman of the Japanese firm, said: “The future plans of Loewe’s management together with the strategic reorganisation of the Loewe Group provide a strong platform for success.” The two companies said they intend to expand the partnership further to include other business areas in the next few months.
Electronics announced record full-year revenues of KRW 61.3 trillion (USD 54.4 billion) for 2018, exceeding sales of KRW 60 trillion for the second consecutive year. Full-year profit increased nearly 10% to KRW 2.70 trillion. The Home Appliance and Home Entertainment businesses each recorded their highest annual profit in the company’s history. LG Home Appliance & Air Solution Company reported revenues of KRW 19.36 trillion, an increase of nearly 5% from the previous year, generating a profit of KRW 1.52 trillion. The Home Entertainment Company recorded revenues of KRW 16.21 trillion with a record profit of KRW 1.52 trillion. LG said the result was due to the strength of its premium product lineup. LG Mobile Communications Company reported a full-year operating loss of KRW 790.1 billion on revenues of KRW 7.98 trillion. Sales in the fourth quarter totalled KRW 1.71 trillion, a decrease of 16%.
PANASONIC FULL-YEAR FORECAST REVISED DOWNWARDS
anasonic has revised its financial forecast for the year ending 31st March 2019 predicting net sales of ¥8.1 trillion, down from the ¥8.3 trillion forecast in May 2018. Operating profit is expected to be ¥385 billion, ¥40 billion less than predicted, while pre-tax profit is now expected to be ¥385 billion, ¥35 billion down on the previous forecast. The company said the sales forecast revision was mainly due to weakening sales in Appliances and Automotive & Industrial Systems. Operating and pre-tax profits were affected by a partial revision of the pension system. Net profit, at ¥250 billion, remains unchanged.
MIDWICH TAKES MAJORITY STAKE IN ITALIAN DISTRIBUTOR
distributor Midwich has entered into a binding agreement to acquire 80% of the share capital of Prase Engineering S.p.A, an Italian value-added distributor of AV products. The move marks Midwich’s entry into a territory the Group had identified as important in its international expansion. Prase was founded in 1993 by Alberto and Ennio Prase, both of whom will continue to lead the business and will remain on the Board of Directors. In the year ended 31 December 2017, the company generated revenues in excess of €20 million and has recently been shortlisted for distributor of the year at the upcoming InAVation awards, an award it previously won in 2014. “We believe that with the acquisition of Prase, Midwich now has a presence in countries representing over 80% of the European AV market,” said Group Managing Director Stephen Fenby.
EXERTIS ANNOUNCES THIRD CHANNEL EVENT
echnology products distributor Exertis is to hold its third channel event, Plug In To Exertis, on Thursday 16th May at the Silverstone Circuit. Resellers and retailers will have the opportunity to spend the day engaging with technology at four dedicated exhibition areas focused on business, AV, enterprise and consumer solutions. Last year Plug In To Exertis welcomed a record number of 1,100 attendees with almost 700 resellers and retailers present and 116 vendors exhibiting. Attendees can register at www.exertis.co.uk/plugin/ where information on the event is being regularly updated.
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COMMERCIAL RADIO AND IN-CAR DRIVE DIGITAL LISTENING GROWTH
igital listening reached a new record share of 52.6% in the last quarter of 2018, up from 49.9% in Q4 2017 due to strong growth of national commercial stations and digital listening in car. According to RAJAR data, digital listening accounted for 51.5% of all BBC radio and 53.9% of commercial radio listening and its share has now stood at more than 50% for four consecutive quarters. Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said: “We look forward to the listening data for Q1 2019 which will reflect the massive surge in smart speaker sales and usage postChristmas and the impact of the new stations and schedules launched in January.”
Barend Ezechiels, former Sony Benelux country head, is to head up Sony’s UK and Ireland operation. He replaces John Anderson, who is to become country head for Sony Germany. Both appointments are effective from 1st April 2019.
The Sirius Buying Group has appointed Mark Veysey as its new general manager. Veysey previously spent 7 years with trade association retra, most recently in a consultative role.
Miele has appointed award-winning chef Andrew Scott as development chef, a new role in which he will be responsible for the company’s food, cooking and experience strategy.
Silke Maurer has joined the Board of Management at BSH Hausgeräte GmbH as Chief Operating Officer. She succeeds Michael Schöllhorn, who left the company at the end of January. Maurer joined BSH Hausgeräte GmbH in 2016. Audio-Technica Europe has appointed Sarah Yule to the position of Sales Director EMEA. Silke Maurer
Powerful performance, intelligent clean
an you imagine a robot vacuum that not only remembers your home’s floor plan and cleans specific rooms by name, but also automatically empties itself? Well look no further – it’s here, and it’s called iRobot Roomba i7+. iRobot Corp. recently launched the Roomba i7+, which brings a new level of intelligence and automation to robotic vacuum cleaners with the ability to learn, map and adapt to no less than 10 different floor plans making it possible for you to carry your robot to another floor or a separate home, where the i7+ will recognise its location and clean as you wish. With the Imprint™ Smart Mapping, the Roomba i7+ also remembers room names and therefore you can customise cleaning jobs according to your needs and direct the robot to clean specific rooms by voice using Alexa or Google Assistant or via the iRobot HOME App. When the Roomba i7+ robot vacuum is finished cleaning, it empties its own dustbin into the Clean Base™, which holds 30 bins of dirt, allowing you to forget about vacuuming for weeks at a time. This not only enhances your experience by eliminating the dusty and dirty mess often associated with emptying vacuum canisters, it also makes a difference in your life.
BELLING BASH FOR LONG EATON RETAILER
ottinghamshire-based retailer Long Eaton Appliances reported strong sales after cooking appliance manufacturer Belling provided a revenueboosting in-store party to mark the 21st birthday of the Belling Cookcentre range cooker. The party was won in a national competition held as part of the brand’s support for independents, and enabled the retailer to offer a week of discounts on Belling range cookers. Customers were enticed into the store for food, drinks and birthday cake as part of the celebrations. The first 30 through the door received a free Belling gift which included baking sets, Belling teddy bears and aprons.
“The event was really well attended, and we had lots of sales along with plenty of great comments from customers old and new,” commented Dave Rowland, Managing Director of Long Eaton Appliances. “It is really valuable to receive this kind of support from manufacturers to help support independent retailers like us, especially at what can be a quiet time of the year.” “The independent channel is really important to us and so we were delighted to be able to support Dave and his team at Long Eaton with this event,” added Jonathan Casley of Belling parent company Glen Dimplex Home Appliances.
Dave Rowland with Glen Dimplex Home Appliances’ Sara Barlow, National Field Sales Manager
SAMSUNG LAUNCHES SUPPORT PROGRAMME FOR KITCHEN SPECIALISTS
amsung Electronics UK has introduced a programme to support, educate and reward kitchen specialists who believe in the brand’s vision, with a view to furthering its role as “a leader within the domestic appliances industry.” The ‘Samsung Kitchen Circle’ offers support via a specialised technical team available seven days a week and provides access to a full suite of online marketing materials and in-store video assets. Product training for each new product launch, and refresher training when required, will also be included in the programme, along with access to Samsung’s consumer marketing plan for 2019 and a monthly Round-Up newsletter detailing any key activities. Kitchen specialists will be offered ongoing product support and a rolling yearround rewards scheme to acknowledge commitment and excellence. The highest levels of achievement will be recognised and celebrated at an awards event later in the year, the company said.
PERFORMANCE BOOST FOR PJH PARTNERS PORTAL™
JH’s online channel Partners Portal™ has been rebuilt to offer users up to a ten-fold increase in speed and performance. The portal was introduced in 2015 and has grown quickly as a preferred ordering and account management platform for customers. Visitors, orders and revenue have all increased year-on-year since the site’s launch. Sally Hough, PJH Multi-Channel Marketing Manager, said the platform was designed with customers, for customers, and additional new features based on customer feedback are already planned for introduction throughout 2019.
is offering a 100-day money-back guarantee on freestanding and integrated dishwashers in a promotion that runs until 27th September 2019.
GDHA brands Stoves and Belling have launched a threemonth national cash-back campaign running across Stoves Richmond, Sterling and Deluxe range cookers and freestanding mini-ranges and the Belling Cookcentre and Farmhouse range cookers. The incentive offers consumers up to £200 cash back on the purchase of eligible products.
Smeg has introduced a spring promotion giving retailers the opportunity to offer a free Smeg SJF01 slow juicer worth £449.99 with the purchase of the brand’s 90cm, 100cm and 110cm Victoria range cookers. The offer will run until 30th April 2019.
is supporting ‘The Fridge Hiker’ Matthew Bamber in continuing his mission to raise awareness and money for Help for Heroes – the UK Armed Forces and military veterans’ charity – into 2019.
Belling has relaunched its Cookery Club competition, an initiative which supports primary schools and helps them provide practical cookery classes for children, with the opportunity for winners to receive up to £2,000 worth of cooking appliances.
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS
REVIEW IN A NUTSHELL:
THE GPO RETRO BROOKLYN BOOM BOX Long-time GC reader Don Todd of DTP Radio Productions is a keen advocate of new audio technology that doesn’t jettison the best of the “old school” features that keen audiophiles and studio professionals still find useful. He sent us his review of a “classic” 80s-style boombox with 21st century technology:
ome time back (GC Jan/Feb 2018) I said that some manufacturer should make a radio/cassette recorder that can record DAB/FM and not just AM/ FM. GPO has done just that with the Brooklyn model, which is for all music lovers, not just street breakdancers. The Brooklyn has 40W of power delivered through four speakers with separate treble and bass equalisation controls. There are outputs (RCA) for external speakers or for feeding into a bigger amplifier, an input (3.5mm Aux in) to feed MP3 and any other outside source, and full Bluetooth facilities. As well as recording to cassette, a socket for a USB stick (max 32GB) allows recording from radio and any outside source. It also runs on its own rechargeable lithium battery (charge time 1½ hours, play time up to 4 hours.) The instruction manual tells you not to open the battery compartment, but when I got ours for the studio it had a separate battery I thought was a spare, but it had not been fitted at the factory. The CD player is a fully operational top loader, and anything coming out of the speakers can be recorded onto cassette or USB stick. There are digital VU indicators, twin aerials and headphone and mic inputs. It is quite weighty at 10Kg and measures 60cm(W) x 14cm(D) x 30cm(H). It’s powerful enough to be used not just by breakdancers but anywhere that powerful music supplied from any source is needed. I recorded a church organ
and played it back from the organ loft while I stood at the back of the church, and it was very clear. In fact, the organist could record his music and stay in bed on a Sunday! I think all dealers should have at least one of these in stock and I think they’ll move quite fast, especially if they’s one on demo. Well done GPO! Don Todd, DTP Radio Productions
AIRUNO launches new downdraft extractor AIRUNO’s new downdraft extractor has an operating noise level of 4369dB(A), four speed settings and a maximum extraction rate of 748m3/h. The A-rated “Zaira” comes with a remote control and is available in 90cm and 120cm models in either black glass or stainless steel finishes.
Tefal’s Cake Factory a “UK first” …a cake maker that takes the guesswork out of baking and offers the precision that brings the uniform results many ovens can’t provide. The Cake Factory has five automatic programmes with Smart Bake technology that tracks and adjusts the heat curve of the bake. It comes with accessories including PROFLEX silicone mini muffin and mini cake moulds, a non-stick baking tray, metal grid and recipe book. Users can download the app to access more than 200 bakes, tips, guides and themed creations.
Compact larder fridge from Amica Amica’s new 55cm FC2093 larder fridge is 123.5cm high with 204 litres of storage space. It has four shelves, a salad crisper, four spacious door balconies and an A+ energy rating.
Sony wena™ watch range Sony’s new wena™ watch range comprises two Smart straps and five different face styles, offering interchangeability to suit individual tastes and lifestyles. The unit provides speedy contactless payment, advanced fitness tracking and direct linkups for phone notifications.
“Top class” cleaning with CDA’s new dishwasher
More capacity with Hotpoint’s flat-bed combi microwave Hotpoint’s new freestanding combi microwave (MWHF 206 B) does away with the need for a turntable and optimises the space available to cook multiple dishes simultaneously. The 800W appliance has a 20-litre capacity with the same usable space as a Hotpoint 25-litre model. It has 20+ automatic programmes and a crisp-plate accessory for foodstuffs that require a crisp golden finish.
CDA’s latest integrated dishwasher is A++ rated for energy and offers a Triple Wash which does away with baked-on food with ease. Additional spray arms deliver a powerful jet of water onto dishes in the lower basket, and items such as wine glasses and cups in the upper basket benefit from a Direct Wash jet to ensure hygienic cleaning of internal surfaces. The appliance also has a top-level cutlery tray.
01949 862 000 www.cda.eu
F&P launches variable temperature zone column fridges and freezers Fisher & Paykel’s “column series” modular fridges can be mixed and matched to provide a choice of different widths and configurations such as side-by-side or the option to place individually around the kitchen. The units have a stainless steel interior, full extension metal bin-runners and cantilevered glass shelves with metal trim. Variable Temperature Zone (VTZ) technology provides separate modes so the most suitable combination of fridge and freezer temperatures can be selected.
McIntosh all-in-one turntable with Bluetooth McIntosh’s MTI100 is a home audio system enabling vinyl playback and HD music streaming over Bluetooth. The inbuilt amplifier features McIntosh-selected valves, Bluetooth (4.2) connectivity for wireless devices, plus digital inputs to enable McIntosh audio quality from a wide range of household devices.
Ruark launches R5 High Fidelity Music System The new R5 music system is a “statement” product from Ruark offering a performance matching the company’s flagship R7 design. The unit is said to provide an “unparalleled” breadth of listening options, whether CD, radio, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with AptX HD, and has a dedicated phono input for linking a turntable.
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
A FUZZY FUTURE FOR DIGITAL CAMERAS Canon’s chairman, Fujio Mitarai, recently painted a grim future for the digital camera market. In an interview he said that Canon expected the digital camera market to fall by another 50% in the next two years, before the market bottomed out. Not surprisingly, he blamed this fall on the rise of the cameraphone.
he digital camera sector is dominated have tried to expand the market by pushing by compacts and DSLRs, and today you mirrorless cameras. can buy an A-branded compact with a Whereas a DSLR has a mirror and 20MP sensor, 1080 HD recording optical viewfinder, a mirrorless and 20x optical zoom for well camera dispenses with the under £200. But most of us bulky viewfinder box and prefer taking pictures with uses a digital display. The our phone. In addition to result is that mirrorless “Digital cameras marketing low-cost, high cameras are smaller, have been squeezed performance compacts, lighter and quieter than by the rise of the camera manufacturers a DSLR. They also have cameraphone and the an interchangeable explosion of social lens system, giving media.” users lots of shooting flexibility (although it’s a shame that there is no industry standard for mirrorless lens systems, making it harder for users to mix and match lenses from different manufacturers.) I recently chatted to a professional street photographer and he’s a big fan of the mirrorless camera because it’s more discreet, “The quality’s improved,” he’s added, “and they are now becoming a serious rival to DSLRs.”
A HARD LESSON
your worst nightmare (okay, I exaggerate): you switch on your PVR and all your recordings are missing. In fact, it’s quite a common occurrence, so when it happened to me the other day, I wasn’t unduly concerned. Normally, rebooting the box solves the issue. But this time it didn’t. What’s more, the hard drive status bar indicated that there were zero hours of recordings stored on it. I tried switching the PVR back to its factory reset settings (you lose your scheduled recordings but not the recordings on the box), but still no joy. A call to the manufacturer’s helpline confirmed my fears: the hard drive had gone, along with dozens of recordings, many of which I hadn’t watched. It also made me nostalgic for the good old VCR. At least when that broke down, you didn’t lose all your recordings and, at worst, it might chew up the tape you were watching. But then I thought about how much more convenient a PVR is. It’s annoying and frustrating to lose all your recordings, but you have to keep a sense of perspective. Far worse things can happen to you.
Last year, there was a big push for mirrorless cameras (which, incidentally, have been around for more than fourteen years) and all the major brands were promoting products in the sector. Even so, Mitarai notes that mirrorless cameras haven’t grown the market: new entrants haven’t entered the camera market, instead, consumers who might normally have purchased a DSLR or high-end compact have opted for a mirrorless instead. Digital cameras have been squeezed by the rise of the cameraphone and the explosion of social media. More than 350 million images are uploaded to Facebook every day, and then there are platforms such as Snapchat and Instragram. Although many digital cameras now include built-in wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and NFC, cameraphones offer a slick and easy way to upload images to friends and online services. Digital cameras are not dead: there will always be consumers who prefer the higher quality and greater flexibility offered by a dedicated digital camera, but Canon is right when it says that the digital camera sector is steering into choppy waters.
The recent radio market statistics from Rajar paint a mixed picture for digital radio. The good news is that for the last four consecutive quarters digital platforms accounted for more than 50% of all radio listening. The bad news is that in Q3 2018 the figure was 52.4% and in Q4, 52.6% - barely any change. It raises the questions: has the digital radio market stalled? Are we approaching peak DAB? I’ve no doubt that supporters of digital radio will say that this isn’t the case, but the industry will be taking a hard look at the figures for Q1 2019 when they are released this spring.
GOOD HEALTH STARTS IN THE KITCHEN
Healthy eating is part of a huge and still growing national interest in health and wellbeing. Whether your individual customers see it as a real long-term commitment or just a vague aspiration, it’s a great opportunity for retailers to engage with them and help find appliances that deliver their specific requirements
ot all your customers looking for kitchen appliances will put healthy eating as their first priority, but it’s odds-on that all of them will be aware at some level of the widespread publicity about better health and the dangers of a bad diet, and may have felt they should do something about it. As Hotpoint head of brand Jennifer Taylor says, “healthy eating has been identified by market researchers as a megatrend,” and “more consumers are paying attention to their health.” It’s also a fair bet that, whatever their level of awareness, your customers will naturally see their own kitchen at home as the place where they can make a difference. It’s there that we have most control over what we choose to eat and drink, and how we store it, prepare it and cook it. It’s an opportunity for retailers to ask the questions, understand where their customers are in terms of confidence, knowledge and experience of home cooking, and decide how healthy eating needs to be brought into the mix with the other home appliance parameters such as style, performance, reliability and price. As Bertazzoni UK & Ireland’s MD Maurizio Severgnini puts it: “We know that health and wellbeing is far more than a fad, and as such, retailers need to be aware of it and prepare for the changing expectations and know how to market the products accordingly.” Nick Platt, business director, built-in appliances at Hoover Candy UK, reinforces the point: “As the wellness trend continues to be forefront of the consumer agenda, electrical retailers should certainly be aware of and able to discuss features that can assist healthy eating habits.”
De Dietrich Pure White Collection: a combination of style and function
HEALTHY KITCHEN – HEALTHY SALES
Hoover Vogue vacuum seal drawer: preserving taste and nutrients under vacuum cooking
“Best Buy” juicer yields great nutrition Tested side by side with the best that the market has to offer, no other juicer gives a higher yield of nutritious juice than the award-winning Kuvings EVO820 Whole Slow Juicer. Available in a range of attractive colours with a premium “leather look” finish, this luxury buy juicer recently bagged the “Best Buy Juicer 2019” award in the Independent’s IndyBest juicer tests for good reason. The fact that a small kitchen appliance with a premium ticket price is proving so popular with consumers is testimony to our increasing health awareness as a culture, and the profit margin is excellent!
UK Juicers email: email@example.com
Tel: 01904 757070
BACK TO BASICS Many customers, even if they are aware of the benefits of healthier home cooking, may not be confident with cooking at home at all, let alone having the skills to produce good food from scratch. Indesit brand manager Sarah Bazeley told GC: “Research states that only 22% of British consumers feel they have great knowledge of, and experience with, food and cooking.” And with the best will in the world, many in our time-poor nation may feel it’s all just too difficult and time-consuming, and it’s easier to stick with takeaways and convenience foods. “Research commissioned by Hotpoint,” says Jennifer Taylor, “has revealed almost one in five UK adults rely on a diet of takeaways and convenience food due to lack of knowledge in the kitchen, with one in 10 Brits admitting they never cook from scratch.” For this “can’t cook, won’t cook” cohort of UK consumers, the first questions are likely to be very basic: “How do I start?” “What’s the
easiest way?” “What’s the quickest way?” “What appliances do you recommend to help me get the best results most simply?” The reassuring message that retailers can give to these tentative questioners – and indeed to all points on the cooking skills spectrum up to the most demanding and confident foodies - is that the manufacturers are aware of the needs and have actively developed solutions.
SUPPLYING THE DEMAND AEG told GC: “We believe the trend for healthy eating is encouraging new technology within the kitchen appliances market. We understand that diet is one of the key elements… and we have developed our range of ovens to reflect this.” Whirlpool marketing director Marco Falaschetti agrees that “it is important to remember the needs of the customer are paramount. The average customer is interested in products that will make their life easier. It is essential that the
GOOD HEALTH STARTS IN THE KITCHEN
Steam Combination Cooking – Tasty, Healthy and Nutritional There’s no need to waste time in deciding between traditional and steam cooking; the new De Dietrich Combi Steam Oven offers you both Multifunction and Combi Steam options, for simple and tasty meals. Cook foods including rice, bread and pasta using the ovens steam options or select the ovens Culinary Guide for a number of pre-set recipes that cook a dish to precision. While your dish cooks, the oven’s sensors will automatically adjust cooking time, temperature and steam percentage so you are left with a tasty dish, full of vitamins and minerals.
For more see www.dedietrich.co.uk appliance does the ‘thinking’ too, monitoring, adapting and controlling the processes to ensure the consumer attains excellent results when cooking, with minimal effort.” Bertazzoni’s Maurizio Severgnini concurs: “to make healthy cooking achievable for people of all abilities, manufacturers should design appliances with multiple functions. However, it’s important to balance high functionality with usability.” And Caple product manager Luke Shipway assures us that “a variety of kitchen appliances can help create confident, healthy cooking.”
FULFILLING THE PROMISE What are these cooking features available now that can inspire confidence in the learner and creativity in the experienced cook? Retailers will be familiar with manufacturers’ individual approaches to simpler cooking, combinations of processes within single appliances, and the various proprietary names given to them, but there are strong strands of development that manufacturers all seem most keen to talk about. For example, if “keep it simple” is a mantra that all your customers respond to, especially in this screen-based era of the one-click, swipe left, swipe right, instant information, you-do-the-mathsand-just-give-me the-result, then the technology is on your side. All of the manufacturers we spoke to have built in simplicity options (which means, as so much good technology does, that the complicated part is done by the appliance without troubling the user.) De Dietrich’s Combi Steam Oven has its Culinary Guide, where the oven’s sensors
automatically adjust cooking time, temperature and steam percentage. Hoover’s Vision Oven offers built-in tutortials and video recipes available directly on the touch-screen oven door that also functions as a touch-screen display. Hotpoint’s top-of-the-range Class 9 combi steam oven has ten “assisted cycles” that can, says Jennifer Taylor, “help create confident healthy master chefs.” Indesit has its Turn&Cook programme that automatically sets the time and temperature for more than 80 recipes with a turn of a dial. The Aria built-in oven’s Turn&Cook app means users can take a picture of the ingredients and the app recommends recipes, ideal settings and timings. Whirlpool, whose 6th SENSE technology has appeared across its range of appliances, offers similar temperature and timing automation, and its multifunction oven has Cook3 and Ready2Cook functions.
AGE OF STEAM So many manufacturers are mentioning steam and combi steam ovens, not only in the context of health but of taste and succulence. It’s clear that some consumers still think of “steaming” as a separate process that only works for some foods. Combi steam ovens are now sophisticated enough to combine steam with fan and other methods of cooking to produce the right levels of browning, crisping and texture, while at the same time enhancing flavour, maintaining moisture and succulence and preserving vital nutrients and vitamins. Take the time to explain how far steam cooking has come, or, better still, demonstrate the great results it can achieve.
SMALL STEPS Perhaps the easiest – and least costly – way to make a difference to general health is via the small appliances – such as juicers and table-top cooking devices – that offer a simple step to better nutrition. Vacuum blenders, such as those by Beko and Shark, are making an impression on the market in the UK. “Vacuum Tefal ActiFry: A versatile and healthier countertop small appliance
blenders,” says Beko brand manager Shalika Hooda, “are the way forward in terms of health benefits and efficiency.” She explains that vacuum technology “helps to retain more vitamins and nutrients than standard blenders, including up to a massive 40% more vitamin C.” Air fryers – tabletop appliances that use tiny amounts of cooking oil to produce not only chips but a whole range of foods – have been getting more and more versatile and sophisticated. Caroline Ross, marketing manager at Groupe SEB UK, points out that Tefal’s latest ActiFry model – the Genius XL – is a “multi-functional” example that has nine automatic cooking programmes capable of adjusting cooking time, temperature and stirring action to cook foods as diverse as chips, meat & vegetable balls, battered snacks, chicken and desserts. There are also “1 Meal in 1 Go” settings that can prepare wok-cooked dishes, curries and tagines in a single step, with all ingredients added in one go. While some of these small appliances are not exactly cheap, they do offer real health benefits and real simplicity that may, for many consumers, be well worth the price. For those looking for home appliances that can emulate some of the “professional chef” processes we see gaining prominence on TV – such as sous vide, which vacuum seals food for cooking at lower temperatures to preserve taste and nutrients – these pro methods are now available for home cooks looking to broaden their repertoire and create heathier dishes. As AEG told GC: “Ovens with sous vide technology are a great way to retain vitamins and minerals in food. Sous vide seals the food and cooks it at lower temperatures. This ensures your food preserves delicious flavour, important moisture and nutritional goodness. As an added bonus, you also tend to use less fat and salt in the sous vide cooking process because all flavours are naturally enhanced.” There is plenty for retailers to talk about, explain and, wherever possible, demonstrate. Good health, good taste, good looks and simple operation are all achievable with the right appliances, whether your customers are dedicated home chefs or kitchen novices. Hotpoint: steam ovens are mainstream appliances today
Caple’s CAFF60 fridge-freezer has three fridge temperature zones, each of which can be turned off independently when not required, offering additional household energy savings
save resources and to help protect the future of our environment.
TALKING SAVINGS When financial website This is Money crunched the numbers to find out the energy savings that could be made by replacing old appliances with new, it discovered that some of the biggest savings were in the cooling sector.
– A RETAIL OPPORTUNITY Energy savings and food preservation: two of the most important factors that make trading up to the best cooling appliances a positive move for the environment, and for household finances
-one brings the complex issue of climate change into sharper focus than Sir David Attenborough. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January this year, the naturalist warned world leaders and business chiefs to tackle climate change before the damage to our environment becomes irreparable. “Unless we sort ourselves out in the next decade or so we are dooming our children and our grandchildren to an appalling future,” he said. “I was born during the Holocene – the name given to the 12,000year period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm and create civilisations. “The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists
say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans.” What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few thousand years, Sir David warned. “Get it right, and humans can create a world with clean air and water, unlimited energy and
“Older, less energyefficient cooling appliances can use up to 25% of a household electricity bill” Luke Shipway, product manager, Caple
sustainable fish stocks, but only if decisive action is taken now.” A rousing address by the highly respected natural historian and broadcaster.
RESPONSIBILITY It is generally assumed that tackling climate change is the responsibility of governments and big business, and yes, without participation, collaboration and commitment from these controlling entities, it is difficult to see how we can sustain what the Holocene years gave rise to – the international trade in ideas and goods which made us, as Sir David said, “the globally-connected species we are today.” But climate change is everyone’s responsibility, and in this Cool Planet feature we look at what today’s cooling appliances can do to help UK households do their bit to
In an example using fridge freezers, the financial pundit found that a C-rated model uses 816kWh of energy per year, whereas an A+++ typically uses just 206kWh – around three-quarters less! Of course, not only does switching to a more energy-efficient fridge freezer save electricity and lower the household’s carbon footprint, it also saves consumers money. A C-rated model costs on average £151 a year to run, while the typical annual running cost of an A+++ rated model is just £38, a saving of £113. According to This is Money’s formula, the cost of a new fridge freezer could be recouped within five years. Energy savings for consumers will become more important this year as 15 million households will see their energy bills increase by more than £100 per annum after regulator Ofgem said it was lifting two price caps. Around 11 million households on default tariffs seemingly will be the worst affected by the move as many of them will pay more for their electricity and gas than before the cap on such tariffs took effect in January this year. For some, the annual saving
gained by upgrading from a C-rated to an A+++ fridge freezer could offset this rise in energy bills.
FURTHER SAVINGS? At times it feels as if we’ve come as far as we can in reducing energy consumption in white goods, so the question now is: can any more be done to improve the cost effectiveness of running a 24/7 appliance? Whirlpool sees connectivity as the way forward in saving resources. Alessandro Finetto, senior director of global consumer design EMEA, says key concerns among consumers when running their homes are cost and environmental impact. “With the cost of energy forever rising and the depletion of our finite resources increasingly on the mind of the consumer, there is a sustained rise in the trend towards investing in newer, more energy-efficient appliances. “With refrigeration operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, consumers are looking to trade up and invest in more energy-saving cooling appliances in order to save money and resources in the long term. Connected appliances hold the potential to take resource and economic savings to the next level. Through harnessing smart and connected technology, appliances can choose the best way to operate and this in turn can allow for the integration of more re-usable energy into the running of our homes.”
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT Max McCormick, Product Manager for Kitchens at Miele GB, believes every customer has a different priority when buying a new cooling product, and while it may be energy efficiency for some, for others “it will always be price,” he maintains. “But, increasingly, consumers are more aware about the impact major appliances have on the planet and want to understand a product’s eco credentials. Make sure you know them,” he advises, adding that retailers should be able to explain the benefits of spending more on an appliance that has been made using mostly sustainable materials, and the lower running cost associated with reduced energy consumption. While buying an energy-efficient cooling product will automatically bring energy and money savings, consumers should be made aware
that how they use their new appliance could reduce some of the benefits. Lucy King, Product Manager at Smeg UK, provides some key points which retailers can pass on to customers to help them obtain the most from their purchase:
“When it comes to what would encourage consumers to buy a new appliance, cost savings rule the roost”
Reduce the number of times the doors of the fridge freezer are opened and the length of time they remain open to prevent the compartments from losing cool air Clean the condenser (rear of the refrigerator) periodically to prevent the appliance from losing efficiency Use the Super Freeze function only when strictly necessary Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator compartment in order to make use of the cold stored in frozen items Avoid putting hot food in the fridge as the appliance will need to work harder, using more energy, to bring the temperature back down again
A GROWING PROBLEM…. Stuart Netscher, Head of Category for Cooling at GDHA, highlights food wastage as an important factor for the cooling industry and notes that innovation in technology is predictably focused on increasing the life of chilled food and preserving freshness – a move appreciated by a growing number of consumers, as the latest Hoover Innovation Report shows. The study found that 33% of consumers
Steve Macdonald, business director, Freestanding Division, Hoover Candy UK
are looking for technology that improves food preservation and extends the life of produce, and some, such as Indesit Brand Manager Sara Bazeley, put this down to an emphasis on healthy living and the desire to cook from scratch using fresh foodstuffs. But another factor exists: 7.2 million tonnes of food a year is wasted in the UK. That’s around a fifth of all food purchased. Avoidable household food waste – i.e. food that could have been eaten – is estimated by WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme) to be 4.4 million tonnes annually. Household food waste ends up in landfill where it produces methane – a potent greenhouse gas with the warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide, and therefore a huge contributor to global climate change. Whatever the motivation, be it good health or saving the planet, the move towards the purchase of greater amounts of fresh foodstuffs creates the need for capacity
and defined areas which store items such as fruit and vegetables, meat and fish products at the ideal temperature and humidity to keep them fresher for longer.
IN-STORE EXPERTS AEG describes food wastage as a “hot topic” and notes that this has led to consumers now making much more informed choices when choosing products. And as Indesit’s Bazeley points out, it may have been some time since the consumer last purchased a cooling appliance. “Therefore,” she says, “they may not be aware of all the technical advances available that contribute to a highly efficient and versatile appliance. It is important for retailers to take time to demonstrate how users can benefit from the enhanced interior design and new technology available in cooling appliances today.” Food preservation technologies come in a number of guises from a wide spectrum of brands and at varying price levels. So, for retailers selling the many options available, Miele’s McCormick has this advice: “Position yourselves as real experts and authorities in this area to set yourselves apart from your competitors. Offer real value with your advice to ensure your customers feel they are doing the right thing for both their own pocket and the environment.”
ActiveSmart™ Foodcare from Fisher & Paykel Fisher & Paykel fridges are built using robust, quality materials, like this stunning new black steel fridge freezer. Beautiful, but also cleverly designed with the ultra-slim water dispenser with angled water delivery, which means that almost any sized vessel can be filled. A clever internal ice-maker delivers fresh ice to a dedicated freezer bin and can be turned off to free-up space. The fridge compartment adapts to daily usage by cooling and defrosting only when needed, meaning it uses only the energy needed without compromising on food care. We call this ActiveSmart™ Foodcare. A+ Energy Rating | H1790 X W900 X D695mm | £2499.99
www.fisherpaykel.com/uk 08000 886 601 firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM THE BENCH
FROM THE BENCH
RIGHT TO REPAIR Amongst some users there is growing resentment over the after-sales policy of consumer goods manufacturers. Alan Bennett reports
Photo courtesy of Clyde TV Repairs Bristol
uch consumer electronics equipment is difficult or impossible to repair because of spares and software supply problems. Moves are afoot to mitigate this.
PROPOSALS In the UK, Europe and the USA legislative bills are being prepared and filed to limit what’s seen as the power wielded by equipment makers over users. It is proposed that repair – by third-party service companies and even owners – should be facilitated by making things easier to get into, with no sealing by gluing, welding, difficult-todismantle ‘click together’ cases and modules, or unfriendly security fixing screws; by making available service data, along with operational and diagnostic software; and by designing for greater reliability and longevity. It is believed that some manufacturers, in subtle ways, design and build in features to limit the lifespan of their products, one example of which is the withdrawal of support for features and apps. It is considered by many that once the purchase has been made the ownership of every aspect of it should be vested in the buyer. In fact, at present this only applies to the hardware; the essential software is copyrighted by its owner. The aim of the proposed new laws is to give the user more rights and to soften environmental impact by reducing the 50 million tons of e-waste currently produced globally. This has become known as the ‘right to repair’ movement.
of service and repair information and a huge cache of software, regularly updating it for a wide range of product over a long timescale. They would much rather see a regular turnover of product due to obsolescence or failure of old gear, and to retain the servicing of existing products as much as possible in their own hands. Some makers (especially of phones) go to considerable trouble to ensure this as far as they can by making access difficult and by doing everything possible to frustrate the use of third-party spares and software. Even battery replacement can be made difficult, perhaps to the point of having to scrap and replace the equipment when its internal battery wears out!
“...It’s increasingly difficult to make a profit on the incredibly cheap goods we now sell – or in some cases to survive at all in this trade. ”
Of course, the manufacturers are strongly opposed to this. They claim that it could be dangerous, in terms of fire and electric shock risk, for users and (perhaps unqualified) thirdparty operators to repair their products. I agree with that – and that releasing in-depth data could compromise commercial security: ‘trade secrets.’ They argue that longevity will hinder innovation. There is no doubt that compliance with the proposed new laws would be a pain in the butt to them, with the need to maintain a big inventory of spare parts, a large database
Those retailers concerned purely with sales of new equipment are likely to align with the manufacturers for many of the reasons given above: it’s increasingly difficult to make a profit on the incredibly cheap goods we now sell – or in some cases to survive at all in this trade. Selling new equipment is their lifeblood. And incredibly cheap is another factor in the equation, because some repairs are simply not economically viable as a result. If the legislation comes to fruition both setmakers and retailers will have to cope with it somehow...
For those dealers who offer repair services, however, right-to-repair laws would simplify their tasks in most cases, and offer new business opportunities, though appointed service agents (those with strong and exclusive links with manufacturers) may have to reduce their charges, perhaps, to remain competitive with a wider field of freelance repair companies. It’s possible that safeguards for the consumer will be provided by the introduction of a legal requirement that anyone offering a repair service to the public be qualified and registered in the same way as gas fitters and electricians are now. I believe that would be welcomed by most people in the trade, eliminating as it would ‘bodgers’ and dangerous repairs by inexpert and fraudulent operators.
Views amongst the general public vary tremendously on this issue – my 21-year-old hairdresser told me that she thought 1–2 years was a reasonable lifespan for e-equipment! At the other end of the spectrum many people, not necessarily ‘bright green’, are concerned about global material resources, landfill and their environment. It’s true that greenhouse gases would be reduced by longer equipment lives, and that repair and recycling would generate more jobs for people. There is also an incentive to keep equipment going whereby a repair (at least a simple one) may often be much less expensive than a new purchase, though people can be put off this by the need to pay upfront for inspection/ diagnosis/prognosis. Very often, to the benefit of manufacturers and retailers, users update equipment for reasons other than breakdown, attracted by new features and benefits, in which case the old gear can be checked and if necessary repaired for resale to people who want it. That would reduce the 10% of e-scrap which currently goes to the dump within five years of purchase, sometimes with a minor problem (e.g. the need for a software reset) or none at all. Do you have a view on this? If so please share it with us by email: email@example.com.
A landmark new concept in space heating combining the heritage and tradition youâ€™d expect from a Master Stove Maker with precision engineering and modern British design.
A landmark new concept in space heating combining the heritage and tradition youâ€™d expect from a Master Stove Maker with precision engineering and modern British design. 01282 813235
04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word In and around the industry 14 Product Gallery 16 George Cole Gets Connected Are digital cameras facing m...
Published on Mar 14, 2019
04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word In and around the industry 14 Product Gallery 16 George Cole Gets Connected Are digital cameras facing m...