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of Things, it’s important that the risks, as well as the benefits, of this new lifestyle technology, are clearly understood by buyers at the point of sale. If not adequately secured and controlled, these Things present a challenge to the security of users’ data. It’s well known that, when signing up to Facebook, for example, users are presented with Terms and Conditions which they are asked to read before they go ahead. But how many do? And if it’s a choice between agreeing or being shut out of the Facebook community, how many will choose to deprive themselves of something that everybody is doing? like, what we watch, what we listen to, what we It does need to be made clear that in taking own, what we eat and drink, how much and how an Internet-enabled device into their connected often we wash our clothes – is made available home, users are agreeing to allow their data to be to other people across the world. If you can harvested, used, and in some cases sold to third communicate via app or voice with your TV, parties. A smart robot vacuum cleaner maps a energy meter, washing machine, fridge, kettle, home so as to “learn” to operate more efficiently. coffee maker, lights, ….. then these Things can But how many users understand that the maps collect, store and pass on the data that your generated will routinely be communicated, quite communications generate. legitimately, beyond the confines of the home? Because these Things have their own network As the home becomes more connected, every of intercommunication that stretches far beyond device added is a potential weak point allowing the walls of your home: the Internet of Things. It access for hackers to all the devices, appliances may not be a problem in most cases, and may and systems that communicate with it. Everybody be a benefit in that knowing about your domestic understands the importance of security to their routines and preferences helps offer you better, computer systems. But how many customers more “personalised” goods and services. can get their mind round the idea that poorly This is already very well understood by the secured devices and appliances can be hijacked majority of electrical and electronics retailers, and into becoming part of a global botnet, or devices it’s not this publication’s place to state the obvious hacked simultaneously to give access to greater to professional and innovative retailers, many of amounts of private data? whom have embraced the opportunities of the Even if security is in place, the organisations Connected Home, and are developing strong you have given permission to gather your business models at a time when data (in the Ts&Cs) are not always to be new initiatives are sorely relied on. Does anybody know who needed in our industry. has legitimate access to their However, as the data? The Equifax breach interface between the compromised close to 150 “It does need to customer and the million records, some be made clear that Things that make 700,000 in the UK, many in taking an Internetup the Internet of whom had no idea that enabled device into their this credit monitoring connected home, users are company, had a legitimate agreeing to allow their data right to gather their data to be harvested, used, from multiple sources? and in some cases sold It’s estimated that to third parties” there will be 8.4 billion IoT devices in use worldwide by the end of this year. And, as reported in The Daily Telegraph, T-Systems UK’s chief technology officer has warned: “Your security depends on who is producing your IoT devices but anyone and everyone is making them. It’s difficult to know your data is safe unless you shop carefully.” “Shopping carefully” is something that retailers, through the IoT devices they choose to sell, and through the advice they give to customers, can ensure happens. We do want this vital area to develop for the benefit of retailers and users. The last thing we need is for an “Armageddon” scenario to frighten consumers away from what is an extremely important and growing market. But to allow the trust we have in technology to be betrayed would not, in any sense, be smart.
We are used to the idea that some Things we own are smarter than we are – at least in the sense that they can do complicated, tedious or repetitive tasks more quickly and accurately than we can – and we are quite happy to let them get on with it and deliver us the benefits of their tireless 24/7 service
our PCs, laptops and tablets have become indispensable to business and leisure; our smartphones know where we are, can direct us to where we want to go, find and purchase the cheapest model of anything we want and give us the football scores or the name of an obscure Renaissance sculptor in seconds; our watch can tell us how far we’ve walked (or run), how many calories we’ve burned, our heart rate and the general state of our health. Most of these Things – some of them absolutely essential to running our businesses, some of them just really useful and convenient, some of them simply “cool” to have – work for us without our having any deep understanding of how they do it. All this is undeniably a good thing, (except occasionally when the IT expert spoils the electronic smoothness with his/her disruptively human interventions.) And the rapid extension of this army of electronic servants to include domestic appliances is a welcome development, heralding a more comfortable, more energyefficient, more enjoyable and more fulfilling life, freed from the tedious domestic duties that have to be done but that nobody wants to do. The advent of the Connected Home is the future. It’s an opportunity for retailers, and an exciting prospect for consumers. But it is also another route by which information about us – where we are, what we buy, what we
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THE LATEST ELECTRICAL GOODS INDUSTRY NEWS HUGHES ELECTRICAL INVESTS £50,000 IN DEMONSTRATION KITCHEN
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE GAINS ONE POINT IN SEPTEMBER
onsumer confidence rose one point in September, but nonetheless remained in deep negative territory. GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index recorded an overall figure of -9 for the month, and though confidence in personal finances declined, Joe Staton, Head of Market Dynamics at the research analyst, said consumers are in “defiant mood”. “Despite non-food prices increasing at their highest rate for 25 years, retail sales continue to grow,” he commented. “Many commentators expected shoppers to cut back
on spending thanks to the lower purchasing power that arises from higher inflation and weak wage growth. But consumers are still spending out there and have repeatedly defied predictions of a downturn since last year’s Brexit vote, partly by running down savings and/or borrowing more.” The Major Purchase indicator crept up for the second month in a row – reading +1 – while the savings index fell three points to +3. “It’s live now, pay later,” said Staton. “This defiant consumer mood seems to be the ‘new normal’. But how long can it last?”
SHOP PRICES NEAR INFLATIONARY THRESHOLD
hop price deflation reached an all-time low in September and is now teetering on the brink of inflation. Prices reached the deflation level of 0.1%, the shallowest in the last four years. Food price inflation rose to 2.2%, while deflation in non-food prices accelerated to 1.5%, from 1.3% in August. Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said retailers’ efforts to shield shoppers from the impact of higher import prices of basic non-food items are holding out for now. “However,” she added, “as more non-food retailers’ hedging facilities come to an end this autumn, and as public policy costs mushroom, consumers are likely to start feeling an additional pinch on these products. “This more challenging outlook for consumers going forward is made more ominous by the recent uptick in producer price inflation – the first since February – which is adding to further inflationary pressures on the horizon.” “The good news,” added Mike Watkins, Head of Retailer and Business Insight at Nielsen, “is that inflation is expected to peak over the next few months, and with consumers still uncertain about when and where to spend, we expect competition for discretionary spend to intensify as we head towards the end of the year, with more promotional savings for shoppers across all channels.”
ughes Electrical has invested over £50,000 to create a demonstration kitchen at its store on Hall Road, Norwich. It has taken three months to complete and now features over 100 items of equipment, ranging from induction hobs and built-in microwaves to wine coolers from top brands including Neff, Miele and Leibherr.
UK RETAIL SECTOR EMPLOYMENT FALLING
he UK retail sector, which employs some 2.9 million people and is one of the biggest sources of employment, lost 62,000 jobs last year, more than any other industry and representing a 2.2% decline in total headcount. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that these job losses have occurred at a time when overall unemployment is at its lowest in more than four decades, but when online shopping has grown to 15% of total retail spending. Some of the losses are attributable to one-off events such as the collapse of BHS, which accounted for 11,000 jobs, but factors such as the rise in the National Living Wage and the continuing growth in online shopping, which has caused many high street retailers to cut shop-floor staff and switch investment to online operations, are apparently contributing to a longer-term trend. By contrast, transport and storage – both important elements in online shopping logistics – achieved a substantial 6.7% increase in employment.
DIXONS TRAVEL OPENS FIRST ONBOARD STORE
ixons Travel has opened a store on P&O Cruises’ ship Ventura. It is the first onboard store for the retailer and is being trialled for a six-month period. The 274 sq ft outlet is said to provide guests with the chance to purchase the latest technology at “online beating” prices. It is the 32nd store in the Dixons Travel group portfolio and stocks popular brands such as Apple, Beats, Bose, Canon, Samsung, Microsoft and Monster.
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AWE READIES FOR AUTUMN SMART HOME EXPO
ustom install distributor AWE will open the doors to its newly updated smart apartment in Epsom for an Autumn Smart Home Expo. The company is inviting technology integrators, electricians, aerial installers and retailers to the event, which takes place at its premises in Blenheim Road on 7th and 8th November. Visitors to the Smart Home Expo will be the first to see latest developments including several completely new interactive spaces said to provide a real-world smart home experience. AWE will also show a range of products from its portfolio including control solutions; motorised curtains, blinds, blackout solutions and sliding partition systems; mirror, bathroom and outdoor televisions; loudspeakers; smart lighting controls; TV and AV ranges. The AWE Smart Home Expo will be open from 9am to 6pm on both days. Drinks and light refreshments will be provided and registration is free.
RECORD SALES VIA MOBILE PREDICTED FOR NOVEMBER
retailers prepare for the Black Friday sales extravaganza, ecommerce consultancy Salmon is predicting that £10bn will be spent via mobile throughout November, making it the biggest month on record for smartphone ordering. 2017 is also set to be the first year when voice ordering will be a significant channel. Research shows that 45% of consumers already use, or plan to soon use, digital assistants, and with 20% of all searches now made through voice, Salmon is advising retailers to consider voice ordering in their peak operations strategy to cope with the increase in demand over the Christmas shopping period, maintaining that “children look set to turn to their Google Home or Amazon Echo devices for their Christmas lists.” The ecommerce firm is predicting that £20bn of online sales will span the entire month of November, overtaking traditional December sales. Head of Managed Services James Webster said: “Black Friday is no longer about one single day, or week – it looks set to take over the whole month. Retailers have realised the opportunity it holds to create an ongoing experience that can help grow their customer base and loyalty, and so it is now an expectation. “Even those retailers who do not want to participate in the peak trading phenomenon need to be prepared for it as shopping fever takes over and consumers scour online retailers even if they aren’t offering discounts. “The retailers who manage their peak trading operations well will be the ones who have made plans across all departments and ensured that their systems are able to function across all channels, making it a success for customers and retailers alike.”
ELECTRICAL STORES IN DECLINE AS HIGH STREET INDEPENDENTS ENJOY GROWTH
ata released by the Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (bira) shows that traditional independents opened significantly more shops in the first half of 2017 than in the same period last year, but the electrical goods sector didn’t share in the success. Independents saw an increase of 762 stores (+0.27%), a significant rise on the net increase of four shops in the first half of last year. A net rise of 562 units on high streets was one of the main drivers of H1 2017 growth. The chain retailers, meanwhile, remained in decline, with a net loss of 659 shops (-0.33%). Sectors in decline included women’s clothing shops, newsagents and electrical goods, the latter seeing store numbers fall 6.1%. Growth sectors included barbers, beauty salons and cafes.
LDC Director Matthew Hopkinson said: “As the numbers show, independents are an increasingly important stakeholder in every town centre up and down the country and therefore an understanding of how they are performing is key. 65% of all the retail and leisure units across Great Britain are independents and this number has increased in recent years. The internet, customisation and providing a personal service is something that will fuel the openings of independents on our high streets.” Hopkinson added, however, that history tells us that independents also have the propensity to change rapidly from growth to decline due to the marginal nature of some businesses. “For now,” he said, “it is a good news story and one that we should celebrate and support.”
SHORTCUTS Hotpoint has partnered with Procter & Gamble to offer purchasers of selected dishwasher models a three-month supply of Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets. The promotion runs until 31st December 2017. Lode Audio, the UK-based audio company that creates products dedicated to the Custom Installation market, has partnered with Custom AV Distribution (CAVD) to act on its behalf for all sales activities throughout the UK.
Beam Group has been appointed as exclusive distributor for floorcare company BISSELL UK & EIRE. Leisure is introducing a cash-back offer to drive sales of its range cookers during one of the busiest sales periods of the year. The promotion offers up to £200 cash back on selected 90cm, 100cm and 110cm range cookers until 10th January 2018 at participating retailers.
WHICH? CALLS FOR ACTION ON FIRE-RISK COOLING APPLIANCES
hich? has said it has stopped recommending almost 240 cooling products, dozens of which were previously Best Buys, as it called for manufacturers to reject inadequate current safety standards and to take immediate voluntary action to end the production of non-flame retardant plastic-backed fridges, freezers and fridge freezers. The consumer body also appealed for the industry to accelerate the introduction of tougher safety standards on cooling appliances so that the use of potentially flammable backing material is no longer allowed, and is recommending that consumers should only buy fridges, freezers and fridge freezers with a flame retardant back. Which? said it has taken this precautionary position “in order to best protect consumers, after evidence from London Fire Brigade indicated that the risk of a fire spreading is greater with nonflame retardant plastic-backed cold appliances, and following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire. “We are calling on the government to urgently set up a new national body to take responsibility for ensuring manufacturers keep households safe and get dangerous products out of people’s homes quickly, before there is further tragedy or loss of life.” Alex Neill, managing director of Which? home and product services, said: “People who already have one of these models in their homes shouldn’t be alarmed, but our advice is that no-one should purchase one from new. “Manufacturers must immediately stop making fridges, freezers and fridge freezers to a standard that they know is clearly deficient and inadequate, and could potentially be putting people’s lives at risk. “This once again shows that the UK’s product safety regime is simply not fit for purpose and the Government can no longer continue to allow it to fail.”
VESTEL TO OFFER METAL-BACKED COOLING DESIGN UPDATE AT COST PRICE
estel is offering retailers the opportunity to update the back-panelling of their cooling ranges from aluminium foil to non-combustible metal. As an incentive to make the switch, the Turkish manufacturer is promising the update at cost price. Ahead of forthcoming EU safety legislation, Vestel, which also produces and markets Sharp appliances under a brand licensing agreement, has switched most of its cooling production to fire-resistant aluminium foil panelling on products – a safer alternative to “PP”, or Petroleum-based polypropylene, which cannot prevent the spread of fire.
Vestel’s Head of OEM White Goods Matthew Riley said: “For us, this was a really important move to make. We’re deeply committed to product safety and recognise that, in the case of cooling, it’s become a particularly high-profile issue. “We have already committed to producing aluminium foil-backed cooling which can extinguish an applied flame within thirty seconds. The next logical step for us is to make it as easy as possible for our retailers to set even higher standards of product safety with our metal back-panelling. To this end, we’re not setting any conditions or time limits on our offer. We’ll continue to raise industry standards by supporting and working with our retailers.”
LG EXPANDS GOOGLE ASSISTANT CAPABILITIES ON SMART APPLIANCES
Electronics has announced that 87 of its Wi-Fi connected smart home appliances – including washing machines and dryers, refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, vacuums, air conditioners and air purifiers – are now compatible with the Google Assistant on Google Home, eligible Android phones and iOS smartphones. “LG makes it especially easy for consumers to connect and interact with Wi-Fi built into virtually all of its 2017 appliances,” said Song Dae-hyun, president of LG’s Home Appliance & Air Solution Company. “Our collaboration with Google is an example of our strategy of Open Partnership, Open Platform, and Open Connectivity.” LG’s Open Partnerships include others such as Amazon.
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THREE-QUARTERS OF BRITONS FEAR SMART HOME RISKS
In the September issue of GC, our consumer mart home technology is predicted to electronics guru George Cole posed a pertinent reduce household bills and the cost of home insurance, but the nation has deep concerns about question relating to IoT security: “Energy ratings are now standard on many products and these help the impending ‘smart home revolution’, despite consumers choose the most energy efficient devices. the prospective cost savings. So why not a security rating for IoT products?” According to a report by MoneySuperMarket, 76% he wrote. of Britons admitted to being ‘fearful’ of the smart “IoT could transform our industry and our homes, homes concept, citing unapproved data collection as but it will be consumer confidence in the products the greatest worry. rather than technology that determines whether it Other concerns included the technology being becomes a mass market or a niche sector.” hacked by criminals (51%), being made unusable Responding to the MoneySuperMarket report, by a virus (43%) and recording people without their Cesare Garlati, chief security strategist at the prpl knowledge (42%). The UK price comparison website polled over 2,000 Foundation, said: “IoT consumers need to be aware of the security risks attached to IoT devices, of people to get the nation’s opinions on smart home which there are many. ‘IoT security is broken’ is a technology and the Internet of Things, and found that well-known phrase in the industry and so the public whilst the majority (77%) of Britons had heard of the have every right to be fearful of connected devices connected home, only 6% claimed to know a lot about in the home. smart home technology. The most popular gadget was “Manufacturers and developers need to stop a smart TV, owned by 30% of those polled, followed by focusing on sales and instead should address these a smart energy meter, owned by 16%. glaring issues. All basic security efforts start with Dan Plant, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, the home router which is the first, last and only line acknowledging that many people are understandably of defence to every device in the home. Negligence anxious that the benefits will be countered by threats towards security here is like leaving your front such as hacking and loss of privacy, said: “It’s up door unlocked – your first line of defence against to the makers of smart devices and applications attackers. You are exposing not only your private to reassure consumers that they are not putting IHAad_IntlGetConnected_186X132.qxp_Layout 1 information 7/18/17 3:42 PM Page 1 family.” but yourself and your themselves at risk.”
2018 10 – 13 March Chicago, USA
“‘IoT security is broken’ is a well-known phrase in the industry and so the public have every right to be fearful of connected devices in the home”
Despite public concern, the MoneySuperMarket report concluded that the benefits of investing in smart home technology are likely to outweigh the fears. The prpl Foundation Smart Home Security report details the fundamentals of IoT security which consumers can use to reduce the risk of attack. https://goo.gl/w9PM4C
The Chicago Show is the key show in my calendar. It has a combination of amazing innovation and quality suppliers. We always find new and differentiated product and innovative ways to display and showcase it. The organisation is excellent, and the ability to visit quality retailers in Chicago is an added benefit. We are selective on the number of shows we go to - but this is a must! Anna Berry Head of Buying – Cooking & Dining John Lewis Plc
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PORTWAY PARTNERS WITH TURKISH BRAND SIMFER P ortway Domestic Appliances has gained sole distribution of the Simfer brand in the UK, commencing with the launch of a range of freestanding gas and electric cookers created for the UK market. An unfamiliar brand to some in
the electrical retail industry, Simfer commenced manufacturing in 1977 and is now one of the top 500 industrial corporations in its homeland of Turkey, last year exporting to 146 countries. Established as a producer of heating stoves, the business expanded
its ambitions into the freestanding cooking sector in 1997, before moving into the production of builtin appliances and, more recently, domestic and commercial cooling. The range of freestanding cookers exclusive to Portway comprises 50cm
and 60cm gas and electric models. Neil Bradford, Joint Managing Director of the Andover-based distributor, said freestanding cooking is the first stage of the partnership with Simfer, “but we are looking to expand this next year into other areas.”
OFF THE WALL LOOKS TO MARKET EXPANSION
ore than 40 buyers representing leading UK multiple and independent CE and furniture retailers attended two trade events held by British TV furniture manufacturer Off The Wall Limited, at which the company presented its expanded portfolio and new concepts in TV furniture. Nine new ranges of Off The Wall TV stand/cabinets and selected products from AV furniture brand Norstone were on display at the events held at the company’s Bradford-based factory and in London. Part of Off The Wall’s market extension strategy has taken it into the market for occasional furniture that complements five of its TV support ranges. The collection includes items such as side tables, coffee tables and nests of tables, each of which offer retailers the chance to benefit from secondary purchases “with healthy furniture margins to match.” The brand has also introduced a concept dubbed ‘Select’, which gives consumers the opportunity to choose their own cabinet colour and finish, door material and colour, and a wide range of configurations for the design of the unit’s feet. Retailers can benefit from a dedicated POS stand with two different sized products, and orders will be delivered to the retailer or consumer within seven days of placement. Off The Wall Sales Manager Phil McDonald said: “Design, style, innovation and quality has always been what sets Off The Wall apart from the competition. With our new ranges for 2017/18 they take that philosophy a step further.” McDonald cited the creation of complementary occasional furniture ranges, ‘delivered assembled’ options, and the new Select concept as being elements that will take the company to the next level in terms of status and growth.
SHORTCUTS GDHA brand Belling has launched The Belling Cookery Club, an initiative to enable primary schools to provide practical cookery classes for children. Belling will award two primary schools with up to £2,000 worth of cooking appliances each year, along with fun cooking accessories for the children to use. Slovenian manufacturer Gorenje has been named winner of The Innovation Award at The Licensing Awards 2017 for its special edition retro fridge, inspired by the VW camper van. Hotpoint has launched an interactive E-Learning platform to provide retailers with product and brand knowledge. Users can gain points and are awarded certificates by successfully completing the quizzes and learning paths.
Manufacturer of food waste disposers and Marco Pastore steaming hot water taps, InSinkErator® has appointed Marco Pastore to Product Manager, Europe and Russia. B-Tech AV Mounts has been named Manufacturer of the Year at the annual AV Magazine AV Awards. Beko parent Arçelik A.Ş. has become the first Turkish manufacturing company to join the Dow Jones Sustainability Emerging Markets Index. In-wall and waterproof TV brand Aquavision has announced the appointment of Ronnie Turpie as director of EMEA business development. Ronnie Turpie
onnect Distribution has been named ‘SDA supplier of the year’ by the Sirius Buying Group. The Award was presented to the Birmingham-based distributor’s Sales Manager Tony Higginson and his team of regional sales managers by chairman of the buying group Gordon Jones at a dinner which marked the end of the Sirius annual trade show at the Marriott Forest of Arden hotel in Warwickshire.
Whirlpool UK was awarded the ‘Stand of the Year’ at this year’s trade show. The stand featured hero cooking, dishwashing and laundry appliances from the Whirlpool, Hotpoint and Indesit brands. Visitors were offered live cooking demonstrations run by the Whirlpool UK training team. Hoover Candy has received the Sirius Manufacturer of the Year Award for the fourth time. The Awards are judged and voted for by Sirius members, with brands scored on a range of criteria including service, products, innovation, quality and head office support. Hoover employee Jane Seagrave received the Regional Sales Manager of the Year accolade.
GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED GEORGE COLE PINPOINTS HOTSPOTS IN THE WORLD OF CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
ARE CONSUMERS MOVING TO HIGH-RES AUDIO?
funny how the consumer electronics market develops. Take home video, for example. We started watching low-resolution VHS tapes, moved to DVD and then Bluray, with each successive format offering higher picture quality. Then came the online video streaming services, and suddenly millions of us were happy watching low-res images streamed to our computers, smartphones or smart TVs. But now, more and more people are moving to HD streaming (where their local broadband service supports it - more on this below). A parallel situation is happening with audio. We had LPs, then moved to CDs (although some would say that LPs offer better sound quality, hence the vinyl revival), and some enthusiasts even moved up to SACDs. But the vast majority of consumers were happy with low-resolution MP3 and AAC music files that could be downloaded onto digital music players or streamed to various devices. But the tide seems to be turning, as an interest in high resolution audio grows. There’s no universal standard for high-res audio, but the general consensus is that it offers higher audio quality than the 16-bit, 44.1 kHz standard offered by CDs. Some high-res audio formats offer 24-bit, 176 kHz sound, with a bitrate almost thirty times higher than MP3 files. Some high-res audio files, such as FLAC and ALAC, are compressed, but others, such as DSD, are not. But the result is the same – superb sound quality. Many devices offer high-res audio, from digital music players to smartphones and games consoles to media streamers, and high-res audio files and streaming services are available. At this year’s IFA Show in Berlin, there was a lot of talk about what could be the next big leap for high-res audio – MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). MQA has been developed by Bob Stewart, founder of Meridian Audio, and works by shrinking master-tape quality sound files so that they can be easily downloaded or streamed. Although announced more than a year ago, MQA is now building momentum and gaining support. Sony has announced two new Walkmen compatible with MQA; Universal Music Group (UMG) plans to make MQA music available; LG has announced its first MQA audio smartphone, and streaming services such as Tidal and Deezer also support MQA.
“...the key to the success of MQA (and highres audio in general) will be a wide range of affordable hardware and content.”
But the key to the success of MQA (and high-res audio in general) will be a wide range of affordable hardware and content. This issue was raised at a discussion panel at IFA that included representatives from Sony, UMG, Warner Music Group (WMG) and MQA. Michael Drexler, WMG’s vice-president digital strategy, made the point that the over-40s do not need educating about the benefits of high-res audio, as many will have substantial CD collections, but younger consumers brought up on a diet of streaming audio and compressed music files do. There was also talk of making high-res music files more immersive and interactive, with added artwork and liner notes. No one pretends that music formats such as MP3 or AAC are on their way out, but with the right products, marketing and pricing, high-res audio could become a mainstream music format.
SUPER-FAST OR SUPER-LATE? H
ere we go again. Another government press release about super-fast broadband is being delivered to UK homes and businesses, with a promise of 95% coverage by the end of the year. Leaving aside that the government’s laughable definition of ‘super-fast’ is 24 Mbps – in South Korea the average broadband speed is almost 27 Mbps - we seem to get a broadband news release
every three months, but complaints about lack of broadband and slow broadband speeds persist. My complaint, though, isn’t about speed but reliability. I’ve lost count of the number of times my broadband connection has dropped out or slowed down, even though my home is just a few hundred metres from the BT street cabinet, and I pay for a so-called business
connection with a lower contention ratio. Yes, speed matters, but I’d settle for slower speeds and greater reliability any day. Even the government recognises that broadband is a necessity for many businesses. If the UK wants to stay ahead of the pack, it needs to up its game when it comes to the availability of fast, reliable broadband services.
Porsche Design and KEF introduce SPACE ONE WIRELESS Llifestyle brand Porsche Design and British audio brand KEF have expanded their range of products with the introduction of the SPACE ONE WIRELESS Active NoiseCancelling Headphones. The design of the original SPACE ONE has been refreshed and refined with a dark high-gloss inlaid Porsche Design logo placed on the earcup flap. Bluetooth® aptX™ connectivity delivers close to CD quality playback, and music can be enjoyed wirelessly for up to 30 hours with Active Noise Cancellation and Bluetooth switched on.
Dirty to clean in as little as 14 minutes Beko is claiming “one of the world’s fastest laundry ranges” with the official launch of premium washing machines that can wash up to 12kg, or the equivalent of 60 shirts, in just 28 minutes, or up to 2kg of laundry in 14 minutes. Model ref: WR94PB44DW with Autodosing technology automatically dispenses the precise amount of detergent for each wash.
Coffee-making “revolution” – Sage by Heston Blumenthal SKA brand Sage Appliances is claiming to have revolutionised home coffee making with the launch of a fully automatic bean-to-cup machine dubbed the Oracle® Touch. The appliance has been designed to deliver the barista-quality coffee expected from a manual commercial espresso machine. Users can swipe and select from a full menu of classic café favourites.
Bosch launches fridge freezer with changeable coloured doors Bosch’s Vario Style fridge freezer offers a wide variety of different coloured door fronts, so consumers have the option to change the theme of their kitchen without investing in a new appliance. The product comes in the following colours: Sunflower, Raspberry, Plum, Cherry Red, Champagne, Black Matt, Pearl Night Blue, Aqua and Lime Green. An additional four colours will be added to the range in December, and a further six in spring 2018.
Built-under hood from Caple Caple’s new ST523 built-under hood can be installed in cabinetry to provide a clean and integrated look. The stainless steel appliance has an A-rating for energy and push button controls for ease of use. It has four speeds, including a boost function, a maximum sound level of 63dB and provides maximum extraction of 680m3/h.
WAMM Master Chronosonic loudspeaker – yours for a cool £700K Audiophiles with the best part of three-quarters of a million pounds to spare may be tempted to splash out on Wilson Audio founder Dave Wilson’s magnum opus. The WAMM Master Chronosonic is the result of five years of research led by Wilson himself. The unit is hand built to order, with construction strictly limited to 70 pairs.
Hoover has the Vision…
www.absolutesounds.com | 020 8971 3909
Hoover has launched an oven with 19-inch fully interactive touch-screen and a single on/off button. The door of the new 80-litre Hoover Vision oven is a large screen on which users can watch video cooking tutorials; generate, save and amend favourite recipes to create a personal library of cooking programmes; check the cooking temperature and time remaining, and access selected websites. An in-cavity camera provides a close-up of the cooking progress.
Hotpoint launches new dishwasher range Hotpoint has launched a new range of 600mm dishwashers comprising built-in and freestanding models incorporating sustainable technologies which offer high performance and flexibility. The brand’s new 3D Zone Wash eliminates the need for pre-washing, and selected models also benefit from Active Oxygen technology which removes up to 70% of unpleasant odours.
FROM THE BENCH
FROM THE BENCH
PREVENTING KITCHEN FIRES Last month Alan Bennett examined the causes of appliance fires. Now he looks into mitigation and prevention
ince you read last month’s Get Connected over 300 fires have been caused by white goods in the UK. Thousands of fires start in electrical appliances every year, and hundreds of models have been recalled. Can anything be done to reduce these horrific incidents? I believe it can.
to reputation associated with them – and sometimes they delay too long, perhaps until they are forced to act. Maybe recent events will soon change this, though the success of recalls is currently just 10-20%.
MANUFACTURERS White goods manufacturers could improve the safety of their products by several means, most of which would make them more expensive to produce. Regarding materials, better design and construction could take the forms of more thermal cut-outs within the shell and in crucial components like motors; electronic over-current arresters programmed to track the machine’s power consumption at every stage in its operating cycle; higher-rated and more robust electrical components like capacitors, relays, thermostats and switches; and sealed or self-extinguishing parts. In terms of design, the use of more fireproof and less toxic insulation and casing materials; and reduction of the use of flammable plastics inside and outside the machine: an example of this is all-metal rather than flare-prone plastic rear covers. Openings on the rear cover could be minimised or eliminated where ventilation requirements permit – this would delay or inhibit the outrush of smoke and fire from inside. Maybe sensors could be incorporated to forestall fire by giving front-panel ‘health’ warnings like those in a car’s instrument panel. Better sealing or shielding of vulnerable components from water spray and splashes would also help, along with minimising the number of soldered joints and plug/socket and other connectors within the machine, perhaps by substituting solid-state switches (thyristors, triacs) for relays in highcurrent sections. Perhaps it might even be possible to build in a heat and/or smoke alarm with a loud sounder to give the earliest possible warning of trouble. The subject of recalls is an emotive one. In common with the car industry, appliance manufacturers are reluctant to invoke recalls – because of their cost and the damage
DEALERS In supplying new white goods dealers are best able to check and advise on safety matters when they are permitted to install the machine; this gives them the opportunity to check out many of the points mentioned below. Dealers in second-hand appliances for sale or rent carry a heavy responsibility. They need to be aware of all the risk factors mentioned last month, and the safety records of all the models they handle, to protect their customers, comply with strict safety regulations and avoid litigation; older machines pose a greater risk due to outdated design, wear, ageing and material fatigue. Those involved in repair, overhaul/reconditioning and modification need to be competent, suitably qualified and trained. This is a serious business so be aware and take care...
USERS Appliance users can do a lot to minimise the risk of fire arising from environmental causes and pollution. Starting at the machine it’s important to keep airways, filters, fans and grilles clean. Before washing clothes, pockets should be checked – coins, tissues, lint, hairgrips and combs can cause trouble. Mains distribution socket-strips and adapters are not recommended for use with high-powered
“Those involved in repair, overhaul/ reconditioning and modification need to be competent, suitably qualified and trained. This is a serious business so be aware and take care...”
devices incorporating motors and/or heating elements, and any plugs or sockets which smell, run warm or have brown or black stains or burn marks should be urgently replaced. Regular PAT testing may forestall trouble, though it’s very rare for private householders to order this. For safety tracking it’s important to register appliances with the manufacturer at its website, or via AMDEA at www.registermyappliance.org.uk This ensures awareness of any recall, but many people are too lazy to do it or don’t want to risk receiving junk and promotional mail; some makers have brought this on themselves. In a wider sphere, fire risks can be minimised by keeping houseinternal doors shut; by replacing any mains-distribution fuse box by an RCD consumer unit; by fitting smoke alarms nearby; and by keeping a fire extinguisher handy. For electrical fires CO2 gas types are best, perhaps, though water-spray types are also suitable; in fact any type of extinguisher is better than none. The electrical supply should be switched off if quickly possible before addressing the fire. I have already mentioned the increasing risk of fire as appliances get older, and after a reasonable (difficult to define!) life it’s good to discard and replace them – and enjoy the incidental advantages such as higher efficiency, lower power consumption and better features and benefits. Any second-hand appliance purchase should be confined to a reasonably new model from a reputable dealer or refurbisher. Leaving high-powered machines to run in an empty house or at night, e.g. by using a programme-delay switch or a smart app, is best avoided to minimise the risk of the fire spreading before it’s detected.
SMART OPERATION The proliferation of smart appliances and home monitors has pros and cons in this sphere. While it’s unlikely that a machine could start up by itself due to technical faults or hacking, the very existence of this technology encourages unattended running – with a faulty or badly maintained machine it is possible in theory to start a fire in an unoccupied home from a remote smartphone! On the other side of the coin, cameras or heat sensors can warn of any domestic flare-up so that the alarm can be quickly raised.
Changing Seasons Special Integral Supplement www.gcmagazine.co.uk
Small Kitchen Appliances
TV & AV
Heating & Air Treatment
Pick of the Sea son Plus:
A selection of products for the festive quarter
SMALL KITCHEN APPLIANCES
a full suite of Beko products to complete their home.” he annual value of the UK Small Kitchen Smeg has extended its small appliances range, Appliances market is edging towards £1 drawing on the brand’s instantly recognisable billion, driven by a refreshing synergy retro styling and distinctive colour palette between consumer demand, and the to add a further level of co-ordination to willingness of manufacturers to innovate the kitchen space. Small Appliances to meet – and extend – that demand. can be, as Smeg says, “the perfect way On the consumer side, TV cooking to introduce anyone to Smeg’s retro programmes, a desire for healthier styling.” lifestyles, the growth of “real” coffee SEASONAL PREPARATION consumption, open-plan living, and As the seasons change and autumn the ability of well designed, colourarrives, there is a change in eating co-ordinated small appliances to add habits. “People are more likely to dine style to the kitchen at relatively low cost, in at home, preparing hearty meals such have all fed into SKA growth. And also, as stews and soups,” says Beko’s Philip significantly, into the perception that it is worth Fletcher. It’s also when thoughts turn towards spending a bit more to get the “iconic,” the high seasonal entertaining and the Christmas performance, the well-designed, the co-ordinated celebration of food, as well as choosing gifts, so, appliance that will be on show on the worktop. says Fletcher, “retailers will likely notice a surge in On the manufacturer side, inventiveness has both customers actively looking responded to and led the for food preparation gadgets lifestyle developments in and appliances during the home cooking, healthy Small Kitchen Appliances suffered a period when the Autumn and Winter months.” eating, aesthetics and category was avoided by many independents who did Dominik Pytel, Marketing sophisticated processing not want to compete in the low-margin space created Director, Groupe SEB UK Ltd., and cooking appliances that owner of the Tefal brand, support home cooking with by supermarkets with their cheap kettles and toasters. adds: “Small Appliance minimal effort. The traditional That time is definitely past. The growth of inventive, markets always see an uplift leaders – such as Morphy in sales in Q4 as the run Richards, Tefal, Kenwood, attractive and relevant small appliances now excites a up to the peak Christmas De’Longhi, KitchenAid, range of kitchen style and lifestyle aspirations, making season gets underway. This Russell Hobbs…. (not an SKA a strong retail prospect, especially as we move was certainly the case in exhaustive list by any means) 2016 and this year will be – are continuing to innovate, into autumn and winter no different. Typically, food as well as spearheading a preparation products and resurgence in re-designed, coffee makers always perform well during this sales period, as they both technologically upgraded traditional devices such as pressure cookers, carry high degrees of gift and entertainment purchase elements.” slow cookers and steamers. It’s also a growing trend, he says, that “as the festive season They have been joined in this crowded and competitive market by approaches consumers look to balance their enjoyment of eating brands better-known for major appliances. The likes of Beko, AEG and traditional meals with family and friends with healthy accompaniments.” Smeg are in this space, bringing their brand equity to bear, and extending Staying on the healthy balance theme, Beko’s Fletcher says: “January the co-ordinated SKA theme to encompass the “total kitchen.” signals detox. Consider refreshing your displays to make your collection Philip Fletcher, SDA National Sales Manager at Beko plc – which has of blenders and choppers really appealing to those looking for food extended its SDA range with new blenders, choppers, hand mixers and preparation gadgets to help them achieve their new year resolutions.” a bean-to-cup coffee machine – says: “Our commitment to produce Dominik Pytel of Groupe SEB sees this as a prime opening for low-fat affordable quality products means retailers are able to offer the full range fryer products, and says that out of the success of the Tefal ActiFry has of Beko SDA products to consumers. This in turn provides developed the ActiFry Smart XL, offering a more sophisticated lowthem with a great opportunity to up-sell matching fat cooking option, controlled via Bluetooth and a dedicated app, and home appliances. You can now offer customers allowing users to wirelessly send more than 200 recipes straight to the low fat fryer.
s i ll a m S
Healthy option: Tefal’s ActiFry Smart XL with Bluetooth connectivity and 200+ recipes
“When it comes to small appliances,” says Smeg, “lifestyle displays are key so that the consumer can see how the product would work in their own kitchen at home. Having stock of all the colourways is also vital so that people are not limited and can choose their favourite in order to coordinate their kitchen.” “Retailers looking to tap into the Christmas gift market,” adds Beko’s Fletcher, “may like to consider refreshing their coffee machine display. Research shows that three-quarters of Brits buy a hot drink when out and about, and that coffee sales are set to hit £3billion this year, the trend shows no sign of dying out. Coffee machines are sure to be top of gift lists this year.” Finally, advises Dominik Pytel, “an effective in-store demonstration is key in securing consumer interest and that all-important sale. Product knowledge is also vital. Retailers should always utilise manufacturerproduced sales support tools to assist at point of purchase.”
Homemade is always the healthier choice.
The new Braun Baby hand blender. The fastest way to a happy baby. Thanks to the SPLASHControl technology, large quantities of baby food can be quickly blended directly in the pot - without splashing! POWERBell Plus with its extra milling blade helps you blend super smooth baby purée. To prepare and freeze small and big portions, the MultiQuick 5 Baby comes with a clever range of BPA free accessories*, protecting your child‘s health. Find out more on www.braunhousehold.co.uk Tel: +44 2392 392 392 New Lane, Havant, Hampshire PO9 2NH * Test run by independent institute comparing 9 similar competitor models.
Official No.1 Seal – Packaging
g i b e h T
For consumers choosing cooking appliances at this time of year, the great festive cook-in may skew their judgement of the type of cooking appliances that will work best for their lifestyle all year round. It’s a great opportunity for retailers to offer advice and guidance etail relies on consumer needs, desires, aspirations and sentiment for its survival, and no better a time to draw on these strong drivers than at Christmas. So for those areas of electricals that deal with food, warmth and comfort, the time is right to highlight the benefits of products that fulfil the most basic wishes of the season. Consumers have been programmed to believe that Christmas is all about setting the scene, and good food and a pleasant ambience are both part of this. But when it comes to advising seasonal romantics on the purchase of cooking products, retailers do need to remind them that a turkey is, for most households, a one-off annual treat. It is the best appliances suited to everyday lifestyles that should be under their consideration.
A FEAST OF OPTIONS Christmas is a glorious, yet stressful event, particularly for those charged with delivering the most important meal of the year. So it is an opportunity for retailers to highlight the features and technologies in cooking appliances that will allow the host to spend the majority of time with their family and guests during the season of entertaining, rather than slaving in the
kitchen, and those that can help even the most incompetent of cooks gain confidence. Whirlpool Brand Manager Catherine Balderson cites secondary research by Whirlpool UK Appliances stating that the average ownership of an oven is 17 years. With this significant statistic in mind, she adds: “With many consumers in the market for updating their cooking appliances in time for the holiday season, unaware of the enormous advances in technology, the retailer has the opportunity to point out the newest features and benefits in the category. “As our lives become increasingly busy, particularly around the festive season, appliances that make life easier are an understandably important aspect of kitchen products. Importantly, it is essential that the appliance does the thinking too, monitoring, adapting and controlling the processes to ensure that the consumer attains excellent results when cooking, with minimal effort. Cooking appliances that save time, reduce energy consumption and simplify the cooking process are jumping to the top of the consumer’s wish list.” Hotpoint’s Raffaele Rochira, Category Marketing Manager – Built-In Cooking, maintains that consumers are increasingly demanding more from their appliances, and technological
Hoover Vision oven
“Automatic cooking programmes are the perfect way for consumers to take the stress out of food prep as they allow everything to run smoothly, requiring minimum input from the user” Stuart Benson, sales director, Gorenje UK
innovations are proving popular. He uses sales of pyrolytic ovens, which reached £19 million in the first quarter of 2017 – a 26% increase compared to the first quarter of 2016 – as an example of this popularity. “Pyrolytic ovens now account for 10% of the value of the total cooking market with ovens that do not benefit from any self-cleaning functionality slowly declining. The price of ovens which benefit from self-cleaning capabilities has fallen slightly since the first quarter of 2016. Despite this, pyrolytic self-cleaning ovens remain in the premium price bracket, proving that consumers are willing to pay more for the timesaving and convenient feature.”
RANGE COOKERS While overall sales of cooking units are down year to date, recent data shows that range cooker sales are up 3.6%, an increase that Bertazzoni UK & Eire predicts will continue into the fourth quarter of the year. Managing director Maurizio Severgnini says: “We believe that range cookers will continue to lead the market because they are a very versatile appliance and suit both
COOK LIKE A MICHELIN S TA R C H E F. Our Sense cooking range has been designed for the most discerning cooks to achieve restaurant quality food in the comfort of your own home. The choice of Michelin starred chef Josh Eggleton. A real chef, not just a television personality. Visit caple.co.uk to experience some of Joshâ€™s mouthwatering recipes.
Image: Black glass and stainless steel Soft close Single Oven C2105
traditional and modern needs with their aesthetics and technology.” He also sees the popularity of induction hobs continuing as more consumers come to understand the benefits of the technology. “Whilst some will always prefer to cook with gas, induction hobs are becoming much more versatile, offering faster cooking times and flexible zones. “The key elements of a successful festive feast are timings and taste,” adds Severgnini, asserting that much attention is paid to the precision engineering of his brand’s products to ensure they meet the needs of every individual, regardless of skill level. “Integrated meat probes will ensure that the meat, whether it be turkey, duck, lamb or beef, is cooked to perfection. Telescopic shelves will ensure that whatever’s cooking can be expertly checked without the risk of burns. Additional cavities, like the ones in our triple ovens, will help keep things at the right temperature, as will the keep-warm function on our induction hobs, so it will free the user up to mingle with guests.” Built-in Cooking Product Manager at Beko plc Salah Sun, commenting on behalf of the company’s Leisure brand, maintains “people love that a range cooker enables them to multi-task. Multiple ovens and hobs offer increased capacity which allows cooks to juggle several dishes at once – something that can’t be achieved with traditional cookers.” But she adds that Leisure’s challenge is in engaging with those who think a range cooker is out of their budget or not an option for their home due to size. “That’s why we offer a wide variety of styles in a number of sizes, from 60cm to 110cm, in a choice of colours and fuel types and all at different price points, suiting anything from a grand countryside home to an urban townhouse.”
BUILT-IN For most consumers, the ideal oven will give them the edge and enhance their cooking skills. For some, that could mean purchasing an intelligent oven that calculates the weight of a
“We predict an even bigger increase in the demand for eco-friendly extraction systems as homeowners become even more conscious of their carbon footprint” Fiona Barker-Scott, Brand Manager, Falmec
joint of meat before determining the correct temperature setting and cooking time. For others, it may be a range of multifunction options such as a choice of conventional cooking, fan cooking, top and/or bottom heat, slow cooking, roasting, grilling, steaming, baking…. The option of combination products which offer a standard oven, microwave oven and steam in one cavity, or ranges of compact appliances, may also open up a new world of culinary delight to the returning appliance purchaser. Sara Bazeley, Brand Manager at Indesit, maintains that built-in compact appliances offer “incredible functionality” – particularly in a smaller space – while producing exceptional results. “The importance of an appliance can be about making life easier instead of making a statement,” she comments. “Worktops and vital food-preparation space is specifically limited in many kitchens today, and can easily be taken up with worktopmounted appliances required on a day-to-day basis. During the festive season, when cooking for family and friends, additional space can be released on the worktop by opting for a built-in microwave instead of a freestanding model.”
KITCHEN WIZARDRY “Appliance innovation has developed massively in the last couple of years and new features on the market ensure that hosts can spend as much time as possible with their guests,
rather than running back and forth to the kitchen to check cooking progress,” says Juan Pillay, marketing director built-in appliances, Hoover Candy UK. “We expect consumers to start looking for time-saving features in their cooking appliances, whether this be highpowered appliances that shorten cooking time, or smart technology that truly enhances ease of usage. As the festive season approaches, people are increasingly interested in maximising family and social time, rather than slaving away in a kitchen. “There’s a big and ongoing debate about technology in the appliance industry as we see more and more connected appliances launched to market. One side of the discussion is claiming that technology has the potential to have a positive impact on everyone’s lives, and the counterargument claims smart technology has become too gimmicky. Here at Hoover, we strongly believe the former. “The importance of creating user-friendly technology with real, tangible benefits is extremely important. It won’t be overcomplicated, intimidating technology that dramatically changes how we control our kitchen appliances, it will be clever innovations that allow users to make chores easier. For example, a hob that can report on its own usage so the user can be more energy efficient, or an app that allows people to check cooking time remaining whilst away from the kitchen.” But Pillay adds that, while induction hobs have gained traction and interest in previous months, ceramic hobs remain the most popular choice. However, he says: “We do believe that the benefits of induction hobs, such as quick heating and cooking, energy efficiency and the appliances’ sleek aesthetics, will bolster sales in the next few years.” Owain Harrison, country manager for Novy, sees a “burgeoning trend” in combination induction hobs, which incorporate an extraction unit within the hob to extract cooking vapour at source. “Negating the need for overhead extraction, these appliances will also deliver a huge amount of design freedom in the kitchens of the future – a fantastic selling point for retailers.”
IN-STORE ATTRACTIONS Offering some tips for retailers selling cooking appliances in the run-up to the festive season, Bertazzoni’s Severgnini says: “There’s no better excuse to throw a soiree than the festive season, so retailers can maximise on the opportunity with a themed event. Mulled wine and minced pies can be a great draw for people during the cold winter shopping season, so customers can be encouraged in for a look around. Festive cooking demos, complete with hints and tips on how to make a feast of any size a success, will provide appeal, as will any advice on cooking for guests of ten or more.” He also suggests collaborating on an exclusive event with a local restaurant chef, “or they could provide advice on alterative twists on festive classics to add an extra dimension to the event.” V-ZUG OptiGlass induction hob
A GET CONNECTED SUPPLEMENT
PICK OF THE SEASON
Pick of the Season Here we feature a range of products that manufacturers and suppliers are promoting as their “Pick of the Season” for 2017.
Melitta Barista TS The Barista TS Bean-to-cup machine delivers that sumptuous barista-made coffee taste in a choice of 21 delicious drinks. The My Coffee Memory function remembers the personal settings for up to 8 people, so coffee is always just how users like it, and the TFT touch display is child’s play to operate. The Barista TS also includes an Automatic Bean Select function which selects automatically, or according to users’ wishes, the correct bean type for their favourite coffee. With over 100 years’ experience, Melitta knows how to produce sublime coffee, and the Barista TS serves up exactly that.
01952 671073 | www.melitta.co.uk
Cook with CDA… The CDA range of ovens has been specifically developed to offer options to suit exactly what your customers need. We manufacture both single and double ovens in order to cater for all kinds of family life. Double ovens are capable of cooking around twice as much food at one time, although typically the top cavity, which offers a conventional cooking style, will be slightly smaller than the bottom cavity. The bottom cavity, usually the main cooking area, is capable of higher power and a range of different cooking styles. Every model has been fitted with the latest innovative cooking technology and tested to last a lifetime.
Salter 1.6L Digital Soup Maker Your customers can make delicious soup with this fabulous Salter Electric Soup Maker with four automatic settings: smooth, chunky, compote and blend. Users simply need to choose healthy low-fat ingredients from the recipe book provided, add them to the machine, select the setting required and the powerful 850W heater and 200W motor does the rest of the work. The intelligent control system prevents overspill and burning dry, so users can enjoy fast, fresh and healthy homemade soup.
Affordable quality… Ensuring every single appliance that we manufacture is reliable and finished with precision is just part of what we do every day. We are part of a much larger company and our appliances are subjected to the same rigorous testing and high standards that you would expect from a far more expensive brand. We source the highest-grade materials and components to ensure that every appliance is exactly what you had hoped for. Not only will your customer’s kitchen look great, but we guarantee that products will be enjoyable to use and will cook, refrigerate, extract and wash brilliantly while providing great value for money.
www.saltercookshop.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 0161 627 9673
Giles & Posner Popcorn Maker This fantastic popcorn maker is perfect for making a quick snack or a bowl of popcorn for your customers to share with friends in front of a movie. Using the measuring cup included, just one cup of kernels makes delicious warm popcorn in just three minutes. An incredibly fast and efficient way for your customers to make popcorn for themselves and their friends, this popcorn maker is durable and easy to use, with an aluminium heat chamber which heats the kernels to create popcorn using hot air only for tasty results.
www.gilesandposner.com | email@example.com | 0161 627 9673
TV AND AV
The Medium is the Message Beovision says design and luxury as well as entertainment
From the 1960s to the end of the 20th century, the television sustained the Consumer Electronics market, defined the way in which people perceive “home entertainment,” and even dictated the arrangement of our furniture by becoming the focal point of the home. It also helped tens of thousands of retailers over several decades make a tidy living out of the nation’s love affair with this revolutionary technology. What’s changed? And, just as important, what can retailers do about it?
the halcyon electrical retail days that began in the 1960s, the changing seasons - from summer into autumn and the run-up to Christmas meant a fairly reliable boost to TV sales that would put the profitable icing on the year’s hard work. Getting a bigger, better TV in time for the festive season and the family enjoyment of the new TV schedules was an important aspiration. We can’t turn the clock back, but it is evident at least that the desire for the latest thing has not really changed. In fact, it has been intensified by flat panel technology (allowing 50-inch-plus screens in homes where a 21-inch CRT used to be seen as “big”), and by the extraordinary clarity of HD - and latterly 4K UHD images - that make the big screen experience superb even in a small home. 3D hasn’t caught on, but Smart TV – provided you have a fast enough broadband connection – has released us from the confines of the broadcast schedules and opened up a whole new world of personal choice. So yes, the technology has changed, and immeasurably for the better. Then why, according
to so many retailers, is it so difficult to squeeze a decent margin out of what is, after all, this still exciting, attractive, aspirational and necessary piece of kit at the centre of home entertainment?
IS IT US, OR IS IT THEM? If “us” means the manufacturers and retailers, and “them” means the customers, the answer is that the problem is a bit of both. Global competition has pushed many of the historical leaders in TV manufacture into consolidation, abandoning the sector altogether or licencing their great brands to others. The new brand leaders, having fought to dominate market share by selling their outstanding technological innovations at a discount, are locked into a price-cutting spiral that has stripped out the margin for the retailer. Retail has contributed to its own troubles, too, and again it’s price competition that has made some retailers abandon consumer electronics and turn to an all-white-goods-and-small-appliances model. It’s particularly apposite, too, that with the “Changing Seasons”, comes the now annual ritual of retail self-harm called “Black Friday.” This year
it’s on 24 November, and the internet is already full of countdown clocks and promises of crazy deals to come. It seems it’s become a discounting juggernaut that nobody really wants to ride, but everybody is afraid to get off. This is not the first place you will have read that the industry is hurting itself – probably needlessly, considering that TVs offer performance and customer appeal far greater than ever before, and are certainly worth a great deal more in comparative terms than the bulky, unreliable, flickering, fuzzy monsters that were avidly bought in the 60s.
HOW THEY’VE CHANGED That’s “us.” What about “them”? Consumers have changed profoundly their buying habits. They have access to information that has given them more product knowledge, and also the ability to price-check, compare, and then buy from a huge choice of sources, many of them without leaving home. Consumers have become comfortable with the convenience and ease of buying online, and this goes equally for larger, bigger-ticket domestic appliances and consumer electronics. They said it would never happen, but it has. This consumer shift is the most difficult problem facing “traditional” bricks-and mortar retail. It won’t stop, and it will become more acute, but we know there are things that retailers can do – and are doing - about it. It’s also clear that TV has become a different kind of home entertainment tool. On-demand content, streaming services and multiple programme recording facilities mean nobody
TV AND AV
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is forced to fit their personal schedules around fixed broadcast times – or indeed to restrict themselves to what’s offered by the broadcasters. Does this mean, as has been quite confidently predicted by many “experts,” that, because of the digital revolution, TV is a doomed medium being rapidly replaced by viewing on smartphones, tablets and laptops?
TV IS STILL KING The answer, if hard figures are to be believed over airy predictions, is that TV is still overwhelmingly the medium on which consumers choose to watch content. That is at least one comforting fact for CE retailers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s real-time broadcast, recorded material, streaming services or other internet-based access to content: the big TV, the family TV, the one in the living-room that is stuffed with content access and picture-enhancing technology, is the medium most of your customers will be watching it on. The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) published research figures just this April showing that “viewing on mobiles increased slightly last year but it still remains.. relatively small.” To put some more statistical flesh on the bones, BARB says: “Each week in the UK we view between 90 and 95 billion minutes of television on our TV sets. We only view 1 to 1.5 billion minutes on other devices. This is, as yet, a very small part of the total television picture.” And if you feel that’s just a generational hangover that will fade away as younger viewers impose their more gadget-minded habits on the statistics, BARB has this to say: “The 25-34 age group is particularly fascinating. These are the people whose formative years coincided with the digital revolution. You’d expect this group to exhibit the most radical changes in behaviour. Not so. This age group is, like other adult age groups, spending more time (up 1.4% year-on-year) in front of their TV sets. While there’s evidence in
Toshiba offers a lifestyle as well as a TV
our figures of a shift of emphasis away from live and 7-day viewing, there is no evidence here of a fundamental rejection of the TV set per se.”
THE POSITIVES If the decline in the popularity of the TV as a medium was ever one of the reasons to give up on it, that reason has at least been removed. The TV is, and looks like remaining for some time, the central star of home entertainment and the number one medium for viewing content, with all the other electronic digital devices - that the UK consumer is so fond of - revolving around, and in a sense, depending upon it. And, for retailers, the star does not disappoint in terms of charisma. TVs are bigger, more versatile, more flexible, delivering outstanding clarity of images and continuing to excite the aspirations of UK households. In short, they more than live up to their top billing. It’s a great story to be able to tell, especially when backed by demonstration that cannot fail to impress. The real problem for retailers is not that TV has lost its mojo; nor that the UK’s viewing habits are moving away from the big screen, because they aren’t: it’s that consumer buying habits – aided by the near-suicidal pricing policies of some manufacturers and retailers – are driven by a different set of perceptions. Consumers will still be buying their big TVs this season. That’s unquestionable. The crunch questions are: can you address their new perceptions and persuade them to buy from you? And, if they do, can you possibly make any margin out of the sale?
LG’s SJ9 soundbar – one of many stylish essentials
SELLING THE SIZZLE There is plenty of highly attractive “sizzle” around TV, but how retailers turn that into solid sales and profit depends on a number of factors. As journalists, we do not presume to tell retailers how to retail, but we can gather the experiences of retailers in different locations around the UK. Some, of course, have taken the radical step, based on their location, their customer demographic and their own assessment of the market, to pull out of brown goods and focus exclusively on white goods. It’s a decision that’s paid off for them, and should be seen not as a retreat but as a step forward based on expertise, experience and business intelligence. Others, because of their location and customer base, are able to sell good volumes of £7K OLED TVs at or near RRP to customers who prefer to shop that way, and have an efficient strategy of ensuring the “add-ons”, in the shape of accessories, stands and brackets, sound enhancers and installation services, are always presented as part of the sale. Going “upmarket” in terms of brands and services works well in some areas, especially if there is dedicated, frequent support for the retailer from a sales force that knows its products and understands the importance of decent margin. For some, local conditions dictate that TV doesn’t, by itself, deliver margins, but can act as a potent lure, on which the add-on sales (every flat panel TV needs a soundbar or other sound augmentation accessory; may need a wall mount or stand; may be part of a home system best installed by a professional….) You know the ramifications, and the rule on which successful brown goods retailers have based their profits is “never let your customer out of the store with just a TV.” Beyond that, it should be absolutely basic by now for all bricks-and-mortar retailers to have a strong, branded online presence. And for the lure to be dangled constantly, think about how to structure offers, use your customer database, create window and in-store displays so that the deep attraction of the flat panel TV is always visible. All basic stuff, but every retailer thinks specifically about how to craft techniques to suit their unique circumstances.
“Never let your customer out of the store with just a TV”
HEATING & AIR TREATMENT
Dimplex Tahoe wall-mounted electric fire with Opti-myst smoke and flame effects
Dimplex’s Nick Paul looks at what’s driving growth in the Heating market; Meaco’s Chris Michael discusses the expanding Air Treatment market
espite another mild winter in 2016/17, sales of portable heating products remained robust as consumers took advantage of product innovation, smart appliances and stylish new designs from leading manufacturers. Nick Paul, international product marketing manager for Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, says that, on the face of it, last winter should have been a disappointing one for the electric fires, portable heating and the dehumidifier category. With a UK winter mean temperature 1.6°C higher than the 30-year average, 2016/17 was the ninth mildest on record. It was also particularly dry in comparison to recent winters, with just 69% of average rainfall in December and 62% in January. Yet despite these seemingly unfavourable conditions, sales of portable heaters, electric fires and dehumidifiers – all products which come into their own in a cold, wet winter –performed solidly. Proof that we don’t need a cold-snap to profit from portable heating and dehumidifier products. In the absence of favourable weather conditions, there are four particular trends creating opportunities for retailers, which Dimplex’s Paul outlines below.
LOT 20: RAISING STANDARDS
BEST ON TEST
“One of the biggest topics in the electric heating market at the moment is Lot 20, part of the EU’s Energy Using Product Directive (EUPD). All ‘fixed’ electric local space heaters or portable heating products that offer wall-mounting, manufactured after January 2018 for sale into the EU, must comply with a minimum efficiency standard as part of a change which is designed to rule out inefficient technologies and reduce the energy used in our homes. Products manufactured prior to this date can still be sold until stocks are exhausted. “The new regulations apply to appliances which provide heat to indoor spaces by generating it in the location within which they are situated, as long as they are attached to the wall (including on brackets).” Paul says that, in many cases the solution lies in intelligent controls and, as a result, leading manufacturers such as Dimplex have been redesigning their product portfolios to include more advanced controls with smart features such as temperature control via presence detection or openwindow detection, distance control via an app, and adaptive start control to suit the individual requirements of the user. “Once developed, of course, the technologies can also be applied to portable products to improve their efficiency and performance,” adds Paul.
A SINGLE ROOM SOLUTION “After years of rising energy bills, cost-conscious consumers are increasingly turning to single room heating, rather than incurring the cost of heating the whole home. There is some evidence this trend is linked to the huge number of private rental properties, as ‘generation rent’ opts for products which not only keep their energy bills down, but are portable
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HEATING & AIR TREATMENT
and therefore can move with them to their next property. By 2025 it is estimated that two thirds of under 35s will rent their home. “This lends itself perfectly to electric fires, particularly stoves which simply need plugging in and can be easily moved from room to room or house to house and energy-efficient oil-free radiators.”
this trend extend into bigger appliances such as electric fires, as consumers become more confident buying higherticket items with colour. “Of course, electric stoves are perhaps the easiest and most suitable category to add a splash of colour to the design, and there is evidence of the ‘Apple effect’, which has seen people become more accepting of white designs for traditionally non-white goods.”
“Figures from the TUC show that as many as 1.5million people now work from home, which is an increase of around 20% in the last decade. This has driven a surge in demand for practical, portable yet well-designed products which can provide supplementary heating around an individual workstation in the spare room, garage conversion or even modern garden pods.” Paul also points out that there is no sign of the home-working trend letting up – some predict that up to half of all office workers will share their working time between home and office by 2020.
Discussing the Air Treatment market, Meaco founder Chris Michael, says: “We have seen a massive increase of interest in dehumidifiers over the past 8 or 9 years, mostly driven by the credit crunch of 2008 and the continued rise in house prices, which has made it harder for people to get onto the housing ladder. The more people rent, the smaller the properties they live in, the more likely it is that they will dry their washing indoors. This can create a damp problem in the winter months and helps to drive demand for dehumidifiers.” At IFA Berlin, Meaco saw a tenfold interest in air purifiers, a trend that it claims is repeated in actual sales. But Michael adds: “If customers know little about dehumidifiers, they know even less about selecting the correct air purifier, which presents a challenge for manufacturers and retailers alike.
“...we don’t need a coldsnap to profit from portable heating and dehumidifier products”
COLOUR SPLASH “Finally,” he asserts, “you only have to walk into any electrical retailer to see the impact of colour on anything from kettles and toasters, to cookers and televisions, and we are finally starting to see
“Often consumers will experiment by buying the cheapest option, which is often the smallest machine with the smallest extraction or cleaning rate, only to find that it does not deliver the results they desire in their home. You then find that the customer becomes disillusioned with the technology and writes a negative review online, which other potential customers then read. The challenge for the sector here is to get the customer to buy the correct product in the first place so that they have and share a much more positive solution in the first place.” Michael says this is the reason why Meaco has invested so heavily in videos and online education to help make the consumer’s path to the right product a more direct and hassle-free journey.
DISTRESS PURCHASE “Traditional bricks & mortar retailers like dehumidifiers, air purifiers and air cooling products because they are often a distress purchase, and people are prepared to come into store for a quicker purchase rather than wait for delivery. This is a bonus for retailers as it moves the purchase in store rather than online. “There is no doubt that this area is growing, and growing fast, as people expect a better quality of life in their home. National media keeps on reminding them that the air is full of things that can harm them – diesel fumes coverage, VOCs from air fresheners etc. – and the internet allows people to research the benefits of products like dehumidifiers in greater detail.”
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Incorporating: "Changing Seasons" Special Integral Supplement A seasonal look at some of the electrical and electronic products that may be...
Published on Oct 16, 2017
Incorporating: "Changing Seasons" Special Integral Supplement A seasonal look at some of the electrical and electronic products that may be...