Switching on to the opportunities

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“A defining feature of this year’s show was the support of the suppliers who with their presence demonstrated their backing for CIH and the independents. It was evident in the quality of their stands, the variety of offers, special promotions and deals. The membership attendance rate this year was 94% in comparison with 90% last year – this shows their willingness to make time investment to come to the show, even in the recession,” commented Stuart Cook, chief executive of CIH Group, to IER.

The CIH group had exclusive offers for the Euronics members. The latest from Finlux were two ranges of TVs with unique features, such as superslim TVs with 2GB USB recording and televisions with iPod docking stations.

On show there was also a full range of Finlux domestic appliances, featuring refrigeration, laundry and dishwashing. Finlux TVs come with a five year guarantee while white goods are sold with three years’ guarantee.

Also on display was the Hoover Aristocrat range of domestic appliances which is CIH own brand. “Finlux is an entry line for us while Aristocrat is a more premium brand,” explained Stuart.

The conversations with suppliers and exhibitions during the show helped Stuart identify a number of distinctive trends which are redefining the industry.

“Last year looking at passing visitors I could say I knew 70-80% of them personally, this year I recognised only 30% of them. This shows that families started taking over the business and the old generation is replaced by sons or managers. I also found significant the fact that all retailers were saying that they need to sell up – it is about moving the customer up and delivering the service.”

The third clear trend was the move towards greater diversification. “White goods retailers were saying they need to get into brown goods. I noticed many members who this year for the first time went to the Samsung or Toshiba stands to open accounts with them. This is the impact of the digital switchover, the World Cup and the Olympics. They are clearly switching on to the opportunity.”

The CE offers

At the Samsung stand Rob Smith, national training manager for Samsung, explained the ‘magic’ of DLNA technology – the latest CE development utilised by the manufacturer. It enables wireless streaming of the content from devices with the DLNA technology such as laptops, mobile phones or cameras onto a TV set. “This technology is perfect for sharing photographs, films or music files. It works using the standard household wireless router. The user’s TV set is connected by a wireless adaptor which is plugged into one of its USB sockets.”

Kay Ainsworth, national training manager at Samsung, demonstrated Samsung’s latest offering in white goods: a free-standing frost-free fridge with a Brita filter and a separate freezer which can be sold as single units but can also be combined together creating a 120cm wide appliance with a substantial storage capacity, “which would be particularly attractive for people who need a large freezer. The advantage of this solution is also clear during the delivery, as it will fit through the door more easily than the standard SBS,” pointed out Kay.

At the Roberts stand, Ann-Marie Jones, Roberts marketing manager, was demonstrating product offers for autumn 2009. These included the new models in the ecologic range, ecologic 4, unologic and duologic. Ecologic 4 DAB/FM radio offers a 150 hours battery life, considerably more than other models on the market, while the unologic and duologic come with built-in battery chargers.

In the pipeline there is also the STREAMTime Wi-Fi internet clock radio which will enable users to tune into stations worldwide from the comfort of their bed. In October, Roberts will be launching its new Sports DABII, a DAB/FM personal radio with a full screen or rolling text display, which will have an integrated battery charger.

For the first time present at the CIH show was the Videcon brand, owned by the Indian VDC Technologies, which entered the UK market in July ’09 with a range of LCD TVs. “The Videocon brand has been very well received by the independent channel which was partially due to the fact that our small screen offer is very competitive and all our products come with two year guarantee,” explained Mark Close, Videcon sales and marketing director. “In the next couple of months the company will also be providing a diverse support programme for our dealers, such as staff incentives and  PoS material.”

Meanwhile Vogel’s, the manufacturer of audio-visual mounts, used the show to explain its offers to independent visually. Jeremy Lanaway, trade marketing manager, commented on the company’s approach. “At the show we set up the story of what we wish to achieve with our dealers, with products and insights about the market and consumer behaviour which should encourage the dealers to get more interested in mounting solutions. For example, nearly 60% of people who purchase a TV set don’t buy brackets at the same time. The brackets in the 8000 Series, our latest offer, will suit any TV on the market and different budgets. We worked hard to make them very simple to install and almost effortless to manoeuvre. They range from the SuperFlat mount that hangs screens just 2cm from the wall to Motion, offering consumers maximum flexibility and the ability to turn the TV screen 75º to either side, to  Motion+ that can move screens 90º to the wall. All these models can be sold with cable management tunnels which offer additional sales opportunities.”

White goods specials

The GDHA stand at the CIH had a very distinctive look this year. “Over three quarters of GDHA’s products are made in the UK. We are proud of this and that’s why our stand has ‘Made in Britain’ branding,” explained Steve Dickson, commercial manager for Belling.

The focus of product developments at the GDHA group this autumn is the Belling brand. “The Belling aesthetic has been updated, creating a unified look across all built-in and 60cm freestanding products. In a first for Belling and the UK market, the company has launched a 60cm wide freestanding double oven with induction hotplate and the PBi60 mk2 and PBi60R built-in induction hobs which offer the consumer the option of touch control with a ‘power slider’ control function or the simplicity of rotary controls.”

Another first for Belling is the Eco Induction Oven, a 60cm built-in oven that uses 50% less energy than an A-rated oven. The patent pending 6-in-1 oven is a world first and takes induction technology into an oven cavity for the first time. The BI60i is capable of slow cooking, roasting, grilling, steaming, fan cooking and baking casseroles.

The Belling Servery, a 700mm wide portable serving station offers a new take on the hostess trolley, and features a hotplate and two heated internal shelves. However, something completely different is the Belling Media Chef, an interactive digital cookbook, in the format of a digital frame, that allows the user to pause, play and rewind a series of video recipes cooked by chefs, including exclusive recipes from Brian Turner. It comes with over 50 recipes and can be used as an MP3 player, a digital photo frame and a calendar.

“One of the latest offers from Maytag is the XXL free-standing dishwasher that has a staggering capacity of 17 place settings and water consumption of just ten litres for a standard programme,” explained Jacqueline Marianni, trade PR executive for Whirlpool. The XXL comes with four height adjustable racks with an internal height of 58cm, allowing users to fit in even oven racks, and it delivers exceptional triple ‘A’ performance.

Maytag also used the show to demonstrate its Laundry Centre, featuring a set of matching ‘multi-task’ laundry appliances helping to manage garment care. Together with washer, dryer and laundry cabinet it comprise
s a collection of such items as laundry baskets, a foldable ironing board and storage drawers for laundry consumables.

Meanwhile Whirlpool showcased its 8kg 1400rpm AWOE 8758 and 1200rpm AWOE 8548 washing machines which employ Whirlpool’s 6th Sense technology optimising the water and energy consumption, and have ‘A+’ energy class ratings. They also incorporate the Clean+ technology, which with the use of a stain solver, remove stubborn stains even at low temperatures.

New to the manufacturer were also shallow-depth SBS fridge freezers (WSC5553A+N/X), available in a high gloss black or an anti-fingerprint stainless steel finish.  They sport a contemporary design with soft, curvy lines which is a move away from the minimalism of the last decade.

LG was displaying the latest model in its laundry collection – the first 11kg washing machine on the market, with 78-litre drum, which fits into a standard 60cm footprint. The demonstration model fitted with glass walls was to show that these great space savings were possible due to the metal springs attached to the bottom of the machine.

The visitors to the LG stand were also able to see the first SBS dispensing water and ice which doesn’t need to be plumbed to the mains, giving the consumer a choice of filling it with either tap or mineral water.

The best of floorcare

At the Polti stand, the sales personnel were demonstrating the power of its steam appliances, and, in particular, its Vaporetto steam cleaner, the original model of which was launched 25 years ago. Its enduring popularity is due to its universality – the fact this environmentally friendly appliance can be used to clean the entire house, without the use of any detergents, simply with the power of steam. The current model, Vaporetto Lecoaspira Intelligent, has ten cleaning programmes, adjusting steam pressure, temperature and suction power depending whether it is used on carpets, hard floors, glass, upholstery, bedding or even plants.

The focus of the Dyson’s stand activity was the recently launched handheld cleaner DC31. Henry Price, business account manager, explained its unique features. “The DC31’s digital motor gives the cleaner much more power than the previous model had, at the same time allowing for reduction of its body size; the DC31 is approximately 30% smaller and lighter. Its battery power has also increased – from six minutes on the old model to 10 minutes. With the new motor the cleaner only needs one washable filter. The brush head has also been improved and it connects directly to the mains, with no need for a charging station.”

Henry has also confirmed the observation made by Stuart Cook: “I noticed that the retailers are changing the profile of their stock, generally trading up, to suit the needs of the customers whom they service now.”

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