Small appliances with big margins

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Will small appliance get the attention they deserve in the electrical industry? Anna Ryland asked Jamie Lennox, the founder and managing director of Home-tek, and the champion of the small appliance category.

Home-tek Europe has been in the market for 11 years, but Jamie Lennox, formerly an independent retailer, has spent all his working life in the electrical industry. Small appliances have always been his passion and he is well known for his views on retail demonstration: “Seeing is believing, and I have proved in the past that physical demonstration or video demonstration can increase in-store sales by up to 400 per cent.”

Perhaps the best known brand distributed by Home-tek Europe is the Light ‘n’ Easy floorcare range. The brand was owned by General Electric and Hotpoint in 1960s and 1970s. Jamie Lennox has purchased the brand in 2003 and created a range of products that suited its ‘personality’, such as light vacuum cleaners, steam mops and irons.

Eighteen moths ago Jamie decided to explore the European brands which haven’t been distributed in Europe. In 2011, Home-tek Europe was appointed the UK exclusive distributor of Montiss products. A family-owned business based in Holland, Montiss has a broad product range incorporating steam cleaners, vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances – all carrying two-year guarantee. “I have been very pleased with Montiss’ performance so far – in what is a very crowded marketplace. It was helped by the Montiss steam cleaner winning the Which? Best Buy title which boosted sales of the product,” comments Jamie.  Montiss small kitchen appliance range also includes food preparation, juicers, ice cream and waffle makers and they are shortly going to be added to the range of products distributed by Home-tek.

“They are good quality products, with good USPs, features and benefits, but, most importantly, the retailer is going to make good margins on them.”

Home-tek Europe also distributes other product lines from a German company Clatronic. The key categories are: personal care, food preparation, heating, cooling, garment care and audio. The company has a licence to sell certain categories of products under the AEG name. “With these products independents get an opportunity to deal with high quality appliances which are not available in the supermarkets and the trading terms are very independent friendly, eg there isn’t a minimum order quantity,” explains Jamie.

The most recent addition to the Home-tek Europe portfolio is ProfiCook – a range of cooking appliances manufactured in Germany. “They are targeted at the high end of the market; at the customers of such brands as Cuisinart.

“In the recession consumers are going back to the well established brands offering reassurance of quality and better service. I believe that this is the direction the independent should go – giving people reassurance that they will look after them well.

“I am keen to work with independents directly – giving them the best possible price, margin and protection – so these margins are not eroded. In addition to quality products we offer good service to the independents. We have our own warehouse and I employ six service engineers who deal with small appliances. Of course, if the independent wishes to exchange the products they can do this, but they can also take the product from the customers for repair. This approach is not only more cost-effective but also more environmentally friendly, and in accordance with the WEEE Directive. Having said this, we accept returns. We also have a showroom facility where we arrange demonstration of our products.”

Jamie is “optimistic” that the small appliance category is going to get the attention it deserves from the electrical industry and the independent retail sector. “After all it is one of the only four products categories which are growing at present.”

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