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TV IN 2012 With CES in Las Vegas producing some Smart developments, 3D ideas, big screens, impressive new OLED products and fresh, fine designs, George Cole looks at the prospects for retailers in this core Consumer Electronics sector

INDUCTION HOBS Induction has been a slow-burn proposition in the UK, but its benefits in style, convenience, controllability and energy efficiency are being increasingly appreciated by UK consumers, and lower prices are drawing the technology into the mainstream

GROWTH FROM KNOWLEDGE GfK’s factual look at the UK induction hobs market

FROM THE BENCH Alan Bennett considers the “digital dividend” as analogue fades

BACKCHAT SquareTrade’s Vince Tseng gives a 2-minute interview

100 years at the heart of great British cooking. Founded in 1912 by a pioneering engineer, Belling has been at the heart of British cooking for 100 years, producing uniquely British products for British cooks which are manufactured right here in the UK. Join us for a year of celebrations to mark our centenary.

Here’s to 2012, the year of Belling.

16874 Belling 100yrs Connected 230x160.indd 1

13/1/12 16:36:05


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Editorial comment

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The Word

In and around the industry


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Warranties in the UK

The market is becoming more competitive and offers many opportunities for retailers. Feature sponsored by UK Warranty

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The Product Gallery

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TV in 2012

Smarter, bigger, slimmer. George Cole looks at the core of the Consumer Electronics market

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George Cole Gets Connected

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Induction Feature

A long, close look at the cooking technology that is revolutionising the UK hobs market p13 FAGOR SPOUTNIK FREESTANDING MICROWAVE


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Growth from Knowledge

GfK with the facts & figures on the growing induction market in the UK


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From the Bench

Alan Bennett assesses the “digital dividend” as the UK’s analogue TV shuts down Copyright © 2012 Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher. Get Connected is published by Mud Hut Publishing Ltd., Alresford House, 60 West Street, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7EH.

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Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway Telephone: 01420 886 33  Editorial & Publishing Director: Terry Heath Telephone: 01420 886 33  Magazine Advertising Sales: Telephone: 01420 886 33 


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Industry comment and a 2-minute interview with FairTrade MD Vince Tseng

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

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Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief

The New Year is well under way with more indications – if any were needed – that retail is struggling for business against consumer caution and apprehension.

The price-based promotions, sales and offers that both food and non-food retailers applied to persuade shoppers to part with their cash may achieve more volume, but with a disastrous effect on margins. Even the mighty Tesco has had to admit that its “Price Drop” promotion was a disaster. Sacrificing profit for share is always a dangerous option, but the panic of Christmas drives retailers to it every year. The choice of selling ten items at a loss, or five items at a profit, shouldn’t be a difficult one to make. But our industry – particularly Consumer Electronics – seems to have chosen to pursue the “share is everything” route, devaluing genuine technological advances, failing to extract full value from investment in R&D, and – critically for our retail industry – leaving dealers with very little manoeuvrability on margins. This time last year, in this column, we quoted the then MD of Sony UK & Ireland saying “we have to stop the race to the bottom.” With many consumers facing anxiety about employment and a drop in real disposable income, it seems that, for some in this business, that race is seen as the only option to keep them in with a share of the fiercely competitive market, especially in consumer electronics. That’s not any great comfort to bricksand-mortar specialist electrical retailers who have to manage their customers’ expectations alongside their need to maintain some sort of margin. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, CES was in January presenting its usual glitzy, upbeat,

celeb-laden, new technology-oriented show. Back in the UK, specialist electrical retailers were probably thinking “that’s all very exciting, but let’s focus on what’s coming for me to sell in 2012. What’s going to stimulate my customers into buying, and what’s going to deliver me a livable margin?” Don’t mistake my drift. CES is very exciting, there are some outstanding products ready to go or on the way, and nobody can fail to have been impressed by stunning new OLED panels, 3D systems and Smart TV developments. But journalists do tend to dwell on the brown goods and gadgets, failing to fully acknowledge that CES is about white goods too, now, and that’s where retailers in the UK have more prospects of earning a living in 2012. So we did ask our correspondents in Las Vegas this year to try, while communicating the excitement, to focus as much as possible on the practical realities, to avoid getting too carried away by the celebrity sightings, the opulence, the free drinks and food and entertainment, and to remember who our readers are. It can’t be much of a spirit-raiser for our retailers, at the beginning of what may be another difficult year, to be told that someone is having a great time in the fantasy world of Las Vegas. On the bright side, this is the year of the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. A chance for retailers to work with the feelgood factor, and to offer ways to watch and celebrate the big events with the latest, brightest, biggest kit.

Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director

Will Dobson Creative Director

James McIntosh Consumer Consultant

Lynne Henry Communications Officer, GfK Marketing Services

George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant

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





FOR 2012 Get Connected is bringing its established experience in industry Awards to a new partnership.

Get Connected has agreed to become Trade Media Partner in a new Electrical Industry Awards Scheme to be launched this year.


in and around the industry

Comet sheds jobs THE

Non-food inflation falls to zero



Comet, which recently passed into the control of purchaser OpCapita, is to lose around 450 jobs among repair services staff as “part of a strategic review of the business.” Commenting on the decision, chief executive Bob Darke said: “The proposal to reduce our staff numbers has been a very tough decision to make but significant savings are required to secure the long-term viability of our business.” In its last trading statement the UK chain reported sales down 14.5% compared to the same period last year.

John Clare, who became chairman of Comet when the sale to OpCapita was finalised, had already indicated that the chain would be outsourcing repair and delivery operations to cut costs. “The opportunity is for Comet to get back to its core proposition,” he said in an interview. “I’ve known this business since the 1980s, and giving value to customers is what’s embedded in its roots.” Repair and delivery are, said Mr Clare, services that “can be performed more competently by others, whose core competency it is.”

January sales fall 0.3%

More empty shops on UK high streets in 2012

January retail sales recorded the second worst like-for-like performance in 17 years as values fell 0.3% on the same period last year. The BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed sales rose 2.1% on a total basis (taking new stores into account), against a 4.2% increase in January 2011. Helen Dickinson, Head of Retail at KPMG, said the figures were “rather sobering” after a stronger than expected December. Unsurprisingly, food sales slowed sharply after their Christmas boost. Non-food also weakened and any gains were largely driven by widespread heavy discounting in clearance sales. Non-food non-store (internet, mail-order and phone) sales growth slowed again after picking up sharply in December. Sales were 11.3% up on a year ago, against December’s 18.5% gain, but roughly in line with the 12.3% in January 2011.

The Local Data Company is forecasting that the number of vacant shops on the UK’s high streets will increase in 2012, after relatively stable vacancy rates were maintained at around 14.3% in 2011. LDC said that out-of-town centres’ share of shopping increased from 28.1% in 2000 to 31.5% in 2011, and highlighted the fact that the overall average high street shop vacancy rate conceals massive regional differences, from a high of more than 30% in Stockport to a low of 8.2% in St. Albans. Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “There are a number of proposals on the table for tackling declining town centres – many from the Portas Review – and we believe it is vital to stop talking and get on with implementing them as quickly as possible. Bringing empty shops back into use by allowing conversion to residential is one that could be implemented quickly and easily.” Speaking for the BRC, director general Stephen Robertson said vacancy rates are “worryingly high,” and reiterated calls for the


The BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index for January 2012 shows that, while overall shop price inflation fell to 1.4% (from 1.7% in December), non-food inflation was down to zero, and electrical goods prices fell at the fastest rate for three years, into negative inflation. BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “With the impact of the 2011 VAT rise finally gone from annual comparisons these figures show how retailers are holding down prices for customers. Even though retailers are facing higher transport and property costs, overall non-food prices are exactly the same as a year ago. Within that, clothing, furniture and electricals were all cheaper than 12 months ago with the price of electrical goods falling at its fastest rate for three years.”

Government to reduce business rates, which are due to go up by 5.6% in April this year. The report follows the initiative from the Government, offering a total £1 million in funding for 12 UK high streets to apply to become “Portas Pilots” in a revitalisation support scheme. The scheme invites applications from local retail groups, as part of the measures proposed by Mary Portas. Local Government minister Grant Shapps said: “What we’re looking for are innovative ideas, towns who are prepared to come together, put together their own town-teams, involving retailers and landlords and probably their local council and MP, to put their proposals forward that work in their particular area.” The scheme is a “golden ticket” opportunity for town centres, he added. Applications should take the form of a video – which Mr Shapps said need not be professionally made but “just YouTube style things” – and must be submitted by 30 March.


Vita Audio brought under Ruark banner Ruark has brought its Vita Audio brand under the Ruark Audio umbrella after rapid expansion of Vita’s radio and small audio products. Ruark said in a statement that the products had been called Vita to save confusion with Ruark loudspeakers, many of which have become highly regarded by audio enthusiasts worldwide for sound quality and aesthetics. However, the company said that the greater than expected success of its small audio range has prompted the decision that, for the time being, it will no longer produce loudspeakers.

Former Best Buy executive appointed MD of Argos Home Retail Group has announced the appointment of former Best Buy Executive Vice President John Walden as Managing Director of its struggling Argos business. Walden held the role of Executive Vice President at Best Buy Co., Inc. from 1999 to 2007. He was a member of the executive committee and had a range of responsibilities which included the internet and direct channels division and customer centric strategy. Terry Duddy, Home Retail Group Chief Executive, said: “We look forward to John bringing a valuable, fresh perspective to the future development of Argos.” Home Retail Group reported like-for-like sales down 8.8% at Argos in the final 18 weeks of 2011 and announced plans to reduce the number of stores from 759 to around 750 this year.

John Browett leaves Dixons for Apple Dixons Retail, owner of Currys and PC World, has announced that chief executive John Browett is to leave the company in April to join Apple as senior vice president of retail. Browett, who had been piloting a longterm revitalisation and refurbishment strategy, will be replaced as CEO by Sebastian James, currently the group operations director, who has been with Dixons since 2008. Katie Bickerstaffe, who has worked with Sebastian James on Dixons’ revitalisation plan since 2008, will be promoted to the board and become head of operations in the UK and Ireland.

Extended Warranties: OFT market study finds room for improvement The Office of Fair Trading market study on the extended warranties electricals market has provisionally concluded that “features of this market prevent, restrict or distort competition,” and that there are grounds to refer it to the Competition Commission. However, legal undertakings offered by Dixons, Comet and Argos, the largest retail providers of extended warranties, may avoid the matter being referred for investigation. If the OFT accepts the legally binding and enforceable undertakings from these retailers, it will be only the second time it has done so in lieu of making a Market Investigation Reference to the Competition Commission. In short, if warranty providers and electrical retailers were hoping for a clearcut decision from the OFT, and closure of one kind or another on this market study, they have been disappointed. We will now have to wait and see if the OFT is minded to accept the retailers’ undertakings to improve warranty sales practices, and that will be subject to further consultation. The OFT expects to reach a final decision on whether to accept the undertakings later this spring. Where exactly this leaves electrical retailers who are not Dixons, Comet or Argos, and who have not given legally enforceable undertakings to the OFT, is not yet clear. This is the third time in a decade that the OFT has looked into extended warranties, and there is still no clear-cut decision or ruling on which the industry can move forward with confidence. For further detail of the OFT’s market study and said retailers’ undertakings, visit:

Sir Howard Stringer to step down as Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer, the first non-Japanese national to head Sony when he took over the running of the business in 2005, is to step down as CEO on April 1 2012. He will be replaced by Kazuo Hirai, head of consumer products, who takes on the titles of President and Chief Executive. Mr Stringer will remain as Chairman. Sony said in a statement that Mr. Stringer recommended to the Sony Board of Directors that Mr. Hirai, currently Executive Deputy President, be his successor as President and CEO. “Mr. Stringer will continue as Chairman of Sony Corporation until his ascension to the Board Chairmanship, which will become effective upon Board approval following the annual meeting of shareholders in June, when the current Chairman, Yotaro Kobayashi, will retire. Mr. Hirai is also expected to be appointed to the Board at the June shareholders meeting.”

See for the stories behind the news…

 Consumers confused by technology Study highlights the everyday challenges presented by gadgets and appliances

 De’Longhi acquires Nokia manufacturing plant Romanian facility will help “rebalance” Italian company’s manufacturing structure

 Birmingham youngster wins Beko Mums United competition 6-year old striker nets £1,000

 Specialist electronics retailers failing to convert online browsers to buyers 52% of shoppers buy from internet mass merchants

 “Halt damaging business rates hike,” appeals BPF British Property Federation calls on Government to cap annual business rates increase

 UK businesses plan to reduce capital investment SMEs “most likely to create jobs” over next 12 months




Sony Ericsson, the mobile

Panasonic recorded a pre-tax loss of ¥350 billion for the 3 months ending 31 December, the Corporation’s third fiscal quarter, and warned that the net loss for the full year to 31 March 2012 will be a record ¥780 billion. The TV and Mobile Phones segment reported losses of ¥32.7 billion, compared to a ¥101.2 billion profit the year before. Home Appliances fared better, with sales up 1% to ¥979.2 billion and a profit ¥78.6 billion.

telephone company that Sony is shortly due to take full ownership of by acquiring Ericsson’s 50% share for €1.05 billion, posted a pre-tax loss of €207 million for the final quarter of 2011. Full-year figures showed a net loss of €247 million compared to a profit of €8 million Euros in the previous year.

Apple recorded a record-breaking quarterly net profit of £8.36 billion for the three months to 31 December 2011, 118% up on the same period in 2010. 37 million iPhones were sold in the period, a 100% increase on last year. Waning sales of the iPod (down 21%) were more than compensated by a 111% increase in iPad sales and a 26% increase in sales of Mac computers.

Samsung announced full year 2011 revenue at an all-time high of 165 trillion won, up 7% from the previous year. Net income registered 13.73 trillion won, down 15% compared with 2010, while operating profit, at 16.25 trillion won, declined 6%. Philips Electronics confirmed a net loss of €160 million (£134 million) for the last three months of 2011, and a loss for the whole year of €1.29 billion. This is the first annual loss recorded by the group since 2008.

BSkyB reported pre-tax profits up 27% in the last six months of 2011, compared to the same period in 2010, with sales largely driven by TV, telephone and broadband packages to existing customers. Sky said its annual revenue per customer increased from £536 to £544, and churn rate has been kept down to 10%.



Electrolux posted Q4 earnings just

Amazon announced that, despite a 35% increase in revenues in the three months to December 31st 2011, net income took a sharp drop, down to $177 million for the quarter, compared to $416 million in the same quarter of 2010. The company warned that it may show a loss in the first three months of 2012 as it continues to invest in Kindle products. LG Electronics reported a net loss of KRW 112 billion in Q4 earnings, down from a loss of KRW 414 billion in Q3. Sales in the quarter increased 7.1% to KRW 13.8 trillion, compared to KRW 12.9 trillion in Q3. A total net loss of KRW 433 billion was posted for fullyear 2011. Sony reported a bigger-thanexpected net loss of ¥159 billion (£1.3 billion) for the 3 months ended 31 December 2011, against a profit of ¥72 billion in the same quarter of 2010. Sales were down 17%. The company has now forecast a loss of ¥220 billion for the full financial year to end of March 2012, a sharp increase on the loss of ¥90 billion forecast in November.

ahead of forecast and said it expected flat or falling demand in the European market this year. Overall sales in the quarter rose to SEK28.34 billion, up from SEK27.56 billion a year earlier. The company reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax of SEK1.44 billion, down from last year’s SEK1.71. Net sales for the full year 2011 declined 4% (up 1.9% in comparable currencies) to SEK101.59 billion.

Virgin Media posted annual net income of £76 million in 2011, the first time a full-year profit has been achieved. In the final quarter to 31 December, strong demand for its TiVo television service and broadband products drove profit to £48.2 million, reversing the previous quarter’s loss of £73.8 million. Whirlpool posted Q4 net earnings of $205 million compared to $171 million during the same period last year. Sales slipped to $4.9 billion from $5.0 billion as improved price/mix was offset by unfavourable currency and lower industry demand. An operating profit of $205 million compared with $202 million in the prior year was recorded. Full-year 2011 sales reached $18.7 billion, up 2% on 2010, while operating profit totalled $792 million, down from $1.0 billion.


Sony’s “big role” in the connected world Gildas Pelliet, MD of Sony UK & Ireland, speaking at this year’s Sony Technology Conference, presented an upbeat but realistic vision of the “big role” Sony is expected to play in the connected, multi-device, content-hungry future of the consumer electronics market, and emphasised that Sony, with its synergies in the provision of content, services and products, is well placed to take a strong position in “helping people enjoy great quality content.” M. Pelliet said that, as consumers demand faster, more convenient and more connected ways to access, create and share content across a growing number of devices – such as tablets, telephones and Internet TV – with AV-connectable potential, the UK’s uptake of connected technology shows it is “clearly leading in this area.” However, M. Pelliet and his UK team are acutely aware that, even with the opportunities presented by the UK’s clear appetite for connected Audio Visual and IT (AVIT) products, there is work to be done to maximize AVIT sales through giving consumers a clear understanding of what they can do. “Retail is the challenge,” said Sony marketing director Shaun Dorrington. “Consumers don’t understand the extent of available content access yet, and we are committed to working with retailers to help them explain.” M. Pelliet added that the “business reality” is that, in the UK, the share of discretionary spend taken by AVIT sales was down 10% in 2011, emphasizing that consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers are not only competing with each other for sales, but with all the other goods and services – for example holidays, home improvements, motor vehicles

– that are fighting for a share of the UK’s £321 billion a year discretionary spending power. He said that consumers often pay less than they intended to for CE products, because the added benefits of superior products are not clearly presented, explained and demonstrated. Customers are given no good reason to spend more, and settle for a cheaper version, paying less than they had budgeted, and often being disappointed. Some £2.2 billion is lost in sales value through retailers selling under their customers’ budgeted spend. Sony’s own research has shown, as well, that 27% of consumers who set out to buy a consumer electronics product give up through confusion or lack of clear information, and fail to follow through to purchase. “We must work with our retailers to correct this,” says M. Pelliet. “High quality in-store broadband and wi-fi connections, for example, are essential for demonstration because all devices are becoming Internet-connected. And product training is more important than ever. Independents can take on the challenge, because they have quality staff. We are really going to work with them.” He outlined Sony’s ongoing retailer training programmes, including face-to-face and online training, and said that the Retail Activation Team had achieved a 30% uplift in average persale value. Sony’s European Partner Support Programme, aimed at supporting retailers who demonstrate and explain the quality and full potential of products will also be strongly resourced in 2012. In 2012, the focus for Sony will be on “sustainability,” and M. Pelliet said there will be a “3-pronged attack”: restructuring the


business to meet changing conditions will necessitate “tough decisions”; broadening and expanding the consumer proposition will improve such things as attachment rates; and work will follow through on delivering against customers’ needs and wants. “The UK is a sophisticated market,” said M. Pelliet. Consumers research, source and compare products through a number of different information media, but “most customer journeys end up in-store.” This means that the quality of staff and service provided by independent retailers will be a key element in selling the complex but highly appealing range of Consumer Electronics products.

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Major industry figures to speak at retra Conference Industry body retra has announced some of the headline speakers confirmed for this year’s annual Conference, which will be held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Hotel on April 16-17. Gildas Pelliet, Sony’s managing director, Michael Steinle, chief executive of BSH Home Appliances, Jonathan Casley, sales and marketing director at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances and Gary Sharp, sales director at Morphy Richards, are among the high-profile industry figures confirmed for the event, which this year is themed “The Winning Pitch”. Also on the bill are Nigel Catlow, business group director of consumer electronics at GfK, who will give delegates an update on where the industry is heading, Charles Gordon, owner of, Graham Loosley, a senior consultant in search engine marketing and optimisation at KPI Business Services, and James Drummie, a product manager at AWE Europe, one of the largest distributors in the custom installation market.

Product recalls up 27% in 2011 UK product recalls rose 27% in 2011, driven by a combination of cash-strapped consumers buying cheaper goods and the supply chain disruptions resulting from last year’s Japanese and Thai disasters, according to research by City law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP. The study by RPC shows that 291 product recalls were recorded in 2011, compared to 229 in 2010, fuelled by a rise in faulty electrical consumer products, up 45% from 2010, along with a doubling in the number of recalls involving food products. RPC partner Stuart White said the increase this year could have been fed by high consumer demand for cheaper brands, particularly in the case of bigger ticket household products like cookers or freezers. “It may be that some white label or smaller producers have had to source cheaper suppliers to be competitive,” he said. 2011 was the second year in a row to see record-breaking rises, according to the figures. 10


Assurant Solutions has appointed Emma Poultney as Client Development Manager, responsible for delivering business growth for a number of key clients in the mobile and extended warranty sectors. Big Red Sales Limited has been appointed to handle the UK sales of AM, Denmark’s AV and IT accessories specialist. The arrangement covers AM’s range of AV cleaning products and cables.

LG Electronics’ new range of TrueSteam™ dishwashers (D1454BF & D1454TF) has been awarded the ‘Quiet Mark’ – a mark of approval given by the Noise Abatement Society and validated by the Association of Noise Consultants. Loewe has restructured its UK sales team and brought two new members on board. Graham Knowles joins as Account Manager for premier department stores and the custom install sector, and Graham

Groves as Account Manager responsible for Partner/Partner Plus accounts. Former Account Manager Adam Jones takes charge as UK Sales Manager, and Wayne Dowridge becomes Galerie Account Manager, having previously worked on the brand exclusively with Harrods. BSH Home Appliances Ltd has announced the appointment of Brendan Bulfin as Head of Customer Services in the UK. He succeeds Bernhard Vocke, who held the post from 2002 to 2011 and has now moved to BSH head office in Munich to run all overseas Customer Service operations for the Group. GDHA has named stem cell charity Anthony Nolan as its Charity of the Year. The initiative is part of Belling’s centenary celebrations and the brand hopes to raise at least £10,000 from staff fundraising and a contribution from sales of a product range created to mark the 100th year anniversary.

Onkyo Corporation forms alliance with TEAC Onkyo Corporation has announced a strategic alliance with TEAC Corporation, through which both businesses will acquire shares of each other’s stock. The two companies said they are exploring ways to share manufacturing facilities, logistic centres and R&D resources. The move is reported to be part of Onkyo’s corporate goal to enhance shareholder value and meet the demands of a changing marketplace. It follows the partnering with Gibson Guitar Corporation earlier this year, which put Gibson in the position of second largest shareholder in Onkyo Corporation Japan and majority stakeholder in Onkyo USA.

Distributor “cannot any longer make a living” Distributor Harris and Russell has closed its operation after 90 years of trading. In a press statement, the company said it was “signing off with much regret, since we cannot any longer make a living distributing Panasonic, Samsung, Sanyo, Sony and Toshiba and we can’t see any likelihood of improvement.” H&R wished its customers and suppliers well and thanked them for their business, adding: “It’s been a long journey together over three generations…. it’s always been interesting, often challenging (difficult), occasionally rewarding (though not lately).” MidwichHome has acquired H&R’s trade names and customer list.


UK Warranty aims high The UK affinities market welcomes a major new player in the warranty sector in 2012. UK Warranty Ltd will provide bespoke end-to-end brown and white goods warranty solutions to manufacturers, electrical retailers, supermarkets, online retailers, mail order catalogues and department stores. UK Warranty is based in Durham and is a joint venture between service and support provider Pacifica Group and Leeds-based specialist insurer UK General Limited. John Neill managing director, UK Warranty Ltd., talks to GC about the new business’ plans to capture 5% of the UK’s circa £550 million warranty marketplace within the next couple of years. JOHN NEILL IS MANAGING DIRECTOR OF UK WARRANTY LTD.


lthough the UK warranty market is competitive, we believe our business model, which focuses on a one-stop-shop approach, will prove attractive to the affinity market. UK Warranty will provide warranty from the moment of sale as well as the manufacturers’ warranty across brown and white goods, computers, gadgets and small domestic appliances, gas and boiler breakdown. We are also planning to introduce home emergency cover from the early part of this year.

New proposition The UK Warranty proposition differs from our competitors because we can cover the customer journey from start to finish on behalf of our affinity partners. Our partners can put their trust in one provider, as opposed to having to manage relationships with two or more links in the chain. We have spent plenty of time talking to potential clients, and they have told us that a single provider is attractive. The joint venture will manage all aspects of the warranty value chain, from underwriting and pricing, building on our existing track record and market leading underwriting knowledge, to the repair and replacement process. We also have an existing track record; UK General is already a successful player in the market, thanks to a number of affinity deals, which gives it 10% of the market. In our research we found that other providers offer an ‘all or nothing’ approach, which may work for the provider, but may not be the best option for clients. Our solution is to build a product and service package to suit our clients, not ourselves, and we have focused on creating additional revenue streams, such as white labelled solutions delivered post-sale with little or no need for interaction by the manufacturer or retailer. All our propositions have been benchmarked to ensure they are at least as good as, or better than, our rivals.

Protect, fulfill, service, grow UK Warranty is looking forward to making our expertise in the schemes and affinities market work harder for the benefit of our partners. We aim to be the number three player in the UK within the next two years, using our four strand approach to winning and retaining business: protect, fulfill, service and grow:

PROTECT: Our market-leading range of warranty products protects customers and their goods while providing additional income and a competitive edge to our partners’ business. FULFILL: UK Warranty offers a choice of distribution and fulfilment options that have been designed to seamlessly integrate into our partners’ existing business models with minimal disruption. SERVICE: Our UK-wide repair and replacement service provides an efficient, ‘peace of mind’ service with the customer at the heart of every decision and action we undertake. Our affinity partners’ brand reputation is protected and enhanced by the quality of service we deliver to the end customer. GROW: We believe there is always the opportunity to grow and UK Warranty has a proven track record of enhancing our partners’ revenue and maximising growth potential.

UK Market changes need fresh approach The overall size of the UK warranty market for brown and white goods has shrunk slightly since the financial crisis, but was still worth over £11.3bn in 2010, and was forecast to grow marginally to £11.6bn by 2014 [source: Finnacord]. UK warranty aims to establish itself in the UK market during the next 12 months by offering a fresh approach. The established players have become complacent, and we want to shake things up. For example, we don’t believe warranty customers are best acquired at point-of-sale, especially as so much shopping has moved online. We will be targeting electrical retailers and wholesalers, online and offline, as well as supermarkets, department stores, kitchen specialists and mail order businesses. UK Warranty can offer fully white labelled products, but we have also created new opportunities for retailers and manufacturers other providers cannot offer.

“The established players have become complacent”

Our extended warranty products can also guarantee the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s warranty and we can streamline efficiency for manufacturers and enhance customer service for retailers by storing spare parts on their behalf. Our proposition includes a nationwide 0800 repair network of CRB-checked engineers, giving our clients’ customers extra peace of mind. This gives UK Warranty a big point of difference from competitors as our repair team is trained and managed centrally, so the service we provide is consistent. Many providers subcontract work to local traders who may not apply the service standards expected by clients; poor service reflects badly on their brand and reputation. We have spent time on product development and have benchmarked them to ensure that they are offering competitive prices and a more comprehensive warranty product for clients. Some warranty products have hidden costs that are passed on to the customer when repairing or replacing a product. Our products have been developed to new ABI (Association of British Insurers) standards so there are no hidden clauses or caveats. Our research has also determined that, aside from generating new revenue streams, affinities want minimal disruption to their core business and protection for their brand and reputation. In effect this translates into high quality seamless customer service, which we are confident UK Warranty can provide. Our warranties will also be netrated, so our clients can set their own rates.

New deals UK Warranty has already signed two deals this year worth over £500,000. We have made a fast start with these two deals and have received expressions of interest from a number of other affinities. I am confident that UK Warranty will quickly establish itself as a name to watch in the warranty market next year.  JAN/FEB 2012 GET CONNECTED


Dimplex Redway wall fire Dimplex has extended its Display and Demonstrate range of fires with the launch of the Redway wall fire, featuring the award-winning Opti-myst® variable smoke and flame effect and a black and anthracite finish. The Display and Demonstrate range has been created to help drive sales via independent retailers. Products come with an extended guarantee. ¿

Remote control


Concealed 2kW fan heater with fast warm-up and thermostat control


Quick-fit IEC kettle-type connection


BEAB approved

0845 601 5111

Tefal Fresh Express The new Fresh Express from Tefal promises an easy way for consumers to get their ‘5 a day’, without the effort of manual food preparation. The appliance has 5 attachments for thick slicing, fine slicing, coarse shredding, fine shredding and cheese grating and is said to handle food prep “in a flash.” ¿

Compact design with drum storage system


Direct serve spout


Dishwasher-safe attachments


Retractable cord storage

01753 834900

GenevaSound Model XS portable hi-fi sound system This portable Bluetooth-enabled hi-fi sound system from GenevaSound is a compact clamshell unit incorporating a complete system of speakers, amplifiers, radio and alarm clock. Its waterproof case, available in red, white or black faux leather, flips open to reveal a piano-lacquered cabinet inset with the brand’s distinctive domed grille. ¿

2.1 speaker system with two 1” tweeters and one 2¼” woofer


Rechargeable lithium battery with more than 5 hours’ playtime / AC power adapter with cable


Digital FM radio tuner with auto search function / Digital clock with alarm


LED display for volume/mode/frequency / TouchLight controls – backlit, touch-sensitive


Stereo mini line-in jack for external audio

0843 2897195

Elipson BS50 loudspeaker Elipson has reintroduced its BS50 loudspeaker to honour the landmark models that have shaped its history, in celebration of the brand’s 60th birthday. As the first speaker to achieve fame, the BS 50 has been reproduced using the latest 21st century materials while preserving the acoustic sound qualities that were unique to the original design. ¿

System: 2 way / Enclosure: Bass Reflex


Frequency range (+/- 3dB): 40 - 20000 Hz


Impedance: 8 Ohms Ω / Sensitivity: 90 dB


Max music power: 80 Watts

01923 205600 12


Fagor Spoutnik freestanding microwave Fagor has launched a new and rather unusual design of microwave oven which it believes represents “an exciting new sales proposition for electrical retailers.” The product has a dome-shaped translucent topopening lid with smooth operating system and a 28cm turntable with illumination that changes from blue to red when food is cooked. ¿

Electronic LCD control panel


Cooking modes: High temperature, Low temperature, Reheat and Defrost


Quick Start option


Available in 3 bright colours: Blue Odyssey, Green Flash and Ultra Violet

01256 308 067

Q Acoustics 2050i floor-standing loudspeaker Q Acoustics’ 2000i Series flagship model, the 2050i, boasts “ultra-low, class leading levels of distortion, a superfast transient response, extended bass and wonderfully smooth, open treble.” The unit is available in Graphite Black/Walnut and Piano Black/White. ¿

Enclosure type: 2-way reflex


Bass vUnit: 2 x 165mm / Treble Unit: 25mm


Frequency Response: 44Hz - 22kHz


Nominal Impedance: 6Ω / Minimum Impedance: 4Ω


Crossover Frequency: 2.6kHz

01279 501111

ATAG HI9271SV induction hob ATAG has expanded its induction hob range with the addition of three models incorporating bridge zones – 2 rectangular cooking areas which connect together to create a single zone measuring 200 x 400mm. The 5-zone, 900mm HI9271SV with Iris Slide Control® (pictured) comes with a complimentary set of induction pans and features: ¿

Middle zone with 40-3000W / Left and right bridge induction 40-3700W per zone


Preset programmes for simmering, keep warm, stir-frying, roasting and grilling


Automatic cooking function / Boost mode / Digital timer per zone / Pause key


Child lock, cooking time restriction, residual heat indication, overheat shutoff

0208 247 3993

Hotpoint SH103CX NewStyle multifunction oven Hotpoint’s new 58-litre SH103CX built-in oven has 10 cooking programmes – 4 Hotpoint ‘Intelligent’ functions: roast, bread, cake and pizza, and 6 standard programmes: circulaire fan, fan grilling, variable grill, low temperatures 40ºC, 65ºC and 90ºC. The appliance is finished in stainless steel and is the latest addition to the brand’s NewStyle collection. ¿

Energy efficiency class A / Energy consumption 2,800W


24 hour electronic programmable timer


Triple glazed door with easy-clean inner glass


Catalytic liners


Air flow cooling fan and internal chimney venting

08000 921 922

Miele CM5200 Barista bean-to-cup coffee machine Miele’s flagship CM5200 Barista bean-to-cup countertop coffee machine features an integrated automatic milk frother and one-touch operation, with single or double shots delivered in minutes. The appliance is available in a new Jet Black SoftTouch finish. ¿

Adjustable 15-bar pump pressure


Automatic rinsing system


Water temperature controls


Choice of coffee grind

0845 365 6600 JAN/FEB 2012 GET CONNECTED


TV IN 2012


Television sales are often boosted by major events, and they don’t come much bigger than this year’s London Olympics. So there’s every reason to be optimistic that 2012 could be a good year for the television market, even with economic gloom hanging over it like a dark cloud. George Cole talks to some of the big players about the prospects for the coming year.


IN 2012


onsumers often invest in a big screen TV for the big occasion, and two features look set to dominate this year’s market – Smart TV and 3DTV, both of which feature heavily in manufacturers’ top-end TV ranges. Panasonic says all its top-end sets offer both features, while Samsung says more than 60% of its LED TVs are Smart TVs, with more than 80% of plasma TVs offering 3DTV. Half of Toshiba’s current range offers Smart TV functionality and half of these include 3DTV. All of the company’s 3DTV sets have some Smart TV features, such as access to BBC iPlayer. More than 60% of Sony’s TV products are 3D-enabled, and the Sony Entertainment Network offers a 3D-over-IP [internet] service.

Getting smart




The ability to watch broadcast TV and internet content on a television has much appeal, says Amit Rullay, UK marketing manager, Philips TV, “Smart TV has been very well received by the consumer, especially when offering functionality that complements normal TV content, such as BBC iPlayer or streaming films via AceTrax. Consumers are also very much behind apps such as Facebook and Twitter.” Glenn Zanoni, Toshiba product marketing manager, TV and Blu-ray, adds: “Being able to

George Cole

access the content you want to watch at any time of the day is really important to consumers. Smart TV is essentially an extension of the ondemand content that’s been available on PCs for a while, so transferring this service to the living room TV has been really welcomed by consumers.” Samsung says it has focused on educating consumers about Smart TV and is offering lots of content. “We believe that we have the highest activation rate [of consumers connecting their TV to the internet] – it’s more than 90%,” says Steve Mitchell, Samsung’s general manager, (marketing) TV. “TV viewers are going online and downloading apps.” Samsung offers more than 300 apps including apps for games, puzzles, music, photos and services such as YouTube and Twitter. Samsung’s Mitchell adds that making it easy to connect a TV to the internet is crucial to the uptake of Smart TV, and so Samsung is including online set-up as part of the initial set-up process. “Connectivity shouldn’t be an afterthought,” he says.

UK a strong market that needs educating “We know from extensive research that UK consumers are generally more likely to connect their devices to the Internet than any other

Flair for repair A great customer experience doesn’t just come down to fantastic products. At Domestic & General we understand how excellent after-sales care will improve customer loyalty to your brand. And with a 94% post-repair satisfaction rate, we’re expert at giving our customers and our partners something to smile about.

TV IN 2012

“Two features look set to dominate this year’s market – Smart TV and 3DTV” European consumer,” notes Edward Uzzell, category development manager of home entertainment at Sony. “This has largely been driven by the growth of key services such as BBC iPlayer and Lovefilm. The quality of TV in this country is fantastic when compared with many other countries, and so consumers are eager to enjoy Catch-up TV on the big screen.” Panasonic ran a survey which showed that the public were very receptive to Smart TV, says Fabrice Estornel, the company’s senior manager for Viera TVs. “However, consumers do not understand all the elements of Smart TV, and so both manufacturers and dealers need to educate them about the features.”

3D gaining momentum Reaction to 3DTV is also largely positive. “Feedback from resellers and market research suggests it is now an important part of the purchase decision,” notes Sony’s Uzzell. “3D market share is growing and overall adoption of 3D technology is high.” Philips’ Rullay says that 3D is a fast-moving area where performance is improving very quickly and cost is decreasing, plus content is now becoming more readily available. Philips offers both passive and active 3D systems versions with its Easy 3D and 3D Max systems. Toshiba also offers both types of 3D formats and is set to launch its first 55-inch glasses-free 3D television, the 55ZL2. “Consumers are expecting a top-end TV to have 3D capability as standard,” notes Panasonic’s Estornel. Everyone agrees that compelling content - and lots of it – is the key to 3DTV’s success, so is there enough out there, especially on free-to-air platforms such as Freeview and freesat? Bandwidth issues mean that we are unlikely to see 3DTV on Freeview for a long time yet, but James Strickland, freesat’s director of product and technology development, says: “The majority of freesat HD set top boxes are 3D capable, and last year the BBC broadcast Men’s and Ladies’ Wimbledon finals in 3D to freesat viewers. We’ll be continuing to work closely with our partners, and with such a phenomenal year of sport ahead of us, I’m sure we’ll see more 3DTV broadcasts this year.” 16


More 3D content available Samsung’s Mitchell says there is a definite interest in 3DTV, and the company’s Explore 3D app gives viewers access to 3D films, programmes, documentaries and music videos. “You have to make it easy for viewers to access 3D content,” he adds. “There is currently a lot of 3D content available, for example, Sky 3D. It is not yet available readily on a free platform, but more content is coming. It has just been announced that the final of Strictly Come Dancing will be filmed in 3D and shown on TV and at selected cinemas,” says Panasonic’s Estornel. Philips’ Rullay adds that “3D Blu-ray content has become more prevalent, and the availability of other aspects of entertainment such as 3D-enabled photography, movies and websites has also increased. In particular, 3D gaming is increasingly becoming more mainstream, with many titles now taking advantage of the built-in 3D capabilities of new games.” “Subscription broadcasters are already heavily promoting their 3D services, but free-to-air content remains limited, although time will tell how much this will change,” says Toshiba’s Zanoni. “In the meantime, 2D-to-3D conversion technology is a feature we include on some of our existing 3DTVs, letting consumers enjoy all their existing 2D content in 3D.”

“Smart TV has been very well received by the consumer” Easy-access content and faster broadband required When it comes to the main drivers for Smart TV, catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer figure high on everyone’s list, but also highly rated are social network services such as Facebook and Twitter, and video services such as AceTrax and YouTube. So what would be on top of everyone’s wish list for an initiative or development that would help drive sales of Smart TV and/or 3DTV? For Toshiba’s Zanoni, “It’s important that there is affordable,


high quality catch-up TV and video content readily available.” .Panasonic’s Estornel believes that faster broadband would help Smart TV, and so does Sony’s Uzzell. “One of our major challenges remains broadband speed and availability, both in the home and in stores for demonstration purposes. We can load the TV with the best content, but we are reliant on the internet service providers to deliver good broadband connections to consumers’ homes so they can enjoy them. Coverage varies wildly, even for people living in the same street, so it’s important that the government continues to drive investment in high speed broadband.” Open standards are the key to the takeoff of Smart TV functionality, says Philips’ Rullay, “and offering both passive and active 3D systems, over a range of price points, will be key to consumer uptake of 3DTVs,” he adds.

Prospects Manufacturers are upbeat about the prospects of Smart TV and 3DTV in 2012. “Both formats will be increasingly important in 2012, and we will respond by extending Smart TV functionality to smaller screen sizes, while 3D technology will also be extended into more mainstream product ranges,” says Rullay. Toshiba’s Zanoni thinks that Smart TV and 3D technologies will continue to be key features for consumers in 2012, but adds that it’s important not to forget that design, image quality and value for money are also important elements to those looking for a new TV. Samsung’s Mitchell says, “3D is now a TV feature that we will continue to support, and more content will become available. There was a lot of hype about 3D in the beginning, but more and more people are realising that you might only watch a 3D film once a week or once a month, rather than on a daily basis. We believe Smart TV and 3D will become more prevalent in 2012.” “Mindful of the continuing economic uncertainty affecting pretty much the whole of the retail sector, notes Sony’s Uzzell, “this year remains challenging for all consumer electronics firms. However, with so many massive sporting events, as well as the ongoing digital switchover over the next 12 months, there are reasons for optimism as well.”


George Cole pinpoints hotspots in the world of consumer electronics.



here are some who believe that you only get one chance to get things right when it comes to launching a new consumer electron-


ics product or format: mess up the launch and it’s curtains. I don’t

The other week, I replaced my clapped-out

completely agree, but it’s certainly true that first impressions matter, and

printer with a new one from Epson, designed

if you screw up, it can be a long road back to consumer acceptance, let

to be used on a home Wi-Fi network for wire-

alone enthusiasm, for your offering. By the time you read this, the first

less printing from a PC. Connecting

UltraViolet video title will have been launched in the UK: Warner UK’s

devices to a home network is very

Final Destination 5 was set to reach the shops on Boxing Day. Just a brief

much a hit-and-miss exercise –

recap on UltraViolet: the film and video industries hope that UltraViolet

some devices connect with

will boost the packaged media market. DVD sales are falling and while

ease, while others require

Blu-ray sales are growing, they are not making up for these losses. More

hours of fiddling, config-

and more consumers are accessing movies online, either by download-

uring and reconfiguring.

ing them from services like Apple iTunes, or having them streamed to

Someone I know owns a

their PCs, set-top boxes, games consoles and Smart TVs.

wireless printer but has

If you purchase the DVD or Blu-ray of Final Destination 5, you can also ac-

never been able to get it to

cess a digital file version of the movie stored in a “digital locker” online. The

work on his network, so he’s

idea is that you can watch the movie file on lots of different devices – such as

connected the printer to his PC

smartphones, tablets and laptops. It’s hoped that by giving consumers this

using a USB cable, which rather

extra choice, they’ll purchase more Blu-ray discs and DVDs – and desist from

defeats the object...

copying or ripping video titles. Ultraviolet was launched in the US in October and it’s fair to say that consumer reaction to it has been mixed.

Anyway, I linked the new printer to my PC with a USB cable, made a couple of mouse

Many consumers were initially positive about UltraViolet, so it’s a shame

clicks, and hey presto – it was connected to

that this initial enthusiasm has been dampened by the decision to launch

my Wi-Fi network. I then put away the USB

UltraViolet as a streaming service only, with a download option promised

cable and moved the printer to another room.

for later. The result is that at present, you can only access the digital file

There was no messing around with pass-

via a broadband connection. For many consumers this is a backwards step,

words, pass phrases or long encryption key

because many video titles already come with a digital file that can be stored

numbers. The Wi-Fi-Protected Set-up (WPS)

on a laptop or tablet, and viewed when, say, you are on a train or aircraft.

standard is designed to make Wi-Fi connec-

But these options are impossible with a streaming service – my local train

tivity a doddle – you just use a PIN code or

service, for example, offers free Wi-Fi, but won’t let you use data-hungry

press a couple of buttons on your wireless

services like BBC iPlayer. The result has been a lot of negative feedback on

router and the device should connect to the

UltraViolet. Check out the reviews for Warner’s Harry Potter and the Deathly

network. But in my experience, it’s not always

Hallows Part 2 on “Stay away from UltraViolet!” says one re-

that simple – and not all routers support WPS.

viewer, “Horrible,” says another, while a third claims that, “UltraViolet is a

Lots of consumer electronics devices are

scam!” One person who complained was even given a voucher to purchase

now designed for Wi-Fi connectivity – such

their movie on the rival iTunes service... This is most unfortunate and some-

as Smart TVs, Blu-ray players and digital

thing needs to be done quickly to restore faith in UltraViolet.

radios – and if Epson can make Wi-Fi connectivity a piece of cake, so should every consumer electronics manufacturer. But is this really the case?

In my interview with Roger Darlington, chairman of the Digital Consumer Expert Group in last month’s issue, he’s quoted as saying there are 30 million DAB radios in circulation. The real figure is 13 million and the error was mine.






The advantages of induction are well documented for the trade, but has the industry done enough to raise the public profile of this smart, elegant challenger of tradition, or do its attributes remain cloaked in mystery? GC reports

“With space getting tighter and tighter in city dwellings, induction can keep small galley kitchens much cooler” Rita Balestrazzi, Marketing Manager, Baumatic




e are not claiming the gift of prophecy, but this time a year ago GC characterised the induction hob as “a dark horse awaiting its glory”. A prediction that proved to be true – even if a safe bet! As consumer awareness heightened, significant sales growth was recorded, and it certainly wasn’t a case of divine intervention at a time deep economic strife that lifted the market; rather, a combination of the efforts of manufacturers and retailers to show rather than tell of the benefits and a greater selection of products at a wider range of prices – the latter effectively bringing the technology to the mainstream market after being limited initially to a consumer group categorised by New World commercial manager Jon Brennan as “cash rich, technology focused.” GfK figures for the 12 months to October 2011 show a 15.3% rise in unit volume and a 10.19% increase in value; the discrepancy between the two a demonstration of how average price has fallen due to the number of

entry- to mid-range products on the market rising, and as Neff Sales Director Mike Jarrett brings to our attention, “most consumers are buying into the concept at a fairly basic level.” Jarrett maintains, however, that this behaviour is not specific to induction: “Unlike other countries in Europe, the UK is not a market that goes in for highly sophisticated hobs, which means that, historically, sales of all gas and normal ceramic hobs have been largely towards the functional rather than feature-laden models.” Nonetheless, induction now accounts for almost a quarter of electric hobs, according to Electrolux’s Sophie Davidson, Product Manager for Built-in Hot, and volume has grown by 64% since 2008 – a statistic that reveals the slow uptake the nigh-on thirty-year old category has experienced. Baumatic Marketing Manager Rita Balestrazzi believes this “rocky start” was due to induction being unfairly saddled with the reputation of being costly and impractical, but maintains that consumers are now discovering that quite the opposite is true. Gorenje Sales &


Marketing Director Bill Miller concurs: “Without a doubt, many consumers are awakening to the benefits of induction and making it their cooking method of choice,” he says. “As with all technology, it will take time to become fully accepted in all sectors of the market, but we believe an increasing number of consumers will choose induction, and in the future it will be the most popular cooking medium.”

Shifting trends Further evidence of the rise of induction is provided by De Dietrich Sales & Marketing Director Richard Walker, who points out that 2011 was the first full year in which sales of electric hobs remained consistently higher than gas: “A trend which looks likely to continue as there is little doubt that these figures are due to the growing market for induction hobs,” he

on-the-spot purchase – and on websites and blogs they are invited to post questions and learn more so they can make an informed purchasing decision. They also get to remain anonymous, so can ask all the questions they like, however silly their enquiries may seem.”

Demographics If social media – a growing part of the marketing mix – is helping to drive the uptake of induction, does this indicate a young demographic for the product? Samsung believes so. The company says that those currently buying into the technology are younger professionals with disposable income whose homes tend to be ultra-modern and kitted out with the latest chic appliances and furnishings. “It cannot be denied that demographic factors can impact on the demand for certain appliances,” says Gorenje Sales and Marketing Director Bill Miller. “Younger people in particular are more tech-savvy than ever before and will demand appliances that display advanced cooking innovation.” Miller adds that homeowners improving their properties rather than risking a move in an unstable economic

power comments, adding that DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) predicts 80% of all electric hobs will be induction by 2020. Walker also highlights the decline in the gas hob market, explaining that this is not only due to the rising retail cost of gas as a commodity, but also because of mandatory legislation requiring the additional cost of obligatory thermocouples and the pricey business of installation using a Gas Safe registered installer. While many consumers remain convinced that gas is more controllable than other hob types, Walker believes that the understanding and awareness of induction is greater than ever before: “This is evident when we exhibit at consumer shows such as Grand Designs, and thanks not only in part to articles in the media but also to continued promotion both by manufacturers and retailers. It is only when induction is demonstrated that consumers realise the technology is faster, more controllable and, ultimately, safer than any other type of hob.” Baumatic’s Balestrazzi touches on another means of consumer education on induction – that of social media. She cites the growth of retailers’ online help sites, blogs and forums as aiding awareness and understanding and believes this type of communication has helped the market to grow: “Consumers often feel prohibited from making in-store enquiries – not wanting to feel under pressure to make an

“Extra-large and flexible zones that can be merged or ‘joined up’ to cater for the largest pasta pan or fish kettle is becoming a key trend” Simona Bara, Whirlpool Product Manager, Built-in climate are also interested in induction – the motive being the desire for superior products to “show off.” Premium brand Miele has encountered no strong demographic in the market for induction. Kitchen Category Manager Neil Pooley says: “We have a range of customers who have purchased and are interested in induction hobs – from the accomplished chef to the first-time buyer. Customers like the aesthetic qualities of induction hobs: they work fantastically well from a design point of view, are very easy to maintain and keep clean, and produce quick and effective results.” Built-in cooking market leader Neff recounts a similar experience – the appeal and benefits of induction being universal. In particular, the responsiveness and ease of cleaning is proving





AEG MaxiSense® induction hob with interactive MaxiSight™ TFT colour display This sleek, designer induction hob offers features that make it one of the most cutting-edge models available today. Its MaxiSight® and DirekTouch controls have been designed to interact smoothly and intuitively with consumers who demand complete and precise control over the cooking process. The MaxiSight® TFT colour display is the first colour TFT display for hobs in Europe and provides optimum visibility on all cooking functions via graphics that can be read at a glance. DirekTouch controls further enhance the precise temperature

to be a significant consideration across all demographics, according to Mike Jarrett, who says: “One of the biggest negatives for normal ceramic hobs has been the lack of responsiveness compared with gas, while, on the other hand, gas is far more difficult to clean than ceramic. Induction offers the best of both worlds and is more efficient so, in my opinion, the only demographic that will influence this would be the ability to afford it and, away from demographics, the level of engagement with cooking as a whole.”

Price constraints Elaborating on the affordability of induction, Jarrett maintains that there will always be consumers for whom price is a prohibitive barrier. “This is true for all areas,” he remarks. “High definition, Smart internet large plasma TVs at £1,500 are going to be prohibitive for most customers, so why would induction be any different? Smartphones and iPhone 4s carry a significant price, and although most people understand the benefits and want to own one, for some, the price is prohibitive. This means that in situations where induction is being considered as a standalone purchase – i.e. replacing an existing hob – price is a significant issue. Therefore, induction is proving increasingly successful in kitchen-related outlets and has yet to establish itself fully in replacement channels.” 20


control of induction cooking. The fine tuning is incredibly precise for cooking delicate sauces.Yet almost instant high heat means you can be ready to sear meat or fish in seconds. Hk884400xg 80cm Maxisense TFT hob Trade Sales Number 08445 610561

New World’s Brennan notes that, in early 2010, over 60% of induction hobs on the market exceeded the £500 price bracket, while Electrolux’s Davidson highlights the latest figures that show a 6% drop in average price, taking the category to sub-£500. So, as Indesit Advertising and Communications Manager Libby Morley points out, “the technology, once regarded as a high-end purchase, is now available to everyone, having benefitted from the introduction of more cost-effective models from mass market brands.” Smeg product development and training manager Joan Fraser acknowledges that the entry price-points have reduced considerably over the last five years but maintains that purchasers are opting for induction as a premium alternative to traditional ceramic or gas. “Buyers are likely to be in the higher demographic groups and be aware of the benefits of cooking with induction,” she says. “Consequently, they will be more accepting of the higher price points.” For Hoover Candy Marketing Director Steve Macdonald, the equation is quite straightforward: “The benefits often outweigh cost caution as they make up the difference in energy and time savings.”

Purchase barriers Miele’s Neil Pooley sees the ‘prohibitive price’ perception growing weaker, and this is supported by a number of commentators. It’s a “misconception,” says Baumatic’s Balestrazzi, “but the myth is gradually being dispelled.”


Despite heightened consumer awareness of the existence of induction hobs and the fall in entry-level price points, a number of stumbling blocks to purchase continue to bug the sector. Hotpoint Brand Director Ian Moverley believes that one of the reasons for the initial slow uptake is a perception that cooking habits need to



change and a “whole load” of cooking equipment needs to be bought. And while older copper or aluminium pans won’t work on an induction hob, he is keen to point out that most new pans (even copper and aluminium ones) may well have some magnetic material introduced, at least into the base, specifically to make them compatible. “Otherwise,” he says, “cooking is as straightforward as it is with conventional gas and electric hobs.” Moverley also notes that many consumers don’t appreciate the difference between induction and ceramic models: “All they see is black glass and a comparatively high price compared to ceramic hobs, and that’s why retailer advice and guidance is particularly important in this area.” Demonstrating and communicating the well-documented benefits of induction appliances is clearly a must, but while Moverley believes that the technology itself needs to be explained, not all cooking brands agree. Simona Bara, Whirlpool Product Marketing Manager for Built-in, is adamant that understanding the technology and how it works is not a necessity for consumers. However, she stresses that it is essential for retailers to “defrag the jargon” and to relate the outstanding, hidden functionality to consumers’ lifestyles by showing them how well the technology works. Steve Dickson, commercial manager for Belling and Stoves, agrees, believing that an explanation of how induction works can be daunting for consumers. “Most people,” he says, “unless they are science teachers, don’t deal with the concepts of vibrating iron molecules

“Easier to clean and faster, safer and more energy efficient than standard electric hobs, induction is really taking off and can only grow in popularity” Simon Freear, Country Manager, Amica UK and electromagnetic energy on a daily basis. However, when induction is demonstrated it never fails to impress in terms of speed, control and productivity, and people are almost always converted.” “Seeing really is believing,” adds Hotpoint’s Moverley. “Having a working induction hob or demonstration video showing how induction cooking works, including all the safety aspects, will definitely help to sell the product.” Moverley’s opinion is endorsed by Smeg’s Fraser, who also recommends a live hob as the best means for demonstrating the speed and controllability of induction; however, she advises that “where it is not practical to have a hob fully operational, either for safety reasons or due to installation restrictions, a looped video showing various demonstrations is a helpful tool.”

Better the devil you know? Consumers are often wary about choosing new technologies, particularly if the benefits supposedly warranting a higher price tag are little understood, the result of which, says De Dietrich’s Walker, could lead people to lean towards a hob style that they are used to. And as Samsung JAN/FEB 2012 GET CONNECTED




“Panoramic hobs are incredibly eye-catching, yet with real benefits from a safety and ergonomic aspect as well” Bill Miller, Sales and Marketing Director, Gorenje



Electronics notes, “consumers often like to stick to what they know.” But the Korean manufacturer believes that the main stumbling block to purchase is a simple one: “encouraging consumers to make the change.” In order to do this, Samsung says that time and resources need to be invested in education at the point of sale. “The technology is there to aid the customer’s life, be it saving them time and energy, or simply by creating a safer cooking environment.” It is said that the most difficult consumers to convert to induction are those committed to gas, believing it to be faster, more controllable and, on the whole, more efficient. But Baumatic’s Balestrazzi says that this is an easy assumption to prove wrong. “Induction has all the benefits of gas cooking, but with none of the drawbacks. Users can enjoy more power and control at their fingertips, as well as much faster cooking times.” Nevertheless, retailers may find it difficult to prise many gas users away from their comfort blanket and the theatre of the live flame, yet it is in addressing this challenge that the broad range of hob configurations can come in to play, offering the reassurance of the traditional with the enticing and refreshing prospect of the new, different and positively more inspiring cooking methods brought about by the range of cooktops now available. While 60cm induction hobs remain the most popular size – up 27% year-on-year and representing 71% of the category in the last 12 months, according to Electrolux’s Davidson

– Whirlpool’s Bara sees an increasing number of hob shapes and sizes being enthusiastically adopted and notes that the brand offers single zone models from 37cm wide to multiple-zone in a variety of layouts – single and hybrid mixed fuel – to provide “the best consumer choice.” For the majority of people, she suggests that the mixed fuel variety offers “the best of both worlds,” allowing consumers to overcome any reticence as both fuels are available within the same hob. “The familiar and comforting gas flame enables the use of all their favourite pans and the latest induction technology offers the energy efficient and smarter technical advantages,” she comments. Gorenje’s Miller agrees that mixed fuel hobs are the ideal stepping stone between gas and induction models, as the configuration and its accompanying reduced price bracket means products are more accessible to consumers at the lower and middle sectors of the market. “Independent retailers should certainly consider them as an addition to their range,” he advises. Neff ’s Mike Jarrett, on the other hand, is convinced that mixed fuel has limited appeal in the UK and recommends the brand’s domino range for maximum flexibility and specialisation as it accommodates the linking of various cooktops with 60cm, 80cm or 90cm standard electric, gas and induction from the same design family. Domino, or modular hobs as they are also known, provides the ultimate in versatility, catering for a diverse range of cooking methods,


Style with sophisticated features Stoves Sterling SEH600iRX 60cm induction hob The Stoves SEH600iRX is a stylish 60cm induction hob that combines the speed, controllability and energy efficiency of induction with the added benefit of familiar and intuitive rotary controls.With its flush-fitting and clear 4-zone induction element layout, this is a hob with the looks and userfriendly features to create powerful consumer appeal. It has power boost function on all four zones, the convenience of auto heat-up and ‘keep warm’ functions and pan detection technology. Important safety features include child lock, pan overheat protection, safety shutdown and hob-hot indicators. The rotary controls provide instant, precise adjustment, from the gentlest simmer to ultra-fast heat up, and its energy efficiency outperforms both gas and traditional electric hobs. Like all of GDHA’s induction products, it has the added advantage of being made in Britain.

and for those with the propensity to “show off ” their appliances – an earlier observation made by Gorenje’s Bill Miller – the opportunity to create a talking point along with a touch of drama. It is now possible to bring the outdoors in with a low-profile stone grill – perfect for indoor barbecuing – or to incorporate a professional-style, inset deep fryer into modular configurations, these in addition to teppanyaki hobs, wok burners, both gas and induction, and traditional hob options.

Miller points out, “it is likely that the technology will filter through to other price points over time.” “Zoneless models will join most manufacturers’ ranges, if they haven’t done so already,” adds Smeg’s Joan Fraser. The final comment on the subject comes from Samsung, who believes that, “although still very much in its infancy, zoneless technology is extremely successful at engaging consumers as it demonstrates the unique benefits of induction cooking in an extremely visual way.”

“Induction hobs are faster and safer than ceramic and gas. They are also 90% energy efficient, as opposed to 50% for gas hobs” Libby Morley, Indesit Advertising and Communications Manager

Flexibility Reflecting on how trends have changed in the induction hob market over the past 25 years, De Dietrich’s Richard Walker highlights 2007 as a turning point, when the brand “heralded a new era” for the category. The year marked the launch of De Dietrich’s Continuum hobs – the first to feature ‘zoneless’ cooking areas. It is a concept that has since been reproduced by a number of brands, some of which have assigned titles to such products to assist in conveying the advanced technology: Neff with FlexInduction and Samsung with its AnyPlace hob, for example. But De Dietrich claims to have the “most advanced and versatile” zoneless product. In 2011, the brand launched the Piano induction hob. Positioned at the very top end of the market, the appliance features automatic pan detection across the entire cooking area, and as Walker explains, “it has been developed and designed to function using three simply defined cooking modes: Expert, Piano and Solo, and its Power Tracker function is so advanced that a pan can be lifted off the hob and re-sited anywhere on the cooking area, yet wherever it is moved to, the temperature will remain constant.” Whirpool’s Bara comments that zoneless, being at the very top end of the market, “is for most, totally out of bounds.” But as Gorenje’s Bill





Heat turned down on induction hobs, but future remains bright 2011 has been another successful year for the induction hob market. Following several years of consistent growth, the past twelve months have continued this positive trend, with sales up by 11% in volume and 7% in value. This growth means that the induction hobs category is now worth £28 million, and accounts for a quarter of all value sales within the built in hob category.


he sales during the festive period (Dec10-Feb11) were influential towards the year’s performance, with shoppers taking advantage of the New Year’s promotions, as well as the prolonged freeze on VAT offered by many retailers. Sales during this period represented a 27% growth in value compared to the same period last year. Indeed, double digit growth was sustained up until May, before growth rates started to subside.

Benefits worth the price With an average price of £490 (Dec10-Nov11), over twice the market average, this poses the question as to why consumer demand continues to grow for this type of hob. The answer lies with its advanced heating technology. Induction hobs are the most responsive form of cooking, giving the consumer a higher level of precision and control. The hobs are heated using an electromagnetic current, resulting in the heating process being almost twice as fast as traditional gas hobs. Temperatures can be changed instantly, providing a highly accurate cooking performance. The use of a current also has substantial safety advantages. The electromagnetic current ensures that the heat is generated in the pan, rather than at the hob surface. This means the hob itself never becomes dangerously hot to touch, making them far safer within the family surroundings of the kitchen. This also makes them easier to clean as spillages don’t get burnt on top. Induction hobs are also considerably more energy efficient, consuming almost half the energy used by traditional gas hobs. With efficiency becoming an ever increasing factor in domestic life, induction hobs will certainly attract interest from energy conscious consumers. 24


Growth from Knowledge indicating the market is simply slowing down rather than in decline. 2012 could be a challenging year for many premium domestic appliances, and induction hobs will be no exception. A prolonged period of economic uncertainty could see consumers appear less willing to part so easily with their hard earned cash and look set to brace themselves for the tough times ahead.

Summer/Autumn setback

Good longer-term prospects

Despite these advantages, the tide seemed to turn fairly significantly from August onwards, with each of the next four months recording a greater drop in sales than the last. This culminated in November value sales falling by 21% compared to November 2010. Few home appliance sectors have escaped price erosion, and induction hobs, despite strong resistance, has been forced to follow suit. Average prices fell below £450 for the first time in November, putting a further strain on margins. That said, total value from Dec10-Nov11 has improved from the Dec09-Nov10 period,

The long term future however, remains very optimistic, with sales of induction hobs set to challenge gas hobs in the forthcoming years. As we have already started to see, prices will continue to fall as they become more mainstream, helping them become more affordable to a wider audience. With greater emphasis placed on quality, energy efficiency and safety within the home environment, it is surely only a matter of time before induction hobs, like electric hobs before them, start becoming a familiar sight within our kitchens.


DEC ‘10  NOV ‘11

 For further information please contact Richard Allen in the UK on +44 870 603 8124 or email GfK. Growth from Knowledge



Digital dividend Alan Bennett reports on the future of the UHF band after analogue shutdown


t’s not much of a dividend for TV viewers

England, and the auction will take place some

or dealers, but a super one for the

time after that, though it will take a year or more

Treasury and the mobile operators! It’s

to get the new systems up and running.

been estimated that up to £3bn will change hands for a sizeable chunk of the UHF


broadcast band hitherto used for analogue

One of the problems with the settling down

TV transmissions...

of the TV service into its new form will be the


need for retuning digital receivers in STB or TV-integrated form. While late-model receivers

I shouldn’t be so cynical! The government

can automatically retune themselves as and

is strapped for cash and this should save

when necessary, the majority of existing ones

the taxpayer from having to stump up a like

require manual retuning, and readers of this

they do not have a steep enough attenuation

amount, while 4G mobile communications,

magazine don’t need to be told how unable

slope. They can help, but much depends on

the likely new use for the freed spectrum,

the average viewer is to do this! Ofcom has

the relative strength of the signals: worst case

will bring many benefits – with good value

estimated that 7million homes will need to

is a weak Freeview broadcast signal and a

because of competition in this field – to

retune as Freeview broadcasts are shuffled

strong local communications carrier.

ordinary users, to industry and to the GDP. It

around during 2013, and more retunes could

is just that whenever private and commercial

become necessary further in the future,

people in 760,000 homes will be vulnerable

firms have financial dealings with the

especially in the south-east. Who will pick up

to TV interference, the majority (550,000) of

government they always seem to do better out

the tab for these? Not the mobile operators, so

which work from communal aerials. The most

of it than the taxpayer: look at Northern Rock

far as can be seen at present.

effective cures will be in-aerial-line filters at

and other banks, look at privately funded

Ofcom has estimated that about 2million

home, costing about £20 million, £33 million

hospitals and schools. The old UHF TV band


will have 128 MHz (channels 31-38 and 61-68)

A big problem will arise with interference

will be needed at a cost, with installation etc,

extracted and auctioned to the highest bidder

to DTT broadcasts from mobiles and base

of up to £200 in multi-screen homes. Where all

later this year, leaving the rest, 66% of the

stations working in the same bands. The three

mitigation fails, about 30,000 homes, finding

resource, for digital terrestrial television, i.e.

main interference modes are ‘power wipe-out’

no solution to the interference problem, will

Freeview. It cannot be denied that the lost

(blocking), where a very strong local signal at

be forced to migrate to a different platform:

spectrum would have afforded lots more SD

almost any frequency paralyses the receiver’s

satellite or cable. The total cost of solving the

and/or several more HD channels; indeed the

first amplifier stage; adjacent channel

interference problems has been estimated,

lower chunk of the liberated (600 MHz) band

interference, in which a medium to strong local

again by Ofcom, at about £100 million and

may still be used for TV – if the broadcasters

signal within a few channels of the wanted

they say this should be borne by the licence

can outbid the phone companies!

broadcast frequency affects it to a greater

holders, the mobile communications/phone

or lesser degree; and ‘image acceptance’,

companies. Hear hear! But this would reduce

upwards, is very attractive for 4G and similar

whereby strong signals spaced 70MHz away

the value of the deal, and at the time of

communications use because of its excellent

from the wanted carrier can break through

writing it’s not certain that this will be made

propagation characteristics in urban and

and cause mischief due to the superhet

a condition of the licences.

other environments; it’s good for mobile phone

operating mode of receivers. Of these the

use, and lends itself to such applications as

biggest flashpoint is in the region of 790MHz,

Neighbourhood television

broadband internet traffic in place of fixed wire

where Freeview transmissions on Channel 60 –

After analogue shutdown there will be odd

links, where it can offer speeds of 100-150Mb/s.

and to a lesser extent channels 59 and 58 – are

gaps between DTT broadcast channels in

The frequencies in question are being released

received in dwellings close to communication

some areas, and these can be used for local

throughout Europe, and this harmonisation has

base stations working on or near Channel 61.

TV broadcasting. There are over 60 locations

benefits in equipment costs and compatibility.

Here a guard-band just 1MHz wide will be

with this potential, including many big cities.

The final UK analogue TV switch-off will be

provided between the two, and no viably-

See the Ofcom website at:

on September 26 this year in the north-east of

priced filters can fully separate them because

The 800MHz band, UHF channels 61

for fitting. In some cases new Freeview boxes




” He is enthusiastic about good food, and balances that with an

enjoyment of running. He’s optimistic and truthful, likes animals (as long as they’re well cooked!), and admits to a dislike of getting up in the morning. He could see himself as the magical master of his own enchanted island. Vince Tseng is managing director of warranty provider SquareTrade Limited. Why did you choose to work in the electrical industry? I saw a tremendous opportunity in the extended warranty industry – lots of money being made, but with tons of consumer unhappiness. It was an industry ripe for innovation Who in the industry would you like to spend time with? Jonathan Ive [senior VP of design at Apple, and recently honoured with a knighthood], who designs the most beautiful devices in the world Who makes you laugh? Ricky Gervais What was the greatest turning point in your life? Living and working in London as a student back in 1997 Hobbies? I run to eat, and I eat to run What’s the worst lie you’ve ever told? I’ve never told any lies(!) What’s your greatest regret? Not having learned to read and write proper Chinese How would you describe yourself? An optimist How do you think others see you? Hopefully as an optimist What’s your pet hate? Restaurants that serve stale bread Any bad habits? Hitting the snooze button for an hour in the morning If you weren’t in your present position, what job would you choose to do? Food Critic for the New York Times What’s your favourite TV programme? QI – Quite Interesting What surprises you? The depths of human ignorance and human kindness 26


Favourite cuisine? The good kind. Anything from a great falafel to 3-star Michelin You have been offered a leading role in a film of your choice. What character would you like to play? Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest You have been offered the opportunity to rule the world for a day. What would be the first change you would make? Implement a worldwide carbon tax and trading scheme Is there anything about yourself that you would like to change? I’d like to be able to sleep less. I’m one of those people who gets very grumpy without 8 hours of sleep a night! Do you have any hidden talents? Many. But if I told them, they wouldn’t be hidden any more, would they? Any particular fetishes? Great musicians What would you put into Room 101? The wing of American politics that needs to be straitjacketed and put in a padded room What’s your greatest achievement? Developing the idea for a warranty business and watching it transform into a wildly successful business What sort of music do you like? Everything from Shostakovich to Fleet Foxes to German techno Favourite quote? “Without music, life would be an error” – Friedrich Nietschze Who has been the greatest influence in your life? My parents Name your poison Aspall cyder in the summer, High West Bourbon Rye in the winter What do you daydream about? Scoring the winning goal in the World Cup Favourite holiday destination? Kauai, Hawaii

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you? Once got trapped in a crowded lift with a claustrophobic man who started screaming and then hyperventilating, which set off everyone else in a fit of screaming and hyperventilating. (We were on the ground floor) What’s the best kind of punishment….? Execution, being hacked to bits, then being doused in hot oil …and who deserves it? Tasty animals Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Qualifying for the Boston Marathon What’s your greatest fear? That the polar ice caps will melt, and all the great cities on Earth will be just underwater piles of concrete and steel Whom do you most admire? Franklin D Roosevelt What’s your favourite piece of kit? My iPad 2 What motto do you live by? Give to the world and you shall in turn receive Tomorrow I will……. Hit the snooze button for an hour.

Independent Electrical retailer: “While it’s great to read about the ‘next big things’ being shown at CES in Las Vegas, I’ve been sitting here in my shop hoping there’ll be new things for me to sell that won’t be cheap as chips (and I don’t mean the kind you get in Vegas) six months after I’ve got them on the shelf.”

White goods manufacturer: “It’s a great pity that all the journalists rush to report on the latest CE gadgets and gizmos at CES, and still ignore the much more profitable and equally technologically exciting major domestic appliances that are now part of the Las Vegas show.”

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Get Connected: Jan-Feb 2012  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Industry

Get Connected: Jan-Feb 2012  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Industry