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In spite of economic belt tightening the manufacturers exhibiting at the annual CIH show demonstrated that meaningful product innovations have to continue if customers are to be persuaded to reach into their pockets. Anna Ryland reports.

This year the annual CIH show attracted 93% of CIH members. “This is very good news in today’s climate,” commented Stuart Cook, chief executive of the CIH Group, to IER. “Suppliers have invested a lot more money in their stands and the visitor numbers were similar to these of 2009,” continued Mr Cook.

“There were many other positive developments. Blomberg appliances are flying off the shelves. This year we also have Miele onboard. Finlux is getting very good reviews. Our website is tided up with PayPal which will be able to sign our members to the best rates available. Euronics lorries have a new livery which directs enquiries to Euronics’ website which is linked to members’ microsites. Geoff Woodman has been employed by CIH to look for new independents who would fit into our membership.”

According to Mr Cook the main problem in the consumer electronics sector is price erosion. “A number of major brands don’t have a clear channel strategy. Unless this changes everybody will suffer – the suppliers and retailers. However there are many domestic appliance brands which are growing with CIH by 40-50% year-on-year. This is mostly because they have clear channel strategies and our members know that if they stock their products they will be supported by excellent service.”

There is also an announcement coming soon from CIH: ”We are considering selling non-conflicting products online to enhance members’ fortunes.”

The latest in domestic appliances

The focus of GDHA’s exhibition presence was the ‘Made in Britain’ message which reflected the fact that 85% of the group’s cooking products are now manufactured in the UK. “Most of our recent developments centred on the Stoves brand and we have recently introduced a simple trade-up system for our trade customers by changing product codes. We have also unified the designs of gas and electric ovens, so the customers can pick and choose the hobs and the ovens to suit their kitchens. We have also improved oven lighting, adding halogen lights which are 30% brighter and 30% more energy efficient. Another step forward for us was the introduction of an induction hob which works with a 13amp plug which simplifies installation for customers who wish to switch from gas to induction,” commented Steve Dickson, commercial director for Stoves built-in.

The latest edition to the GDHA product portfolio is the GE brand. David Garden, commercial director for GE, described the brand’s latest products. “These are big capacity refrigerators, 21, 23 and 25 cubic feet with very good quality finishes. There are ten new models; six are GE-branded and four GE-Profile which is a step up. They all have three differentiating features: appearance, convenience and food preservation, and come with humidity controlled drawers and air flow in the freezer. The higher spec models have an LCD control panel in the door and fast chill drawers.”

Rob Burton, commercial director for Range Cooking at GDHA, described the newly introduced Range Centre initiative which is to widen the distribution base of Stoves and Belling range cookers. “The Range Centre partners will receive a variety of benefits: special promotional activities, PoS material, special availability and delivery of products. The selection of partners is done on a geographical basis. The company has already signed up 30 retailers for the scheme.”

Showcased for the first time at the CIH event were Blomberg appliances manufactured by BEKO exclusively for the Euronics members. The range consists of refrigeration and home laundry. Tayfun Akturk, Beko product manager explained: “With its three-year guarantee Blomberg gives it customers this extra peace of mind which goes hand-in-hand with quality products. We initially produced for CIH 11 products and recently added two more, including the 8kg condenser tumble dryer and an AAA rated dishwasher.”

A highlight of the latest offers from Beko is the 8kg washing machine (WMB81445L) which is ‘A+++++’ energy rated, making it “the most energy efficient washing machine in the world” according to the manufacturer. It makes 50% energy savings compared to standard A rated models, meaning that it washes two loads for the same amount of energy that most machines use for one load. Beko has also previewed its 1200rpm 9kg capacity machine which can wash a 9kg load in 39 minutes as well as a 14 minute ‘Super Fast’ programme.

On the Gorenje stand, the Retro refrigeration collection attracted a lot of attention. Available in eight colours and three configurations, the models come either as single door refrigerators or two-door combined fridge freezers. The Retro collection comes with a five-year guarantee. New for the company was also the 7kg freestanding washing machine with SterilTub – a self-cleaning programme. Chris Beaumont, Gorenje’s commercial director, pointed out a unique feature of Gorenje’s washing machines: “All of them are extremely heavy. It is not because we add extra concrete around the drum but it is on account of the amount of steel and other quality material we use while constructing our products. This is their hidden built-in quality.”

Connected products

“The latest developments at Samsung CE are about ‘smart television’ which has multimedia access and related applications,” explained Rob Smith, Samsung national training manager. “This includes video-on-demand and catch up services streamed directly to users’ TV, either by wired route or wirelessly. We also have a partnership with LoveFilm and all the subscribers to this service can now have the movies directly streamed to their Samsung set. There are many more applications to come – and they are specially designed to be as user friendly as possible.” On the Samsung stand there also was the 55in C9000 model, the ultra-thin panel which is only 7.9mm thick. “This product is all about style but also high-end technology. It features all the applications, 3DTV and it comes with the latest twin-screen remote control which allows previewing a channel on remote control while watching a different one on TV.”

Samsung’s Eco Bubble machines, 7 and 8kg, and A+++ rated, have also attracted a lot of interest. Their air pump produces air bubbles which facilitate the dissolution of detergent at lower temperature. “Washing at 15ºC using the Eco Bubble programme, delivers better wash performance with 70% less energy used than at 40ºC wash. This technology shows that Samsung is not only the leader in consumer electronics but also in domestic appliances,” stressed Joe Oram, product manger at Samsung.

The centre of the Whirlpool stand was taken by the Green Generation range, that includes laundry, dishwashing and refrigeration appliances, and, using Whirlpool’s 6th Sense technology, saves resources. “The Green Generation washing machines offer A-30% energy rating and boast an 8kg and 9kg capacity. They have an intuitive control panel so the user can select programme by colour of the garment, type of material and choose whether they want to save either water, energy or time. It also has a detergent use recommendation function which assesses the hardness of water and adjusts the amount of detergent. In a seven year period this feature saves the owner £250 on detergent alone,” pointed out Jacqueline Mariani, PR manger for Whirlpool.

The leading message from LG domestic appliances was that of capacity. At the LG stand the pride of place was taken by the new A+ rated Two-Tone fridge freezer which, in addition to unique aesthetics, has up to 50 litres more storage sp
ace on 200 litre appliance. This makes it one of the most capacious cooling appliances of this format. David Harris, general manager, explains: “This extra space has been achieved by moving the compressor from the back of the fridge to the side and making the walls thinner.” The company’s capacity message continued also in relation to the 11kg Direct Drive washing machine which received Best Buy accreditation. To strengthen consumers’ confidence in the appliance, LG offers a ten-year warrantee on the Direct Dive motor.

On the CE side, LG was showing to the home audience the television developments previewed at IFA: the 15in OLED model and its 3D offering. “We offer three types of 3DTV: 3D plasma, 3D LCD/LED and 3D passive LCD,” explains David Cottrell, home entertainment technical and training manager. “The PX990 is our top-end plasma which does 2D to 3D conversion but also runs with active glasses. The passive LCD needs polarized glasses – similar to these dispensed in the cinema, and the technology is more in the screen. LG is the only manufacturer which has this technology available and it is now present in pubs and clubs around the country.”

The domestic appliance distributor, the PJH Group, showcased in Birmingham its own-brand range – the K-Kitchens Collection, the largest collection of its integrated appliances, including the award-winning Alaska kitchen with its a white gloss handless door design. Prima Appliances has also been promoting its newly launched two-year parts and labour guarantee with an extensive range of PoS material.

Essential support

Alphason has used the show to launch a new range of 11 slimline mounts backed by a unique installation service. It is an option for Alphason dealers whereby retailers not offering their own installation service, can use the services of a market leading installation company – and still make money without holding any stock.

Meanwhile Vogel’s has exhibited its latest THIN Series developed for ultra thin/LED panels and consisting of four products (one remote-controlled wall mount and three regular wall mounts). The company has also launched the ‘buy now, pay later’ sales promotion geared to providing financial support through the forthcoming peak selling period.

A piece of advice

The final word goes to Stuart Cook who advises independents to stick to their guns: “Deliver service and stay on top of the game by becoming specialists. Don’t attempt to look after all customers – look after your customers only.”

Clever Cooling

The jewel in the crown of the GE stand was leading product in the GE Profile range, the PJU25YGXFSV (Y series), that boasts a massive 25 cu ft of capacity – the largest in the market for a 90cm counter depth product. It has customisable multi-colour LCD touch controls, a Precise Fill water dispenser and a TurboCool feature which quickly restores temperatures when the door is opened frequently.

The electronic Beverage Centre has an easy to clean design and offers two gallon storage with a folding can rack. A Dual Evaporator System ensures there is no air crossover or taste and odour transfer and delivers the optimum environments of higher humidity for fresh food preservation and zero humidity in the freezer.

All the models feature rugged American styling; actual fridge and freezer temperature display; filtered water with crushed or cubed ice and a child-lock and door alarm for safety.

Greener Cooking from Belling

Also on show at CIH for those keen to make savings on their energy bills, was the BI60i Belling Eco Induction Oven.

The 60cm built-in oven, is the first ever induction oven to be introduced and uses an impressive 50 per cent less energy than an A rated oven.

The patent pending 6-in-1 oven uses an integrated induction plate inside the oven cavity and is capable of slow cooking, roasting, grilling, steaming, fan cooking and baking casseroles. The BI60i comes with a unique cast iron pot as well as a steaming and roasting trivet for induction cooking using the slow cooking, casseroles, steaming and roasting modes.

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