Customer has its say

In Features On
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The Retailer of the Year is by far the biggest survey of independent electrical retailers in the UK. More than 250,000 surveys are mailed out to consumers within 30 days of purchasing electrical goods from independent retailers in the UK. Administered by Domestic & General, the survey runs for a 12-month period from 1 August to 31 July every year. The survey is sent to customers registering their products with manufacturers and from retailer customer returns (ie it encompasses all independent retailers – not just D&G’s warranty retailers). Customers filling in the survey are entered into a draw to win a cash prize equivalent to the retail purchase price of their goods.

This year saw almost 10,000 completed surveys – up from approximately 9,000 in 2008, and circa 7,500 in 2007). The survey contains four questions on retail experience, either in-store or online. These are: courtesy, appearance, demonstration and product knowledge for in-store purchases. For purchases made online customers were asked to score the product information provided, the appearance and navigation of the site and the convenience of delivery.

Each of the four areas is rated out of 5 points to derive an overall total score out of 20. Survey scores for each retailer are tallied and divided by the number of returns – giving an average score out of 20. Only stores with 50 or more survey returns are included in the final results to ensure a fair comparison. This year’s collated survey returns related to over 1,400 UK retailers. The top 50 retailers scored between 18.80 and 19.47 points on average, with the winner and runner-up separated by hundredths of a point. The worst performers (who shall remain nameless!) tended to score less than 7.0 as an average.

The 2009 survey is the 11th Retailer of the Year (ROTY) awards. Started originally as a CIH-related survey, ROTY expanded to encompass all independent electrical retailers in 2006. Results for the 2009 survey came from purchases fairly evenly split between major CE products (4,668) and major domestic appliances (5,010).

In addition to four questions on the retail experience, customers are asked about other aspects of their purchase. These include how they choose their retailer, why they made the purchase and did they opt for the same or a different brand. Some of these results are featured in the boxes.

The 2009 winners

Retailer of the Year 2009 – Winner

Aclands Radio & Television, Bridgwater, Somerset

The third time winner of the ROTY title, Aclands was originally founded in 1896 by current MD Martyn Aclands’ great grandfather, and the company has traded from its current Bridgwater location since 1932. The company employs 10 fulltime and two part-time members of staff. The operation is very much family focused with both Martyn and wife Venetia working on various areas of the business.

Aclands has made a conscious effort not to develop a presence online, choosing to concentrate on in-store customer service, specialising in the Toshiba, Phillips and Samsung brands. Keeping the operation at a manageable size to ensure customers (many of whom are repeat visitors) receive a first class service. The longest serving member of staff has been with the company for 41 years. The company has won the ROTY award for the last two years in succession and also in 2003.

Retailer of the Year 2009 – Runner Up

Hughes Electrical

Hughes Electrical was founded in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 1921 by Frank Hughes. Originally the company rewound industrial electrical motors for the fishing industry but by 1928 the company had branched out into the production and sale of radios. By the mid-1930s Hughes held main agencies for Philips, Bush, KB, RGD, Ekco, Cossor and Ultra among other leading manufacturers of the day.

The Company began its expansion in earnest in 1962 with the purchase of Norfolk Radio, based in Great Yarmouth. There was further expansion into the Norwich area in 1972, Ipswich in 1976 and Bury St Edmunds in 1979. The Hughes Direct web site went live in 2004 and the Hughes Trade centres opened in 2006, offering product and services direct to businesses. In 2009 current MD Robert Hughes took the opportunity to open the company’s first shops outside of East Anglia with the acquisition of eight out of town units trading under the Apollo 2000 brand.

Internet Retailer of the Year 2009 – Winner

Crampton & Moore, Ecclesfield, Sheffield

Crampton & Moore is a family company, originally set up by John Moore and his business partner Roy Crampton in 1966. It has been trading successfully for over 42 years. John Moore bought out his partner twenty years ago when his son Robert joined the company. Robert Moore now runs the company and has rapidly expanded business, now employing sixteen members of staff. He set up the internet operation about seven years ago, which is now thriving alongside the retail arm.

Crampton & Moore has hit upon a winning formula of a wellestablished and trusted family business with a long pedigree, combined with a fast expanding, national up-to-the-minute high tech web business. The company has repeated its ROTY success after its wins in both 2007 and 2008.

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