According to Dawn Stockell, brand and marketing manager for Electrolux Major Appliances, the range cooker is holding its own in a declining freestanding cooking market. “This is because more consumers are opting for a range cooker as part of a built-in kitchen,” she says.
“As more consumers use their kitchens for entertaining, so we see demand for appliances that enhance the whole gourmet experience growing.” One of the main driving forces behind this growth is the wider choice of price points. “A range cooker has never been so affordable,” adds Dawn. “Over the last two years the average price has dropped by around 9% to £996. Mixed fuel is still the largest segment – nearly seven in ten models sold are dual fuel and this trend is growing.”
Electrolux estimates that the range cooker segment of the freestanding market will grow to be 10-12% of the cooker market (it is currently 7-8%) and this will be led by a change in eating and cooking habits, changing lifestyles and improved features and benefits.
The current trends are for large industrial-style appliances that offer professional culinary results combined with userfriendly operation. “High performance and efficiency have become paramount to customers,” confirms Craig Davies, CEO and president for the Westye Group Europe. “A welldesigned range cooker should allow the preparation of a full roast dinner to be as easy as melting butter on the hob.”
Technology catches up
“Consumers are really raising the bar when it comes to looking for flexible, advanced technology,” says Dan Greenall, product manager for range cookers at GDHA, “particularly at the middle to top end of the market and manufacturers are now responding accordingly.”
Stoves has introduced a number of innovations to meet these demands with induction hobs, telescopic shelves and maximum internal capacities. “Offering fast heat-up times and complete controllability plus the safety benefits, induction hobs are the very latest must-have for serious cooks,” adds Dan. “We believe it is important that new technologies are transferred to range cookers as and when they develop to keep them relevant to their target consumer, which is why Stoves introduced the Sterling 1100E induction hob range cooker two years ago.”
Paul Thompson, managing director of Baumatic UK, confirms that today’s range cookers tend to have all the functionality of a built-in oven but with extra cooking space. “Features such as fan cooking, triplecrown wok burners, thermostatically controlled grills and LED programmers are all proving incredibly popular,” he says.
There’s certainly plenty of new technology to keep the consumer happy. Wolf’s dual fuel range for example is a dual convection electric oven with multiple operation modes that cater for specific cooking requirements. The advantage of dual convection is that it reduces cooking time and eliminates uneven heating. If speed is top of a customer’s wish list then Britannia has the answer with its Quickstart function, which heats the oven to 200°C in just six minutes.
Electrolux is planning to launch its Gusto range cooker in April. Its selling point is the changeable cook tops, which offer flexibility to the customer. The 100cm appliance also looks the part with metal knobs and digital touch control panel.
Having already established a successful built-in portfolio, Neff has recently introduced range cookers with 90cm and 100cm appliances offering a number of key features common to built-in with full glass inner doors, EasyClock and sleek controls and handles.
Cannon has incorporated its Precision Cooking System into its 110cm dual fuel range cooker, combing the latest electronic technology with professional cooking expertise. Profile Cook functions suggest the optimum temperature and cooking times for meat, poultry and fish, while Perfect Bake offers automatic programmes for baking cakes and bread. There’s more from Hotpoint too with the introduction of its Intelligent Cooking System with Smart Chef suggesting optimum cooking temperatures and shelving and One Touch for automatic programming.
Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for FagorBrandt UK, suggests that models with a USP will be easier for the independent to sell. “The DCM6121X from De Dietrich for example has a teppan yaki while the DCM6120X features pyrolytic cleaning in both ovens.”
Customers looking for a traditional cast iron design but without the hassle of gas or oil, should take a look at Esse’s electric cast iron model – a flueless design that can be positioned anywhere in the kitchen. It comes with a unique Dog Bone ceramic hotplate, which provides maximum heat in four seconds, two ovens and a grill.
Size and styling
The current trend is for large appliances, which act as a status symbol as well as catering for high-performance cooking. “The most popular sizes tend to be 90cm to 110cm,” explains Holly Sleight, marketing manager at Rangemaster. “These larger sizes mean that manufacturers can introduce more functions and features. The Rangemaster Excel 110 is a great example of this with a dedicated slow cook oven and an oven with a rapid response function to speed up pre-heating time.”
Caple has recently launched the Gastron collection of 100cm range cookers with full inner glass triple glazed doors, slide out storage drawer and cast iron pan supports, while Smeg has introduced its largest width to date with the A5-5 measuring a hefty 150cm.
For customers with a smaller space to fill, there are also a number of models available in a slimmer 55cm or 60cm width. “With the range cooker concept proving too successful for manufacturers to ignore, they have adopted the styling and translated this into smaller sizes to meet the needs of those who don’t have the space for a proper range cooker,” says Stuart Frost, product marketing manager for Maytag UK.
When it comes to styling, stainless steel reflects the professionalism of the aspirational kitchen but we are seeing an emergence of colours and these can create a personalised approach to kitchen design. “The influx of these new colourways has impacted on the market, opening up range cookers to a much wider audience,” says Ragip Balcioglu, director of buying and product at BEKO Plc. “One key drawback is that strong colours tend to date quickly and like many trends can quickly fall out of favour. Also, unless a customer is completely re-designing their kitchen they are more likely to go for a model that fits with their existing décor and a more subtle choice may be the better option.”
Ease of cleaning is another issue close to consumers’ hearts, with hardwearing finishes and innovative interior options making all the difference when it comes to added value. Stoves’ Pristine enamel is three times easier to clean than standard enamel and is available on all its range cookers. Belling meanwhile has incorporated a highperformance alternative to stainless steel on its Kensington collection with satin steel, which is more durable, finger mark resistant and easier to clean.
In the past, the two main fuel options were gas and electric but recent innovations have included ceramic hobs, which are sleek-looking and easy to clean; halogen elements for instant heat and rapid response and induction hobs for increased energy efficiency and safety.
Those looking for a traditional hob will welcome the Rosieres Bocuse 120cm wide dual fuel range cooker, which combines a classic look with high-tech features. In rustic black or stainless steel, it has two full size ovens, two fullwidth variable grills and a variety of hob options including a large cast iron hotplate with griddle and four gas burners. Britannia’s Chef Top feature provides a healthier way of cooking, while Rangemaster has noticed a growing trend for separate hob functions. The introduction of its Freestyle built-in range cooker with separate 110cm hob allows the user more flexibility and space in the kitchen.
Customers are demanding energy-efficient appliances, and manufacturers have had to take this on board, so many range cookers now boast an A rating in both conventional and fanned ovens. “There has undoubtedly been a move to make all household appliances more energy efficient,” confirms Henneke Duistermaat, director of marketing at Britannia, “and range cookers are no exception.”
Paul Thompson, managing director of Baumatic UK, predicts a greater emphasis on more fuel-efficient cooking in the future. He sees the gradual demise of constant-heat range cooking in favour of on-demand models. “This will give everyone the opportunity to enjoy a range cooker,” he says, “without having to fork out for massive fuel bills.”
Added extras can boost sales
Range cookers come with a variety of added extras, including barbecue conversion plates, teppan yaki grill and warming racks. Matching splashbacks and hoods are a great way of generating add-on sales opportunities as they can really enhance the look whilst providing a practical addition. Displaying the co-ordinated package is one of the most successful ways to increase the value of a range cooker sale, and it could potentially add up to 40%.
- Invite a chef from a popular local restaurant to wow potential customers and show off the benefits of a range cooker.
- Consider adding accessories, such as telescopic shelves, spare filters for hoods and griddles for the hob, as these could add up to 10% to the selling price.
- Display working range cookers in a variety of different room sets to help the customer identify with the product.
- Focus on easy-to-demonstrate features, such as selfcleaning systems and pre-programmed recipes.
- Buying a range cooker is not a distress purchase, so focus on extending the value of the appliance to the customer.