Easy living

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Today’s home cook is many things. Inspired by adventurous ideas on cookery programmes and with interest in healthy eating at an all-time high, there has never been a better time to capitalise on the nation’s love of entertaining at home.

From intelligent ovens to energy efficient hobs and state-of-the-art hoods, the independent retailer has every opportunity to maximise sales, particularly in the replacement market, as consumers look to feather their nest and upgrade their current kitchen appliances.

Key trends include technology, designer looks and energy efficiency. “Since 2008 the premium cooking sector has seen a growth in interest from independent retailers,” says Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for De Dietrich. “While the overall domestic appliance market has been in sharp decline, the high end market has performed better than other categories.” Built-in ovens A few years ago, integrated appliances were something of an aspirational product but this has all changed and built-in has become much more mainstream – great news for manufacturers and retailers alike. “With this has come the trend to personalise with ‘made-for-me’ products,” says Whirlpool’s head of training Ray Isted, “where the consumer gets a sense that it has been specially created for them. People want to express individuality and character as they are going to be staying in their homes longer.”

With this in mind, the brand has just launched two new cooking ranges – Glamour and Fusion. “The continuity of style across each range is essential to enable full flexibility to combine ovens with microwaves, warming drawers, coffee machines and even side by side refrigeration,” Ray adds. The Glamour oven for instance boasts new intuitive touch screen ‘I Touch’ technology, which is invisible when the oven is off then bursts into action when needed with a colour LCD display. The ovens also include advanced technology such as Ready2Cook; a new convection system using ‘no pre-heat’ technology for speed and energy saving.

There’s plenty on offer from other big players, too. Candy is launching the USee range of ovens, which feature 14 ultra white lights located around the edge of the oven door glass to light up the whole cavity. Küppersbusch and Teka will focus on new finishes and materials as well as ovens that offer both conventional and full steam capabilities, effectively giving two appliances in one.

Samsung’s dual cook ovens continue their commitment to making customers’ lives easier with an oven range that enables you to cook two different dishes at different temperatures for different durations at the same time.

In May, Beko launched a new built-in range that includes seven A rated ovens with a wide choice of specifications covering all the major segments of the market while the big news from Electrolux is that from May this year, all standard sized ovens from Electrolux, AEG and Zanussi are A or AA rated and they are the first manufacturer to offer this across all brands and all built-in and built-under single and double ovens.

Amica has just launched the Scandium range of built-in multifunction ovens, which feature the new Aqualytic cleaning system. Available from October, the selfcleaning function uses half a litre of water and needs 30 minutes at 90°C instead of the usual 90 minutes at 500°C.

One of the most exciting developments comes from GDHA, as Steve Dickson, commercial manager for Stoves and Belling, explains, “Our most exciting ecoinnovation to date is the world-first Eco Induction Oven, which takes established induction technology into the inside of an oven cavity for the first time. The BI60i is a totally unique built-in oven that uses 50% less energy than an A rated oven. The patent-pending 6-in-1 oven is capable of slow cooking, roasting, grilling, steaming, fan cooking and baking casseroles.”

De Dietrich made headlines with its appearance on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show back in August. Presenter Jon Bentley carried out an independent test of intelligent ovens and the brand’s DOP895B ICS Pyroclean single oven with electronic control panel came out on top.

This autumn sees the launch of Fisher & Paykel’s OB60B77CEX1 double oven, which has two multifunction ovens, as well as Siemens’ first 90cm wide oven, which is 50% larger than a standard model.

Hobs

Induction has finally started to take off with a dramatic increase in sales, as Neff’s sales director Mike Jarrett confirms, “Induction is one of the few areas of the UK hob market that is still showing some growth. At Neff, our own sale of induction has increased by about 300% in the last three years as consumers start to understand the benefits and continue to be impressed with all the advantages and technology, especially if the retailer has installed one in the showroom to demonstrate to potential customers.”

Baumatic has included touch sensitive controls on its latest ceramic and induction hobs, which not only creates a beautifully minimal profile but also makes cleaning easy. “Another key trend is extralarge cook zones,” says Rita Balestrazzi, Baumatic’s marketing manager. “The popularity of wok cooking simulated this trend but it has developed to include large pots and pans like casserole dishes and great big pasta pans. We have made this variety of choice a priority across our hob portfolio for gas, ceramic and induction cooking. Look out for our 77cm induction hob, which allows consumers to use even their largest pots on the hob.”

Another innovation is the teppan yaki induction hob, which is perfect for cooking Japanese-style dishes. Küppersbusch has just launched its version and the brand hopes to introduce more colours and shapes for hobs next year.

The good news for installers is that Candy has introduced the PVI640A low absorption hob, which provides optimum energy distribution across all zones simultaneously. It also operates with a 13amp plug, eliminating the need for an isolation switch.

Hoods

Designer-style extractors, especially fingerprint-proof stainless steel and glass versions, are doing particularly well as they make a strong statement in the kitchen. “Attention grabbing hoods add the wow factor to a kitchen,” explains Danny Lay, sales director for Caple. “Efficiency is another key factor that is pushing sales, as consumers are looking for long-term methods of reducing their bills.”

Gorenje’s Pure range of hoods offers high extraction rates and super silent operation at 57dB while Stoves’ 900KLine is a 900mm wide angled hood with a 51dB noise level.

Remote controlled models are becoming popular along with automatic steam sensors, which are ideal for open plan kitchens.

Two of the biggest names – Elica and Falmec – are focusing on strong design with Elica offering an array of colours such as blue, red and orange alongside handblown Venetian glass and glamorous gold rippled styles.

“Extraction has become fashionable,” says Fiona Scott, brand manager of Falmec at Euroline Sales & Marketing. “Today’s discerning consumers are demanding that their kitchen extractor be as stylish as the kitchen itself. Manufacturers have responded to this demand with the introduction of more high-fashion extractors as an alternative to the more traditional stainless steel canopy designs.”

Look out for Sky; the first ceilingmounted design from Falmec with a brightly lit perimeter to illuminate the cooking area as well as an extractor made from precious metal.

Microwaves & tabletop cooking

Sharp recently introduced the R890SLM combination microwave to its already impressive range of combi models. The 900W oven includes a double grill and offers baking, grilling or roasting as well as a separate pizza function. Morag Zuk, product manager for Sharp UK, says, “With people leading increasingly busy lifestyles we wanted to design
a product that offers all the convenience of a traditional microwave, whilst maintaining the quality expected from a conventional oven. The R890SLM means people can have all this without having to compromise on style.”

When it comes to tabletop appliances, John Smethurst, divisional manager for Cuisinart, confirms the current market for “durable, stylish, multifunction appliances that help consumers create quick, tasty and healthy meals throughout the day.” One of its most successful new products is the Overstuffed Sandwich Maker, which has extra deep pockets so none of the filling escapes. The brand also offers a Cook & Hold slow cooker, a Cook & Steam rice cooker, a food processor and new for autumn, a Soup Maker, which will enable customers to make fresh hot soup in just 20 minutes.

Tefal meanwhile is launching the first tabletop fast cooker, which cooks food up to 25% quicker than any other traditional cooking pot. The WiKook has a patented Tefal Power Lid that locks in heat to accelerate cooking.

Developments in design

Smeg has always been at the forefront of design and the Linea Series has driven strong sales with reflective mirrored glass finishes and ‘finger friendly’ graphite. For 2010, look out for gloss back and gloss white, particularly on cookers.

Alessandro Finetto, director, for Global Consumer Design, Europe, Whirlpool, has the last word, “The consumer is at the centre and the heart of design development. The consumer is forever changing and each has different views, values and attitudes, which can vary from hour to hour, day to day in the way they will react.”

Sales Tips

  • Embrace the advances in new technology and actively promote them to your customers in a clear way.
  • Showcase a wide range of appliances in a variety of sizes and finishes to maximise choice and increase sales. Working models are more interesting for the customer as functions and text displays can easily be demonstrated.
  • Establish what kind of buyer they are. Is the purchase more about looks than functionality or will they want to make the most of all the various programmes and features?
  • Make sure staff are fully trained to relay information in a friendly, bitesized format to customers. They should also be able to explain the differences between models so that customers can understand the scale of pricing. This way, they are more likely to buy a newer and higher priced model.
  • Demonstrate the benefits of features like pyrolytic cleaning vs enamel and catalytic liners. Customers want expert knowledge and advice, so make sure you are offering it.
  • Manufacturers rely on independents to sell not only the product but also the brand. This is where you can overtake the larger outlets with a one-to-one service and full attention to the customer.
  • Create banks of appliances with ovens, warming drawers and coffee machines so the consumer can visualise what they will look like in their own home.

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