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THE COUNTRY KITCHEN Anyone anywhere can have their dream country kitchen
CUSTOM INSTALL Taking the first steps into custom install
Smart TV marches on
GUEST COLUMN James Pepper, technical services director, Vista Retail Support
SPOTLIGHT ON RETAIL FULFILMENT Consumers need fast and efficient delivery
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In and around the industry
Call for entries for Get Connected’s 2016 Product Design Awards
The Country Kitchen Defining the ideal country kitchen look and feel
Custom Install GC examines the potential for retailers looking for fresh profit opportunities
George Cole Gets Connected A smart TV market driven by 4K resolution, HDR and streaming content
Guest Column Vista Retail Support’s James Pepper explains why Point-to-Point encryption makes payment security simple for retailers
Spotlight on Retail Fulfilment InternetRetailing’s Ian Jindal discusses the ‘back end’ of retailing
Spotlight on EU Data Law EU data u-turn means reprieve for electrical retailers
From the Bench Alan Bennett on improving the slim-TV sound experience
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WHIRLPOOL; HOTPOINT; INDESIT; CREDA. ALL HUGE HOUSEHOLD NAMES IN THE UK, AND ALL NOW DRAWN INTO A HUGE NATIONWIDE APPLIANCE SAFETY PROBLEM, POTENTIALLY INVOLVING MORE THAN 5 MILLION TUMBLE DRYERS SOLD IN AN ELEVEN-YEAR PERIOD UP TO OCTOBER 2015.
finger-wagging, more criticism, more he national media, with their usual reminders that this is a big problem taste for the big headline, are keeping that will take a long time to fix. We the problem in the public eye in the most already know that. unhelpful way possible, and Whirlpool, The situation exists. We are where which bought the problem along with the we are. The time for criticising from brands in 2014, appears to be struggling the sidelines is long gone. It’s the to cope both with the management of industry’s problem, and information and with the sheer the industry should size of the engineering and be offering help, not logistic demands of the hindsight. situation. “It’s challenging Just doing some What we do need the integrity and basic arithmetic on the is decisive, intelligent trustworthiness available figures gives and – above all – of the entire some idea of the task unifying leadership to mobilise the resources facing Whirlpool. There industry. ” are potentially more than of the entire UK white 5 million appliances that goods industry, including may need modification. With manufacturers, retailers and the 350 additional engineers being third party service organisations. recruited and trained by Whirlpool, we It won’t be easy, and there will be costs can estimate that roughly a million or involved. But if someone – or some so appliances a year can be handled. So organisation – can step up now, assess how many years is this cloud going to be the service capacity that exists in the hanging over the industry? You do the countless businesses that earn their arithmetic. living in electricals, and find some way And make no mistake: this is not just to organise a coordinated solution, a brand-specific crisis. It’s challenging the whole white goods industry might the integrity and trustworthiness of the benefit. As we all know, the speed and entire industry. Nobody in white goods efficiency with which problems are in the UK wants – or can afford – brands resolved is a major factor in enhancing of this status and pedigree to suffer public perception. The quicker we can massive damage to reputation and put this difficulty behind us, the better public trust. for us all. So what we really don’t need now As the saying goes: from within our own industry is more “Cometh the hour...” 4
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Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief
Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director
Will Dobson Creative Director
James McIntosh Consumer Consultant
George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant
Database independently audited by Firgrove Consultancy. Average net 10 issues: 5,927 Mar 2012 – Feb 2013
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THE VERY LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS FEBRUARY SALES REFLECT PRESSURE ON RETAIL INDUSTRY
promising start to the year for UK retail sales faltered in February as like-for-like growth rose just 0.1% year on year, following a respectable 2.6% rise in January. Total sales growth, which includes new store openings, increased 1.1% against a 1.7% rise in February 2015. Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the slow growth reflects the increasing pressure the industry is under. Online sales of non-food products rose 10.7% in February versus a year earlier, the slowest growth since October 2015 and below the 3-month and 12-month averages of 13.7% and 12.9% respectively. But the channel represented 20.4% of total non-food sales, against 18.9% in February 2015. The three-month penetration rate has been above 20% for the third consecutive month.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE WEAKENS IN FEBRUARY
oncerns about the UK’s general economic situation brought consumer confidence down to zero in February. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index decreased four points during the month, with four of the measures used to calculate the Index recording declines. Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months fell seven points to -12, which is 15 points lower than at this time last year. Consumers’ appetite for major purchases also declined in February, but despite dropping four points to +12 it remained eight points higher than at this time last year.
HUDDERSFIELD INDEPENDENT LEAVES CUSTOMERS IN THE DARK
uddersfield independent Eldon Electricals has quietly bowed out of the retail troposphere, leaving customers to find its premises locked and in darkness, according to a report. A call to the business confirmed it had ceased trading and customers with warranty questions were advised to contact manufacturers direct for assistance. Online reviews show that the business may have lost its way over recent years. The retailer had more 6
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GOVERNMENT LOSES SUNDAY TRADING BATTLE
he government’s attempt to press ahead with amendments to the Enterprise Bill to hand local authorities the power to extend Sunday trading hours came to an abrupt end in March as MPs in the House of Commons voted 317 to 286 against the proposal. The government had expected the change to be effective autumn this year, maintaining that it had the potential to help businesses and high streets better compete as consumer shopping habits change, and proposing a package of measures which it said included greater freedoms for shop workers. Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett said the result was a “huge victory” for shop workers. “This is the third occasion in five years that Conservative Ministers have attempted to permanently change Sunday trading regulations and the third time they have been unsuccessful,” he said. “We hope now the government will leave this great British compromise alone and focus on providing real support for the retail sector, not the unwanted and unnecessary bureaucracy that devolution would have resulted in. “The current Sunday trading rules are a fair compromise which has worked well for over 20 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want.” unhappy customers than happy ones and had been accused of “poor poor customer service”, “terrible after sales service”, and selling an American fridge freezer that wouldn’t fit through the customer’s door. The company is said to have employed over a dozen staff.
900,000 UK RETAIL JOBS COULD GO BY 2025 Retailers could cut as many as 900,000 jobs by 2025 but those that remain will be more productive and higher earning, the British Retail Consortium has said.
ccording to a report published by the organisation, the rate of change within the retail workforce is set to quicken as the digital revolution reshapes the industry, more property leases come up for renewal and the cost of labour goes up while the cost of technology goes down. The BRC said that while the retail industry is supportive in principle of the National Living Wage, the effects on employment have been underestimated. The report also suggests that store closures on UK high streets and town centres could exacerbate the impact on employment in already fragile communities, with weaker regions and the most vulnerable low-paid staff most at risk. An increase in the store closure rate from the current 2-3% represents the closure of 74,000 shops out of the 270,000 that currently exist, equating to 440,000 job losses. According to the BRC, smaller businesses are also likely to be disproportionately affected by the ongoing evolution of the industry as they generally have fewer ways in which to respond to rising costs. BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said the key conclusions of the report are not surprising: “There will be a further contraction in retail space and a reduction in the number of people employed in retail. Individual retailers will find their own paths to 2020 and beyond, but from an industry perspective, we hope to see technology and competition resulting in better experiences for the customer and better jobs for those working in retail.”
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SERIOUS CONCERNS FOR RETAIL LABOUR MARKET IN 2016
he BRC has voiced “serious concerns” for the retail labour market in 2016 as retailers face the consequences of government policies that come into effect during the year. The BRC-Bond Dickinson Retail Employment Monitor for the fourth quarter of 2015 shows that the number of full-time jobs fell marginally, by 0.2%, compared with the same period last year, but the number of outlets fell by 0.3%, the first decline in store numbers since Q4 2012. Both food and non-food retailers contributed to the overall fall. On a rolling three-month basis, food retailers saw growth in the number of employees for the second consecutive
period, while the number of full-time employees in non-food retail fell for the first time since July 2014. BRC Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said the figures suggest that the outlook for the retail labour market remains uncertain in the short-term at least. "Following a relatively buoyant consumer environment last year, 2016 is set to be tough for the retail labour market,” she said. “Government policies that come into effect this year will add as much as £14 billion to the retail wages, training and rates bills over the next four years, and in doing so are likely to constrain any possibility of strong jobs growth in the industry."
6 IN 10 SHOPPERS READILY ABANDON RETAILERS UNABLE TO FULFIL ONLINE NEEDS
study of 3,000 consumers in the UK and US has identified high demand for digital services, rising expectations and declining loyalty as the defining characteristics of today’s retail experience. The research, carried out by cloud-based unified omni-channel commerce platform Kibo, found that 6 in 10 shoppers would be likely to ditch retailers unable to fulfil their online needs. Services such as next-day delivery and click & collect are now expected as standard by consumers. A quarter of Britons expect click & collect for the next day as a standard service and although a third prefer to use sameday delivery, they don’t expect to pay for the privilege. “As the marketplace becomes increasingly crowded, retailers need to remain a step ahead with their digital services and fulfilment options to ensure the loyalty of their customers,” said Kenneth Frank, CEO of Kibo. “Most consumers have their preferred places to shop, yet retailers’ lack of progression toward offering a true omnichannel experience can erode their customers’ loyalty. As such, the only option left open to many consumers is a move to the closest competitor.” The study showed that 80% of consumers prefer to buy online and ship to home and 56% of UK shoppers are willing to jump ship to a rival retailer if their preferred method of delivery isn’t available from a retailer they feel loyal to.
RETAILERS FACE NEW CHALLENGES AS CONSUMER SPENDING TOPS OUT
report released by the influential EY ITEM Club states that consumers will enjoy “one last hurrah” this year before household incomes are squeezed, as the impact of rising inflation, tax credit cuts and fiscal austerity start to bite. Growth in real household incomes is expected to slow significantly to an average of 1.6% a year from 2017 to 2020, down from the 3% forecast for this year, which will have a knock-on impact on consumer spending growth which is also set to slow, from 2.8% in 2016 to 1.9% yearly between 2017 and 2020. However, lower earners and older workers will escape the worst effects as the pressure will be borne by the ‘squeezed middle’, according to the report. The introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) should provide a “Alongside disproportionate boost shifts in consumer to the spending power of lower earners. spending, changes in Real take-home the channels they buy pay for the bottom through will also pose 20% of the income distribution will a challenge for increase by an average retailers.” of 3% a year from 201720, far higher than the median figure of 0.9%. But the margin squeeze for retailers will tighten another notch. The NLW is expected to boost the UK’s total wage bill by an aggregate £3.25bn by 2020, or around 0.3% of total employee compensation. And retail will be one of the industries feeling the greatest impact, with 38% of its employees affected and the increase in its wage bill currently estimated at 0.6% in 2016 and 1.3% by 2020, figures that most retailers say are a huge underestimation. Alongside shifts in consumer spending, changes in the channels they buy through will also pose a challenge for retailers. Recent results – including over Black Friday and the Christmas period – show a marked move towards online shopping and consumers’ expectations of a seamless omnichannel experience will only increase. But this flexibility for the customer doesn’t come cheap for the retailer, given the significant costs of online fulfilment, whether to store or home. In the ITEM Club’s recent survey of UK retailers, some 40% said omni-channel was margin dilutive. Julie Carlyle, head of retail at EY UK and Ireland, said: “The ‘margin vice’ caused by deflation, discounting and the NLW, coupled with the costs of delivering the seamless omnichannel service that consumers now expect, make these difficult times for retailers.”
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GOVERNMENT MOVES TO IMPROVE PRODUCT RECALL SYSTEM The government is calling on businesses to join a steering group and work to improve product safety recalls to protect consumers, following an extensive review of the subject by consumer champion Lynn Faulds Wood.
Department of Business Innovation & Skills deciding to commission the review. “The appliance involved was a well known brand of fridge freezer which caught fire during the night and killed a 36 year old father of two small children in North London,” she said in her report. “There had been other fires before and other deaths since concerning the same product. The family believes that the appliance involved should have been recalled before his death. The company had cited ‘Commercial confidentiality’ and insufficient evidence for a recall, highlighting deficiencies in the recall system which allegedly caused the delay and certainly caused terrible suffering.”
WHIRLPOOL PRODUCT RECALL
response to the Faulds Wood report, the government said it will support the development of a business-led online ‘centre of excellence’. The website will communicate important information to consumers and allow firms to share best practice and ideas based on their previous experience in managing recalls.
Business Minister Anna Soubry said: “People rightly deserve the assurance that if they buy a product that turns out to be unsafe, this can quickly be rectified. The government places a very high value on consumer safety, but industry also has a crucial role to play in protecting consumers. “I am keen that businesses work together to provide the solutions and improve the systems so we can reduce the number of incidents and keep people safe.” The government said it will also work with partners to develop a ‘university challenge’ to help advance creative ideas on consumer safety. “There is vast talent across design, media, and engineering students and options will be explored on how this can be utilised to support product safety,” it said in a statement. A project to explore greater data sharing will also be supported. 10
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Manufacturers’ association AMDEA welcomed the government’s response, stating that it pledges the domestic appliance industry’s staunchest support of the proposals for a Product Safety Steering Group and online ‘centre of excellence’. “The report backs AMDEA’s strong assertion that both information sharing and good ownership data are crucial to ensure that vital safety news reaches the people who need to know and act on recall advice.” AMDEA Chief Executive Douglas Herbison said the organisation expresses the hope that the announcements and the work they involve will strengthen public understanding of the product recall process and prompt more owners to register their appliances. “We see that Lynn Faulds Wood says in the foreword to her report that most unsafe products are often linked to counterfeiting and come into the country via cost-cutting suppliers. Any mechanism set up resulting from this review needs to address this issue too.”
CONSUMER’S DEATH PROMPTED REVIEW
Lynn Faulds Wood said she believed that one particular death – and one coroner’s recommendations – became the catalyst for the
Publication of the review comes as Whirlpool brands Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda struggle to deal with a tumble dryer recall potentially involving in excess of five million appliances sold in the UK between 2004 and 2015. Customers are currently waiting up to several months to have the fault on their machines repaired. Consumers concerned about the matter have left comments on GC’s website, one of which states: “…also very angry with this, we have just been told that it will be December 2016 before someone comes out to repair this.” The length of time consumers are having to wait for an engineer visit and a series of fires caused by the dryers, particularly that which left a Guildford family homeless after their property was destroyed by a fire caused by an Indesit dryer, has kept the problem at the forefront of the media.
At the end of February, Whirlpool revealed that two further brands of tumble dryers, in addition to the Indesit, Hotpoint and Creda models recalled in November 2015, could also pose a fire safety risk. 17,000 Swan dryers sold since late 2014 exclusively through Shop Direct and 41,000 Proline dryers sold between 2004 and 2005 by Kesa have the same problem as the recalled models mentioned above, in which excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present the risk of fire. The brands are not owned by Whirlpool but the dryers were manufactured by Indesit Company, which was acquired by the American corporation in 2014. Whirlpool, which must now feel it acquired a ticking time bomb, said the products were no longer in production and 26,500 Proline models are no longer in service.
ESF BACKS FAULDS WOOD REVIEW
Electrical Safety First also welcomed the Faulds Wood product safety recall review. Director General of the charity Phil Buckle said: “We are delighted this long awaited review has finally been published and offers recommendations we have long called for. Electrical Safety First has been raising awareness of the safety issues presented by dangerous recalled electrical goods – millions of which still exist in UK homes – for several years. We fully support the review’s primary call for a method of co-ordinating the recall system and for better sharing of information by the industry.” Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Home Electrical Safety, said: “With the limited success of recalls and well over 200 electrical items recalled in the last four years, it was evident that the system needed to be reviewed.”
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS >> GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK
AO CHAIRMAN TO STEP DOWN
World has announced that its non-executive Chairman Richard Rose has decided to step down. He will leave the company’s Board once a successor has been appointed. The company expects to announce the appointment by the time of its 2016 Annual General Meeting in July.
IMAGINATION CE STEPS DOWN; PURE TO BE SOLD I
magination Technologies’ Sir Hossein Yassaie has stepped down as Chief Executive and the company has confirmed that its consumer electronics business Pure is to be sold as part of the group’s restructuring and cost-cutting initiatives. The news followed media speculation on the sale of Pure, following what the CE described as a “disappointing” half-year at the time of reporting the Group’s results on 15th December 2015. Imagination said the Board now expects to report an EBIT loss for the financial year to 30 April 2016.
SENNHEISER’S PAUL WHITING RETIRES
ennheiser Electronic GmbH & Co has announced the retirement of Paul Whiting, President of Strategic Collaborations. Whiting began his career with Sennheiser in 1990 and progressed through the business, holding a number of strategic roles. He was also a member of the Sennheiser Executive Management Board. CEO Daniel Sennheiser said Whiting’s dedication to customer service, great ability to network, continuous loyalty to the brand and technical hands-on solutions brought him an outstanding reputation within Sennheiser and throughout the audio industry.
BCC DIRECTOR-GENERAL RESIGNS AFTER SUPPORTING BREXIT
he Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce John Longworth has stepped down after being suspended for voicing his opinion that Britain would be better off outside of the EU. His views were aired during the BCC Annual Conference in London, where he said the EU referendum was “a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.” The BCC said in a statement that it is a nonpartisan organisation and, as such, decided not to campaign for either side ahead of the European Referendum. President Nora Senior said Longworth’s personal view on the referendum was likely to “create confusion” regarding the BCC’s neutral stance. “All representatives of the BCC have the right to personal and political views on the key issues of the day. However, they are not expected to articulate these views while acting in their professional capacity, as their views could be misconstrued as representing the position of the organisation as a whole.”
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COMPAN¥ £INAN€IAL$ Home Retail Group
said it continued to see an improvement in sales at Argos for the final 8-week trading period of its financial year ended 27th February 2016. Total sales increased by 1.9% to £515m, with net new space contributing 3.0%, principally as a result of 94 digital concessions and collection points opened within the past year. Like-for-like sales declined 1.1% in the period. Total sales
Staff bonuses at the John Lewis Partnership, which includes supermarket chain Waitrose, are to be cut for the third year running. Staff will receive 10% this year – equivalent to around five weeks’ wages.
posted a loss of ¥24.7 billion for the thirdquarter of 2015, compared to a loss of ¥11.5 billion for the same period in 2014. Sales for
Sky reported a strong first-half
performance with revenues up 5% to £5,718 million for the six months to the end of December 2015 and Group operating profit up 12% to £747 million. EBITDA rose 8% to £1,049 million. Revenues in the UK and Ireland grew 6% to £4,072 million. 337,000 new customers joined Sky in the second quarter and the company sold 1.1 million
growth for the full year was broadly flat,
the period were down 13% to ¥663.3 billion.
at £4,095m, while like-for-like sales were
Whirlpool posted fourth-quarter
was strong both for TV and broadband.
$81 million in the same prior-year period.
fourth quarter with the addition of
additional paid-for products. Demand
Freesat reported a strong
John Lewis has continued to
net earnings of $180 million compared to
outperform the market in what it described
Net sales in the quarter were $5.6 billion
36,000 new homes in the three months
as “uncertain trading conditions”, with
against $6.0 billion in Q4 2014. Excluding
to December 2015. The service added
gross sales up 2.8% to £4.56bn.
the impact of currency, sales increased by
61,000 homes over the course of 2015
4%. Fourth-quarter operating profit rose
and is now available in more than 1.93
January 2016, the retailer said operating
from $281 million to $380 million. Net sales
million households and watched by more
profit was down 0.1% to £250.2m. Of total
for the full year of 2015 were $20.9 billion,
than four million viewers every week.
merchandise sales, stores contributed 67%
up from $19.9 billion in 2014. Operating
Customer numbers continued to rise for
while online represented 33%. Store sales
profit totalled $1.3 billion compared to $1.2
Freetime, Freesat’s connected TV guide
were down 1.0% on a 52 week basis, while
billion last year. Net earnings increased
solution, which saw a 13% year-on-year
online sales increased by 17.3%.
from $650 million to $783 million.
increase in sales for 2015.
In its results for the year ended 30th
Visit www.gcmagazine.co.uk for the stories behind the news...
Hoover has again added to its freestanding division with the appointment of Glyn Martin as account director – Glyn Martin major domestic appliances. He will work on a number of key retail accounts including Argos. Swiss appliance manufacturer V-ZUG has announced the appointment of Graham Smy to the position of Head of After Sales Care and Technical Support. Graham Smy
Whirlpool UK Appliances has appointed Hanifa Dungarwalla as Digital Marketing Manager, UK & Eire. She will be responsible for the online presence of the Whirlpool, Hanifa Dungarwalla
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
Hotpoint and Indesit brands to ensure a strong user experience and to maximise the brands’ key messages. Electrolux has appointed Anna Ohlsson-Leijon, currently CFO of the business area Major Appliances Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), as its new Chief Financial Officer. She succeeds Tomas Eliasson, who resigned from the company in January to pursue an external opportunity. Ola Nilsson, head of the laundry product line within Major Appliances EMEA, has been appointed as the new head of the Small Appliances business area and Executive Vice President of AB Electrolux.
What to expect from the CAI’s
Evolving Connectivity 2016
Internet Retailing Expo (IRX)
and eDelivery Expo to unveil the latest innovations for multichannel strategies
CEDIA partners with NHBC to
educate house builders on the connected home
City & Guilds accreditation for
THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS >> GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK
THE MULTI-ROOM COMPANY REBRANDS
he Multi-Room Company Ltd has rebranded as Connected Distribution Ltd, unveiling a new brand identity and adopting “Solutions for Home Technology Professionals” as its strapline. The rebranding marks the change of senior management and ownership following the retirement of founder Doug Gale.
CEDIA LAUNCHES INTERACTIVE ONLINE SURVEY
EDIA EMEA has introduced an interactive online questionnaire to engage consumer and professional audiences on The Future of the Connected Home. It is sited on the CEDIA EMEA website and available for all members to embed on their own websites. The survey is intended to help the industry better understand the needs and views of its target audiences while educating them on the key facts in connected home technology. For further information, email email@example.com.
The Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG) has added appliance supplier AB Distributors, kitchen brand Beckermann and lighting company Luminess to its portfolio.
rganisers of the Sound & Vision Bristol Show, which took place at the end of February, have said that sales were up by 50% on last year. The show was the best since 2003 and the second best in its 29-year history. Winners of The Clarity Alliance “Best of Show” awards were: Best Sounding Hi-Fi Room = PMC Best Sounding Home Cinema Room = Arcam Best Presented Room = AudioQuest Most Innovative Room = Musical Fidelity Best Stand in Open Areas = Sennheiser Honorary Lifetime Fellowship = Eric Kingdon of Sony
SH Home Appliances has been awarded the Top Employers Europe 2016 Certification by the Top Employers Institute. The annual international research recognises leading employers worldwide; those that provide excellent employee conditions, nurture and develop talent
Leisure is greeting the annual peak season for kitchen refurbishments with a cash-back promotion of up to £200 on its collection of range cookers. The incentive runs to 1st June and will be supported with in-store POS, print and online advertising, and a targeted digital and social campaign.
The Big Feastival will return to its Cotswolds’ location this year with Neff as its presenting partner. The three-year agreement sees Neff headline as the Major Domestic Appliance Partner for the event. The brand will have four dedicated onsite locations.
BSH RECOGNISED BY UK TOP EMPLOYERS INSTITUTE
Sharp is supporting the launch of its new fridge freezer collection with the promotion of a 5-year parts and labour warranty, running until 30th April 2016.
2016 BRISTOL SHOW BEST FOR OVER A DECADE
Mike Giddings, Managing Director of Smeg UK, will be among the 38,000 people running the London Marathon on Sunday 24 April. The undertaking is part of an ongoing mission to raise funds for Action Medical Research. To date, Smeg employees have raised £75,000 through fundraising efforts for the charity. Haier Group has been recognised as the number one global Major Appliances brand for the seventh consecutive year by business intelligence provider Euromonitor International.
throughout all levels of the organisation, and which strive to continually optimise employment practices. “We are the only home appliance company to be recognised this year and this is a considerable achievement,” said BSH CEO Andreas Meier.
OFFICIAL SWITCH-ON OF UK’S SECOND DAB MULTIPLEX NETWORK
he Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport (pictured left), performed the official switch-on of the UK’s second national DAB digital radio multiplex network – a major expansion of choice and coverage of DAB digital radio stations for over 20 million households. The MP also launched a national retune campaign and urged listeners to retune their digital radios to take full advantage of the range of services now available. MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK >> UPDATED DAILY
ims Davies, MP for Eastleigh, paid a visit to the Southampton headquarters of Dimplex, where she was given a tour of the company’s facilities and learned how the latest electric heating technologies help to lower fuel bills.
AEG ADDS STEAMBAKE TECHNOLOGY TO MULTIFUNCTION SINGLE OVENS
BLOMBERG TO PREVIEW NEW BUILT-IN COLLECTION AT CIH SHOW
lomberg is showcasing its newly designed builtin collection at this year’s CIH Show in Birmingham, which takes place 17th and 18th April. The brand launched a built-in washer dryer at last year’s event and has added to this with a collection of appliances comprising three new built-in ovens, two combi fridge freezers, and a tall larder fridge and freezer that can be placed side by side.
has introduced a range of single ovens with SteamBake technology added as standard across the entire collection of mid-level multifunction models. SteamBake creates a humid atmosphere during the first 10 –15 minutes of baking. When the steam dissipates, hot dry air results in bread that is soft and fluffy with an evenly browned, crisp golden crust. According to Sophie Davidson, Head of Product Line Kitchen at AEG UK & Ireland, sales of steam ovens have grown by 393% in the last three years. Speaking about the launch, she said: “Our new multifunction ovens with SteamBake technology will introduce even more consumers to steam by offering it as a standard function – something no other manufacturer has done until now.” Davidson added that many consumers associate the benefits of steam exclusively with healthy cooking, yet steam can enhance the taste, texture and appearance of many baked foodstuffs, from breads and muffins to pies and pastries. AEG has recently submitted the entire SteamBake range for GHI approval. “Launching to market with the endorsement of the Good Housekeeping Institute is what sets brands apart in the retail environment,” said Chris George, Head of Marketing, UK & Ireland. “We are delighted to announce that the top-of-the-range oven (BP500352EM) has already received this accolade, giving it an exceptionally strong platform to stand on when it launches to consumers.” The collection will be available for retailers April 2016.
HUGHES WORCESTER TEAMS WITH AMICA TO SUPPORT LOCAL SCHOOL
ughes Electrical and Amica have partnered in donating four new double cavity freestanding cookers for the domestic science classroom at the The River School near Fernhill Heath in Worcester.
BIG RED SALES PUTS O’NEILL IN THE DRIVING SEAT
ig Red Sales has announced John O’Neill as the winner of its 2015 Sales Agent of the Year Award, in what is said to have been a “fiercely contested” competition. O’Neill, who covers Scotland and Northern Ireland, received a MercedesBenz C 220 which he will keep for three years with the option to buy the vehicle for a reduced price at the end of that period. Commenting on his win, O’Neill said: “To achieve such an award you need to have good stiff competition to push you that extra mile, and so I thank all my colleagues for providing that for me and spurring me on. “A big thank you is also due to my many customers for the support and commitment they have shown me throughout my first year at Big Red Sales.” The annual contest comprises a series of points-based competitions sponsored by Big Red Sales’ suppliers Morphy Richards, Vogel’s, Linsar, Sennheiser and Otone. Founder of the Sales Agency John Reddington said: “It was a great competition and well done to all our agents. And a big thank you to all our customers, too, for helping us achieve fantastic results during the past year.”
Many of you will be familiar with the WEEE regulations in the UK, which require companies putting more than five tonnes of electronics on the market to join a compliance scheme (and contribute to the end-of-life costs associated with their products). Untangling what the UK regulations mean for your company can be a difficult exercise; when a company expands into other European territories the challenges are magnified.
the end of 2015, a US-based tech company launched a market changing product across Europe. As well as getting the right product to the right market at the right time, the company needed to think about how legislation affected them in each country and whether they were on the right side of it! According to a report produced by Deloitte in 2014, the EU has over 250 pieces of producer responsibility legislation spanning everything from batteries to electronics. The company discovered that the WEEE regulations, which govern the end-of-life of electronic products, gave more than one member of staff a headache. The legalese was difficult to understand and how exactly did it apply to their operations? And this was just for the UK. Further digging then revealed that they would need to join a compliance scheme in all the EU countries where the product was
Once the proposal was accepted, the dedicated point of contact: • Prepared registration documents country by country and coordinated approval • Kept the client up to date on progress by country • Set up country by country reporting schedules with email reminders sold, which could mean up to 28 contracts just for WEEE. Factoring in the countries where the company also had an obligation for packaging and batteries potentially increased the complexity to 100 contracts! The realisation soon came that juggling so many contracts - with different compliance schemes; different regulatory, funding and reporting arrangements; and different languages - would take a significant amount of time, training, and resource allocation.
As the only organisation offering compliance all over Europe, we were uniquely positioned to help, so we: • Met face to face with the company to identify how we could overcome their compliance challenges • Assigned a dedicated point of contact • Harnessed our European-wide network to gather country by country requirements • Presented a European-wide compliance proposal along with transparent fees
• Worked with all our European offices to organise recycling If your company operates in more than three European countries, ERP offers compliance for WEEE, batteries and packaging through our EuropePlus solution. EuropePlus simplifies the process of registering and reporting across multiple countries and provides one main point of contact for up to 32 countries. International compliance is thus led by one agreement with transparent pricing and no hidden fees.
To find out more, please contact David Harding, business development manager for ERP UK, on 020 3142 6452 or go to www.erp-recycling.co.uk/what-do-you-need/european-services (http://goo.gl/lDVEO1)
MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
THE PRODUCT GALLERY
THE MODERN-DAY DANSETTE FROM GPO GPO Retro has recreated the classic Dansette turntable of the sixties, bringing it to market in a choice of Red and Cream or Blue and Cream. The unit has an automatic tone arm, a 3-speed turntable, built-in full-range stereo speakers, MP3 and USB playback options. j
SMEG ADDS SIDE-BY-SIDE COOLING TO VICTORIA COLLECTION A range of 2-door and 4-door side-by-side cooling joins Smeg’s Victoria product portfolio, which incorporates range cookers, hobs, builtin ovens, dishwashers and laundry products. The new collection features Smeg’s signature branding, retro details, solid handles and gloss finishes. j
AEG’S NEW DISHWASHER RANGE BOASTS AIRDRY TECHNOLOGY
0844 557 0070 | www.smeguk.com
The new ProClean A+++ dishwasher range from AEG incorporates AirDry technology which facilitates automatic door opening (10cm) after completion of the cycle, allowing moisture to evaporate and natural airflow into the machine to speed up the drying process. The range incorporates a 15 placesetting built-in model and 13 placesetting unit for plinth-less kitchens. j
03445 611 611 | www.aeg.co.uk
DE’LONGHI’S APP-CONTROLLED PRIMADONNA ELITE De’Longhi’s new PrimaDonna Elite bean-to-cup coffee machine lets users create, personalise and deliver coffee using their mobile device in the home. The appliance is operated via De’Longhi’s Smart Coffee App or via the machine’s intuitive 4.3” colour touch-display. j
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
THE PRODUCT GALLERY
ELIPSON ENTERS TURNTABLE MARKET WITH PREMIUM DECKS Elipson has introduced its first range of turntables, comprising seven models in total. The Alpha and Omega versions are said to be the “world’s first” premium turntables offering the option of wireless technology whilst retaining audiophile specification and sound quality. UK SRPs range from £199 for the entry level Alpha 50 up to £499 for the flagship Omega 100 RIAA BT USB model. j
ASTELL&KERN INTRODUCES COPPER AK380 MUSIC PLAYER Astell&Kern has launched a limited edition of its AK380 flagship high-resolution music player in copper. Only 500 units of the AK380 Copper will be available worldwide, at a price of £3,299 each. j
GDHA INTRODUCES NEW INDUCTION COOKERS Glen Dimplex Home Appliances has launched five freestanding cookers with touch-control induction hotplates across its Stoves, Belling, New World and Valor cooking brands. The collection provides the choice of a range of capacities, functions and finishes. j
MATT-FINISHED OVEN COLLECTION FROM BAUMATIC
Baumatic’s new A-rated 78-litre multifunction single oven (BOIM678) comes in a choice of matt finishes in black, red, grey or white, or in brushed stainless steel. It has rotary push controls and an LED display and offers nine oven functions including pizza and defrost options. j
01189 311 110 | www.baumatic.co.uk
NEW COLOUR-MATCHING SERVICE FOR ILVE RANGE COOKERS Range cooker manufacturer ILVE has introduced a colour-matching service which provides more than 200 options from the RAL colour spectrum. The service is available in the UK for ILVE’s premium Roma and Milano range cookers, which come in a selection of hob and oven configurations. j
www.ilveappliances.co.uk MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
PRODUCT DESIGN AWARDS
GC PRODUCT DESIGN CALL FOR ENTRIES THE GET CONNECTED PRODUCT OF THE YEAR AWARDS, LAUNCHED IN 2005 TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE EXCELLENCE OF SPECIFIC ELECTRICAL PRODUCTS AND PRODUCT RANGES, HAVE BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT THE IMPORTANCE THIS INDUSTRY PLACES ON GREAT DESIGN.
esthetics and style are important, but design means more than appearance. It is acknowledged in this industry that engineering, fitness for purpose, reliability, market relevance all combine to create the bigger design picture that produces great products, great brands and great business. The Get Connected Product Design Awards recognise genuinely innovative products with outstanding USPs and advanced technology ‘under the bonnet’. Winners will have the right to display the striking new 3D crystal GC Product Design of the Year Award logo on all publicity, promotion and PR relating to the winning product, on relevant POS material and on the products themselves.
ELIGIBILITY All domestic electrical products that are available in the UK market during the relevant calendar year are eligible for nomination. This includes mature products that may have been launched prior to the relevant year, alongside those that were new to the market. 18
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
Products eligible for nomination in the Get Connected Product Design Awards 2016 must have existed in the UK market during the calendar year 1 January – 31 December 2015.
THE PROCESS The Get Connected Products of the Year Awards are conducted on a two-tier judging system: A panel of industry peers comprising the GC Editorial team and co-opted industry commentators make the initial selection of nominated products and ranges; these are then listed and presented in GC Magazine and www.gcmagazine.co.uk, along with a voting form for retailers to place their votes. Retailers, distributors and providers of services to the industry are eligible to vote. The Awards will be made based on the aggregate of points awarded by the panel, and the number of votes cast. The nominations for the 2016 Product Design Awards will be published in the June 2016 issue of Get Connected, along with the voting form, and the decisions on the Awards will be published in the August 2016 issue.
PRODUCT DESIGN AWARDS
The categories for the 2016 Awards are:
COOKING: Individual major domestic cooking appliance products and specific cooking ranges
REFRIGERATION: Individual domestic fridges, freezers, fridge/ freezers and cooling appliances, and specific cooling ranges
MAJOR DOMESTIC APPLIANCES RANGES: Ranges of major domestic appliances marketed under a specific range name, and comprising products from two or more different categories â€“ i.e. cooking, cooling, laundry, dishwashing
GARMENT CARE: Individual home laundry (washers, dryers & washer/dryers), ironing, steam generation and other electrical garment care products
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS: Individual products and ranges across the CE category, including TV, audio, home cinema/home theatre, portable audio/visual/ communications devices, radio, digital imaging
SMALL DOMESTIC APPLIANCES: Individual products and ranges across the SDA category, including kettles, toasters, juicers, blenders, food preparation products, small cooking appliances, beverage makers, personal care & grooming products
FLOORCARE: Individual products and ranges in floorcare, including vacuum cleaners, deep cleaners, carpet/hard floor cleaners and combination floorcare products
AV FURNITURE & ACCESSORIES: Individual products and ranges in TV & AV furniture, supports and brackets, and ancillary products such as leads & connectors
HOW TO ENTER FOR THE 2016 PRODUCT DESIGN AWARDS Entries and supporting materials should be sent via e-mail to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALL PRODUCT AWARD ENTRIES Please supply: Manufacturer/Supplier name Contact name/Telephone/E-mail Awards Product Category applied for Product range/name/model number UK launch date (Please note that products MUST have existed on the UK market during the calendar year of 2015)
Supporting material: â€˘ Product images x 2 (max) â€˘ Product spec sheet â€˘ Up to 500 words on all or any of the following design features in support of your Awards entry: - Innovation - Technology - Aesthetics - Outstanding USPs Entries and supporting materials should be sent via e-mail to: email@example.com The closing date for entries is 30th April 2016 Please note that incomplete entries will not be considered.
MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
THE COUNTRY KITCHEN
Escape to the
NO NEED TO UP STICKS: DEVON, DORSET, LIVERPOOL OR LONDON, ANYONE ANYWHERE CAN HAVE THEIR DREAM COUNTRY KITCHEN
onsumers envisioning life in the country typically hold pastoral images of idyllic villages with picturebox cottages adorned with wisteria or roses, rolling mountains in the near distance, the trilling of birds and bleating of lambs. Home-grown produce and the wafting aroma of freshly made bread naturally feature in the reverie… Oh, the blissful welcome of that wood-burning stove, the spacious kitchen equipped with full-sized range and generously proportioned table, a warm embrace for those that harvest the veg and gather the eggs. But rural life is not all about chickens, alpacas, waxed coats and wellies; and, in reality, not all country kitchens ooze rustic appeal. Neither is bucolic charm the sole preserve of those that live within earshot of a bubbling brook – many urbanites aspire to the country-style kitchen dream, whether an escape from everyday life led in harsh topography or simply as a design statement.
SO WHAT IS THE IDEAL COUNTRY KITCHEN LOOK AND FEEL?
Doug Haswell, furniture manager at Caple says two-tone collections are still at the forefront of modern design, but will appear in more subtle finishes for timeless appeal in country kitchen schemes. “The latest trends feature lighter neutrals such as grey, which complement wood perfectly and work particularly well with wood or wood-effect work surfaces. The consumer can now use a combination of shades 20
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
on classic cabinetry to clearly define the cooking area from the eating space. They can choose a more adventurous shade in the cooking area, which they can tone down with a more subtle hue on the island unit. An island unit with breakfast bar makes the perfect open-plan layout in a new country kitchen scheme and will separate the cooking from the dining or living area.” Country-style kitchens are renowned for having a statement appliance at their centre, and usually a very traditional one, according to Steve Dickson, Head of Category at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances Range Division. “The country kitchen is the hub of the home with space for lots of people so large range cookers with multiple cavities, large hobs and features such as slow ovens are the obvious choice. “Manufacturers have done a great job in producing very specific traditional range cookers that complement rustic kitchens and so even in a more modern property the country kitchen feel can easily be replicated. “Traditional country kitchen colours such as champagne, cream, and black remain popular and to echo that we have recently launched a new countryside-influenced classic sage green shade.” Dickson says there are no rules set in stone as long as the colour works in context. “So even in a country-style kitchen a bright colour pop will work very well against a neutral background, providing a statement that does not drown the room, while classic rich reds can stand up against dark and light units in equal measures, creating a timeless feel.”
“Country kitchens don’t have to be archaic and without the luxuries that modern technology can offer”
THE COUNTRY KITCHEN
The new Chester kitchen from Caple fuses classic features with modern design
TRADITIONAL OR MODERN?
Stuart Benson, Sales Director Gorenje UK, notes that distressed finishes are also commonplace in country kitchens and are often combined with traditionally styled appliances to meet the ideal country-style layout. “For many, the kitchen forms the heart of the home, and to meet the ideal country-style look and feel, appliances must be inspired by the timeless artistic styles of centuries gone by.” But Owain Harrison, UK head of sales and marketing Built-in, Hoover Candy Baumatic, begs to differ. He opines that the country kitchen can no longer be typified in the oldfashioned traditional style of yesteryear and it is equally as likely nowadays to be designed in a contemporary format and “completely state-of-the-art”. “Furthermore,” he says, “many upto-the-minute domestic appliances offer all the features and benefits to suit consumers that love the idea of
ZONELESS INDUCTION FROM DE DIETRICH New from De Dietrich, the DTI1358DG 65cm Chef Zoneless Induction Hob leaves the culinary competition in the shade with its sleek, contemporary ceramic black design with chrome trim and a host of user-friendly functions. Suitable for budding MasterChefs and cooking novices alike, the high-tech appliance boasts 18 power settings, up to ten power levels per zone and convenient front-facing touch-control operation. Additional features include residual heat indicators and four timers, a child lock and auto-off function for optimum safety. Indicative of De Dietrich’s commitment to quality, it comes with a 3-year guarantee.
MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
THE COUNTRY KITCHEN
Gorenje’s Classico appliance collection
“Steam baking is definitely an essential that any country-style kitchen should have”
classic country living while requiring a modern twist, and for those retailers that wish to answer that desire. The modern freestanding range cooker is an ideal example of where classic meets contemporary.” Harrison adds that the advantage many country kitchens have over their urban counterparts is the benefit of space, thus allowing for larger and additional statement appliances to be specified within the overall layout. Ian Moverley, Brand Communications Director for Hotpoint, suggests mixing
the best of both worlds in the design of this principal area of the home. “Country kitchens don’t have to be archaic and without the luxuries that modern technology can offer. They can feature sophisticated appliances as well as vintage pieces of décor in order to evoke that sought-after rustic and natural feel.” Moverley states that the range cooker has for a long time been seen as the epitome of country style for the kitchen and is “a must” for anyone looking to create this in their home. “And they’re no longer limited to consumers with generous disposable incomes,” he asserts. “Range cookers are also now available in a variety of sizes, meaning that consumers with the smallest of kitchens can still create that countrystyle look and feel.” David Thacker, Marketing Manager at AGA Rangemaster, advises that the range cooking market is steadily growing in the new kitchen, replacement and renovation sectors. “Whilst built-in will fluctuate as it is heavily dependent on house building and economic certainty, range cooking should continue to grow. Our independent research certainly suggests that home movers will be converting to range cooking at the first opportunity and 2016 should prove to be another year of growth back to making the kitchen, complete with range cooker, the heart of the home.”
It is often perceived that those who opt for country-style kitchens and appliances such as range cookers are generally ‘foodies’ and keen cooks who prefer to cook and bake from scratch. So what key features and product technologies will appeal to these consumers? In particular, those that prefer fresh produce, which is often home grown or bought in large quantities with a view to healthy living, caring for the environment and thrift.
TABLET-TO-CUP COFFEE TECHNOLOGY FROM JURA Make the perfect coffee straight from your tablet! JURA’s Smart Connect innovative new device uses Bluetooth communication to wirelessly operate compatible coffee machines in its range via tablet or smartphone. Downloading the JURA Connect iOS or Android App onto mobile devices will let users set their personal coffee preferences, such as adjusting the strength, temperature and cup size. The app also features easy to understand graphics and automatic machine status updates to provide optimum performance. JURA Smart Connect is available on iOS and Android from the beginning of April 2016.
For further information on the full JURA product range, please visit:
www.jurauk.com or call 0800 6525527
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
You’ll have to go a long way to beat our stylish, feature rich wine coolers. We have got 7 versions from a compact 7 bottle unit all the way through to a massive 181 bottle unit, all of which reflect our perfect balance of function and style. For further details please have a look at the website www.montpellier-appliances.com
THE UK’s FASTEST GROWING WHITE GOODS BRAND
LAUNDRY - DISHWASHING - COOKING - COOLING
GUARANTEE PARTS & LABOUR
THE COUNTRY KITCHEN
“The modern freestanding range cooker is an ideal example of where classic meets contemporary”
Perrin & Rowe’s traditionally styled Country Aquitaine mini instant hot water tap
KENWOOD EMBRACES 65 YEARS OF FOOD PREP EVOLUTION Kenwood has introduced its iconic Chef Sense in pastel blue, yellow, green and pink, delivering the practical quality and outstanding execution expected from the brand while making a colourful statement in any aspirational country kitchen. Designed and engineered in the UK, the Chef Sense features an 1100W motor, making it more powerful than others on the market, and an intelligent control that accurately senses the load for optimum mixing performance. It has three inclusive attachments (dough hook, balloon whisk and k-Beater) and also supports over twenty optional extra attachments, making it the ultimate kitchen machine for passionate novices and seasoned chefs alike.
Kenwood Chef Sense Colour Collection (RRP £449.99)
www.kenwoodworld.com/uk | 0239 239 2392
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
“I know it’s dangerous to generalise about folk who live in the country, but I think it’s fair to say that they are generally more wholesome than those who reside in urban areas,” says Rhys Evans, Sales Director for V-ZUG UK and Ireland. “Almost by default, they are closer to nature and care passionately about the environment. Does this affect the cooking appliance they buy? Certainly, aesthetically it does, as I think most country dwellers will opt for a range cooker or similar, but the reality is that if they are passionate about cooking and healthy eating, which so many obviously are, then more practical and efficient cooking appliances should be considered. “A perfect example is steam cooking, which is really at the height of its popularity right now. It’s becoming a musthave because it is efficient and supports a healthy lifestyle. Steam cooking can be quick, and food retains more nutrients than other forms of cooking so that fresh produce tastes better and is healthier.” “Steam baking is definitely an essential that any country-style kitchen should have,” asserts AEG’s Martin Wilson, Product manager for Built-in hot appliances, who maintains that more consumers are becoming “switched on” to the health benefits and the better taste this cooking method produces. “Compared with fan-only cooking, steam gives superior results. For instance, bread and gratins stay moist or fluffy on the inside while joints of meat stay crispy on the outside but succulent in the middle.” Baumatic’s Harrison duly notes that consumers often inherit or specify an oil-powered range and in these instances different cooking options are often required during the summer months. “Dependent on the format of the kitchen, an induction hob is an energy efficient and economical choice which can be installed within a kitchen island – currently de rigueur for most kitchen designs – or installed within the worktop itself. If space is at a premium, modular versions are useful space-saving alternatives as they only take up 30cm to 40cm widths.”
THE COUNTRY KITCHEN
Rangemaster's Elan offers a focal point in the design of this country kitchen
But country kitchens are not all about range cookers, as GDHA’s Steve Dickson quite rightly points out. He observes that those with large kitchens are also looking for statement cooling products with better energy-efficiency and greater capacity, improved food preservation and advanced features. “This can be due to lifestyles becoming increasingly busy and people shopping less often, so requiring larger capacities, but also preserving fresh, potentially home-grown food,” he comments. Tim Hutchinson, Divisional Manager UK at cooling appliance manufacturer Liebherr, whose BioFresh technology stores food at the optimum temperature and ideal humidity to extend its lifecycle, says: “Many country dwellers cultivate their own garden produce. It’s therefore important that, when stored, the produce is kept at the correct temperature to retain its vitamins and nutrients.” “Cooking fresh produce plucked from the garden, tasting fresh bread straight from the oven and entertaining guests in a large old-fashioned classic-style kitchen are some of the key aspects that are considered as ideal country living in a rural idyll,” comments Baumatic’s Harrison. “However, the supermarket, or even the local shop, is less likely to be on the doorstep, so foodstuffs need to be preserved for longer.” He adds that, with the benefit of space in the kitchen, a statement fridge freezer can be easily specified.
NORDMENDE SOP500IX SINGLE OVEN SINGLE PYROLYTIC OVEN – Multifunction Oven, 56 Litre Capacity, Pyrolytic Cleaning & ‘A’ Energy Rating. Model: SOP500IX.
A sleek The fusionintelligent of form and function, NordMende’s new SOP500IX choice for smart living. single oven features a host of features stainless Thehigh-tech NordMende Pyrolytic Oven isto thecomplement perfect mix of form its and function, and steel and black glass design. brings more than a touch of style to your kitchen. It comes with an impressive
The multi-functional, fan assisted boasts a built-in grill, pyrolytic liners and ‘A’ energy rating, quadruple glazing and theappliance latest in our Pyrolytic technology, so it cleans itself! And our 3 year partsof andthe labour warranty, you can retractable controls towith make it one most user-friendly ovens on the market. finally enjoy a level of perfection that matches your own. Additional features include a generous 65-litre capacity, an A-rating for energy, making it economical to use, and a 3-year warranty. WWW.NORDMENDE.IE
www.abdistributors.co.uk | (0844) 557 3750
MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
THE COUNTRY KITCHEN CONSERVING RESOURCES
Amongst our commentators, consensus holds that those residing in rural areas tend to be more environmentally conscious than their urban counterparts, but both parties can benefit greatly from the installation of a steaming hot water tap. According to Jason Turze, Product Manager for Home Comfort at AEG, some steaming hot water taps use up to 50% less energy than a kettle to boil water. InSinkErator’s Linda Phoutthasak, Marketing Manager for Europe and Russia, maintains that replacing the kettle with an instant steaming hot water tap is a positive lifestyle change for any household, eliminating the time and energy lost waiting for water to boil in the kettle and providing the versatility to contribute to countless other tasks, from cooking to cleaning. As a market leader in steaming hot water taps and food waste disposers, which help to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, InSinkErator® believes consumers are increasingly aware of the energy-saving benefits of highly efficient appliances, “especially those with large families who perhaps boil the kettle regularly or throw away a lot of food waste,” comments Phoutthasak.
AEG’s Ultramix will add a pop of vibrant colour to any kitchen
“This offers a sustainable solution as well as a practical, contemporary solution to food waste. In addition, InSinkErator® food waste disposers are clean, hygienic, and reduce smells and bacteria in the kitchen.” Phoutthasak believes that country-style kitchens will continue to be popular, “however,” she adds, “subtle additions to classic styles such as efficient appliances and hidden technology are modernising the country kitchen while maintaining its comfort and charm. A modern country kitchen can be idyllic for homeowners who strive for a simple, classic style coupled with the benefits of advanced technology.”
Stoves’ sage green range displayed in Oxfordshire’s Soho Farmhouse 26
“The biggest opportunities for home automation lie with the retailer’s existing customers in the middle market”
or many retailers, deciding whether to move into the custom install (CI) business can seem like a choice between playing safe or taking a leap into the dark. But that isn’t the case. Any strategic business decision involves some risk, but when it comes to custom install, that risk can be assessed and minimised before making the move. “Retailers need to fully understand what the custom install industry is about, before working out if the transition is viable for their business,” says Matt Nimmons, operations director of trade association CEDIA. “CEDIA’s ‘Fundamentals of Residential Electronic Systems’ book covers the broad scope of the industry, and is recommended for anyone who is new to the industry or wants a better understanding of it.” CEDIA also provides education pathways for businesses to transition from retail into service-led companies, and Nimmons says education is vital for anyone who is interested in moving into this industry, and particularly important for shop floor staff, in order to turn a TV sale into a full home automation sale and install. CEDIA education courses include an introduction to smart home technology and smart home wiring courses.
“Knowing where to start is always a big issue for retailers looking to expand into home automation,” says Steve Simper, managing director of Alltrade. “It’s a broad field with many suppliers and a lot of incompatible products. The solution is to partner with a good CI distributor with a product portfolio and support to become your one-stop supplier. “A good distributor will offer training, backup and service, as well as a broad range of products that are guaranteed to work together. We offer a complete planning and project programming service for our retail and install partners, ensuring you have everything you need to complete the job quickly and efficiently.”
FOR CE RETAILERS THE CUSTOM INSTALLATION MARKET IS OPENING UP, AS PRODUCTS BECOME MORE AFFORDABLE AND EASIER FOR RETAILERS TO INSTALL. GEORGE COLE REPORTS
Mark Taylor, commercial manager at Invision, also thinks partnership is the key: “Retailers should seek out a trade partner who has the experience and infrastructure to offer high-quality training courses for your staff. “Our training academy runs a number of practitioner-led theory and practical courses designed to equip installers, from novice to experienced pros, with the necessary skills for a wide range of installs. The courses cover everything from entrylevel multi-room AV and upwards, making many of them ideal for retailers just getting established in the CI marketplace.” Manufacturers may also offer retailers support. Jonathan Bennett, marketing director Armour Home Electronics, says: “We offer free sales and technical training courses throughout the year, an online customer configurator that allows customers to tailor their solution to suit
The bedroom in an HDL automated property
their home and budget, plus POS materials and an online awareness campaign to drive sales leads to approved Systemline installers.”
Developing a sound strategy is important, says Stuart Tickle, managing director of AWE. “There is a pathway to take which starts by adding more value to a standard delivery and setup service. Some retailers almost apologise for requesting a small delivery and setup charge. Installing the items adds value, so charging appropriately for that service is key. “The move to incorporate full installation and more advanced control makes perfect sense, and with the right attitude and commitment it is fairly easy to start. It means that the retailer can expand their business, whilst making them stand out from their competitors.” MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
Easy to install systems can be set up simply from an iPad
“The market opportunity is huge, and the cost of smart home technology has reduced significantly over the last few years. This drop will continue as economies of scale increase and smart home technology becomes an expectation rather than a nice-to-have luxury.”
Tickle adds that retailers need to understand the benefits of products they are talking about and how they can connect to each other. “This requires training. Our Smart Home Academy provides a foundation workshop which is aimed at independent retailers, and provides attendees with the skills and knowledge to progress in the smart home industry.”
EASY DOES IT
Invision’s Taylor says that retailers should not bite off more than they can chew. “One of the most common mistakes we see by newer installers is taking on projects beyond the scale and experience of their business. Our advice is to take on an installation you are comfortable with, where you know you have the support of your suppler partners, then build your project size along with your experience. “For retailers the biggest opportunity of CI is in being able to enhance the offering to your customers and really differentiate your business from the local competition.
Luxul’s AV-Series 26-port/16 PoE+ Gigabit Managed Switch
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
Even basic custom installs, perhaps multi-room AV, allows you to offer a new dimension to your customer’s in-home experience as well as adding additional revenue and profit to the bottom line.” Patience is also important, adds CEDIA’s Nimmons. “The challenge is that it is not an easy transition. It will take time for your customers to understand the new service you are offering and the benefits it brings. However, as long as your staff can explain the new service to customers, and why they should consider home automation systems, then you should start noticing an uptake in business.” Armour’s Bennett believes the biggest challenge and risk retailers face is sitting still and not embracing this technology.
Alltrade’s Simper says simplification is perhaps the biggest trend in this sector, as home automation becomes ever more affordable. “While the high-end installation sector will continue to flourish, the market is opening up to a wider audience, with modular and easy to install systems that can be set up simply from an iPad.” He adds that installs can be tailored to the customer’s requirements and upgraded at any time without having to learn complex programming languages. “Consumers want a single app for control, not a confusing bunch of different manufacturers’ apps.” “Home automation, custom install, connected home, smart home are all differing names for a growing market,” comments AWE’s Tickle. “Multiroom audio and video continues to be a rapidly growing segment and has always been popular within the established custom installation market. The increasing simplicity and affordability of the systems has great appeal to end users. With many systems allowing additional zones to be added at a later date, it represents a good business opportunity for retailers.” Invision’s Taylor says the home’s data network has become the backbone of home automation control over the last few years, so IP networking skills are an essential tool for the installer. “We distribute Luxul’s IP networking solutions, which are simple to deploy, without the complexity associated with traditional networking gear,” he adds.
“Homeowners up and down the country are upscaling their properties to benefit from the latest smart home systems”
“It will take time for your customers to understand the new service you are offering and the benefits it brings”
PLENTY OF SCOPE
Armour’s Bennett maintains that home developers are seeing a huge amount of customer interest in energy saving solutions, as well as lighting control and integrated home audio systems. “Discerning customers are looking for bespoke, integrated solutions that will operate both indoors and outdoors, and they also want the ability to connect seamlessly with TVs, Bluetooth devices, music and streaming services.” CEDIA’s Nimmons points out that the connected home has become a reality for most people – it is no longer just for the rich and famous. “Homeowners up and down the country are upscaling their properties to benefit from the latest smart home systems, and they need someone to install these for them. Savvy retailers could benefit from this groundswell of business by getting involved in the design and installation of such smart home systems. Being able to offer design and installation services will build business for retailers, and customers will benefit from their local contact having a deeper understanding of the available options.”
AWE’s Tickle quotes CEDIA research into the custom installation market in 2013-14, which found the market size to be around £950 million, up from £850 million in the previous year. “It’s an area retailers can transition into and benefit from,” he says, adding that a step-by-step approach to developing the business is best. “For many customers, progressing to a full home automation system is a gradual process and it is important for retailers to enhance their offering, whilst staying within what is relevant to their business. This is why custom install provides the perfect solution for retailers, as it provides an easy up-sell which can then continue to bring repeat business for many years into the future. “It is essential to display in-store a working scenario of a multi-room and home cinema system. There is clear evidence that you have to show the solution to sell it.” “The biggest opportunities for home automation lie with the retailer’s existing customers in the middle market,” says Alltrade’s Simper. “Multi-room audio and video integration projects packed with features and functionality can now be completed by installers from £15k-£20k and offering good margin both on the products and the install service. “Moreover,” he adds, “once the install is complete, keeping in touch with those customers - offering them upgrades and new features as they come along - is a great way of keeping your installation business moving forward.” MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
GEORGE COLE GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
CUT OFF IN ITS PRIME I’M
SMART TV MARCHES ON IT’S
hard to believe that when Smart TVs started to emerge onto the market, there were some who thought they would only appeal to a niche consumer market, namely techies who liked exploring the internet on their TV screen. How wrong could they have been. A new survey by research company IHS, forecasts that more than half (53%) of all TVs in the UK will be smart sets by 2019, with the market driven by 4K resolution, HDR and streaming content. Last year, a UK Smart TV report by Nielsen found that 29% of all sets were smart TVs, with 78% of them purchased in
the previous 24 months. It also found that 93% of smart TV owners have connected their set to the internet and that 37% of viewing time is spent watching online content. The smart TV naysayers argued that television offered a “lean back” experience, whereas as laptop or PC was a “lean forward” experience, but they were only partly right. The fact is that the vast majority of online content viewed on a smart TV consists of catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and streaming film and TV services like Netflix. So, we lean forward to choose our online content and then lean back to enjoy it.
old enough to remember the time when setting the video timer involved pressing endless buttons and navigating confusing menu screens. Nowadays, we use a simple on-screen menu system – select the programme you want, press a button and that’s it. But one thing that still hasn’t been resolved is the issue of programmes starting early or ending late. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found that the programme I recorded starts ten minutes in from the beginning or the recording stops before the programme has ended. Many people blame their smart TV, PVR or set-top box, but the most likely culprit is the broadcaster. Broadcasters use a system called Accurate Recording (sic), which is designed to provide super-accurate recording times by transmitting start and end codes with each programme, but it’s very hit and miss. For example, I almost invariably miss the start of the BBC’s War and Peace programmes, while the BBC’s Dickensian series starts and stops bang on time. What’s also frustrating is that not all devices offer a padding facility, whereby you can manually alter the start or stop times of timer recordings.
SAVE OUR HEADPHONE SOCKET
itting on the desk in front of me are a handful of devices that sport a 3.5mm headphone socket – my laptop, mobile phone, iPod, digital voice recorder and external speakers. Opposite me are a television and a micro hi-fi system that also have 3.5mm headphone sockets. So, the news that Apple is rumoured to be removing the 3.5mm port from its latest iPhone does not fill me with joy. It seems that the socket could fall foul of Apple’s relentless drive to design even smaller and slimmer devices and that this move could shave a whole 1mm off the iPhone’s case. I don’t own an iPhone, but in my experience, where Apple leads, many other companies follow... 30
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
A DISC IN THE HAND... T
here’s no doubt that streaming services like YouTube and Spotify have changed the way many of us watch videos or listen to music, but don’t write off discs just yet, at least that’s the message from the British Video Association. It says that UK consumers purchased almost 120 million DVDs and Blu-ray Discs in 2015, with a value of £1.1 billion, representing almost half (48%) of total home entertainment spending in 2015. This is promising news for the new Ultra HD Blu-ray players and discs, which should start appearing in stores this spring. Reports suggest that UHD Blu-ray discs will cost around £16-30 each, but prices will doubtless fall. A few technology websites have declared that UHD Blu-ray is already dead in the water, thanks to rise of streaming services, but I’m not convinced. The BVA reports that buying videos to own and keep is still the overwhelming choice for consumers, and I think that the fact that many of us still have dodgy internet connections will help keep physical disc sales buoyant.
POINT-TO-POINT ENCRYPTION many Chip and PIN devices will need to be upgraded periodically by retailers. The cost of such upgrades can often be substantial, representing a significant investment for many companies. Despite the hefty price, retailers are always at risk of these investment decisions going wrong.
JAMES PEPPER, TECHNICAL SERVICES DIRECTOR, VISTA RETAIL SUPPORT, EXPLAINS WHY POINT-TO-POINT ENCRYPTION MAKES PAYMENT SECURITY SIMPLE FOR RETAILERS
etailers have seen a slew of major changes over the past 15 years in the way their customers pay for goods and services. The days when shop assistants across the UK would finalise a purchase with the swipe of a credit card through a point-of-sale (PoS) system, or even by taking a carbon copy of a credit card, are long gone and largely relegated to the annals of retail history. The main driving force behind these sweeping changes in payment methods has been the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). These standards, now sitting at version 3.1, have been progressively implemented by the Payment Security Standards Council over the past ten years.
With each new version of PCI DSS that is introduced, the security surrounding credit card data and the many devices and software applications that handle, transmit and store this precious data is improved a little bit more. Every update to PCI DSS brings with it new security requirements for Chip and PIN devices, payment systems and store network infrastructure. As a requirement for keeping up with PCI standards and upholding compliancy,
Two years ago, a retailer acquired new Chip and PIN devices from a reseller, installing them throughout its 500 PoS system estate. Shortly after purchasing and implementing these new systems, the manufacturer declared them to be endof-life, announcing that they would not be compatible with the upcoming series of PCI standards. This meant the retailerâ€™s only option, in order to remain compliant, was to make an even more substantial investment in replacing all of the newly purchased devices. Many retail companies are now considering making an upgrade to their legacy Chip and PIN devices in order to ensure their customers the top level of security and make use of new payment functionalities such as contactless and wearable payment systems. This upgrade will mark a huge investment for retailers, who will want to ensure their investment goes smoothly and will provide their customers with peace of mind when it comes to their payment card data. In order to achieve this goal, retailers must embrace Point-to-Point encryption (P2Pe), a set of security domains that is already on its way to becoming an industry standard for payment card security. In addition to greatly reducing the scope of PCI compliance for retailers, P2Pe also provides them with a higher standard for payment card data security by encrypting this data as soon as it is inserted into a PIN entry device (PED), before any data is even sent to the respective payment service provider. P2Pe is a total lifecycle security standard that guarantees all hardware, payment applications and infrastructure is compliant with PCI standards. P2Pe also provides an additional level of security by tracking the PED/Chip and PIN device
for its entire lifecycle. Perhaps the most attractive feature of P2Pe for many retailers is that it significantly reduces the scope of the PCI DSS requirements they are responsible for following. By adopting P2Pe, many of these responsibilities are transferred to the service or payment solution provider. For example, after the Chip and PIN device has been sent by the manufacturer to the service provider, it is up to the service provider to ensure that the device is securely installed, its serial number data and location is accurately tracked and that it is stored properly once it is no longer in use. This ensures both the retailer and the service or payment solution provider can maintain full visibility of the PED at all times. They can also be assured that there are no rogue devices that have been tampered with or compromised during the entire lifecycle. As an added bonus, the PCI requirements that retailers would normally be responsible for maintaining and having signed off by a Qualified Security Assessor are significantly reduced from a vast 60-page document of standards into a much more manageable 16 pages. Retailers must be absolutely certain that they are in line with the strict set of standards required for PCI compliance. With that in mind, it is vital for those seeking to adopt P2Pe to seek the guidance of a specialist. If a retailer were to base their decision purely on the cost of implementation, they would risk ending up with a substandard solution that could even be transmitting inaccurate data. If this were the case, the retailer would be forced to invest in a costly process of reauditing as they backtrack in an attempt to achieve a completely compliant P2Pe. Many companies have already implemented or are planning to implement P2Pe, and as 2016 continues even more retailers are expected to adopt it, especially those using PEDs that are no longer supported by their manufacturers. With the growing popularity of new retail technologies such as biometrics and wearables, new hardware investments are seemingly inevitable for many retailers. In order to get the most from these investments, these retailers must embrace a new technology that will both simplify PCI compliance and enjoy a long lifecycle. MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
SPOTLIGHT ON RETAIL FULFILMENT
RETAIL FULFILMENT: NO LONGER A BACKROOM CONCERN FOR ELECTRICAL RETAILERS IN
the early 2000s, when online retail was in its inception, the biggest concern for consumers was trusting the website they were buying from. With fraud being such a big concern, and consumers being unaware of any protections they had, prospective buyers were often reluctant to purchase online. Fast forward 16 years and online commerce has become a well-established retail channel, accounting for 20% of retail sales in the UK.1 Such concerns no longer exist for online shoppers, particularly in the UK where, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), four in five Britons made at least one online purchase in 2014 and ecommerce sales have shot up 66% between 2008 and 2013.2
FAST AND EFFICIENT DELIVERY
For an ever growing number of shoppers, online commerce is becoming the norm and being used for an even wider range of products. Perishable goods such as food products, which have yet to be fully embraced by online shoppers due to concerns that the delivery process would reduce their quality, are now joining the online commerce revolution. Electronic goods are the most favoured by online shoppers and take an enormous 29% share of all online purchases.3 This is partially attributable to electronic products being a known quantity which does not require the consumer to inspect their quality, as they would for fashion or food products. This has been made possible by improvements in delivery fulfilment processes. Retailers are no longer able to differentiate themselves by simply guaranteeing customers that they
IAN JINDAL, EXPERIENCED MULTICHANNEL RETAILER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF INTERNETRETAILING, DISCUSSES IMPROVEMENTS IN FULFILMENT, AHEAD OF THIS YEAR’S EDELIVERY EXPO AT BIRMINGHAM’S NEC will receive their products; they need to offer fast and efficient delivery to suit the customer’s needs. Those that want to be a true multichannel success have to stop looking at fulfilment as being a purely transactional operation and start thinking like a customer. When a consumer places an order, they are relying on a promise which the retailer is making to have the goods with them by a certain time, at a certain price and in a certain condition.
Consumers will question retailers. If you made it easy for me to spend my money with you, did you also make it easy for me to receive (and if necessary return) my purchases? Did you offer me a range of delivery and collection options that fit with my life or did you expect me to accommodate the delivery company? When it comes to delivery, although speed may be the most obvious consideration for many, surveys show that convenience is key. Next-day delivery is great, in theory, but if you are not home during the day, like most of us, and the package does not fit in your post-box or requires a signature, then all you will have on your return home is a card left by the postman. As the collection office is likely to be closed in the evening, it seems you’re going to have to wait until Saturday, wake up early in the morning to queue up for your parcel, which was
‘delivered’ next-day. So despite paying for next-day delivery, and the company fulfilling their next-day promise, you end up receiving your goods much later.
Retailers and carriers alike are making a point of optimising their fulfilment operations so that the needs of the customer are prioritised. Some good examples of this are present within the electronic goods industry’s top brands, highlighted in the ranking of the IRUK Top500 retailers 2016. Currys, recognising that customers were often unable to receive their products unless they were home during the day as most of its goods are too big to fit through letter boxes, and often too valuable to be trusted to a neighbour, responded by offering a Reserve & Collect option, which allows customers to order online and collect their parcel from a local store on the same day free of charge. This feature not only saves consumers money on unnecessary delivery charges but is also more convenient as there are hundreds of Currys stores across the UK which can be used as pickup points.4 Amazon is another great example of a company that lives up to the delivery promises it makes. A standout feature is its Prime service, which offers consumers free next day delivery and even an under 2-hour
delivery on selected items. It seems that 24hr or next-day delivery is the next aspect of fulfilment which can be improved upon.
New innovations are also improving the fulfilment process for companies that are deciding to incorporate them. Following the success of its Prime service, Amazon has been testing new and innovative delivery methods with Amazon Prime Air. This service intends to use flying drones to make deliveries to consumers’ doorsteps in under 30 minutes. Click & Collect lockers also provide a great alternative to home delivery. Consumers choose the locker bank closest to them, with many sited in local supermarkets and benefitting from longer opening times, and collect the parcel at a time of their choosing by simply entering a code. Failure to embrace such new innovations and accommodate consumers’ demands will impact brands. It could result in them being part of a group that can’t compete on service and can only compete on price. Best practices, key trends and discussions of multichannel fulfilment will be seen at the eDelivery Expo (EDX16), which takes place at the NEC Birmingham 27th and 28th April. Delegates attending The Multichannel Fulfilment Conference track within the tradeshow will hear from a range of experts sharing views, expertise, case studies on best practice in multichannel fulfilment and how it is becoming the new battleground for customer loyalty.
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/e-commerce-and-internet-use/eu-comparisons/sty-e-commerce-in-the-uk-and-the-european-union.html http://www.cityam.com/225833/uk-e-commerce-capital-eu-four-five-britons-shopping-online-past-year http://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2015/07/electrical-goods-to-surpass-fashion-in-online-market 4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27420599 1 2 3
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
SPOTLIGHT ON: EU DATA LAW
EU DATA U-TURN MEANS LET OFF FOR ELECTRICAL RETAILERS
DENE WALSH, OPERATIONS AND COMPLIANCE DIRECTOR OF VERSO GROUP AND CHAIR OF ENFORCEMENT AND REGULATION HUB, DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION CONTACT CENTRE AND TELEMARKETING COUNCIL, PROVIDES AN UPDATE ON EU DATA LAW.
about face by Brussels means the electrical retail sector can now be assured of the future use of digital pop-up advertising and direct marketing. Only a few weeks ago the last official communiqué clearly indicated the likelihood of a draconian type law in which opt-in permission would need to be based on consumers electing to receive messages based on narrowly defined subject matter and communications channel. This would have applied to all existing customer data files, plus it would have prevented digital pop-up advertising. According to the latest report, this is no more, and regulation will be more or less what we have now. In addition, the probable threat to digital advertising and profiling has been lifted after it was decided any marketing data that cannot directly identify an individual can be used freely.
The trilogue responsible for deciding the new regulations – the EU Parliament, Commission and Council – have relented from their previous
stance and put the interests of business, and in particular SMEs, first. The previous stance of requiring consumers to agree to opt-in to specific subjects and forms of communication before any messaging could take place has been replaced with consent needing to be ‘unambiguous’ as the key qualification. Without the change in policy it would have ruled out any leeway to send generic sales messages. Specific subject matter would have had to have been agreed with consumers in advance and sent by a method also agreed. The effect would have been to make it almost impossible to operate any form of loyalty-based marketing programme. The key criterion for opt-in consent now is being clear in proposing that communication will take place with an emphasis on transparency and plain language.
The policy change is based on the technicality of legitimate interest now being considered reason for companies to use personal data for marketing purposes. The revised draft of the law more or less mirrors existing UK rules
regarding consent, though all opt-in terms and conditions will need to be re-written. Plus, there are nonspecific warnings that data users will have to more rigidly abide by the law and make careful assessments of relationships with individuals. Quite what this means and how it will manifest itself is unclear. Punishment for breaches of the new law are proposed as being as high as 4% of turnover, which for major corporations applies to global income.
The previous statement from the trilogue in October declared there would be no use of tracking data, and no profiling or segmentation without explicit consent. This threatened the future of digital advertising. But now any data that cannot directly identify an individual is considered to be within the boundaries of use. However, in terms of profiling there will be the right of consumers to opt out. Whether or not online identifiers such as cookies fall into the definition of personal data will, under the new regulations, depend on where they are placed in the online ecosystem. A cookie placed by an internet service provider will be classified as personal data as it could identify the individual, but a cookie placed by an advertiser that cannot be linked to an email address or any other personal information is not likely to be presumed personal data. This is a massive about-face by the European authorities.
There was also concern that companies would be forced to appoint internal data protection officers, but any thoughts of mandatory appointments for SMEs have gone. For larger companies, and those that specialise in processing data, such a position will be compulsory, though most within these two categories will already have a data protection officer.
There will be a right to be forgotten and free access data provision, but the latter only applies in reasonable circumstances yet to be defined. These two changes to the law may have the biggest impact for some companies. The right to be forgotten involves creating an easily recognisable way of requesting personal information is erased, and the request will have to be acted upon promptly. For most companies this will involve creating a new data protocol, and software changes may have to be made. Access data will be free, rather than the £10 that can currently be charged. For major users of consumer data, providing members of the public with details of their data files could add up to be an expensive procedure. The latest news on the negotiations paints a much more positive picture than the previous update. As it currently stands, the EU data law looks similar to the rules we operate under now, although there will be a need to adapt to the new regulations with changes such as altering consent opt-in terms. MARCH 2016 GET CONNECTED
FROM THE BENCH
WHY IS THE SOUND FROM SLIM TVS SO POOR? WHAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE IT? ALAN BENNETT PROVIDES THE ANSWERS
he ever-shrinking depth of LCD and particularly OLED screens has done much for their appearance and user appeal, but actually degraded their sound. Even though improvements are on the horizon, external loudspeakers provide the only real solution.
INTERNAL TV SPEAKERS
Bezel-mounted speakers have now disappeared, as the picture frame became fashionably thin. The scenario now generally features wafer-thin ones facing backwards; to the viewer the effect is like listening to someone talking with their back to you! Not only that, but inbuilt speakers give a thin and tinny sound, deficient in bass response; some TV manufacturers have given up on them, left them out altogether and provided various types of screen-external sound generators, most often in soundbar form. The wavelengths of audible sound range from about 1.7cm (treble ranges) to 17m for deep bass, a basic and immovable physical and acoustic characteristic. It’s simply impossible to generate these from small diaphragms, and their absence detracts hugely from realistic reproduction of real-world sound. Thus it’s never going to be possible to create a rich soundfield from anything incorporated into a thin viewing screen. Most current TVs use the most practical device for this, a very small squashed version of the movingcoil loudspeaker, restricted in volume and severely lacking in bass oomph: our ears can hear sounds ranging down in frequency to 50Hz (cycles per second) or less, while many of these speakers struggle to be effective much below 200Hz. An emerging technology is that of ceramic/piezo film speakers, 1mm or less in thickness, which depend on the flexing action of a crystal when stimulated by an applied voltage. They were first used in an OLED TV by LG. Further into the future is a transparent sheet-film speaker which overlays the TV screen. Its whole surface acts as a generator and radiator of sound, driven by ceramic motors built into the screen’s bezel. Neither of these technologies will be able to match conventional moving-coil cone speakers in terms of output power and bass response, however. 34
GET CONNECTED MARCH 2016
Kyocera piezo-sheet loudspeaker for thinscreen TV
TV broadcasters and especially producers of concerts and movies go to much trouble to produce really good and immersive sound, and it’s almost criminal to restrict this to the sort of throttling involved in sound generators built into thin-screens!
The simplest improvement in TV sound is the soundbar or soundbase, comprehensively covered in my column on page 40 of our September 2012 issue and still available on our website. I believe that a basic soundbar is the very minimum necessary for enjoyment of almost any TV programme, even for everyday viewing, beating as it does any sound reproducer built into the screen. Better is a 2.1 type with separate subwoofer, in wired or wireless form – built into a soundbar, a subwoofer cannot really cut the mustard as well as a heavy standalone one, even though it is simpler in installation and use. The ideal soundbar in this respect would have an auto-recognising remote control detector, identifying the audio commands of any TV model (volume, bass, treble, balance, mute etc.) and taking them to itself without any setting up or matching routines – truly plug and play, with no need for its own zapper. Some TVs have a ‘disable speaker’ or ‘external speaker’ feature in their user- or installation menu for use with an external sound system. The most ambitious soundbar I know is the Samsung HW-K950, with Dolby Atmos feature.
The next step up from an (ordinary!) soundbar is, of course, an all-in-one system incorporating a Blu-ray player and offering a cost-effective first step into true surround sound in the lounge. They come in a very wide range of features, powers and prices now, and the surround speakers do not need to be intrusive: relatively small ones can be used because the low frequency content comes from the subwoofer, which can be hidden almost anywhere in the room. At this point we start to move into the realm of what might be called enthusiast sound systems.
Straddling living room and dedicated cinema installations, a full-blown 5.1 or 7.1/7.2 system (the latter mainly for use in a room used exclusively for movie viewing) can approach the soundstage presented by a cinema; and recent movies, coming off air, off disc or online, can be dramatic and stimulating, especially in their special effects – a world away from built-in screen and soundbar listening experiences. These are not as cheap as simpler systems, of course, but provide a good profit for their purveyors, beyond the range of many competitors, and offer scope to those skilled in selling up add-ons and accessories. The ultimate upgrade in home audio equipment at present is the Dolby Atmos system (page 19, October 2014) which brings a new, vertical dimension to surround sound, very effective with recent movies which incorporate it. Either living rooms or – much better – dedicated cinema rooms can incorporate up-firing loudspeakers for the vertical sound components, though the latter benefits best from ceiling-mounted speakers, along with two subwoofers and (although the rule of diminishing returns applies) as many speakers as may be. You’re not going to sell many of these each day, but we have come a long way from skinny speakers talking to the wall!
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04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word In and around the industry 16 The Product Gallery 18 GC Product Design Awards Call for entries for Get Conn...
Published on Mar 16, 2016
04 Editorial Comment 06 The Word In and around the industry 16 The Product Gallery 18 GC Product Design Awards Call for entries for Get Conn...