Home cooking

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Today’s cooks want more from their appliances, says Hayley Gilbert, so the independent retailer should look to the latest technology and designs to boost sales.

The effect of the current economic climate means that consumers have retreated into their homes, choosing to upgrade and refurbish rather than selling up and moving on. This is good news for the independent retailer, as it means that they can capitalise on offering the very latest appliances that not only look good but also offer a host of hi-tech features and functions.

 “Consumers want the best appliances they can afford,” confirms Gorenje’s marketing manager Ruth Ferguson. “The technology must be able to meet their needs long-term and remain relevant to changing household habits.”

In answer to this demand for high performance combined with multiple functions, manufacturers have launched a range of cooking appliances to suit.

Built-in ovens

As more and more consumers look to upgrade their ovens, there is plenty of new product to choose from. The key to successful sales lies in demonstrating the wide variety of programmes available whilst explaining how easy they are to use at home.

Joan Fraser, product development and training manager for Smeg, has the following advice, “Key for today’s home cook is versatility. The modern home cook needs versatile appliances that will produce traditional food yet specialise when needed. The use of electronics is by far the most advanced of technologies in the kitchen and has allowed the modern cook to invest in technology that delivers far better cooking results than ever before.” New from Smeg this season is the Marc Newson range of ovens and hobs, combining colourful designs with easy to use controls.

According to Neff, the market is showing signs of polarizing. At the top end, the trend is very much towards compact appliances linked either with other compacts or standard single ovens. At the other end, consumers are looking for value for money and not necessarily added features. The brand also points out that the VAT increase planned for January 2011 will perhaps provide a short term boost for the market, as consumers seek to complete high price projects before the increase takes effect.

Hotpoint has hedged its bets with a raft of new ovens including the NewStyle range of A-rated models, while Indesit’s Prime IF89GPKAIX pyrolytic self-cleaning oven combines designer style and the latest in technology at a fraction of the price.

Other new ovens to market include Hoover’s PRO HOS8077X multifunction pyrolytic electric oven, Gorenje’s Karim Rashid collection, which was featured at the IFA show in Berlin earlier this year alongside the eye-catching Simplicity range, as well as the OIM22500XP pyrolytic oven from Beko.

Breaking the mould and sitting nicely alongside its award-winning built-in range, is the recently launched 60cm freestanding DCi900XU pyroclean/induction cooker from De Dietrich – a fully touch-controlled appliance designed for customers who want to upgrade their old cooker to a more advanced version without having to refurbish the entire kitchen. Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for the brand, also sees a strong future for steam, “A steam oven has always been seen as a healthy lifestyle alternative to a microwave combination oven. However, given its ability to cook up to 90% of the fresh foods that a micro combi can deliver, the steam oven has become a mainstream product that today’s modern cooks desire and sales are rising every year.”

Bear in mind that every cook wants something different, so you should aim to offer as diverse a range as possible. “The home cook varies in confidence and ability,” explains product manager for Teka and Küppersbusch Tim Spann. “A competent cook may want an oven on which they can override the auto functions to set precise temperatures and timings to suit their recipe. A cook with less confidence may choose to rely solely on the automatic programming and functions.”

Hobs

Gas and induction continue to lead the way when it comes to hobs. “During the recent economic downturn,” explains Steve Dickson, commercial manager for Belling and Stoves, “induction was the only sector within the hob market that reported positive levels of growth. This is due to increased understanding of the real cost savings achievable with energy efficient appliances and awareness of the real benefits of induction cooking.”

Hotpoint’s latest CIO744DOB induction model features touch controls, boosters on all four zones and a flexible double ring and oval zone, while Indesit’s VIA640C Prime induction hob has recently been awarded a Which? Best Buy for great value.

Amica’s latest innovation is the Inari open zone induction hob with ErgoTouch fingertip sensor controls and Touch Slider sensor control.

“Induction cooking is starting to take off in a big way,” confirms Rita Balestrazzi, marketing manager for Baumatic, “and offers a safe and effective way of cooking that is hard to beat.” The brand has just launched its first-ever 90cm induction hob in response to the two current trends of induction cooking and wider than average hob space.

New from Hoover is the Ghisa flat cast iron gas hob while Caple has developed a new range of flush-fitting gas hobs to create a sleek, seamless surface. “Consumers are opting for solid surface worktops, undermounted sinks and streamlined appliances,” explains Danny Lay, sales director, “and the use of appliances is being adapted to fit this trend.”

Modular cooking is also becoming more popular, with different elements that can be mixed and matched to suit the customer’s needs.

Hoods

Extractors have become design statements in the kitchen and manufacturers have responded with aspirational models in sleek glass and stainless steel in flat, angular shapes with flexible halogens that can be adapted for ambient lighting. The design of Stoves’ 900K-Line 90cm wide angled designer hood has been developed with this in mind.

The latest hoods from Whirlpool’s Glamour, Fusion and Ambient ranges boast 6th Sense technology, which self-adjusts to the optimum levels for maximum energy efficiency and extraction.

Elica’s extractors provide a strong visual presence in the kitchen – combining design, technology and function. Its latest vertical hood, Halcyon, is also a real design feature equipped with a micro mesh filter. It can be installed with the exhaust outlet going straight out of the back of the hood hence avoiding the need for an external chimney.

Hotpoint’s NewStyle hoods come in two widths – 60cm and 90cm – with delay timers to keep the extraction going after cooking and filter alerts that let you know when to change. Falmec is also launching its first downdraft extractor this winter, perfect for island hobs, whilst Küppersbusch is moving into a new area with its soon to be released ceiling recessed extractor.

Microwave and tabletop cooking

People generally want to reduce time spent in the kitchen, which is where microwaves and tabletop cooking come in. The latest technologies enable you to cook quickly and healthily without compromising on taste. LG’s SolarCube microwave now features a steam function as well as an automatic drying setting. The latest from Samsung offers an ‘all in one’ solution, as the OmniPro microwave boasts a 2050W convection oven, 1500W grill and 900W microwave with steam cleaning.

Polish brand Amica is also set to launch its first built-in microwave in the UK, while small appliance specialist Cuisinart continues its range of tabletop models with the Cook & Steam going into its autumn/winter season. It can be used to prepare a complete meal in one appliance, with rice in the main pot and
meat, fish or vegetables in the steam tray. The brand also plans to introduce new digital slow cookers towards the end of this year.

Design details

Brushed steel still dominates sales of built-in cooking appliances and many manufacturers now offer co-ordinating collections of ovens, hobs and hoods for a uniform look. Handles, doors and controls have also followed suit, with matching designs across the board.

Colour is also creeping in, with built-in ovens emulating the bold blues, reds and citrus colours of freestanding models.

Miele recently launched three new designs into its colour collections – Ice, Fire and Brilliant White. All three have been created to blend with new colour trends in the kitchen and move away from the ever-popular stainless steel.

Sales tips

• Keep your showroom polished, fresh and inspirational.

Reviving the shop floor with new models and displays is essential to attract attention for returning and new customers alike.

• Inform the customer about the range of products available and display appliances that won’t be found at the local superstore.

• Display appliances as built-in so customers can visualise what they’d look like in their own home. Make sure they are working models and have a selection of finishes on show.

• Not all customers are ready to move into new technology so offer alternatives. Gas is still the favourite for hobs but you should also demonstrate the benefits of induction.

• Get to grips with the different types of self-cleaning ovens – pyrolytic, catalytic and aqua-cleaning save a huge amount of time for the customer.

• Manufacturer’s training always pays off. Educated staff are confident and more profitable.

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