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The Magazine of The Electrical Goods Industry


THE KITCHEN STUDIO Style, function and elegant solutions for 21st century living spaces





MULTI-ROOM AUDIO & HOME CINEMA Understanding the contemporary home entertainment landscape




INDUSTRY MOVERS Topical insights on the current state of our industry from some of its prime movers




08448 546 715 GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED TV is alive and well – for now

FROM THE BENCH It’s 20 years since digital TV hit the UK market. Alan Bennett reviews the progress







INSIDE... 04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word

In and around the industry

12 14 13


Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway Telephone: 01420 886 33

Subscriptions & Circulation: (GCCD) Telephone: 01420 886 33

Magazine Advertising Sales: Brian Shilling Telephone: 01892 677 741

Creative Director: Will Dobson

Sharon Maslen Telephone: 01892 677 742 Editorial & Publishing Director: Terry Heath Telephone: 01420 886 33


Product Gallery The Kitchen Studio Design evolution and technological advances have achieved a huge shift in what consumers expect from their 21st century living spaces, and the kitchen is a focus for style and function. What’s on the horizon for 2019?

Multi-room Audio The choice for consumers is huge. George Cole asks leading players to comment on the “essential basics” of multi-room home entertainment

Advertisement Production Administration: Will Dobson Telephone: 01342 850 456 Production and Print: Blackmore Press, Shaftesbury, Dorset

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

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22 Industry Movers

The Future is in Your Hands… GC asks some of the leading figures in our industry to assess the lessons of 2018, and how they can be applied to what looks like being another eventful and testing year

25 George Cole Gets Connected

Reports of the death of TV are much exaggerated… and who’s controlling whom with voice control?

Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. Greyfriar Cottage, Winchester Road, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire. GU34 1SB

26 From the Bench

Alan Bennett reviews 20 years of digital TV

NOV/DEC 2018




In 2018 there’s been – quite understandably – a lot of talk about “saving the High Street.” But there’s still not enough acknowledgement that all High Streets are different, and that there’s no generic countrywide solution. It’s also not clear what a “saved” High Street might look like, and those who yearn nostalgically for a return to the Golden Age of bricks-and-mortar retail need to understand that we can never recapture that


the big beasts of the High Street – the retail chains with extensive, expensive store outlets in prime locations who were too slow to adapt to the 21st century – who have fallen most spectacularly victim to online shopping and our archaic system of business rates. When shopping habits changed, and business rates turned the benefit of large premises in prime locations into a liability, the likes of Comet, BHS, House of Fraser, JJB Sports and so many more, fell into difficulties and became vulnerable to predators. And it’s these predators – against which we have been warning in these columns for years – that are really tearing the heart out of High Streets. These are the private equity companies and “turnaround specialists” who have, time after time, shown that they’re intent on asset-stripping rather than building and running viable retail operations. We don’t say they’re responsible for the initial problems of the big beasts, but they’re certainly not the route to helping re-shape and stabilise struggling retailers to achieve a viable trading future. In fact, they watch and wait until it’s too late, and then swoop in to pick the carcass. The activities of just one of these predators – the self-styled “power drinker” and charm school drop-out Mike Ashley - have reportedly so far cost UK retail some 6,000 jobs and £1 billion in unpaid debts to suppliers. And he’s now eyeing up Debenhams. The method of pre-pack administrations whereby assets are acquired but debts are ditched – leaving suppliers and employees to whistle for their payments, their jobs and their pensions – is, as journalist Ben Marlow put it,



NOV/DEC 2018

“borrowed straight from the Philip Green school of business.” Sir Phil is another modest charmer we’ve written about more than once in these columns. These are “saviours” the industry could do without, but it’s all, apparently, perfectly legal. And, in today’s business world, cynical, self-serving, callous, morally indefensible behaviour is fine, as long as your expensive lawyers can prove it’s legal. Until the insolvency laws are changed to stop it, vultures will continue to pick the carcasses of once great businesses and leave them to decay on the High Street. As we all know, a big gap in any High Street is a loss to all the retailers who trade there, and is often the first sign of general decline. So governments (of any colour) take note: stop honouring thieves and legislate to stop their depredations. It’s good, though too little too late, to acknowledge that business rates are not fit for the 21st century, and to cut them by a third for small retailer premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or less. But in focusing on “small” businesses, the Chancellor has, ironically, left the big retailers even more exposed, and done nothing to help stabilise the industry. What cheer, then, for 2019? A small spark of hope is that, while overall rates of shop closures increase, the number of independents opening is actually on the increase. Perhaps the new age of niche, expert, committed, customer-oriented small retailers, supported by suppliers who care about them, is about to dawn? A merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to all our readers.

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Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief

Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director

Will Dobson Creative Director

James McIntosh Consumer Consultant

George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant

Stylish retro refrigeration Visit the website for details on the full retro range for 2018 or call sales on 01949 862010






etail sales saw only a slight uplift in October, as cautious consumer spending continued into the final quarter of the year. According to the British Retail Consortium, sales increased by 0.1% on a like-for-like basis from October 2017. The organisation said the sales period offered “more tricks than treats for retailers.” “October kicks off the all-important golden quarter, with some retailers earning the majority of their annual profits in these months alone,” commented Paul Martin, Head of Retail at KPMG. “But with October’s like-for-like sales flatlining at 0.1%, it was a bit of a non-starter. “Demand was mainly dampened by continued economic uncertainty, as well as anticipation for the deep discounting ahead – especially now that Black Friday weekend has become such a permanent feature.”



hop prices moved back into deflationary territory in October following two months of mild inflation. Year-on-year prices decreased by 0.2%, compared to the 0.2% increase seen in September. Non-food deflation deepened to 1.1% from 0.9% in September, while food inflation slowed to 1.3% from 1.9%. The deepening deflation in non-food reflects a return to the recent trend in which the strength of competition in the face of weak consumer demand has led retailers to keep prices down. British Retail Consortium Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said retailers are facing stiff competition as the Christmas period approaches. The prices of many goods, including clothing and electricals, are being driven down. “This comes at a particularly difficult time, with lower consumer demand, a weak pound and rising public policy costs all putting pressure on retail margins,” she commented.



etail footfall declined for the 11th consecutive month in October, falling by 2.0% on the previous year following a drop of 1.7% in September 2018. Figures from the BRC and Springboard showed high street footfall down 2.3% – three months of consecutive weakening for this shopping location. At -0.2%, retail parks slipped back after two months of positive growth, while shopping centres saw the decline in footfall deepen to 3.3% from 2.5% in September, representing 19 consecutive months of deterioration. BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said the weakening trend is primarily driven by a move from in-store to online purchases.

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Data from Dun & Bradstreet has found the number of corporate business insolvencies in Q3 dropped by 20% year on year, but the picture is a less positive one for retailers, whose corporate liquidations rose by 13%.


the near-400 insolvencies in retail in Q3 2018, two of the biggest department stores in the UK have reported severe financial distress. House of Fraser was bought by Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley in August and has since entered a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) with landlords. 31 stores out of 59 will be closed over the next year, risking the jobs of around 6,000 employees. Debenhams, meanwhile, reported record losses in late October and announced that it will close up to 50 stores out of 169 in an effort to turn the business around. Markus Kuger, Lead Economist at Dun & Bradstreet, said the retail sector should perform “slightly better” over the next quarter. “This will be further buoyed by the fact that unemployment remains at its lowest levels since the 1970s, thereby helping to stimulate domestic demand,” Kuger commented. “In addition, supportive measures by the government, announced in the budget, will help small retailers by cutting tax burden and apprenticeship levies. However, the long-term trend towards internet shopping will persist, thereby putting pressure on bricks & mortar retailers.” Total figures for all corporate business sectors showed that 4,056 companies went bankrupt in Q3 2018 compared to 5,088 in Q3 2017, so a positive overall change during the past year.



onsumer confidence slipped again in October as concern about the future of the general economy under stalling Brexit talks deepened and consumer spending on big-ticket items such as electrical goods and furniture fell. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index dropped one point to -10 amidst expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months sinking to the low level of -28. “The prospect of a no-deal/hard-deal Brexit must surely be weighing heavily on people’s minds, injecting a mood of despondency as to how people view their future personal finances and the longer-term economic outlook for the UK,” said Joe Staton, Client Strategy Director at GfK. “We also appear to be losing confidence that now is the right time to make major purchases. This will concern retailers in the run-up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the key Christmas trading period.”

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ELECTRICAL RETAILERS “AMONG HARDEST HIT” BY HIGH STREET STORE LOSSES Research published in November by PwC revealed that the high streets of Britain suffered “a record net drop” in the number of functioning retail stores in the first half of 2018.


ocusing on Britain’s top 500 high streets, and on retail chains with more than five outlets, the research found 2,682 stores closed, against 1,589 opened, creating a net loss of 1,123 stores and giving rise to the “high streets losing 14 stores a day” headline that most media outlets led with. Behind that headline is a pattern of large chains with outdated business models and faced with online competition, disproportionate business rates and rent, having to restructure, or go into administration, from where they are “rescued” by predators more interested in asset-stripping than in investing in the construction of a longer-

term viable retail model for the future. Electrical retail, one of the hardest-hit sectors according to the research, has suffered from online competition, but closure figures were most affected by the collapse of Maplin and the consequent loss of 50 stores earlier this year. Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, commented: “Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate. Store closures in the second half of the year due to administrations and company voluntary arrangements already announced will further intensify the situation.” Measures in last month’s Budget


he John Lewis Partnership has begun the search for a successor to Sir Charlie Mayfield, who will step down as its fifth Chairman in 2020. The new Chairman will be announced in the second half of 2019 and both internal and external candidates will be considered for the role, the company said. Sir Charlie joined JLP in 2000 as Head of Business Development, responsible for business strategy and development for both John Lewis and Waitrose. In 2001 he joined the Board as Development Director and was responsible for developing the Partnership’s online strategy. He became Managing Director of John Lewis in January 2005 before taking up his appointment as Chairman of the Partnership in March 2007. The announcement comes as the company is facing what Sir Charlie recently described as “challenging times in retail.” In September it reported profits down by almost 99% for the first half of the year. The fall was driven mainly by John Lewis & Partners, where the

uying group CIH has introduced an associate membership package to extend the benefits of being part of Euronics – Europe’s largest buying group – to more independent retailers of electricals. Associate members will benefit from CIH’s buying power and the right to retail Euronics agency products from major brown and white goods suppliers, and have access to the group’s logistics setup, with minimal joining fees and no upfront investment. CIH said the package offers retailers the benefit of being part of a buying group and can act as a stepping stone to becoming a fully-fledged member.

likelihood of the big-store closures that have a severe effect on the character and attraction of high street shopping venues. A report earlier this year has even produced evidence that, as the chains move deeper into crisis, independents are bucking the overall trend and the number of independent outlets is actually increasing.



commitment to maintain price competitiveness was the dominant factor. Commenting on his forthcoming exit, Sir Charlie said: “Although my departure is still a considerable way off, the appointment of my successor is a key responsibility. It is for this reason I have decided to lay out the timetable now to enable an open and thorough process to select the next Chairman of the Partnership.”



“Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate. Store closures in the second half of the year due to administrations and company voluntary arrangements already announced will further intensify the situation.”

promising to cut the business rates bill of half a million small retailers (premises with a rateable value of under £51.000) by a third, and a new tax for online operators, did at least acknowledge some of the inequity that has turned the benefit of a bricks-and-mortar prime high street location into a financial liability. But the BRC has characterised these as “tinkering around the edges” and called for “wholesale reform” of the business rates system. Ironically, the budget measures may even exacerbate the pressure on chain retailers, giving smaller outlets a rates advantage and increasing the



nline electrical retailer AO World has conditionally agreed to acquire Mobile Phones Direct (MPD), a leading online-only retailer of mobiles, for a cash-free, debt-free enterprise value of £32.5m. MPD generated revenues of £121.7m and EBITDA of £5.5m in the year ended 31 March 2018. The company has a large customer base and strategic relationships with key mobile network operators and mobile phone distributors in the UK. “This deal represents a significant step forward in our strategy of developing our growing range of online electricals and adding new complementary categories that customers want and expect from AO,” said CEO Steve Caunce. “With 5G services expected to launch over the next two years and as the electrical products we sell become more connected than ever before, moving further into the mobile market is a logical next step for us.” The MPD acquisition is expected to complete prior to 31 March 2019.

NOV/DEC 2018






“LEAN CHRISTMAS” PREDICTED FOR UK RETAIL AS Q3 PERFORMANCE STALLS The health of retail in the third quarter of this year reinforced the volatile trading environment in the UK and the industry’s continuous struggle with margin pressures, rising costs and structural change.


he latest Retail Health Index score of 79, as determined by the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT), marked the 10th consecutive quarter of negative or flat performance, despite the summer boost that benefitted some retailers. Dr. Tim Denison, co-chair of the RTT and head of retail intelligence at Ipsos, said the quarter could have been a lot worse: “It ended up benign rather than bloody. Consumers are stuck in a holding pattern, carrying on everyday living but thinking twice about spending amounts they might subsequently regret.” Looking at demand within the quarter, James Sawley, head of retail & leisure at HSBC, pointed out that the first half saw strong demand due to the weather, while the opposite was true for the second half.

“Weather is often cited as both a driver of sales as much as the excuse for poor performance, but the third quarter of 2018 really evidenced just how volatile demand is currently. It’s not all doom and gloom though, some retailers are managing to buck the overall trend, but they are the exception to the rule.” Looking ahead to the all-important ‘golden quarter’, the consensus is that retail health is likely to decline by one index point to 78 – a score that would mark the poorest golden quarter since the Retail Health Index began in 2006. “Just by looking at both the macro- and microeconomic environment currently, the trajectory of retail health is all too clear,” commented Sawley. “The industry is acutely aware of consumers clawing back on their retail spend, and in all likelihood, it’s going to be a very lean Christmas.”

Caple has announced the appointment of Sheetal Thakrar as business development manager (BDM) for the East Midlands and East Anglia. Hoover Candy Group has announced the appointment of Damian Mellet to the position of account director for the brand’s built-in offering in Ireland.

Damian Mellet

Sheetal Thakrar

British audio brand Bowers & Wilkins has announced the appointment of Gregory Lee as Chief Executive Officer. He will also serve on the company’s Board of Directors.

Technology distributor Exertis has appointed Chris Bale to the newly created position of head of transformation, responsible for leading operational and financial best practice across the company in Europe.

Chris Bale

Buying group CIH has announced the appointment of Steve Scogings as Chairman. He succeeds Robin Millwood, who held the role for 12 years. Scogings (pictured) has spent 28 years with Stellisons Electrical and was Deputy Chairman of CIH for the past two years. Andrew Thomas, Managing Director of A.F Thomas & Sons LTD, succeeds Scogings in that role. Tracey Harris, who has 11 years’ experience with the buying team, has been appointed to the role of Head of Purchasing. Ryan Atkinson joins the buying team with responsibility for brown goods, and Matthew Doyle, who previously spent five years with CIH and the buying team, returns to the company to take responsibility for white goods.



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new app which promises to unite and upskill independent high street retailers with the “tools to fight back” has been launched in Cardiff as part of the Join the High Street Revolution campaign.

The app, NearMeNow, was developed in Wales by maths teacher and former risk analyst Victoria Mann with the support of the Welsh Government. It will, she said, “give the city’s independent traders access to a complete digital toolkit, allowing them to digitally promote, advertise, and connect with customers.” There are plans to roll it out across the UK in the New Year to help counter “the alarming rate” of high street closures and slow rate of new stores. The app’s flexibility allows traders to schedule, edit, and duplicate advertisements online for maximum exposure. “At the touch of a button,” explains the publicity, “NearMeNow notifies users of offers and deals available locally, when new stock has arrived, if a salon has a free appointment, or a restaurant a free table. It also provides two-way instant messaging between customer and high street business.” NearMeNow was piloted successfully amongst the independent retailers of Cowbridge, when the market town officially became the UK’s first digital high street. It is claimed the app “played a vital role in Cowbridge being named as a finalist in the Great British High Street Awards 2018.”

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Electronics has reported consolidated sales of KRW 15.43 trillion (USD 13.76 billion) and an operating profit of KRW 748.8 billion (USD 667.7 million) for the third quarter of 2018. Revenues were the highest among the three quarters of this year, increasing 2.7% from the second quarter with operating income up 45% from the same period the previous year. Profitability in Home Appliances and TV products was boosted by the growth of premium models. In the mobile market the company significantly reduced its operating deficit as a direct result of its business plan and a stronger focus on mid-range products.



ughes Electrical has reorganised its commercial division with the launch of Hughes Pro, a setup involving around 50 staff responsible for the supply, installation, servicing and repair of specialist washing machines and dryers, glass and dish washers to commercial organisations. The move follows Hughes’ acquisition of Armstrong Commercial Laundry Systems earlier this year for an undisclosed sum. Hughes said it continues to invest in the Armstrong brand and the business is currently moving into larger premises at its Newbury base. The combined businesses will operate from branches in Glasgow, Leicester, Newbury, Norwich and Rochester.

SHORTCUTS Hoover has received the gold award for its AXI washing machine in the Innovation in Design category at the Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Awards. LG Electronics has announced that its President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. I.P. Park will deliver the pre-show keynote address, ‘AI for an Even Better Life’, at CES® 2019. French loudspeaker and headphone brand Focal has appointed OneAV as the UK distributor of its flush-mount speaker range for the UK custom install channel. Beko parent Arçelik has been listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) in the Emerging Markets Category for the second consecutive year. Tefal has launched a major marketing campaign supporting its ActiFry Low-Oil Fryers. The activity runs until 16th December 2018 and includes multi-level digital media underpinned with a range of in-store point-of-sale material and bespoke packaging. Hama UK has announced a distribution partnership with Swiss speaker manufacturer Geneva Lab. Air treatment specialist Meaco has announced that its donations to the Guildford-based David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) have reached £22,000 in the space of two years. Meaco makes a donation to the DSWF to support the care of orphaned elephants in Zambia from every sale of its top-of-the-range dehumidifier, the DD8L Zambezi.

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DE’LONGHI UNVEILS NEW RETAIL COFFEE EXPERIENCE Leading coffee machine brand De’Longhi has launched its first retail concession incorporating in-store units designed to “educate and inspire shoppers in the world of coffee” at the point of purchase.


he new experience aims to enable consumers to become “coffee experts” within 20 minutes with oneon-one consultations. “Coffee-loving shoppers will have the chance to ask questions, understand the benefits of the De’Longhi ranges and be guided to make an informed decision on what’s right for them,” said Neal Jones, De’Longhi Group UK Country Manager. The concession launched at Beales department store in Bournemouth at a Christmas Card Holder Event on 1st November. Strategically, it is located alongside the beauty and cosmetics area. Sales of coffee machines were said to be brisk throughout the evening, ranging from flagship bean-tocup models to filter and capsule machines. “Cosmetics in department stores has always been a consultant-driven business where the customer expects a real experience,” said Tony Brown, CEO Beales Department Stores. “By placing the coffee counter in this department next to Christian Dior and employing a consultant, as we

would in cosmetics, we will achieve our combined goal of elevating the coffee experience. “We believe the home coffee market in the UK is still in its embryonic stage, with many people experimenting at home as they increasingly become coffee connoisseurs. “We chose to partner with De’Longhi as the leaders in the field of premium coffee machines because of their passion, quality product and their training infrastructure.” “With all the different types of coffee machines in the market, we understand how deciding which machine is right for you could be confusing and overwhelming,” commented De’Longhi’s Jones. “We also know that when we educate and train customers, allowing us to gain an understanding of what they are looking for, the conversion to purchase is far greater. The makeup industry has led the way by inspiring shoppers through education and one-on-one demonstrations, and we want to do exactly the same with coffee.”


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New companion for Fisher & Paykel Fisher & Paykel has finalised a revamp of its Companion collection, with contemporary styling and intuitive technology brought to a range incorporating ovens with AeroTech™ circulation technology, warming drawers with six place settings and three temperature choices, and a coffee maker with 13 different drinks options. The appliances are designed to fit in horizontal, vertical or quad formation.

Veggie soup in 30 minutes... The latest addition to Beko’s SDA range is an appliance that can turn raw vegetables into a piping hot soup in 30 minutes, clean itself with AutoClean technology and keep soup warm for over half an hour. The Beko soup maker has a 1000W heater and 800W motor, a range of settings, and can also be used for, example, blending smoothies, creating milkshakes and juicing fruit.

Ninja introduces new vacuum blending range Appliance brand Ninja has launched a range of vacuum blending products incorporating the brand’s FreshVac technology: the NutriNinja personal blender, the 2-in-1 jug blender and personal smoothie maker, and a 3-in-1 food processing kitchen system. All come equipped with Ninja’s Auto-iQ technology, which removes the guesswork when deciding the best setting to use. Vacuum blending removes excess oxygen before ingredients are blended, which slows down the oxidisation process, preserves nutrients and prevents air bubbles being whipped into drinks.

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Elipson Anniversary editions mark 80th birthday Elipson has selected three of its “finest and best-selling products” for an Anniversary Edition makeover. The spherical shaped Planet L and the more traditional Prestige Facet 8B speakers sport an attractive satin black finish with gold trim and feature enhanced crossovers using the highest-grade components available. The Alpha 100 RIAA BT turntable also enjoys the same black and gold treatment and features an enhanced integral phono stage.



NOV/DEC 2018


Caple integrated wine cabinet: add a frame to match kitchen cabinetry Caple’s dual zone, 44-bottle wine cabinet (model ref: Wi6160) can be modelled to appear as part of the kitchen furniture as it lends itself to the fitting of a matching cabinetry frame. It is A+ rated for energy and features touch-control operation and an LED display. Black wire beech-fronted telescopic shelves with stainless steel trim provide easy access to the contents. Temperature range: upper zone 5°C-10°C, lower zone 10°C-18°C

Retro-style cooling from Stoves

New multi-room speaker from Audio Pro Swedish brand Audio Pro has introduced a multi-room speaker, freestanding or wall-mountable, with rounded design and fabric front. The A10 can be controlled via the Audio Pro Control App (featuring Amazon Alexa voice control) or integrated as part of a multi-room system over a Wi-Fi network. It is equipped with Bluetooth so can be used in environments where there is no wireless network available, with the added option to connect via cable to the AUX-input. The A10 is available at from Hama UK.

Stoves’ latest combi fridge freezer is a retro-styled Total No Frost 70:30 model available in black, red or cream gloss finishes with chrome handles and bold chrome branding. The 60cm A+ rated appliance is 1.9m tall and offers 230 litres of net cooling capacity and an 87-litre 4* rated freezer. Internal fridge furniture includes a five-bottle wine rack, glass shelving, two salad drawers and four door racks. The freezer has three drawers and an automatic defrost function.

Flexible, controlled, efficient cooking with the new ESSE 990 ELX ESSE’s new 990 ELX range cooker provides space and versatility with a three-zone induction hob and plancha-style hotplate. A programmable timer and ESSE’s power share technology – which directs energy only where it’s needed – enhance the appliance’s control and efficiency. To support the product’s launch, ESSE will be conducting a series of live demonstration events across the UK.

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Contemporary elegance


he design of UK kitchens has changed remarkably throughout recent decades as the desire for airy, open-plan living demanded an altogether different blueprint to that of the modest working spaces of the ‘50s and ‘60s. This continuing trend requires the kitchen area to blend seamlessly into the living/dining space, with cabinetry viewed as the central furniture suite and appliances adding style and polish to the composition of this desirable social space. Today’s kitchen components offer the opportunity to mix and match colours and materials, and consumers have never had such an eclectic selection of both mediums to choose from in creating floor to ceiling splendour. In furniture, gloss finishes, which have been around for some years now, continue to have staying power as they provide a luxurious, contemporary feel to the kitchen, which a recent trends study revealed 55% of consumers prefer.

THE ILLUSION The kitchen featured in the main image is Caple’s contemporary Juko Gloss in an elegant



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Cashmere finish. The distinctive curved and concave doors offer seamless luxury, bringing an air of minimalist chic to the room. Letterbox feature glazed doors, angled base and island panels are just some of the additional eyecatching elements of this cabinetry range. Caple furniture manager Doug Haswell says the Cashmere colour option adds an extra dimension to the Juko portfolio and is perfect for those keen to add a dramatic edge to the kitchen. Looking at the dominant trends in kitchen cabinetry, Haswell says modern kitchens are proving “incredibly popular” with consumers. “High gloss and matt furniture finishes work just as well for creating a more contemporary finish for 2018-2019, and we’re also seeing growing demand for warm metallic finishes on sinks, taps, handles and hoods, which work particularly well with this style of kitchen, introducing a softer, luxurious look and feel. “Metallics in the kitchen also tend to be leading the way in appliance design and these finishes tend to be easier to match with cabinetry for a more cohesive design in the kitchen.”

ENDURING TREND Fiona Barker-Scott, Brand Manager at Falmec UK, also highlights the strong trend for metallic tones, and believes this will continue to grow over the coming year. “Typically, colour trends have a short lifespan, however the trend for copper has not followed suit and continues to remain strong season after season. It has also inspired the introduction of other metallic tones too. These shades offer sophistication and a timeless quality, which may suggest why their popularity has surpassed that of brighter colours.” Barker-Scott notes that almost all kitchen appliances feature an element of steel in their design – many manufactured entirely from stainless steel while others may simply have a trim or hinge detail. “Even the smallest details of stainless steel on a product help to create a more cohesive and co-ordinated look within a kitchen design as they will work in harmony with other appliances, regardless of the brand or manufacturer.” Sara Bazeley, Brand Manager at Indesit, says appliances that feature stainless steel remain


Simplicity is the byword.…

the staple choice for many. “45% of consumers favour the robust and professional-style finish for their appliances,” she asserts. “Stainless steel is not only highly practical and hygienic, it is also aspirational, considered professional and stylish, and its neutrality blends easily with countless shades and textures.”

GLITZ, GLOSS AND COLOUR Trends come and go, and as InSinkErator’s Anne Kaarlela, Marketing Communications Manager, Europe and Russia, says, colour choices and accessories can be popular one year and unpopular the next. “Therefore, we are seeing kitchens continue to follow the minimalist trend, especially when it comes to cabinets and walls, with white and grey proving the most popular choice. However, splashes of colour are being introduced to add vibrancy and a sense of delight to the kitchen. “Inspiration for colour trends in the home can be taken from popular culture, international influences and current fashion trends. However, popularity of colour in the home is ultimately dictated by what is available in the marketplace.

“British kitchens are all about practicality, with access to the right gadgets for quick and convenient use”

For example, black the kitchen around it, is already seen as opting for subtle tones Nigel Morrison, Consumer & Trade Marketing Manager, Melitta UK a safe colour choice throughout the rest of for clothing and is now the room. “Statement becoming increasingly appliances are a great way popular in interior design, to create impact in the kitchen with a growing number of and can really draw the eye, even new appliances finished in the if the consumer is short on space. bold statement shade. Consumers have also Whether you opt for a built-in or freestanding been embracing ‘the hype of the unicorn’ by appliance, extractor or range cooker, heritage or introducing glittered walls, glossy tiles and modern style, picking one statement appliance coloured accessories into their homes.” creates a focal point in any kitchen.” For those expressing their creative side with FORM AND FUNCTION the use of colour, Falmec’s Barker-Scott offers It is generally accepted that kitchens have this advice: “Keep the furniture colour palette become the main focus of the home – perhaps small to ensure a simple and uncluttered design, never more so than in this era of mediathen pair this with a pop of colour by opting for induced influence created by imagery which an appliance with an accent finish.” so successfully raises aspirations and desires. Maurizio Severgnini, managing director at But creating a statement that reflects one’s Bertazzoni UK & Ireland, whose appliances personal taste is not the principal objective come in a range of colours, from fiery reds when designing a kitchen. This central room and oranges to more understated aubergines of the home is, for many, the main family room; and creams, offers an alternative view, stating hence, it is important that it should be well that Bertazzoni customers tend to use their laid-out and attractive – but first and foremost, range cookers as the centrepiece and create

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it is a work room, a place where personal time and energy is expended. It stands to reason, then, that the design should be functional and appliances should offer resource efficiencies and convenience benefits. “While style and design remain very important, the big change in terms of consumer demand in recent years has been in functionality,” confirms Jane Rylands, Head of Marketing at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances. “Consumers want appliances that make life easier and that are more efficient, such as induction hobs and cookers with easy-clean functions, plus those with features that enhance the consumer’s cooking ability.” Sinead O’Brien, Brand Marketing Executive for Whirlpool, maintains that cooking appliances that save time, reduce energy consumption and simplify the cooking process, are “jumping to the top of the consumer’s wish list.” Commenting on the hob sector, she says: “Induction has seen a real growth in sales as consumers begin to appreciate the tremendous efficiency, speed, safety, controllability and economical cooking on offer. One of the most attractive benefits of induction cooking is flexible cooking zones – a benefit that makes induction an increasingly popular and a soughtafter choice for the consumer.”

that of health and personal wellbeing, which she says is now having an impact on interior design throughout the home. “Consumers want their families to work, dine, entertain and socialise in a pleasant space; thus, within the extraction industry, technology has been required to meet this demand, meaning more efficient filter systems and motors to ensure the air is free from odours and moisture. “Air pollution is a topical subject at present, particularly in London and big cities as well as on a global scale. Polluted air is becoming a real health concern for many and so some manufacturers “The trend for are revolutionising the purpose of the health and personal extractor, not just to wellbeing is having an remove the polluted impact on interior design air from cooking throughout the home” activities but to Fiona Barker-Scott, Brand counteract poor air Manager, Falmec UK quality found within the home. What was once the “Research has found that humble kitchen extractor, 41% of consumers favour the and what some may consider induction hob, demonstrating that an afterthought when designing consumers are willing to invest more in a kitchen, is now more important than technological design as well as aesthetics,” adds ever before. It is becoming more than just a Hotpoint Head of Brand Jennifer Taylor. kitchen appliance. It is a lifestyle product for the whole living space.”


Looking at how consumer needs have changed – or how consumers have been forced to adapt – Taylor highlights a significant factor which has helped to drive demand for compact appliances: “Sufficient space is a huge issue for many consumers. Research from Mintel has found that the average size of a family home in the UK has shrunk by two metres over the past 10 years. However, thanks to technological advances, compact living no longer means having to compromise on design, functionality or performance. Furthermore, thanks to manufacturers’ investment in the design of products, compact appliances also leave an impressive and lasting impression in the kitchen. Built-in compact appliances with multifunctional technology are increasingly able to perform a wide variety of tasks and have so far demonstrated strong growth in 2018.” Falmec’s Barker-Scott highlights a growing trend driving sales in the extractor category:

De Dietrich introduces Twist, Click, Cook Premium French kitchen appliance brand introduces simple cooking concept to inspire culinary excellence at home De Dietrich has introduced a new cooking concept: Twist, Click, Cook, to showcase the simplicity of using De Dietrich ovens to create an array of impressive dishes and meals. Simply TWIST the dial in the oven Chef mode to select your food type then CLICK on that selected food – the oven informs you of the shelf position, and once the food is placed inside and the door closes, the oven COOKS by determining the temperature and cook time.



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BIG AMBITIONS, SMALL BUDGET While good design is important at any point in the appliance marketplace, accommodating the practicalities of everyday living and fulfilling the desire for style, without blowing the budget, can be a bit of a balancing act. But, with the number of brands and product ranges now on the market, it is achievable, as Indesit’s Bazeley notes: “Built-in appliances with incredible functionality, timesaving technology and stunning design are now available at a range of price points in the market, meaning consumers do not need to overspend to achieve the look and finish they desire. “Beautiful design and innovative technology have trickled down to most price points, and this is down to consumer demand. However, there will always be a difference between the appliances built by mass-market manufacturers and premium manufacturers and the customer has amazing choice, dependent on their budget.”

G O I N G F O R G U N M E TA L . Instantly add metallic magic to your kitchen with Caple’s new SENSE collection. In a cool gunmetal grey, this on-trend finish comes in almost every form for a complete kitchen collection from our high performance SENSE steam oven and wine cabinet to our designer fridge-freezer, sink and tap.

Image: CM110GM, SO110GM, C2105GM, WD140GM and RID/GM


Panasonic: All-embracing quality sound & vision

With multi-room becoming a popular choice, and the choice of how it’s delivered becoming broader, George Cole talks to leading players about the “essential basics” of all-encompassing home entertainment


here are so many ways of delivering multi-room audio and high quality pictures to consumers these days, whether it’s 2.1 surround sound, 7.1 audio systems or immersive sound, wireless speakers, 4K televisions or smart technology. But what are the “essential basics” required to deliver a quality audio and viewing experience for customers’ homes? Lucia Seston-Ferdinand, audio marketing manager, Sony UK and Ireland, says: “Consumers want easy-to-use products that deliver a great experience. Essential basics now include wireless technology and connectivity, as they offer a seamless home entertainment experience for those wanting a connected home with fewer wires and more accessible top content.”

THE MEDIUM AND THE MESSAGE Ben Baker, video category product manager, Panasonic UK and Ireland, contends: “A quality audio and viewing experience depends on two things; equipment and content. For a modern



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home cinema experience, the essentials are a 4K HDR TV for stunning images and a sound bar capable of delivering the kind of clear dialogue and deep bass that today’s ultra-slim TVs can’t.” Some manufacturers who have developed new built-in TV sound systems might beg to differ on the last point, but few would argue that home cinema viewers want a big sound to go with the big pictures. Connectivity has been a game-changer for multi-room audio. Once, multi-room audio meant listening to the same audio source in several rooms around the home; then it morphed into listening to different audio sources in different rooms; now it’s about seamlessly streaming audio from multiple sources to multiple devices in multiple locations around the home. Little wonder, then, that many manufacturers now see the merging of multi-room audio, home cinema and the smart systems as the biggest trend in this market. “Many manufacturers now have multiroom systems that are compatible with Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Alexa platforms,


which allow voice control and integration into totalhome solutions,” says Panasonic’s Baker. Sony’s SestonFerdinand agrees. “As more and more connected devices enter the market,” she says, “consumers now have the ability to create a complete smart home eco-system through a single hub like the Sony smart speaker LF-S50G with Google Assistant built-in. Through voice activated AI, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, consumers can use ground-breaking technology which is helpful to their everyday lives. The assistant is brought to life with the simple voice command “Okay Google”, which opens a world of opportunities, with seamless connection through Bluetooth and NF.”

living room). That’s why the growth of wireless technologies in this sector has helped drive growth. The days when multi-room audio meant laying miles of cable around the home are long gone; a point that is well worth making to customers, some of whom may still remember the time when installing multi-room audio or home cinema in the home involved lots of upheaval, with endless wires hidden away in ducts or under carpets. Related to this is simplicity, which is where connectivity and voice control are making a big impact. Allowing the customer to try a few voice commands during a demonstration lets them experience the power of voice control and perceive how it can make life easier for them. Voice control is not a gimmick.

“The days when multi-room audio meant laying miles of cable around the home are long gone”

RETAILERS’ CHOICES Retailers selling multi-room audio systems or home cinema have an abundance of formats and features to choose from, and keeping up with the latest trends can be challenging. But some things never change when it comes to meeting customer demands in this sector. Consumers want good quality audio and video, and they want something that looks good in their home, so design does matter (there are a few hard-core AV fans who put all the emphasis on function and pay little or no attention to form, but the vast majority of customers want a multi-room system or home cinema setup that complements the

SOUND & VISION EVOLUTION Immersive sound technologies such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are finding their way into an increasing number of products including amplifiers, AV receivers, sound bars, speakers and home cinema systems. Their ability to offer even more stunning sound than a standard 5.1 or even a 7.1 system has to be heard to be believed, and immersive sound content is being provided by Sky, Netflix and 4K Blu-ray. Display technologies continue to evolve. Consumers are opting for bigger screens, not least because super-thin bezels have enabled

Consumers want “style that complements the living room”

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Samsung already in the market with 8K


manufacturers to squeeze more screen area in the same footprint. OLED technology has gone from being a niche technology to a format that is challenging LED at the top end of the TV market. “LED TVs deliver bright and punchy images, but OLED TVs have the edge in delivering more natural images with colour accuracy as the director intended,” asserts Panasonic’s Baker. “Models which come with a separate bass unit will make more impact. In home cinema, OLED TVs continue to push the boundaries of picture quality and accuracy, whilst continuing to reach more accessible price points. Great content is also coming thick and fast with more and more Blu-rays being re-released in 4K HDR, and top quality programmes such as Planet Earth II & Blue Planet II from the BBC being filmed and streamed in 4K, as well as enjoying disc releases.”

QUEST FOR QUALITY The drive for even greater clarity and visual impact shows no sign of abating. “Our new Master Series AF9 OLED and ZF9 LCD televisions mark a significant milestone in bringing the very best picture quality and allowing consumers to enjoy a cinema experience at home,” claims Mike Somerset, Sony’s UK and Ireland TV marketing manager.



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“Mass adoption [of 8K] is a good few years away yet”

“The AF9 is available in 55 and 65-inch screen sizes and includes Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+, 4K HDR picture quality and X-Motion Clarity for blur-free motion. Both models include X1 Ultimate Picture image processor and are based on Android TV. By using the Google Assistant, viewers can ask the TV what they want to find, enabling them to search for movies, music, photos, games, apps and more.” The biggest leap in picture quality arrived in October with the launch of Samsung’s Q9000R 8K television. With a starting price of £4999, the Q9000R comes in 65, 75, 82 and 85-inch screen sizes. Other features include HDR 10+, AI upscaling, and One Remote, which enables the set to recognise a range of devices connected to it and adjust sound and picture for optimum performance.

Not surprisingly, Samsung is bullish about the prospects for 8K, but what do other manufacturers think? “We are excited to see the effect future innovations have in the multi-room market,” says Sony’s Somerset. However, Panasonic’s Baker is more cautious. “It’s difficult to say what impact 8K will have on the home cinema market at the moment as there’s very little (if any) 8K content that can be watched at home, but broadcasters around the world have been experimenting for a few years now. For example, NHK (Japan’s national broadcaster) has been running trials with 8K broadcast and will be showing the 2020 Olympics in 8K in Japan, but there’s no indication yet whether this will be available in Europe. Until real 8K content becomes widely available, 8K TVs will mainly be upscaling 4K or HD content. This should offer a noticeable benefit at really large screen sizes (75-inch plus) but it will be very difficult to notice much difference below these screen sizes and at normal viewing distances. 8K is undoubtedly the next step in viewable content, but while prices remain high and content scarce, mass adoption is a good few years away yet.” With 4K content still relatively thin on the ground (although the situation is constantly improving), Baker has a point, but hard-core home cinema enthusiasts will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on an 8K set, and that has to be a good thing for both manufacturers and retailers. We can certainly expect Samsung to be joined by other manufacturers offering 8K televisions in 2019. Meanwhile, Baker thinks the focus should be on 4K and content. “Once you have a 4K HDR TV and sound bar, you’ll need top-quality content to play. SkyQ, Netflix and Amazon Prime all deliver 4K and good audio, but there’s still nothing that can beat a good 4K UHD Bluray player for picture and audio quality.” With A-branded 4K Blu-ray players selling for less than £150 on the high street and with more than 200 4K Blu-ray titles available, and with 8K TVs now on the high street, there is certainly plenty of content and product out there to tempt home cinema fans looking for the ultimate in sound and vision.


As 2018 comes to a close, the demise of more big chain retailers, the record loss of stores from British high streets and the relentless pressure on bricks-and-mortar outlets to remodel their retail offering for a changing world might seem to cast a shadow over the future. But this industry is nothing if not resourceful and adaptable; there’s a lot of talent and experience to draw on, and the leading figures in this year’s “Industry Movers” contribute topical, relevant, intelligent and encouraging ideas

John Reddington, founder of Big Red Sales Ltd, sees independents becoming “the new destination stores” “Is the failure of House of Fraser, Debenhams, Maplins, Toys R Us, BHS and other multiples a sign that quality (independent) retailers are experiencing an upturn? “Well, it seems so at Big Red Sales because we have experienced a very buoyant 10 months’ trading. “2019 will be the 10th anniversary of Big Red Sales Ltd, and despite a



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reduction in the number of independent stores we have once again grown our business. Since we sell mainly to enterprising independents they must be doing something right. In fact, they’re doing a lot of things right. And taking advantage of in-store demos, promotions and display features offered by their manufacturers. The secret, maybe, is that they are providing their

customers with an experience that no website can match. As the products in our industry become ever more technical and complex the independents have the knowledge and dedication to meet the consumers’ expectations. “And in so doing these enterprising independents will become the new destination stores for many consumers. “Make sure you are one of them…”


Martin Depper celebrates the 50th year of Connect Distribution and looks forward to growth through innovation “We’re turning 50! “2019 will be our 50th year and what a journey it’s been! Back in 1969 our founder, Michael Depper, saw an opportunity to make some extra cash by selling spare parts to fellow engineers from his very own garage. Many decades and seized opportunities later, our business has now evolved into a forward facing e-Distribution business with an influential voice in the home appliance, repairs and accessories market. “Over the years we’ve built strong relationships working with key brands

including Dyson, Miele, Bosch, Morphy Richards, Karcher, Delonghi, Kenwood, Samsung, Flymo, Bodum, Lavazza and, most recently, Hoover, from whom we provide an exclusive floorcare range. “We’ve invested heavily in our people, introducing an enhanced team of sales executives and internal sales support executives who work with the independents supporting the products and brands we distribute. Our teams who work with OEMs, factories and our network of repairers have also grown, meaning we can solve the service

issues that arise in our constant world of ever developing appliances. “Our refusal to ever let opportunities pass us by and continuous investment in new technologies has seen our business grow dramatically and our plans for the future are now even bigger! We look forward to working with new manufacturers to provide them with a service & distribution solution in order to enhance their business by speeding up their service, delivery times & increasing their network reach.”

A NNIVE RSARY 1969 - 2019

Chris George, Head of Marketing at Electrolux, sees the three brands pushing ahead with consumer-driven innovations

“At Electrolux, we foresee a consumer need or a pain point and then produce innovative technology to mitigate those needs. This is at the core of everything we do. From protecting even the most delicate and precious

garments, enabling people to wash without fear, to pioneering cooking so home chefs can take taste further, the ultra-responsive technology within our appliances is always designed with the consumer in mind. “Electrolux: During 2018 our mission was to revolutionise the world’s cooking habits for the better through education and innovation. As such Electrolux partnered with Le Cordon Bleu to co-create appliances delivering better taste and quality within consumers’ culinary creations. “AEG: 2018 saw AEG scoop up a host of awards in recognition of its consumer-driven innovations. Bringing restaurant techniques into British kitchens, AEG’s SteamPro Multifunction

Sous Vide Oven won the Kitchen Appliance category in the Product of the Year awards. Meanwhile, AEG’s top of the range 9000 series was crowned the Best Washing Machine at the T3 Awards and came up on top in the Household Appliance category at the 2018 Product of the Year awards. Thanks to its ground-breaking SoftWater technology eliminating harmful water impurities, consumers now have the confidence to wash without fear knowing their treasured garments are protected.

“Zanussi: This year heavy investment has been made into the pioneering home appliance brand, known for delivering practical, reliable and effective solutions with a holistic marketing campaign delivering its ‘easy choice’ promise to millions of consumers. “2018 has been a fantastic year and we’re excited to build on this success moving into 2019 reinforcing our position as a world leader in household appliances.”

Mark Davison, Managing Director of Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, looks ahead to more investment in channels and products for 2019 “2018 has been a year of change at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, but one which ends with a great number of positives and with a very progressive outlook for the next few years. “The year has seen us successfully introduce a raft of market-leading new products and collections to the market – particularly in the range cooking sector where we have achieved our highest share of the range cooker market in more than six years - and make significant investment in our support of independent retailers and kitchen specialists. “The new Made in Britain Stoves range cooker collections, including the new Deluxe products, represented a

huge development for Stoves – thanks to a £2million investment in product development and manufacturing processes, which has put us at the forefront of innovation in the Range Cooking category and sees us offer a number of ‘firsts’ in the sector. This investment in market-leading products – in terms of both quality and features – is indicative of our focus on achieving market leadership in the sector. “As part of our drive to increase market share we were keen to invest in and support our independent electrical retail channel – which has always been a pillar of the GDHA business. So, we launched Elite

Retailers, our new support initiative for independents. Members of the scheme receive increased support from our independent sales team as well as financial benefits; exclusive promotional activities, staff incentives and competitions; improved online presence on the brand websites, and measured web traffic and high-tech display stands with 10” touchscreens, branded plinths and backboards across all the GDHA brands. “The rollout of the scheme will continue in 2019, as will the product investment, which will see us continue to reaffirm our position as a leading supplier of British-designed domestic appliances.”

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Ben Jones, Senior Product Manager, Hama UK, says the company’s approach is “deeply valued” by independents “Approaching our 29th year of trading, Hama UK have continued to build an extensive customer base via our network of on-the-road sales managers. In the fast-paced nature of the industry, we often find our traditional, customercentric culture and regular instore visits are deeply valued, especially by independent stores. “As can be seen from our presence at IFA 2018 as part of leading European accessory supplier Hama GmbH, audio

remains a significant focus for 2019 in the UK as well as on the continent, and we are very much riding the ‘smart home’ wave with multi-room functionality, portable-design and voice control at the crest. “Distribution of existing audio partner brands, such as Audio Pro, has gone from strength to strength throughout 2018, with their Scandistyle speakers winning no fewer than 4 What Hi-Fi? Best Buy Awards and

a T3 Award, along with an accolade of glowing five-star reviews. This has also been accompanied by the formation of exciting new partnerships during the year, including retro-chic Swiss-engineered speaker radios Geneva Lab and Swedish Phil Collins inspired Sudio, which together with our own Hama Sirium speakers and other in-house designs, aim to create a prominent portfolio of products for the 2019 audio market.”

Caroline Hulme, Managing Director at Qualtex, anticipates overseas growth in 2019 “This year, Qualtex has made some ambitious changes that have been a huge success. Having acquired electrical supplier JEGS and prominent brand Masterpart, we have broadened our consumer appeal to ensure we are providing our customers with a wider product range and excellent quality. In

addition, our service offering has been revamped to maintain strong supplier relationships. Such changes have seen us enjoy substantial growth this year. “And we’re not content to stop there. With this year’s changes key to our long term plans for investment, 2019 looks to be our best year yet. After securing a multimillion-pound funding package from HSBC, we’re readying for overseas growth. Though we have seen strong sales in the UK, we are

excited at the prospect of tapping into North American and European markets and we have already made significant progress to ensure the success of this development. Our expansion in Atlanta has exceeded expectation and we’re looking forward to continuing our acquisition trail. We have also made instrumental changes to our website to make it more user-friendly. These changes will be implemented early next year, along with a Sage solution.”

REPIC External Affairs Manager Sarah Downes explores the need for better data As 2018 comes to an end, Sarah Downes looks ahead to the future of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling industry. “As we come to the end of the year, change lies ahead for the WEEE recycling industry. The new Resources and Waste Strategy is due to be released from Defra shortly and this is expected to include new ambitions for the collection and recycling of waste. Importantly, it will set the trajectory for extended producer responsibility in the UK.

“It is becoming increasingly important that we improve the availability and quality of WEEE data. The amount and type of EEE put on the market is evolving, along with the ways in which consumers purchase and dispose of electrical products. It is therefore vital that we develop more accurate methods for estimating and

forecasting the quantities and categories of WEEE generated in the future. “Key to this is greater collaboration so that as an industry we can improve data and intelligence on WEEE flows, based on a better understanding of the market and socio-economic factors which influence what happens to products at the end of their life. This will help to shape the future of WEEE reuse and recycling and the potential to transition to a more circular economy.”

Dave Allen, MD of Recycling Lives Compliance Services, looks forward to further growth of a unique scheme CSR commitments while guaranteeing a national network of treatment Dave Allen has worked in the waste electricals and electronics equipment (WEEE) sector for nearly 20 years. He is Managing Director of WEEE compliance scheme Recycling Lives Compliance Services - part of the national Recycling Lives Group. Recycling Lives manages businesses in the recycling and waste management sector alongside its own social programmes for offender rehabilitation, residential support and food redistribution. Its businesses support the delivery of social programmes, allowing Recycling Lives’ clients to report tangible social value from their contracts, to fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitments. “We pride ourselves on collecting WEEE nationwide and processing it in sociallyresponsible ways, to satisfy our members’ obligations. WEEE is processed through



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facilities, including being recycled in prisons through our offender rehabilitation programme. This allows our clients to report for their compliance obligations and on the social value created by training, employing and rehabilitating offenders. “Our client portfolio boasts leading brands including Hisense, Makita, Sharp, Magimix, Russell Hobbs and Technika, and kitchen appliance producers including PJH Distribution, Andrew James and Apelson Appliances. “2018 has been an exciting year of opportunity and growth for us and we are looking forward to new challenges in 2019. We want to work with more electrical and electronic businesses to meet their compliance obligations and

sound commercials and a first-rate service. “2019 will see the introduction of open scope in the WEEE Regulations, meaning all EEE is captured by the regulations unless specifically excluded. Many manufacturers will see their products become obligated. We can help clients old and new understand how these changes affect them. With Brexit looming we are working closely with government officials to ensure our environmental obligations are fulfilled. All previous EU environmental law will continue to have effect in UK law however interpretation and future targets may change. The UK has committed to embrace the EU’s circular economy package and WEEE will play an important role in this.”




brands. “If I don’t know what I want to watch and simply ask for, say, a police show, I can guarantee what I’m going to get is Amazon’s, or Netflix’s or Google’s or Apple’s content before I That was the provocative theme of a presentation by Maria Garrido, chief get anything from linear TV,” noted Garrido. She gave a real-world example of the dark insights & analytics officer of the media company Havas Group at this year’s side of voice control. “Here’s an exercise you IBC2018 media and technology conference, held in Amsterdam in September. can do: go home tonight and say to Alexa [Amazon’s smart speaker], ‘I a fascinating talk, Garrido explained want some batteries.’ If you do If linear TV broadcasters how the TV landscape was that, Alexa will recommend want to stay in the game, changing – and how the television viewers Amazon’s batteries. If you they need to get smart, “By 2020, only one of tomorrow will be using the medium. push back and say, ‘I says Garrido. They need in ten consumers will This matters to broadcasters, as well as to want Duracell batteries,’ to get innovative, and be watching linear TV, manufacturers and retailers in the consumer Alexa will say, ‘Sorry, that includes making it electronics industry, because if they don’t we don’t have that easier to find content. and most of those people deliver what consumers want, viewers available.’ What has We are all swamped will be using it as a projector will migrate to rival broadcasters or other happened is that 94% with content these for Netflix or Apple TV. technologies. of batteries are now days, and finding the That’s a 50% drop in ten As I write this piece, Netflix has just revealed sold online and Amazon content we want can years.” that its global subscriber base has grown to 137 has a third of that market be a time-consuming million, with seven million new subscribers in the and it’s only going to grow. business. “Some 62% of three months to September 2018. Netflix expects This is a scary situation for consumers say they can’t find to invest around £5-6 billion in content this year, brands.” what they want and spend more although some analysts think the figure will be What is more, as we get older, than an hour looking for something closer to £7-8 billion. The BBC’s total budget for our voice commands become more passive, to watch,” said Garrido. “70% said they would TV, radio and online is £5 billion. TV viewers love so we are more likely to take what is offered find a universal search function very useful.” streaming services; they love boxsets and they to us. Garrido says that the music industry has VOICING SOME CONCERNS want to be able to watch TV when and where gone to great lengths to ensure that its content Maria Garrido also looked at the rise of voice they want. is discovered before competitors’ by improving control technology in the context of conducting the data behind the content so that it’s more searches for content. She noted how quickly discoverable. this market had grown – in 2016, just 4% of Perhaps the next time we interact with our US households had a smart speaker; eighteen smart speaker, the question we should ask is: months later the figure was 27%. Companies “Are you providing me with unbiased search such as Amazon, Apple and Google dominate results?” Let’s hope it doesn’t cause a short this market and this poses a big threat to other circuit…


Garrido noted that television is currently holding its own – in 2017 TV accounted for 34% of global advertising spend, and this figure will be 31% in 2021. But big changes are afoot, she added: “By 2020, only one in ten consumers will be watching linear TV, and most of those people will be using it as a projector for Netflix or Apple TV. That’s a 50% drop in ten years.” But there’s more. Garrido noted that 86% of those still watching linear TV will also be looking at second screens, such as smartphones or tablets, to access social media, catch up on news or product browse. She added that silver surfers (those aged 54-65) typically have one social media account and perhaps watch YouTube, while millennials (21-24 year olds) and Generation Z (16-20) can have more than nine social media accounts.

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Inside a digibox

DTV is now 20 years old in the UK. It has brought many benefits to viewers and dealers. Alan Bennett looks at its impact on the retail trade


igital television was born out of very fast real-time processors and massive memory chips, along with the brilliant work of the MPEG (Moving Pictures Expert Group) in the 1980s and 90s. It revolutionised TV broadcasting and reception, not least by increasing the programme-carrying capability of UHF broadcast channels tenfold, and facilitating pay-TV.

EVOLUTION The biggest change in the industry since the advent of colour, DTV broadcasting began in the UK in October 1998, with BSkyB’s Sky Digital. It used a smaller dish than that required by the established analogue (PAL) satellite transmissions, and in the early days was supported by a handful of manufacturers’ set-top boxes. They had viewing cards and inbuilt PAL encoders providing composite, UHF-modulated and RGB video signals for use with the TVs of the day. The EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) was an unprecedented and useful feature of DTV. Satellite DTV became very popular very quickly, with over one million viewers within weeks of its introduction. The facility for interactive TV via a landline (originally called Open TV, now Sky Active) also proved popular. Terrestrial TV was not far behind, beginning a digital service, ONdigital, in November 1998. A bouquet of 31 channels was initially offered, a mix of public service and subscription programmes. Half a dozen manufacturers made receiver boxes with the ONdigital logo, selling for about

£200 and again sporting viewing cards and an optional phone link for interactive services, the forerunners of the smart TVs we sell today. But in less than four years ONdigital went bust, to be replaced by ITV Digital and then Freeview. Subscription channels were dropped, and the first PVR (Personal Video Recorder), made by Pace, appeared. Some non-recording boxes came down to less than £100, counteracted by the Sky offering of free dishes and boxes to subscribers. Cable TV, conducted by BT, Virgin and now Sky, offers an alternative to satellite and Freeview TV and all three provide HD channels, constricted in the case of Freeview by UHF bandwidth limitations. Cable, satellite and terrestrial deliveries use different modulation systems, specifically tailored to each medium. Tailoring is also carried out by the excellent Statmux technology in which each programme is instantaneously allocated a bit-rate appropriate to its picture ‘busyness’. High definition (incompatible with SD equipment) came, initially via satellite, in 2006.

SALES AND SERVICE The retail trade had a transitional period in which to adjust to DTV, and – at least in the early days – the opportunity to sell, albeit at little profit, the receiver boxes, and sometimes to install them. By and by, Sky muscled in on this side of the business, dealing direct with viewers, but compensation for dealers came with the advent of thinscreen TVs, largely coincident in time with

Effect of data corruption



NOV/DEC 2018

the burgeoning DTV market, and starting with plasma types. Thinscreens had many advantages over CRT models and were a good match for DTV, offering many desirable features, primarily the huge selling potential of large screen sizes. Service engineers had another learning curve to climb up! Initially many workshops took on DTV box repairs, but what momentum there was became overtaken by difficulties with sourcing spares, product complexity and the low – or zero – cost of boxes. Hardware was subservient to subscriptions now, and technicians became largely limited to PSU repairs and software issues. Aerial and dish installers did quite well out of DTV, initially installing dishes for Sky and Freesat, usually to a higher standard than Sky’s jobs; and replacing UHF aerials which had become unsuitable for the new terrestrial service due to age, new frequency allocations or reduced transmitter power. For most situations, however, the rugged OFDM digital signal transmissions made good reception easier than with analogue broadcasts: goodbye snow and ghosting on pictures! From an initial rush these ladder jobs gradually settled to a lower but steady level.

FAULT SYMPTOMS For technicians and perhaps sales staff, a big change came with DTV and thinscreen’s virtual absence of on-screen equipment-fault symptoms: about the only easily recognised one is a streaky or blocky picture and sound dropout with chirps and plonks. These indicate a weak or corrupt signal feed, in which the data’s integrity has fallen below the (powerful) correction and repair capability of the receiver. This can be confirmed by calling up the signal strength/quality indicators in the installation or setup menu. Other display, sound and functional problems may be solved by refreshment of the operational software, relatively easy to do as described on page 17 of our Jan/Feb 2017 issue, or even by a mains power reboot. Beyond these, little can be done without specialised technical help and sophisticated test equipment, which may not be viable anyhow for economic and/or other reasons. Sometimes power-supply module and other simple faults can be repaired by ‘ lowlevel ‘ workshops. How different to the old days of analogue TV and audio gear where if the set worked at all the screen and loudspeaker were the primary indicators of where the trouble lay, calling perhaps for a PCL805 valve or a mighty electrolytic capacitor...



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Get Connected Magazine - Nov/Dec 2018  

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