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AU G U S T 2012

w w w. g c m a g a z i n e . c o . u k

TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING Style, taste, creative use of space. The UK loves “open plan” living, and as structural alterations remain more popular than moving house, retailers can profit from understanding the trend

HOME ENTERTAINMENT & AV HE is increasingly a complicated, smart, interconnected world, and retailers who can offer simple, stylish solutions to the demands of 21st century consumers have a chance to make CE pay

FOCUS ON APPLE As smart TV and general all-round connectivity forge ahead, the big players are still watching, perhaps nervously, for Apple’s next move on the TV front. The brand that leads in cool and marketing skills is expected to have a powerful impact on the TV market. Will it come to pass?


YouView now available exclusively from Humax

For more information visit www.humaxdigital.com/uk/youview

George Cole on why “Big Brother” should be open with digital customers 154x216_YouView.indd 1

17/07/2012 15:08

Size really does matter. All Beko cookers now have 20% more cooking space inside.*

Beko Cooking Range Available in 50cm or 60cm wide – to best suit the space in your kitchen Gas or Electric, to suit your style of cooking High performance cooking meets stylish design Easy cleaning with removable full glass inner doors Available in white, silver, stainless steel and black

The UK’s first choice for cookers* See our full product range at www.beko.co.uk *GfK PANELMARKET GREAT BRITAIN, May 2011 – June 2012 in vol, 18.9% share


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In and around the industry

12 14 22 29 30 32 33 Copyright © 2012 Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. 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., Alresford House, 60 West Street, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7EH.

Get Connected Greyfriar Cottage Winchester Road Chawton Alton Hampshire GU34 1SB


The Word

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Editorial Comment

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Appliance Revolution

Samsung on the impact of the ecobubble™ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

The Product Gallery

Town and Apartment Living

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The changing shape of UK homes / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Home Entertainment & AV

Super-smart delivers super-simple solutions / / / / /

Protecting customers’ investment in hi-tech equipment

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Focus on Apple

What is Apple doing in TV? / / / / / / / / / /

George Cole Gets Connected Tell it like it is

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From the Bench

Alan Bennett’s personal experience of the switchover


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2-minute interview with Vitamix national sales manager UK/Ireland Nick Wring

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

Editorial & Publishing Director: Terry Heath Telephone: 01420 886 33 » terry@gcmagazine.co.uk

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Magazine Advertising Sales: Brian Shilling Telephone: 01892 677741  brian@gcmagazine.co.uk

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Annual subscription rate (inc. postage): UK £88; Overseas £108.




Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief

The nation has been able to breathe a collective sigh of relief, and even to allow itself a little glow of pride, now that the Olympics opening ceremony has drawn general approbation for its inventive, quirky “Britishness”, the venues are proving to be outstandingly attractive and the organisation (fingers crossed at time of writing!) smooth and unfussy. There’s a feeling that we Brits have still got it, and that our Queen, in the 60th year of her reign, still has a lively sense of humour and a willingness to participate in the British sense of self-deprecating irony. Her Olympic adventure with “Mr Bond” stole the show.

What the (so far) successful staging of the Olympics has done for the uplifting of the national mood is clear, but the electrical industry, both globally and in our own country, is undergoing the most radical and traumatic transformation in a generation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Consumer Electronics. The supremacy of the great Japanese CE brands has been challenged and shaken, reminding us that no brand’s market dominance, however unassailable it may seem, is for ever. As the balance of power shifts, opportunities open up, not only for newer giants to dominate, but for smaller manufacturers to move in and take a share of the increasingly diverse, complex market for Consumer Electronics, Home Entertainment and personal, portable gadgetry. The market is in flux, and there is everything to play for, not only in manufacturing but in retail as well. UK electrical retailing has been subject to a sustained period of intense pressure: a pressure that has changed its shape fundamentally. Many independents have not been able to withstand the pressure, and have been forced out of business. But the survivors remain, more than ever, a key channel for CE manufacturers whose complex, connected technologies need to be presented to a mainstream public that wants easy-to-use, easy-to-understand benefits, not techie jargon.

The London 2012 Olympics has focused the transition from high-tech cutting edge technology to mainstream adoption. The Games have something for every taste and each generation, and have been used in the UK to showcase the fantastic diversity of channels, choices, ways of viewing and “personal tailoring” of the Games to each individual’s tastes and timetables. The opportunity to demonstrate to older viewers, for example, that the technology is simple to use and can deliver great choice, is a powerful force in making that transition from early adopter to mainstream markets. If you’re still standing in these times, you’re good at what you do. And the choices to be made in market segmentation, product focus and specialisms are there to be made in a world that is still re-assembling itself following massive change. Finally, we have not checked that using the words “London 2012” and “Olympic Games” is allowed in print, but we’re of the opinion that the Olympics belong to the world, not to the commercial sponsors. We do see a great deal of humour in the image of spectators in the Olympic Park stuffing supersize MacDonalds and gulping buckets of Coca-Cola, while finely honed athletes compete for their entertainment. Nobody should be allowed to buy our Olympic Games. So we’re risking it anyway. If you don’t like it, LOCOG, sue us.

Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director

Will Dobson Creative Director

James McIntosh Consumer Consultant

George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant

Average net circulation for the 12 issues distributed between Jan-Dec 2008 is 6,228




Wet Wet Wet…

…the hope for many is that the London 2012 Olympics will provide enough of a spark to create an upturn in spending that will offset the negatives brought about by the poor weather and gloomy macro-economic trends.

A strong start to the June trading period was confirmed by the BRC as it recorded sales values up 1.4% on a like-for-like basis, despite the dismal weather over the Jubilee weekend. Stephen Robertson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, called it “the bunting boost”.


obertson asserted that June was “saved” by the feel-good lift of the Jubilee but, sadly, the “soggy celebrations” over the weekend itself he said were followed by far weaker business for the rest of the month. “Belts were tightened again and the lower temperatures cooled demand for summer fashions and outdoor leisure goods.” The BRC-KMPG survey stated that people “splashed out” during the few sunny days ahead of the long weekend and the extra bank holiday apparently made little difference to the overall retail figures for the period. Robertson added that the extent of the rain in recent months largely drowned demand for summer goods. Total sales growth between January and June was no better than in 2011, he said. But high Street sales of non-food goods did rise by more than expected in June as the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend celebrations sparked an upsurge in the purchase of luxury products. The BDO High Street Sales Tracker, which measures sales at non-grocery, mid tier retailers, showed a like-for-like increase of 1.1% on the year, we are told. However, sales of goods under the homewares category declined 5.8% as consumer confidence continued to curb spending on bigticket items. Don Williams, National Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, blamed a continuing stream of bad news, including the Euro crisis, for denting consumer confidence. But he added that the hope for many is that the London 2012 Olympics will provide enough of a spark to create an upturn in spending that will offset the negatives brought about by the poor weather and gloomy macro-economic trends.

Wet weather contributes to rise in retail insolvencies Adding to the UK high streets’ woes, the wettest April and June ever recorded was reported to have contributed to a 10.3% rise in retail



The CBI’s monthly Distributive Trades Survey, covering the first two weeks in July, revealed that 44% of retailers saw sales volumes rise on a year ago, while 33% reported a fall. The resulting balance of +11% was 21 points weaker than retailers had anticipated. Firms also reported growth in orders, although again at a much slower pace than had been expected. McKenna said that conditions are expected to remain tough during August. insolvencies during the second quarter of 2012 as unrelenting downpours intensified retailers’ problems by keeping shoppers at home and dampening demand for summer goods. According to accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 426 retail businesses failed during the quarter, up from 386 in the previous year, with another round of high profile, household names falling into administration. PwC business recovery partner and retail specialist Mike Jervis said there had been a clear reduction in the incidence of insolvencies during the current recession, compared to previous ones, but “retail is the sector which keeps bucking this trend.” Quarter-on-quarter retail insolvencies have increased for every one of the last 4 quarters, while those in the wider economy, including sectors such as construction and hospitality & leisure, fell 3% in June.

Poor weather “didn’t help” retail volume growth News from high street retailers continued to focus on weather-related problems into early July. According to the CBI, volume sales and orders rose for the third consecutive month, but growth slowed to a greater extent than had been expected. Judith McKenna, Chair of the CBI Distributive Trades Panel and Asda Chief Operating Officer, said the unprecedented poor weather for the time of year “didn’t help”.

Retailers receive backlash from weather-worn customers The grief caused by Britain’s summer rains extended beyond the high street. Online retailers reportedly dealt with “a surge” in the number of disgruntled customers as the unseasonal weather prompted a spike in the amount of complaints and negative reviews. Feedback forum Feefo, which works with hundreds of online retailers and receives around 1,000 reviews and ratings a day, said it had seen the number of negative comments soar as persistent downpours affected customers’ moods. Customer services director Ed Lennox said there was a direct correlation between the miserable weather and the uplift in complaints, with missed deliveries topping the “whinge list”. “Not only do Brits love to talk about the weather, they also love a good moan if things don’t go right. So when the two collide it can be pretty painful for businesses on the receiving end,” he said. “Delivery times are a real dealbreaker at the moment.” On the bright side, Lennox said that the increase in feedback, even though largely negative, was having a positive effect on the ability of retailers to cope with the adverse conditions. “Retailers say it has shown them that priorities change for customers during different weather patterns and having even more feedback helps them to adjust accordingly.”


BRC records drop in UK shop numbers UK shop numbers fell 0.5% in the second quarter of this year, representing a drop of 88 outlets on the same period in 2011. The figures showed the first decline since October 2008 and, according to BRC Director General Stephen Robertson, supermarkets continuing to open smaller-format stores masked the potential of a much sharper decline. Without these stores, total shop numbers would have fallen further, he said. The BRC also reported that retail employment in the second quarter rose by 1.8% compared with the same quarter in 2011, providing the equivalent of 12,648 more full-time jobs. The overall increase was driven entirely by food retailers with the fastest growth from part-time workers. In non-food retailing the total hours worked fell. “Retail as a whole is still where much-needed new jobs are coming from but, within that, it’s food retailing that’s providing more work,” commented Robertson. “Big events like the Jubilee celebrations provided a limited boost to employment levels but underlying weakness in the economy and consumer confidence continues to hit sales and job numbers in non-food retailing.” Christina Tolvas-Vincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Pearce, said: “At first glance, there are some positive messages here: rising employment, which translates to more than 12,000 extra full-time equivalent jobs, and redundancy rates remaining very low. Serious concerns remain, however. The number of retail outlets is falling for the first time, reflecting the immense pressure on high street retailers in particular and for non-food retailers. “It has also been a summer of ups and downs so far with the Jubilee celebrations, the record amount of wet weather and now the buildup to the Olympics all having an impact on the industry. But the reality of the situation may be clouded as a result. It will be very interesting to see what the next quarter brings.”




Theo Paphitis buys Robert Dyas Entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis has acquired electricals and hardware retailer Robert Dyas for an undisclosed sum. Paphitis, who heads a retail property empire that includes stationery chain Ryman, bought the 140 year-old store chain through his company Gladys Emmanuel Limited and will join the Board as Chairman. A statement released by the retailer said the sale came against a background of robust

trading and strong cashflow. Like-for-like sales growth was 3.8% in the company’s last financial year to 31 March 2012, with underlying strength continuing into the current year. Graham Coles, current Chief Executive of Robert Dyas, will stay in his position along with other members of the Board. Chairman Geoff Brady and Non-executive Director Ian Gray leave the Board. Kypros Kyprianou, Group Chief Executive of Ryman, joins the Board as Director.

King of electricals? Dr Philip Morton, CEO of Repic, has been appointed to the board of the WEEE Forum. The news follows the recent announcement that Repic will host this year’s WEEE Forum Conference at the Guoman Tower Hotel, London on 20-21 September. Consumer electronics brand Otone Audio has appointed Robert McDougall to the role of national account manager, responsible for building business in the UK market.

Department store chain John Lewis is certainly making its name in electricals. The retailer has posted consistently high double-digit growth for a number of months, and the week ended Saturday 21 July added to the gains. Sales in the Electricals & Home Technology division rose 32.5%, with communication technology growing 83.4% on the same week last year. And although buoyed by sales of iPads, all areas were reported to have performed strongly, with vision recording a rise of 18.9%. Susan Young, Head of Merchandising at John Lewis’ Central Operations, said: “The turn in weather would normally slow trade in EHT so it’s encouraging to see maintained growth through the week.” The retailer has averaged growth of 32.1% in EHT during the first 25 weeks of its fiscal year.

Liebherr has partnered with SMART Systems’ KBBConnect® service to offer its network of kitchen retailers enhanced support, with access to an advanced online quoting and ordering tool offering the time- and cost-effective sharing of product information. Beko has appointed Robert Soughton to the role of assistant product manager and Yunus Baykal as marketing assistant.



North Yorkshire-based Cello Electronics has invested £1 million in a new 45,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in Bishop Auckland to house its production, storage, showroom, offices and after sales service operations. A hundred people have been employed at the facility. Cello, a Tech Track 100 independent UK business manufacturing LCD TVs and accessories, markets its products under the ‘cello’ brand and retailers’ own brands. Customers include Marks & Spencer, Currys and Argos. Export growth, principally in Germany, will see more than 50% of the Bishop Auckland plant’s production heading overseas.

Trade Electricals Direct invests in Basildon facility Trade Electricals Direct (TED) has invested £400,000 in a new facility in Basildon, which will enable it to increase its stockholding for the growing number of customers in the Greater London region. The new unit is double the size of the former Chelmsford branch, which previously served Essex and London, and has a large secure yard for the loading of goods. All Chelmsford staff have transferred to the new Branch, which was officially opened by its first customer, Dave Medcalf from Appliance Tech in Wickford.

PJH Group is offering a range of giveaways to its trade customers to mark the 40th anniversary of the company. 40 iPod Touch devices are amongst the “birthday gifts” offered in a four-month summer promotion detailed on the front cover of two Special Edition Celebratory Saver brochures. Dimplex has announced the appointment of Jonathan Smith as Fires Marketing Manager, with responsibility for the development of the company’s ranges of electric fires.

Cello invests £1 million in new manufacturing plant

Sheffield retailer wins Gino D’Acampo for a day Sheffield-based Audiovision is to welcome celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo to its Dinnington store after winning a Zanussi window display competition which was exclusive to Euronics members. Philip Dungworth, a director of Audiovision, said he hoped D’Acampo’s visit will “kickstart the season for us.” The Italian-themed window display featured Mr Dungworth’s old 1968 Fiat 500 as the centrepiece along with a Zanussi flag, handmade by the store’s manager.


Samsung Electronics announced

Amazon reported net sales up 29% to

revenues of KRW47.60 trillion for the second quarter ended 30 June 2012, up 21% on the same period a year ago. Consolidated operating profit reached a record KRW6.72 trillion, representing a 79% increase. Consolidated net profit for the period was KRW5.19 trillion. The company said it maintained profits across all business segments apart from Semiconductors. Digital Media & Communications – comprising the Consumer Electronics and IT & Mobile Communications business sectors – rose 37% year-on-year and accounted for KRW36.57 trillion in sales. In Device Solutions, the results were mixed. While operating profit for the Display Panel segment registered an increase, the Semiconductor Business saw profits drop by 38%, despite outperforming the previous quarter. The Mobile Communications Business was one of the leading growth drivers in the quarter, with KRW20.52 trillion in revenue – the successful launch of this year’s flagship GALAXY S III smartphone and robust GALAXY Note sales, pushing earnings up by 75% in the handset unit. The Visual Display Business also contributed to earnings gains, with KRW8.58 trillion in revenue for the quarter.

$12.83 billion in the second quarter ended 30 June 2012, compared with $9.91 billion in same period of 2011. The retailer said that growth had fallen below expectations due to the unfavourable impact in foreign exchange rates, which wiped $272 million off the result. Revenues would have grown 32% during the quarter. Net income decreased 96% to $7 million, compared with $191 million in Q2 2011. The figure includes a $65 million estimated net loss related to the acquisition and integration of Kiva Systems, Inc. Worldwide Electronics and other General Merchandise sales rose 38% to $8.16 billion.

Electrolux announced second quarter net sales up 15% to SEK 27,763m on the same period last year, with a 36% lift in income for the period, to SEK 763m. Higher costs for raw materials continued to impact earnings negatively, but these were offset by operational efficiencies. Demand for appliances in some mature markets continued to decline year-overyear, while in emerging markets growth continued. Growth in Europe fell 2% during the quarter, with Western Europe down 4% as a result of weak demand in Spain, Italy and France. Demand in the UK and the Nordic countries rose slightly.

LG Electronics posted second-quarter net profits up 47% on the same period last year, due in the main to strong performances in premium TVs and home appliances. The company posted a net profit of KRW159 billion for April to June 2012, up from KRW108.44 billion a year earlier. Operating profit more than doubled to KRW349 billion, but the company’s Mobile Communications business fell into a loss.

BSkyB posted revenues up 3% in the 12 months ended 30 June 2012, to £6,791 million, with operating profit up 14% to £1,223 million. The broadcaster reported a 12% increase in net product additions on the prior year, taking the total base to 28.4 million, and added 312,000 new households during the period. Sky now has 10.6 million customers, 32% of which take its triple-play of television, broadband and telephony.

Apple reported quarterly revenues of $35.0 billion and net profit of $8.8 billion for the third quarter ended 30 June 2012, against revenues of $28.6 billion and net profit of $7.3 billion for the

same period last year. Gross margin was 42.8% compared to 41.7% in Q3 2011. The Company sold 26 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 28% unit growth, and 17 million iPads, an 84% increase over last year. Mac sales rose 2% to 4 million, while iPods declined by 10% to 6.8 million units. International sales accounted for 62% of all revenues.

Whirlpool Corporation announced Q2 net earnings of $113 million, compared to a net loss of $161 million during the same period last year. Sales in the quarter fell to $4.5 billion from $4.7 billion in Q2 2011. Whirlpool Europe, Middle East and Africa reported secondquarter sales of $692 million versus $841 million in the prior year. Excluding currency translation, sales decreased by approximately 7% and unit shipments for the region also declined by 7%. An operating loss of $26 million was recorded.

Philips reported growth in its Healthcare, Lighting and Consumer Lifestyle businesses, with comparable sales up 5% to €5.9 billion and net income of €167 million. In Consumer Lifestyle, sales increased by 3% on a comparable basis. High single-digit growth in the combined businesses of Personal Care, Health & Wellness and Domestic Appliances, was partly offset by a decline at Lifestyle Entertainment. Reported EBITA margin for the quarter was 7.6% and included a one-time gain on the sale of Philips’ Speech Processing business.

Ericsson posted lower-than-expected profits for the second quarter of 2012, with net income down 64% to 1.1 billion kronor on sales up by just under 1%. Demand for global services and support solutions was strong, while networks sales declined.




Ofcom unveils plans for 4G auction Telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed that the auction of spectrum for mobile services in the UK will get under way by the end of 2012, laying the path for next-generation 4G networks to be rolled out next year. The auction will offer the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today and should see mobile broadband rolled out to at least 98% of people across the UK. In the interest of competition, a minimum amount of the spectrum will be reserved for a fourth operator. Ofcom said this could be either Hutchison 3G or a new entrant altogether.

Samsung launches showcase in Harrods A Samsung-branded home appliances showcase has opened on the 2nd floor of Harrods in London. Visitors to the store will have the chance to try out and buy products from Samsung’s MDA portfolio, but a feature of the showcase is a limited edition refrigerator, exclusive to Harrods. The premium appliance is finished with gem stones, ink stained glass and champagne handles and is priced at £2,999. The store is supported by Samsung-trained staff and will open to the public for nine weeks.

Hama UK praised for “dedication, vision and professionalism” Hama UK has received a ‘Best Growth’ award from Zound Industries less than a year after entering into a distribution partnership with the company. The award was presented to Hama MD Nick Grey and Product Manager Richard Boote by Zound Industries President Konrad Bergstrom and Sales Director Yvan Dieng, who commented on the “dedication, vision and professionalism” of the Hama team.

Tablets and E-readers top Christmas wishlists HRH The Duke of Kent visits GDHA His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent paid a special visit to Liverpool-based GDHA as part of the Belling brand’s 100th birthday celebrations. The Duke (pictured right) was given a tour of the company’s site and treated to a cookery demonstration by celebrity chef and Belling brand ambassador Brian Turner, before presenting GDHA with The Queen’s Award for Enterprise, which was granted to the business earlier this year after overseas sales of its British-made products increased by 880%. Speaking at the ceremony, the Vice Lord Lieutenant said: “The Award recognises the results of teamwork under positive leadership and it certainly sets a standard of achievement that will be hard to beat.” GDHA Chief Executive Denver Hewlett (left) commented on a “hugely significant” year for Great Britain, the Royal Family and Belling. “It was a real honour to welcome the Duke to our headquarters to help mark our centenary celebrations,” he said. 10


Currys and PC World have published their predicted Top 10 bestselling Christmas gifts for 2012, with technology brands Apple, Kindle and Google holding the top three positions. This is the 3rd year running that the Apple iPad has been top of the list, and the retail brands say the only product likely to knock it off the No.1 spot is Apple’s latest launch – a product still to be revealed yet expected to leapfrog the Kindle e-reader and Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Amongst the gadgetry in the Top 10 are coffee machines, which have shown year-on-year growth of 30%; and though not featuring on many people’s gift lists, TVs are expected be top sellers as people upgrade to 3D and Smart TV. Tech buyers are predicting a record 75% spend on Smart TVs and 60% on 3D TVs during the peak period, with customers opting for larger screen sizes – a divination based on a 500% rise since last year in screen sizes of 55” and above.

Independent electrical retailers wanted for TV series Production company Optomen Television is producing a new, “expert-led” TV series, and is looking for a range of small businesses – including electrical retailers – who are finding it tough going in the current climate and could use some support and help in improving profits and building a stronger customer base. Optomen makes the Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Mary Portas TV shows (though the company has confirmed that this new proposed series does NOT involve Mary Portas), and is keen to hear from all types of businesses that may be struggling to survive and grow. If you own your company and want to apply to be involved, e-mail: business@optomen.com or call 0203 227 5980.



nergy saving has become more important in home laundry over the past two to three years as people have become more conscious of their impact on the environment. How ‘green’ a product is, and more importantly, what that means in terms of savings, is something that is taken into consideration by many consumers – and rightly so.

There’s a revolution taking place in the world of home appliances The Samsung ecobubble™ range of washing machines, with their state-of-the-art technologies, use up to 70% less energy than a standard 40°C wash programme on a traditional ‘A’ rated machine. Because the special bubbles generated by the appliance are able to dissolve faster and penetrate deeper into clothes, less heat and movement is required to dissolve the detergent in the water, saving a huge amount of energy and making the ecobubble™ the ideal purchase for anyone seeking to reduce their energy consumption, without compromising on wash performance. The Samsung ecobubble™ laundry products are available in 7KG, 8KG, 9KG, 11KG and 12KG capacities, and are revolutionising the way in which consumers do their laundry. So what other benefits can consumers expect from a Samsung ecobubble™?

IMPROVED WASH PERFORMANCE AND GENTLE FABRIC CARE It’s vital to take good care of clothes in order to maintain their original shape and colour and prevent damage to fabrics. Offering an array of customised wash programmes – including baby care, outdoor, delicates, wool and hand wash – the Samsung ecobubble™ is designed to save consumers time and make their lives easier, and, importantly, to improve the cleanliness of their laundry and take care of their clothes. The Samsung ecobubble™ provides consumers with the flexibility to wash all garments, safe in the knowledge that the fabric will maintain its original shape and colour. This is because the ecobubble™ produces soaprich bubbles which penetrate deeper and



top of the spin cycle. This means that vibration and noise is virtually eliminated from the washing process, meaning that the machines are much quieter and last much longer, as the moving parts are not subjected to high levels of vibration stress and wear and tear. The quiet operation of the ecobubble™ has recently been recognised with the award of the coveted Quiet Mark.


Samsung ecobubble™ 12kg WF1124XAC

dissolve up to 40 times faster into fabrics, so they are much gentler on clothes and delicate fabrics. And in addition to the cold water washing benefits of the ecobubble™, performance in warmer washing temperatures is also boosted.

PEACE AND QUIET How quiet a laundry appliance is also rates as a strong purchase driver, as low operational noise levels mean that consumers can put their washing on while they are having dinner, or even during the night time. Some ecobubble™ washing machines feature Samsung’s patented Vibration Reduction Technology™, which uses a system of ball bearings or sensors to perfectly balance the load in the rotating drum, even at the

Reliability is an important factor that people take into account before they make an investment in a new laundry appliance. Historically, consumers have tended to buy poor quality washing machines, seeing the appliance as a necessity purchase rather than something they take pleasure in buying. But many now recognise the importance of making an investment in a product that is used so frequently, to avoid having to make an early replacement purchase. Samsung has recently introduced a free fiveyear parts and labour warranty on a range of its home appliances – including the ecobubble™ washing machine range – which is available on purchases made between 1st May and 31st October 2012. It is another great reason for people to make the decision to buy a Samsung product, and will give customers confidence when making a high-value purchase.  To find out more about Samsung’s range of washing machines and other home appliances visit www.samsung.com. Full terms and conditions apply for Samsung’s new five-year warranty, available at: www.samsung.com/uk/homeappliancewarranty



Rowenta Compact Valet Consumers can now give clothes a professional finish at home with the new Compact Valet from Rowenta. The appliance will eliminate odours and provide a full steaming treatment, removing even the smallest creases without contact with the fabric. The unit has a telescopic pole which provides several ways to hang clothes, and it is both portable and compact, folding down to a storable size to be packed away when not in use. ❯

60-second heat up / 30g/min vertical steam / 1500w power

Removable 2.4-litre water tank / Soft-touch hose and handle

‘Tilt and go’ system for manoeuvrability

Foot operated on/off switch

01753 834900 www.rowenta.co.uk

Vogel’s large screen wall mounts Vogel’s has launched a new range of wall mounts which meet stringent weight bearing standards to provide secure support for extra-large thin-screen TVs of up to 80 inches in size and weighing up to 70kg. ❯

WALL1345, WALL1325 and EFW 6345: turnable mounts for screens up to 65” weighing a maximum of 45kg EFW 6445: turnable mount for screens up to 80” weighing a maximum of 55kg WALL 1305, WALL1315, EFW 8305: flat or tiltable mounts for screens up to 80” weighing a maximum of 70kg

0330 2020 981 www.vogels.com

Pure Sensia 200D Connect The Sensia 200D Connect is an enhanced follow up to Pure’s award-winning Sensia radio. The new device delivers an upgraded performance with one touch and timed USB recording and ‘Pure Stream’ wireless streaming for Android Smartphone, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The 5.7” colour touch-screen display enables the viewing of weather reports, Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, RSS feeds and photos via Wi-Fi or Picasa. ❯

Pure Tag for tagging, purchasing or bookmarking tracks

Advanced user interface for smoothscrolling lists, fast keyboard entry and responsive search facilities

30 watts of clear digital sound / bass and treble controls

Input for iPod/MP3 player; headphone socket; two fully featured alarms; countdown timer; sleep timer

0845 1489001 www.pure.com

Lenco iPD-9000 docking station Swiss audio specialist Lenco has produced this aluminium-clad docking station featuring proprietary ‘Sonic Emotion’ digital signal processing technology for a room-filling acoustic experience without audio blind spots. The unit offers 65W output across two 10W side-firing drivers and a 45W rear-firing subwoofer, and it is suitable for all iPod/iPhones. ❯ Plays CD, CD-R, CD-RW and MP3-encoded discs ❯ FM Radio with RDS function and 20 presets ❯ 1 x 3.5mm aux input ❯ LCD display / Sleep timer / Adjustable bass and treble ❯ Remote control

01420 592 499 www.lencouk.com 12


Whirlpool AWO/ C0714 built-in washing machine Whirlpool’s fully integrated AWO/C0714 washing machine, part of the Green Generation collection, is a 7kg model incorporating the brand’s 6th Sense® intelligent technology and delivering an ‘A++AB’ energy rating. ❯

LED display with progress indicator

Uses 54 litres of water per cycle / Noise level 52/74 dB(A)

18 programmes / 30-minute quick wash

Pause function for soaking heavily soiled items

0208 649 5000 www.whirlpool.co.uk

Gorenje IQcook induction hob Gorenje has added the IQcook induction hob – a concept product launched at IFA 2011 and winner of a 2012 Red Dot Design Award – to its UK product portfolio. The appliance uses IQ sensors, installed in the hob and on the lid of pans, to monitor and automatically adjust the cooking process. Gorenje claims the unit uses 40% less energy than a conventional induction hob. ❯

1 x 21cm zone 3.7 kW, 1 x 14.5cm zone 2.2kW, 2 x 18cm zones 3kW each

Preset cooking and frying modes

BoilControl / Residual heat indicators / Safety control lock

StopGo function / StayWarm function / PowerBoost

‘SmartControl’ touch controls and timer

Free 5-year parts and labour guarantee

LG Electronics GB7143AESF A+++ fridge freezer LG Electronics has launched its first A+++ fridge freezer in the form of the 2-metre tall GB7143AESF. The unit incorporates LG’s Linear Compressor technology, which provides energy efficiency, quiet operation, optimised cooling and durability and carries a 10 year parts warranty. ❯

Brushed stainless steel finish

Moist Balance Crisper for items such as salad vegetables

Fresh 0 Zone for storing meats and fish at optimum temperature for cooking

Constant temperature monitoring

0208 247 3980

Dual Tower LED interior lighting


01753 491500 www.lg.com/uk

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH First audio dock with vacuum tube technology and extended multi-device compatibility

Raising the bar in sound technology: Samsung DA-E750 Audio Dock

Samsung’s new DA-E750 Audio Dock is the world’s first docking system to incorporate the brand’s proprietary hybrid vacuum tube amplifier technology. It is also the industry’s first device with docking support both for Galaxy S smartphones and Apple iOS devices, including iPads, which are supported via the unique dual docking structure.

The unit boasts: ❯

2.1-channel speaker and powerful built-in subwoofer with 100 watts of sound

Analogue audio input

USB port for playing files direct from a portable USB stick, music player or portable hard drive

MP3, WMA and WAV format support

Wireless audio file playback via AllShare® for Samsung Galaxy devices, Airplay for Apple devices, Bluetooth-enabled devices

The DA-E750 is presented in a sophisticated high-gloss wood finish, the fineness of which is accentuated when the unit is switched on, as the valves inside emit a soft, warm glow.




Grand designs on open-plan living GC’s Town and Apartment Living feature generally focuses on spacesaving appliances and how best to furnish small kitchens. It is an interesting and popular theme which, in providing retailers with solutions for kitting out compact areas with the most suitable domestic appliances, elicits from contributors a great deal of comment on open-plan living. And with a recent survey showing that internal renovations involving the removal of a downstairs wall have risen by 50% in the last decade, GC has decided to focus this season’s feature purely on the desire for bright, open living spaces and how these can be created or adapted to suit various family units through the use of well appointed appliances.


rogrammes such as Grand Designs have inspired consumers to open up the downstairs living space to create the open-plan dream, but for many homeowners, achieving the look can often throw up problems when it comes to developing a fully functional space that is both attractive and practical, since appliances will be on show for all to see and hear. Nonetheless, a survey conducted by Lloyds TSB revealed that one in three homes now features a kitchen/diner, and one in five Britons is planning to merge their living room and kitchen spaces. And it would appear that “don’t move, improve” – a well-worn phrase used in electrical trade press features in recent years – is, after all, spot on, as evidence shows that one in ten homeowners has spent more than £35,000 making alterations in the past ten years, with half of those spending more than £50,000. Furthermore, according to Lloyds, one in three applications lodged at eight randomly chosen councils related to the opening up of internal space to create a more open layout.




“It’s clear to see that open-plan living is what modern families want,” commented Paula Llewellyn of Lloyds TSB Home Insurance.

Practicalities As the UK economy and the construction/ housing market show no positive signs of imminent growth, the growing desire for openplan living is good news both for the domestic appliance market and the knowledgeable kitchen retailer/designer, who is well placed to profit from helping consumers maximise both the space and functionality of their new environment – whether a pocket-sized, contemporary milieu or a period setting of expansive proportions – by recommending the best appliances for purpose. As Baumatic Marketing Manager Rita Balestrazzi remarks: “Open-plan living is not only changing the layout of our homes, but also the appliances we need to furnish them; the noise level, size and design of the product all having to be chosen to suit the new configuration.” And open-plan living is more than just a “passing fad,” she believes; rather, it looks set to become the “defining trend” of this era. “Whereas before, we valued the sanctuary and privacy of separate, one-purpose rooms, we are now more interested in creating multifunctional spaces that are more socially inclusive. The galley-style kitchen is out of vogue, being replaced instead by a bigger kitchen/diner that offers a more informal style of dining. The dining room is also gradually disappearing from our homes, with many predicting that this formal room will become extinct by 2020.” But as Hoover Candy Marketing Director Steve Macdonald points out: “With open-plan living, comes the problem of ‘no hiding place’. Appliances that do not match in terms of age, style, colour etc. can stand out like sore thumbs and spoil the open-plan aesthetic. Built-in appliances are therefore a popular solution –

fridges, freezers, washing machines and dryers hidden behind stylish unit fronts that match the rest of the kitchen.” The alternative to the built-in option, adds Macdonald, “is for homeowners to make their own style statements by including more funky, creatively designed and practical appliances. For example: an American-style, large size fridge freezer might be more desirable than a small fridge and freezer hidden behind doors.” The design of the open-plan kitchen can benefit, too, from the inclusion of stylish and colourful small appliances which, De’Longhi suggests, can be used as a prominent focus of the room. And for practical purposes, “appliances offering a multitude of functions reduce the number of products needed and therefore prevent additional clutter.”

Ambience Amongst the many considerations that need to be taken into account by those opting for openplan living is lighting and how its effect can alter the look of appliances in situ and, consequently, the appearance of the room. When kitchen, dining and living areas are opened up, lighting is a feature that is often overlooked, according to Baumatic’s Balestrazzi: “With fewer wall divides, existing windows or



French doors may no longer provide adequate light. And while some consumers understand how kitchen units can be designed to reflect light and open up spaces, they are often unaware of how appliances can be used to do the same thing. Opting for dark, neutral or even stainless steel finishes can sometimes only serve to exacerbate poor lighting, making social areas appear smaller.” With this potential snag in mind, Balestrazzi suggests that brighter colours can help to open up an area and create a focal design feature. “The fridge freezer has become a fashion statement in itself and, as such, is often used to add a touch of glamour to kitchen areas or provide a subtle way to introduce colour and light into a restricted space. Glass designs can temper the harsh look of modern kitchens to create a more homely and personal ambience and help soften the appearance of stainless steel products.” And the open-plan space has another significant drawback which needs to be considered by consumers and their advisors, as highlighted by Smeg Product Development and Training Manager Joan Fraser, who reminds us of the “ever-increasing cacophony” delivered by the mingling of sound from the TV or radio, telephone conversations, appliances running in tandem...

Apart from the fact that sound travels easier in open-plan areas, such environments can often feel a tad echoey, too, accentuating the noise levels of appliances and disrupting conversations or TV viewing. Cooking odours and airborne grease particles also travel with greater ease in the open-plan living space, which leads Fraser to insist that one of the most important considerations for “quality” openplan living is efficient and quiet extraction. “It is a must for enhancing the quality of air in the kitchen and improving the whole living space,

Living the dream Advising consumers on appliances to suit their newly appointed open-plan environment and accompanying lifestyles is not, as some may imagine, a walk in the park. The nature of the family unit is becoming more disparate, demographics more diverse, and those that could be considered part of any traditional grouping may well be found to have completely contrasting lifestyles, with activities, both household and personal, bearing no resemblance whatsoever from home to home.

With open-plan living, comes the problem of ‘no hiding place’” as odours which escape can leave other areas smelling of stale food.” “Noisy appliances and inadequate extraction can seriously disrupt the peace and ambience of a kitchen/diner, especially when entertaining,” adds Baumatic’s Balestrazzi. “And uninformed product selection can potentially create a whole host of unforeseen problems. For example: even though hoods often have adjustable chimney sections, consumers don’t realise that the ceiling may still be too low or high for them.”

But complex as the structure of this nation has become, there are still some like characteristics to draw upon when attempting to typify those who may be likely to want, or benefit from, the openplan environment and its greater lending of space, and it is these particular familial units that we ask manufacturers to address in suggesting appliances that may work well to fulfill everyday needs and aspirations, while providing the promised “dream”. Cooking and entertaining is perceived to be one of the more important aspects associated AUGUST 2012 GET CONNECTED




with open-plan living, and with socializing in general, as many UK consumers, both male and female, have taken to honing their culinary skills and are keen to set the stage for demonstrations of theatre with island or peninsula units installed as main activity and cooking areas. And for the kitchen that will accommodate displays of culinary prowess, and impress guests, Richard Walker, sales and marketing director at De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances, recommends making a “real impact” with the installation of a number of 38cm modular hobs sited side by side. De Dietrich has recently updated its Modular Hobs Collection – the DT10141X Continuum Zone, DTi1032X Induction Wok (with matching wok pan), DTE1068X Teppan Yaki and DTG1118X 6.1kW gas Wok – and introduced a 52cm Downdraft Extractor that sits between two modular appliances and extracts from either side.

Setting the scene For the professional couple who like to combine work and pleasure with the hosting of dinner parties for friends and business colleagues, Electrolux’s Sophie Davidson, Head of Product UK & Ireland, asserts that the AEG CrystalLine range of modular hobs provides a “spectacular background” for food preparation. She also brings to our attention the AEG Culisense oven with AutoCook, which gives “perfect results”

using only two cooking steps, leaving the host free to chat with guests. This appliance also has Pyroluxe cleaning, so no effort is required in the cleaning process either. Baumatic also recommends the flexibility of modular hobs for this lifestyle band and offers a full selection ranging from a 40cm gas model to Teppan Yaki and an induction wok. But the manufacturer is quick to add that good extraction is important if guests are to be made comfortable. Balestrazzi advises that glass hoods help to open up the cooking space and can often prevent it from appearing too industrialised and suggests that the Baumatic BT19170GL 90cm glass island hood will create a glamorous focal point as well as providing a powerful extraction rate of 1000m3/hr. She also remarks that couples who entertain are likely to require minimalist-style appliances that help de-clutter and maintain a neat and tidy appearance in kitchen area, so compact ovens are “ideal”, having generous sized capacities but also fitting into neat combinations. “Ovens such as Baumatic’s 46cm Combination Steam & Multifunction model provide an all-in-one express cooking centre offering steaming, grilling and conventional functions, as well as combination features that achieve specialist effects for baking and retaining the fresh texture of reheated food.”

Good companions... Fisher & Paykel companion products are designed to complement any kitchen. The range comprises a Coffee maker, Steam oven, Compact oven and Combination Microwave oven and the unique single DishDrawer™ dishwashers, offering a complete modular family. Each product is based on standard dimensions and can be easily configured to suit your customer’s preference – whether it is stacked vertically, placed side by side in a linear fashion or configured in a Two x Two Block. Any combination will deliver a unified, stylish built in solution. The vertical stack pictured shows the Coffee maker, Combination Microwave and Flat Door single Dishdrawer™ dishwasher. For further information: Call 0845 066 2200 www.fisherpaykel.co.uk/product/kitchen-appliances/kitchen-companion-product



Hoover Candy’s Macdonald suggests that the Hoover 76-litre Prodige oven is the solution for couples that like to entertain guests and for the larger family too. The benefit of the Prodige, apart from its great capacity, is that the cavity can be divided into two separate ovens, so if fewer dishes are being cooked there is no need to heat the 76-litre space. Hotpoint’s Openspace oven offers the same versatility, with an insulating divider providing two cooking compartments, each of which can be used independently.

Bold and clever But “nothing” beats the range cooker for creating impact in the open-plan environment, believes Steve Dickson, Commercial Manager for range cooking at GDHA. He advises that products can make a striking addition to any kitchen, even when incorporated in a pared-down, minimalistic setting. For the young couple whose budget may be limited and whose new environment is of a relatively compact nature, Jon Brennan, Commercial Manager for Stoves and Belling built-in products, says there are many solutions on the market now to maximize space while still

70 years of good, honest refrigeration

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delivering on functionality “and there is no need to compromise either on style or technology.” It simply means consumers have to be cleverer when planning their kitchens, he adds. “Consider products that offer a number of functions in one appliance, whether a multifunction oven or one of the new breed of built-in ovens such as Belling’s Eco Induction model, which can be transformed from a simple fanned oven to a steam oven.” Les Wicks, Head of Product and Buying at Beko, notes that today’s consumer is looking for real features that deliver usable benefits in terms of time and energy savings and ease of cleaning, and he highlights the new touch-control 60cm induction hob from Beko for delivering on all fronts. He also touches on the microwave oven, stating that such products are becoming increasingly smarter and “even more indispensible” for households. The Beko MWB2511X, although sold as an integrated model, has a removable frame, allowing it to be transferred to different locations.

Food for thought Open-plan living, though mostly perceived to be associated with young families, singletons or couples, can often benefit “supersize” families, too, as a greater amount of space can be given over to larger appliances and a more expansive cooking area where banks of appliances, double

ovens, large hobs or a generously sized range cooker will sit with style and ease. But one of the most important aspects for the large family unit is food storage and preservation, and the choice of cooling products will need considerable thought before a purchase is made. Baumatic’s Balestrazzi advocates the purchase of American-style appliances which offer generous capacities, and draws our attention to the Baumatic TITAN5 four-door model, which has 623 litres of storage space and 20 separate compartments and racks, including Baumi-Fresh and Baumi-Dry humidity controlled drawers that prolong the life of fresh produce. Beko’s GNE114610, another popular fourdoor model on the market, has a multi-zone compartment that can be used either as a fridge, chiller, wine cooler or freezer – changeable at the touch of a button – and Blue Light technology which keeps fruit and vegetables fresher for longer. “And it’s worth remembering that cooling appliances don’t have to be confined to the kitchen,” advises Hotpoint’s Iain Starkey. “Stylish appliances with true design appeal like the Hotpoint Quadrio look equally at home in an open-plan living room.” The Quadrio has the design appeal of an American-style model but is only 70cm wide, with two doors to the fridge and two pullout freezer drawers.

Space-saving solution from Stoves The designers at Stoves have been experimenting with new cooker configurations to focus on space-saving and ease of use for the consumer and have launched an appliance that, for the first time, combines an oven and a microwave in the same unit. Designed to maximise space, the Stoves Duo Cook SEB900FPSMW is a 90cm built-in electric cooker comprising a 20-litre, 800w side-opening microwave with grill in the top cavity and a spacious 69-litre fanned oven. The Stoves Duo Cook is ‘A’ energy rated and manufactured in the UK. The launch means that, for the first time, a microwave oven has been fully integrated into an electric cooker, making the appliance an ideal option for those seeking to save space. For further information visit: www.stoves.co.uk/built-in-ovens or call 0844 815 3735

The Belling 100 Collection Open-plan kitchens require appliances that make a style statement. Leading cooking appliance brand Belling has launched the 100 Collection, a range of limited edition cooking appliances to mark its centenary year. Perfect for those looking for something bold and stylish, the 100 Collection combines clean lines, a brilliant white finish and chrome accents to create a range of eye-catching and effortlessly stylish appliances with real ‘wow’ factor. The collection offers a choice of four 60cm freestanding ovens, four range cookers and four built-in ovens, a fully programmable electric 60cm BI60FP, 70cm BI70FP and 90cm BI90FP. A gas option is available in the 90cm BI90G. A contribution from sales of the 100 Collection will be made to Belling’s charity of the year, Anthony Nolan, a pioneering charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer who need blood stem cell or bone marrow transplants. For more information visit: www.belling.co.uk/Centenary/100Collection or call: 0844 815 3735





Wide range of slim-line cookers from Amica

Although American-style side-by-side cooling is a striking addition to the kitchen, David Garden, Commercial Manager for Lec, argues that appliances often don’t provide sufficient capacity to cater for larger families. “As such, tall single-door products are growing in popularity,” he says, “and positioning a tall freezer and fridge next to each other provides the same imposing aesthetic as a side-by-side, but with greater capacity and flexibility.”

Organised grime... The open-plan environment certainly provides the ‘wow’ factor, if, of course, the expanse is clutter-free. Clutter is an offensive companion to such settings and dirty dishes are public enemy No. 1, an attack on the eyes and an assault on the overall ambience of the living area. A dishwasher is an essential piece of equipment that consumers must be persuaded to make space for in their new kitchen design. A “must have,” comments Amica country manager Simon Freear; “And with greater space available,

there is no excuse not to have one,” asserts Baumatic’s Balestrazzi; “Clearing dirty dishes off kitchen worktops and keeping the kitchen tidy with the minimum of effort is a key factor for busy householders,” adds Beko’s Wicks. Balestrazzi reasons that built-in models can easily form part of the overall open-plan design, “and with the advent of so much sound reduction technology, the dishwasher is now barely audible.” She highlights Baumatic’s 3D BDW1660 60cm built-in model with three compartments – the design of which helps minimize the “annoying rattling” of loose cutlery and plates. Wicks recommends the 13 place setting DW686, a fully integrated model with A++ energy rating from the Beko range. And Freear draws our attention to the Amica Platinum ZIM629 60cm integrated dishwasher, which, with 14 place settings, is suitable for large families and those who like to entertain, and where space is limited, he recommends the Platinum ZIM429 – a 45cm model that holds 9 place settings. Smeg offers a choice of slim-line dishwashers that accommodate 10 place settings and a compact, fully integrated, horizontal model with 7 place settings. The brand also has an elegant, handle-less 60cm appliance in its range – a design that works particularly well with handleless kitchen furniture. Indesit and Hotpoint both have slim-line designs with 10 place settings in their ranges, and Hotpoint Marketing Manager Iain Starkey adds that the SDD910 has an “extra silent” 47dB rating.

Reality check




Choosing the more utilitarian appliances for a new kitchen layout is often considered humdrum and less exciting than selecting focal point appliances, but consumers do need encouragement to be thoughtful in their choices. The laundry requirements of a large

Amica provides a choice of freestanding cookers at a slim-line 50cm. The double oven and twin cavity range offers various hob tops, while the space-saving single ovens are thought to boast the largest capacity single cavity on the market. The 51EE2(W) has an electric hob with variable hotplates and a semimultifunction oven; the 51EE1(W) is electric with a conventional oven, and the 51GG5(W) is gas – the hob powered with Amica’s OptiGas efficiency system. All electric versions in the range are A-rated for energy efficiency. Styled in a white finish, the ovens come with a 2000W grill, easyclean enamel interior, light, storage compartment, two shelves and a deep roasting tray. All hold a full two-year guarantee for parts and labour. The popular Amica brand also plans to introduce a 50cm cooker with ceramic top to its portfolio, along with unusual 50cm cooker hoods. Call: 01425 461600 www.amica-international.co.uk

family, for example, are likely to be many, with extra-large capacity probably top of the list. Baumatic’s Balestrazzi is of the opinion that large families will probably make the space to accommodate a freestanding washing machine and be keen to invest in a model with a spin speed of 1200rpm and a 9kg (or above) load size. “Sought-after features might include an energy-saving Quick programme that washes in under 20 minutes, as well as a low water consumption Soak option for thorough cleaning – vital for a home with children and pets. Customizable wash options, such as those offered by Baumatic, enable families to tailor


their own wash programmes, and features like the Baumatic ‘My Favourites’ memory button provide an automatic recall option for the preferred choice of wash conditions, saving families precious time.” The “hero” of Beko’s recent TV advertising, the 9kg WMB91242L washing machine, also meets the demand for large capacity and is designed to help consumers “get on with their busy lives.” The 1200rpm appliance will wash the equivalent of 12 pairs of jeans in just 39 minutes and has a 14minute ‘Super Fast’ programme which cuts the time taken to “tackle even the largest loads.” But the way that families do their laundry is about to “revolutionized”, according to Hoover. The brand claims that its 11kg ‘All in One’ washing machine with ‘All in One 8 pulse’ technology can “easily take care of a week’s washing in one load”, with colours, whites and delicates all being washed together without fear of spoiling. The machine is said to be particularly fitting for the open-plan area as its Silentpulse inverter motor operates at a noise level lower than a normal conversation. For the more compact open-plan kitchen, a number of brands now have slim depth washing machines on the market. Such appliances have been common in mainland Europe for some time and it is only now that we’re seeing a wide choice of models in the UK. Indesit’s A+ rated, 1200rpm Start IWSC51251ECO 5kg machine is 45cm deep and incorporates a ‘Water Balance System’ which uses the exact amount of water needed for the size of the load. But not all households will want the washing machine to be on display, and for those with small kitchens and no dedicated utility area in which to house laundry appliances, Smeg recommends the WDI146S fully integrated washer dryer. “The dryer is one of the first appliances to be sacrificed in a small living space,” says Joan Fraser, “so this removes the need for air drying laundry indoors.”

Little gems In the process of the MDA sale, it’s easy to overlook the add-on margins that small appliances provide, and consumers in the market for a new kitchen will more than likely be on the lookout for attractive countertop appliances that will complement their new design. Products such as kitchen machines, matching breakfast sets and coffee makers, which remain on display all day every day, will be an important addition to the sale. In fact, the coffee maker is now in itself a “statement” appliance. The coffee machine sector has experienced tremendous growth since the establishment of coffee houses such as Costa and Starbucks in the UK, and the market continues to flourish, with value rising exponentially in correlation with the popularity of sophisticated premium products

offering automatic functions and advanced cleaning and de-scaling systems. Providing an example of just how sophisticated and technologically advanced this sector has become, Viv Palmer, Marketing Manager for Coffee products at Philips UK (owner of the Saeco brand), highlights the Saeco Xelsis Digital ID automatic espresso machine with fingerprint recognition technology – a unique function that allows up to nine coffee specialities to be personalised by six different users. Palmer says the product is ideal for professional couples who want to make a statement while entertaining guests. De’Longhi brings our attention to the PrimaDonna S Deluxe, a compact bean-to-cup machine which the brand says is suitable for the young professional couple wanting an “eye-catching” product on display, but it also meets the needs of the time-poor and budgetconscious couple, and, the busy family. It’s a good all rounder offering stylish design, with ‘my coffee’ and ‘auto-clean’ functions saving time and bringing convenience to the coffee-making experience.


It’s easy to forget the “little gems” that are essential to everyday living and add the finishing touch to the open-plan layout. For retailers, the advice is to ensure that a good selection of attractive products is on display, and for those that have the luxury of in-store kitchen settings, small appliances that complement the elegant metal, glass or mirrored finishes of cooking and cooling products should always be on show, just as they would be in the home.

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Inspired by content, moved by performance, smitten by design... Good looking, super-slim, smart and well connected, easy to control and ‘on demand’. What more could anyone ask for?


is still the backbone of the UK Consumer Electronics sector, and with the first wave of the flat panel revolution and digital switchover having largely swept the CRT out of UK living rooms, the focus is now on the future: bigger, thinner, more stylish main TV sets are part of the second wave. But increasing connectivity is putting the TV at the central hub of home entertainment, and Smart TV and 3D are generating growing consumer interest and understanding. Then there is the fact that the industry is addressing the need for second, third and fourth TVs in the household as increasingly sophisticated replacements, and Blu-ray players, DTT and satellite boxes and PVRs are also contributing to uplifts in the sector. Add to this the demand for devices providing the sound quality that the premium viewing experience warrants, and the home entertainment market is overspilling with sales opportunities. Design is playing an increasingly important part in the choice of home entertainment equipment, too. The extra-large screen is now taking pride of place in UK homes, and living areas are being styled around the TV and its accoutrements. And as open-plan living environments are on the increase (see earlier



Town & Apartment Living feature in this issue), electrical products of all manner are becoming ‘statement’ pieces – objects that characterise lifestyles and, to some degree, status. Hence, wall brackets to mount the coveted ‘objet d’art’ and stylish AV furniture to prominently and tastefully display this new focal point offer a great opportunity for retailers to achieve incremental high-margin sales. As Sonorous UK Managing Director Paul McCarthy comments: “The market remains challenging, of course, but there is still a demand for well designed, stylish furniture.” Elaborating on the overall performance of the market in 2012, McCarthy highlights in particular the large screen TV sector, which he says is still delivering around 5 million units a year. He also notes that many customers are looking to upgrade their “whole TV and living room experience” with the latest designer Smart and 3D TVs. And although conceding that the furniture and TV market on the whole is operating at a level “well below its heyday of five or so years ago,” his constructive advice for retailers is: “Let’s not forget that almost one in five households will change their main TV every year, so there remains a lot of business to be had.” Philips Marketing Manager for Home Cinema Claire Beard voices a somewhat less

encouraging, albeit valid, opinion: “As with CE in general, the home cinema market year-todate has faced challenging conditions and subsequent low consumer confidence. The market has also been promotions led, with the overall result that the home cinema sector has decreased by 10% in value year-on-year. “The market remains very seasonal,” she adds, “with peak sales between November and January. 5.1 systems remain the UK’s biggest HE category, but have still declined. 2.1 systems have also declined as soundbars have grown significantly.” Well, at least that’s some good news! Armour Home also reports positively on soundbars, confirming that the product category is one of the “winners” within the bigger picture of HE and accessory sales. Commenting on said “bigger picture”, PR Manager Steve Reichert, says: “Armour sales and the feedback we’re receiving from the market indicate that, overall, it’s performing quite well; by which we mean, up a little on last year.” But Reichert focuses our attention on a strikingly successful product sector – one of the “bright spots” – which he says appears to “defy economic gravity” in these difficult times. It is the headphone market. According to Reichert, we’re looking at “astonishing growth” over the past decade, and that growth seems “unstoppable.” His assertion is upheld by Richard Boote, Product Manager at accessories company Hama UK, who reports that the headphone sector is one of the main areas where Hama is seeing growth. Headphones provide retailers with a great opportunity to make margin, says Boote, highlighting again the “significant increase” in demand.

Sporting spice As the busy ‘summer of sport’ is fully underway, with plenty more of the season to come, there is still much to be positive about in the home entertainment sector. As a nation of sports enthusiasts – albeit many of the armchair variety – the motivation to indulge in the purchase of bigger, better TVs is reportedly strong. As George Mead, Head of Consumer Marketing for Home Entertainment at LG, remarks: “Great sporting



events such as those we are experiencing this summer will naturally drive interest amongst consumers in upgrading their TV, not only to larger screen sizes but also as an opportunity to future-proof with the latest technologies so they don’t miss any of the action. “It’s great that the London 2012 Olympic Games are being transmitted in 3D,” adds Mead. “3D technology must be seen to be believed and this promises one of the biggest captive audiences of any event this year.” Alf Powell, Managing Director of Jual Furnishings, says the summer celebrations are likely to provide a “welcome boost” to the consumer electronics industry. He quotes GfK figures which show that an additional 300,000 TVs will be sold in the first eight months of 2012.

sales,” says Orbitsound Product Manager Dan Fletcher. “Our feeling is that these sporting events may not increase the overall volume of main TV sales, but they will encourage people who were thinking of an upgrade later into an early spend. So we will see an unseasonal boost over the summer, but this may come at a cost later in the year. We may, however, see an increase in smaller sets that is not countered later, as people want to watch the events from kitchens and studies.” Hama’s Richard Boote is slightly cautious in his predictions for the ‘summer of sport’, stating that: “It remains to be seen whether people will go out in droves to buy TV/HE equipment.” But he sticks his neck out a little in voicing that “there will definitely be an upturn” whether additional sales

Let’s not forget that almost one in five households will change their main TV every year, so there remains a lot of business to be had” “And I am certain,” he asserts, “that sales staff across the UK are attaching accessories, including premium AV furniture, to the bonus TV sets that are being snapped up.” Neil Truckell of IOS Company, a consultant to audio brand Elipson and TV stand manufacturer Off The Wall, believes that TV and accessories have been survival categories for some retailers, and without the “reason-to-buy” events such as the Jubilee, Euro 2012 and the Olympics, this year could have been “significantly worse” than last. Truckell notes the demand for higher quality and larger TVs so sporting activities can be experienced to the full, and for smaller screen sizes for the kitchen, study or bedroom for those reluctant to miss any of the events. “And in line with sales of larger TVs, stylish furniture will play a key role in attachment sales,” he adds. “We might have expected more from the Euro 2012 football team as well as TV/soundbar

come via the “usual suspects” from the accessory market (cables, cable organisers, brackets, cleaning) or from convergence products which allow the linking of other gadgets to the main entertainment system of the home. Armour’s Reichert is of the view that the ongoing sportsfest will have “a small, positive effect.” But, because of the overall state of the world economy, he says this is likely to be more modest than enjoyed in previous years. And although not predicting the “wholesale surge” seen with big sporting events in the past, Sonorous’ McCarthy is “certain” that this year’s extravaganza will drive sales of TVs and accessories. “The Olympics in particular,” he asserts, “offers a one-off opportunity for UK retailers both to create and fulfill demand for larger screens of 42” and above, new furniture and brackets and other related accessories. The majority of these customers will be trading up




Off The Wall ‘Motion’ TV stand The Motion from Off The Wall is a new and stylish TV stand with integrated TV and Soundbar mounts to provide the ultimate in space saving with lifestyle design, whilst being compatible with the latest Smart TVs and soundbar loudspeakers. The TV mount section is compatible with screens from 37” up to 55” and also swivels 20 degrees to ensure the best 3D TV viewing angle. Finished in high quality silver or black toughened glass with adjustable shelf, the Motion’s centre column houses a 4-way gang plug socket (supplied) to hide cables neatly away, leaving just one mains lead to the wall. For more information: Please contact Phil MacDonald, Sales Manager, on 01274 302830 or 07747 463380

their existing flat panel, so it is critical to engage with them to explain the merits of new products like design-led furniture.”

Consumer needs It would be fair to say that manufacturers of CE products are the shepherds and consumers of such, the sheep. Technology is moving faster than most people can afford to keep up with and, indeed, many would even pretend to understand. They may furnish themselves with enough information to speak the language, but parking the technophile and cash-rich to one side, what does the mainstream really want from the technology-loaded boxes that now occupy a considerable place in their everyday lives? Armour’s Reichert believes that UK consumers tend to have “very straightforward” desires when it comes to home entertainment. “They simply want lots of TV channels and movie choices, which they can enjoy on a big high-quality screen, supported by big high-quality sound. They also want it easy to control and on demand.”


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“Ultimately, what consumers want is choice,” maintains LG’s Mead. “This is why it is so important to offer TVs that provide all the latest features and technologies, including 3D capabilities and Smart TV. In the pursuit of choice there has also been a surge in the use of content on demand as consumers access the best TV from the past seven days using services such as BBC iPlayer. “What’s more, it is an exciting time for consumers, with a rapidly increasing amount of 3D content and Smart TV applications available. With LG, people do not have to choose between 3D and Smart TV – they get it all. And with the LM620T upwards, within a stunning Cinema Screen design.” Philips’ Claire Beard observes a desire for better quality in the smaller sized TVs usually chosen for bedrooms or kitchens, and increasing demand for super-slim, bezel-free models in the 46” and above category, which in turn is helping to boost the popularity of soundbars as slimmer TV designs compromise sound quality. She also highlights greater interconnectivity between products as a focus for today’s consumer. Hama’s Boote agrees that consumers are certainly demanding the best quality, but at the best price. “And in the current economic climate, there is an increasing demand for the ‘best deal’, so it is important to have options available to provide customers with the best choice.” In the area of AV furniture, Sonorous’ McCarthy speaks of “a very discerning public when it comes to the living room, so eyecatching design will accompany high levels of functionality and greater convenience.” To this he adds: “The TV and HE markets are driven by technology first, with lifestyle enhancements a close second, and we don’t see that changing any time soon. Few customers will come into store looking for TV furniture as a standalone purchase, so it is vital to show, demonstrate and enthuse about 26


the benefits of high-spec furniture as part of the overall sale. Bring in the benefits of accessories early in the sale so they are not simply an afterthought at the till.”

Market drivers How the HE market will fare throughout the forthcoming Autumn/Winter season elicits comparable reviews from commentators. The general assessment resulting in a few fairly taxing months ahead with, says McCarthy, “a trough after the sportsfest and footfall lower than in previous years.” And making his view candidly clear, Armour’s Reichert says: “Let’s not beat about the bush. It’s going to be tough. It could even be very tough. But we certainly shouldn’t despair, because it isn’t going to be a disaster. We all simply have to recognise that everyone in the industry is going to have to work even harder for every sale. We can and will do that, and we’ll all be stronger and better positioned to move forward when the economy does eventually pick up.” “The market is tough,” agrees Techlink MD Ralph Allen, adding that “the tenet of having ‘the right products in the right place at the right time with the right promotion’ is more important than ever. Cables, cleaning products and accessories will only sell if they meet the modern consumer’s STILO 5.1 SYSTEM FROM NEW CONSUMER ELECTRONICS BRAND OTONE AUDIO

demands and are on display in eye-catching and informative packaging.” On the products that will drive consumer interest and desire in the immediate future, opinions are broadly similar: Smart TV and 3D TV, with some believing that the latter will truly flourish when ‘glasses free’ 3D comes to market; the availability of more content and greater connectivity allied with large-screen, thinbezel products and ‘ultra definition’ 4K HDTV; continued growth in soundbars, as the thinner the TV the poorer the sound quality, and, as Orbitsound’s Fletcher points out: “The soundbar is a product that supports media enjoyment without clutter and with the greatest simplicity.” LG adds that the “big story” in HE for 2012 is OLED. The company is to launch a 55-inch 3D model, first shown at CES in January, to the European market this year. Mead says that the unit is as aesthetically pleasing as it is technologically sophisticated, with its slim and narrow bezel design providing an elegant, minimal look, and the generation of the most natural colours seen on any TV screen. “It is the future of TV display technology in the home,” he asserts.

No time to brood Without doubt, it has been a disconcerting time for many CE retailers, with a range of channels now lunching liberally at the table of the traditional electrical specialist, price and margin erosion, and consumers refraining from ‘bigticket’ purchases as confidence in the economy and disposable income diminishes. Hama’s Boote reflects on the “changing landscape” of CE retail, with recent years bringing about the biggest transformation. “We have seen the disappearance of some wellestablished businesses, which has made retailers circumspect,” he says. “But those prepared to invest in diversifying their business will see the benefits for Q3 and Q4.” LG’s Mead, although acknowledging that the independent channel is in decline, maintains that there are still lots of growth opportunities. “The independent channel represents the strongest share of premium TVs (£800-plus), which shows that expert advice results in incremental sales of more premium models incorporating the benefits of 3D and Smart TV. “Research shows,” he adds, “that 50% of consumers will only buy a Smart TV if they have access to a demonstration first. So it is critical that stores are Wi-Fi enabled and staff expertly trained to deliver demonstrations that capture the customer’s imagination.”

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Hama (UK) Ltd. Unit 4 Cherrywood, Chineham Business Park, Basingstoke, Hants, RG24 8WF Tel: 0845 230 4262 Fax: 0845 230 4263 Email: enquiries@hama.co.uk


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Sales: 01202 675999 Fax: 01202 667721 Admin: 01202 661911



Important information for our customers Double D. Distributors Returns Policy. There have been changes in the practice and procedures by our suppliers to their Returns Policy which has a reflection on our working practice. In order to continue with our quality of service to you and to enhance our overall working standards, we intend to incorporate the measures and therefore wish to advise you of our new procedures. These will in no way affect your statutory rights but will speed up our methods and ultimately improve our service to you. The new procedure is as follows:-

Established in 1976, we have been servicing the independents for over 30 years. We distribute LED / LCD / PLASMA ƒ On receipt or notification of a returned item, you should phone our Administration Department who willreceivers, facsimile a copy of our Returnsand a great many accessories from HDMI cables to televisions, audio equipment, satellite media players Proforma. wall mountable brackets. We are a great asset to retailers who cannot trade directly with the big manufacturers ƒ On receipt of your notification our staff will forward a returns number and the detail required to deliver the goods to us. and we have the buying power to keep our prices competitive, to give you (the retailer) the best deals possible. ƒ All goods that are returned must have the number of the original We work closely with names such the as serial Samsung, Toshiba, Sharp, LG, Humax and many more. To see our new invoice. This big invoice shall include number of the returned catalogue ƒ oritem. to open an account with us, please phone our Sales line. We will be only too happy to help. The returned item will be accompanied by a proof of purchase that will show that the fault has occurred within 28 days from purchase by the customer from you. ƒ If the item has shown faulty outside the 28 day period then the manufacturers warranty comes into operation. ƒ Manufactures, such as Finlux, have maintained their returns policy and therefore we will continue to act as their agent for the stated period for returns until service set up is provided. ƒ Returned items should and where possible be returned in the original boxes, with all accessories. We appreciate this may prove difficult but every effort should be made to encourage this practice. If it is not possible, every effort should be made to ensure the safe carriage and return of the item to us.


Porter & Harris Ltd 10 Didcot Road, Nuffield Industrial Estate, Poole, Dorset, BH17 0GD Sales: 01202 675999 Fax: 01202 667721 Lo-Call: 0845 2302500 Email: sales@dd-distributors.co.uk Web: www.dd-distributors.co.uk


Protecting the purchase With technology companies increasingly looking at ways in which they can integrate web-based services into electronic devices such as TVs and music players to deliver a “seamless digital experience”, and with demand for connectivity on the rise, Assurant Solutions’ Simon Harrison, Sales Director UK & Ireland, reports on why retailers should advise consumers to protect their purchases.


recent months we have seen the market swell with products such as internet TVs, set-top boxes, digital media players, games consoles and web Apps, all of which aim to make the internet-based living room a reality for every home. According to statistics from Futuresource Consulting, nearly 20% of TVs sold in the UK in 2011 were capable of web connectivity and 30-40% of living rooms are already connected to the internet. Consumers are passionate about state-ofthe-art technology, demanding both greater sophistication and a wider variety of products. Gadgets are therefore upgraded and updated frequently with techno-hungry consumers queuing up to make sure they are amongst the first to own the latest product. Indeed, in March of this year, 544 people queued outside Apple’s flagship store on Regent Street to be amongst the first owners of the 3rd generation iPad. With the appetite for connectivity increasing, the onus is on retailers to ensure they can sell the concept to consumers who may lack awareness as to how these devices work and which model they should buy to meet their needs. With more and more complex features being introduced, customers need to feel confident that the retailer is ahead of the market and providing solutions that will work for the long term. To truly sell the concept of the internet-based living room the retailer must take a handson approach, not just by demonstrating the latest devices, but by providing reassurance to consumers that this is a worthwhile expenditure and that their investment is protected for the long term. In this manner, extended warranties can play a more important role than ever before. Investment in the internet-based living room will not come cheap. Consumers often purchase these products on credit with the expectation that the credit card company will protect them should the product be defective. However, the protection offered by card companies varies,


so consumers could find themselves without the level of cover they expected. And, what is undoubtedly true, is that the more sophisticated the item, the more difficult and expensive it can be to repair. In today’s uncertain economic climate consumers are becoming increasingly risk-averse, demanding greater protection against defective or damaged goods. Assurant Solutions insures more than 56 million customers worldwide and last December conducted research amongst over 500 consumers who had purchased consumer electronics or major appliances in the last six months. We found that 49% of early adopters of the latest tech gadgets now purchase an extended warranty plan. Indeed, the sooner a consumer adopts new technology, the more likely they are to have purchased at least one warranty, our survey revealed. In fact, 91% of early adopters had purchased at least one warranty for consumer electronics, compared to 71% of early followers and 63% of those who wait to see how the technology performs. Likewise, they understand that the latest devices may malfunction, have shorter life spans than the versions that follow and are increasingly difficult to self-repair. These consumers value the safeguard that extended service plans provide.


But is the warranty industry responding with the right cover to provide consumers with the peace of mind they crave? With the internet-based living room fast becoming a reality and gadgets increasingly running every aspect of our daily lives, such as doing the shopping, paying bills or connecting with friends, consumers cannot be without their devices for very long. It is important that the warranty market responds, with products that go over and above what is provided by the standard manufacturer’s warranty and provide customised cover that reflects changing customer needs. In the case of the internet-based living room, this could include accidental damage, theft, repair and replacement, 24-hour technical support, remote diagnostics and online data backup, to name a few. But delivering a great product does not guarantee sales or customer loyalty; service is also key. Retailers should partner with warranty providers that have real consumer insight and work seamlessly as an extension of their brand. This will ensure they are able to go above and beyond the expectations of consumers and provide peace of mind that their expensive and sophisticated purchases are protected with the most appropriate products. There is a need to focus on the whole customer journey from web enquiry to point of sale and beyond in order to maintain competitive advantage and ensure loyalty from those keen to upgrade on a regular basis to maintain their digital lifestyle. In today’s ultra-competitive, fast paced and value-conscious market, we need to find new and innovative ways to earn buyer confidence. There is a real opportunity for retailers to promote the benefits of protection packages. The better the protection and service we can provide, the more likely consumers are to purchase these sophisticated technologies, creating a win-win-win situation for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. AUGUST 2012 GET CONNECTED




And the box?

The building blocks are in place for the TV revolution: we have the technology, “the rumours” and the public appetite, but what we are missing is the revolutionary leader, writes Lee Powney, Chief Commercial Officer of strategic marketing and research consultancy KAE. Powney believes that Apple’s venture into TV “is not just likely, but crucial to its continued success.”


he evolution of TV is stunted. The media reports daily on the innovations and achievements of technology in television products, from time shift TV to touch-screen home entertainment, and throughout the past decade we have seen smart technology transform the payment, health and enterprise worlds to near universal success. We are living in an age in which we are connected at all times. Choice and interaction are the words du jour. Consumers want to be empowered to make better lifestyle choices and to interact with the world around them in new ways. Innovation is the new currency, and in volatile markets, brands that commit are those that come out on top. But what’s happened to television?

Not smart enough? In the so-called ‘year of the Smart TV’, we have seen offerings from Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Sony which provide true connectivity and features such as App stores and video link-ups. But where’s the buzz, the excitement and the revolution? Consumers have been furnished 30


with one of the biggest developments in technology since the smartphone, and yet the reaction has been lukewarm at best. Tellingly, research conducted by KAE revealed that 38% of Sony TV owners and 35% of Samsung TV owners in the UK said they found the idea of an Apple TV appealing and would buy one. People are dissatisfied: there exists a want rather than a need, so appetites on the whole have not yet been sated. It has become clear that if we are to take advantage of the technology available, we are in need of revolution rather than evolution, driven by an industry pioneer that excites consumers via its cult-like status and innovation. Apple has a history of revolution. It has transformed laptops from ugly black boxes to stylish must-haves, mobile phones into status symbols, and if it invented a new language you can be sure people would learn it. Such brand adoration is no accident. Apple customers do not simply subscribe to customer service, reliability or style, they subscribe to the Apple ethos of challenging the status quo; the belief that things can be done better. They trust Apple to innovate for them and they believe that the Apple product will be the best.

Almost no information has been released from Apple about plans for TV hardware, yet KAE’s research shows that 30% of consumers in the UK and 25% in the US would buy one once it becomes commercially available. These respondents are making a decision to buy with no information on design or product specifications, and no firm indication from the brand that the product will even exist. The first priority in the development of all Apple products is user accessibility: a vision so vehemently adhered to that, occasionally, it has been to the detriment of the company’s own marketing strategy. For years its signature product, the Powerbook, had a seemingly obvious design flaw: its prized Apple appeared upside down to the onlooker when the lid was open. Apple had sacrificed its revered design so that users would know which way to open their laptop. Commitment to the end user has set Apple far ahead of its competitors in the computing, smartphone and tablet markets, and it is this that is the missing link in the TV revolution. Currently, only 7% of people that have an internet-ready Smart TV use it to connect to the internet, leading some commentators to suggest that consumers simply aren’t yet ready for this development within television. But the truth is that Apple competitors who manufacture these Smart TVs have, once again, declined the opportunity to lead the market and change behaviour: the connective technology on these devices is siloed in a bid to not alienate the brands’ loyal base of customers.

Brand power There is no doubt that Apple will enter this market within the next 12 months, and it will dominate it. The brand and proposition is too strong for consumers to ignore, and a chance to create another Apple touchpoint within the home is too valuable for the brand to ignore.


It is becoming clear that Apple needs TV as much as TV needs Apple”

Such a move would deliver an incredibly powerful extension of the iOS platform, accessed via a more compelling device option than Apple’s current offering. It would create new monetisation opportunities for developers and accessory manufacturers, radically bringing the Apple experience further into the home. In addition to this, strengthening the ecosystem and compounding the benefits of owning many different Apple devices is something which fits into Apple’s core strategy. The brand has a vertically integrated business mindset with software and hardware optimising the experience: to think outside of this is to be distinctly un-Apple. The ecosystem has become Apple’s secret weapon – the second most wanted feature for Apple TV after internet access was automatic syncing to other Apple devices, according to KAE’s report.

Crucial to success Despite this, there is widespread worry that Apple has fallen into an innovation rut, and rumours are spreading fast. It used to lead the way. And though its competitors are slow, they’re catching up. It is becoming clear that Apple needs TV as much as TV needs Apple. Steve Jobs famously said of the original iPhone in 2007: “It is at least five years ahead of its time.” He was right. Fast forward those five years and the reception is decidedly cooler – several commentators on the latest iOS 6 have been underwhelmed by the lack of innovation in the company of late. Jaime Rivera of gadget site PocketNow commented: “When they’re timely, Apple is famous for launching products that define new standards. When they’re late, they usually leapfrog over competition with something dramatically better. iOS 6 is sadly nothing like that.” In all, this pressure to maintain the lion’s share of preference from ecosystem members and its unrivalled reputation as innovator, creator and leader means that in this market, an Apple venture into TV is not just likely, but crucial to its continued success.  The views expressed by the author of this article are not necessarily those held by Get Connected magazine AUGUST 2012 GET CONNECTED



George Cole pinpoints hotspots in the world of consumer electronics.



I write this, Humax has launched its first YouView product, the DTR-T1000. YouView got a mixed reception when it was finally unveiled to the public, with some heralding it as the future for television and others writing it off as a flop that has arrived too late. I lie somewhere between, and wish it well. But despite the arrival of the first YouView box in the shops, the focus has been on what some have dubbed “The Big Brother Box.” This is because YouView (like internet services) has the ability to keep track of its users (in this case, the programmes you watch and when), and reports suggest that YouView could use this information for targeted advertising, although the company says it doesn’t plan to use data for this purpose. Okay, so what would YouView use the tracking feature for? The fact that YouView built tracking functionality into the platform suggests that it thinks it is a handy facility to have. However, at the time of writing, YouView had declined to comment any further. Big mistake. Services such as Google and Facebook make money by tracking online users and using the data to offer targeted advertising – that’s why if you’ve ever searched for, say,

“kettles” you’ll often find adverts for kettles appearing on your Google pages. Amazon does a similar thing, using a combination of the products you’ve looked at and those you’ve purchased. The system isn’t perfect: for example, if a grandparent purchases a heavy metal CD for a grandchild, the next time they visit Amazon, they are likely to receive recommendations for more heavy metal albums they might like to purchase...

The system isn’t perfect: for example, if a grandparent purchases a heavy metal CD for a grandchild, the next time they visit Amazon, they are likely to receive recommendations for more heavy metal albums they might like to purchase...” Privacy is a big issue these days, and that’s why the EU introduced the so-called Cookies Law, which means that websites operating within the European Union should inform users that they use tracking cookies (small text files that keep a record of the websites you’ve visited and so on) and give users the option of refusing them. Often, it’s public outcry that prevents companies from abusing personal

LOST IN MUSIC A small British firm, Essency, has developed an app for Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad users who wear headphones while walking around. The app, called Awareness!, works by using the device’s internal microphone to analyse the surroundings and feed the information to the headphones. This means you can hear when someone talks to you – or a car sounds its horn. Essency CEO Rob Follis, says, “There’s a huge increase in the number of accidents involving people wearing headphones, such as walking straight into the path of an oncoming car. Headphones shut you off from the world and can make it a dangerous place. People are getting mugged because they aren’t aware of what’s going on.”



data. When news that certain mobile phone apps hoovered up the user’s address book and sent the data back to the company’s servers, there was uproar – and a flurry of lawsuits. Around 2008, BT’s internet service got into hot water by secretly testing Phorm web tracking software that recorded all the websites that BT’s online subscribers visited. Again, public outcry caused BT (and other internet service providers) to abandon plans to use Phorm.

Sky plans to use its AdSmart targeted advertising platform on its television service, but is taking great pains to inform its customers - and give them the choice to opt out. “We think our customers will respond positively to ...content recommendations and tailored advertising. But we recognise that our customers have a choice, and we want to give them all the information they need in order to make an informed decision,” said a Sky spokesperson. If YouView had had any sense it would have been upfront about the tracking feature, explained the potential benefits for its customers and given them an opt-out option. This way, there would have been little fuss, and most people would have shrugged their shoulders and been happy for YouView to collect their data. Now, there’s a good chance that many people will be very wary of sharing their personal data with YouView.

E-mail: georgecole@gcmagazine.co.uk


E-mail: fromthebench@gcmagazine.co.uk

DSO in practice Alan Bennett’s personal experience of the big switchover COAXIAL ATTENUATOR


analogue TV pictures disappeared a few weeks ago. What a surprise! Not really. In fact at home we only used the analogue service for quick weather checks on BBC1 teletext page 400, which some people preferred to the red-button forecast service which has replaced it...

Over the counter Very few people lost their TV reception completely, in the living room at least. Virtually everybody, it seems, had gone over to Freeview or satellite long before, and the awareness campaign by Digital UK seems to have been very effective. The cost of helping elderly and vulnerable people to change over was overestimated, and there is a surplus of money from this scheme. Even so, people don’t seem very good at retuning their TV sets (see below). I think they ought to put the spare cash into a pot towards next year’s expenses when the 4G ship hits the fan and interference issues arise. We were disappointed with our sales of Freeview boxes for use with secondary sets: many screens in bedrooms and kitchens really did go blank, but wherever most people went for a solution it wasn’t here. We sold and rented relatively few tuners or PVRs, but did manage to achieve a reasonable level of sales of small LCD screens to replace those ancient 15-inch glass sets whose continued use – although providing the cheapest solution – would have involved the use of two zappers, two mains sockets and a big footprint on the dressing table or the worktop. I guess all the other punters went either to online stores or to the supermarkets to buy their inexpensive set-top boxes. I saw refurbished Freeview receivers in quantity on eBay for £9.99 including delivery and VAT.

Tuning in The biggest rush for us involved the service department: doing re-tunes for rental customers (free of charge, of course) and for chargeable ones, some of whom expected it to be done for nothing under guarantee. A few new boxes automatically retune when instructed to do so by an over-the-air flag, or at least prompt the viewer to press the necessary zapper keys. Most boxes don’t, and relatively few customers of ours, it seems, had the gumption to do it themselves. We didn’t charge our full £50 call-out fee for a simple re-tune, and again, even though they were shown what to do (and warned of a further call-out charge!) many people had us back a couple of weeks later to perform the second necessary tune-in. Nor are we, or they, finished yet, if predictions for 2013 and beyond are correct, and especially if the 700MHz band is reallocated to mobile services and the TV broadcasts shifted down to the 600MHz region.

Overwhelming The bump-up in the radiated power of digital TV broadcasts was a somewhat mixed blessing round here. Obviously it’s solved many problems arising from weak signals, but in some cases where strength had been good before it became overwhelming, leading to frozen, streaky or blocky pictures and even blank screens due to overloading of the first UHF amplifier stage, either in the TV or in a masthead amplifier. The fitting of a co-axial attenuator generally provides a solution to TV overload. They are available from Keene Electronics on 01332 830550 at £2.99 each (6dB and 12dB types) and £4 postage. Orders can be made with a credit or debit card. A passive splitter can be used as an attenuator in some cases.

In some cases the increased power of masthead-amplified signals overloaded the receiver. Here an attenuator behind the TV appears to provide a solution to the problem, but this is a very inelegant one, first boosting the signal then cutting it back down. The amplifier aloft is in a borderline and unreliable situation, while the risk of interference from future mobile communications and TETRA emergencyservice transmissions is increased. In these cases we fitted an attenuator as a temporary measure and offered to return when the rush was over to remove the outside amplifier and make a proper job of it – at a reasonable charge of course. Not one taker, because reception was seemingly perfect, but we’ve made them fully aware of the situation. Would they install floodlights in the living room and then wear dark glasses there? No...

Up the pole In most of our area relatively little ladder work was required because all the new digital transmissions fit roughly into the spectrum previously occupied for many years by the analogue services, and with the same polarisation. In some places, for instance where ‘ghost’ reception (due to signal reflections) was common, aerial re-orientation has been necessary, also in odd situations where some newly-boosted transmission comes in off-beam. We have even found that good reception of DTT signals can be had with the aerial aligned on the ghost, as it were; seldom could acceptable analogue signals be had this way. Loft aerials generally do better with Freeview than they did with analogue TV, whether the original problem was snow or ghosting. Indoor aerials, however, are still often unreliable with DTT, typically with random image breakup as people move about the room. AUGUST 2012 GET CONNECTED



2-minute interview · He clearly has a passion for fine cuisine, and a lingering regret

for the career he might have had as a top chef, but the passion and appreciation are put to good use in his present position. He says he sees himself as “outgoing, fearless, ruthless, happy, loving, talented,” but provides his own pinch of salt by wanting the Peter Sellers role of the magnificently incompetent Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther. He’s Nick Wring, Vitamix national sales manager UK/Ireland.

Why did you choose to work in the electrical industry? It happened by accident. I first worked with Bamix for 15 years and now have been with Vitamix for 6 years Who in the industry would you like to spend time with? With the great chefs and up and coming talent, because it’s never too late to learn Who makes you laugh? My wife and my current sales team What was the greatest turning point in your life? Meeting my wife Hobbies? Walking, cooking, eating out and sports What’s the worst lie you’ve ever told? Nothing stands out What’s your greatest regret? Not staying in the kitchens training under the masterchef who took me on from school What historic figure do you identify with most? Sir Walter Raleigh – challenged by overwhelming odds, but succeeded in the main


Pet hate? People being late Any bad habits? Many, I’m sure If you weren’t in your present position, what job would you choose to do? I’d be a chef Favourite TV programme? Mystery thrillers What surprises you? Not much Favourite cuisine? Great British cuisine and produce You have been offered a leading role in a film of your choice, what character would you like to play? Peter Sellers – Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther You have been offered the opportunity to rule the world for a day, what would be the first change you would make? Force youngsters to get better education Is there anything about yourself that you would like to change? Learn to be more relaxed

What’s your greatest achievement? Building the brand from zero to the beginnings of a major influencer in the retail market What sort of music do you like? Jazz and light classical – relaxing music Favourite quote? “Never leave a man alone with a tea cosy. He’s bound to try it on.” - Billy Connolly Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My mother and my wife Name your poison Food and drink What do you daydream about? Quiet reading places Favourite holiday destination? Cook Islands for peace and quiet, Italy for culture What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you? Probably being nearly stuck on a cliff face on what was meant to be a leisurely walk What’s the best kind of punishment….? Refusal of privilege …and who deserves it? Those who don’t work for it Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Training colleagues for the UK market What’s your greatest fear? Failure Whom do you most admire? Ian Holloway – Blackpool FC Manager

Any hidden talents? Cooking

Favourite piece of kit? A certain blender!

How would you describe yourself? Outgoing, fearless, ruthless, happy, loving, talented

Any fetishes? No, but I am rather partial to a certain smoothie

What motto do you live by? By deed not dare

How do you think others see you? The same

What would you put into Room 101? Obesity


Life is……. To be enjoyed through endeavour and reward. 

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Profile for Get Connected Magazine

Get Connected: August 2012  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Industry

Get Connected: August 2012  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Industry