Appliance brands at the recent Showcase event held by buying group Euronics at the NEC were upbeat and “excited” about the prospects for the year ahead.
Brands acknowledged that the squeeze on consumer spending may have an effect on sales, but Neil Pooley, category manager for kitchens at Miele, told kbbreview he believes that the rising costs consumers are now facing are more likely to affect the entry-level or distress purchase buyers and was optimistic about 2022.
Pooley said: “It could affect some parts of our market, but in the high-value area that is more of a considered purchase and that sector is pretty buoyant and the home renovation spike we have seen over the past couple of years is still there. When you get into entry-level and distress purchases, it may affect the market and may have an impact. But with a brand like Miele, I am pretty hopeful that people who have set their heart on it will continue to wait. So I am reasonably optimistic.”
Miele of course was one of the brands that recently announced that 2021 saw the best sales in its 123-year history.
On the Samsung stand, Dan Harvie, vice-president and head of home appliances in the UK and Ireland, was also upbeat about 2022. He said: “We are still excited about the business and how it is performing currently. We had a very strong couple of years and I think, looking at what we have on the stand today, with new category opportunities such as built-in to build on, we see a very positive outcome for us as a business.”
Acknowledging that consumer spending may be subdued for 2022, Harvie added: “I think the disposable income challenges for consumers is real and that might mean that we as a business need to focus more on accessibility and affordability. People need to be reassured they are buying the right product for them, and a quality product.”
Also excited about the prospects for 2022 was Smeg sales director Paul Barker. He said: “We are in a good place with a good product proposition. Especially in built-in and we have good stocks of it. Range cookers are doing particularly well and we have very good stocks of those. We make the range cookers and built-in products ourselves in our own factory so we have control over it.”
But he did not think the immediate future would be without its challenges. “I wouldn’t say that the growth rate is going to be the same as 2021, but we are predicting growth for this year and still think we can grow 2022 against 2021. The market is tightening, but we seem to be making a difference and are winning where we can win.”
Also on the stand was head of independent kitchen and electrical retail Kris Horley, who added: “Kitchen studios need to make margin on appliances and Smeg has the designs and the margins. That’s the difference. There is good margin and good availability which is continuing to improve.”
Asked about supply chain issues going forward, the brands kbbreview spoke to said they acknowledged that no one was having a problem-free supply chain at the moment but that things were slowly improving.
Steve Scogings, chairman of Euronics and a multi-branch retailer himself, when asked if he thought things were improving, answered: “Yes – and no. But should we be reliant so much on China for certain components? Maybe we should bring production more locally, even if it might cost more? Manufacturers are looking at that possibility. The global market, as it was, may have to move to a more regional market.”
Speaking to kbbreview on the Beko stand, head of marketing Keval Shah believed that sustainability would be a key driver for sales in 2022.
“I think before people did not understand the energy labels, they are now easier for consumers to understand,” he said. “I think energy efficiency will take on a whole new importance, whereas before it was never in the consumer’s psyche. People wanted this brand with particular features, and energy-efficiency was at the bottom of their list, whereas now it is in the top three consumer choices.”
However, Shah agreed that it was a challenge to get the message across on the shopfloor: “It is all down to training and education. Consumers may not come in thinking about sustainability, but if they have a choice between two products, and one is a bit more sustainable than the other, that will be their choice going forward.
“Our aim is that by 2030 40% of every product will be made using recycled materials.”
AEG senior product manager on the AEG stand agreed that it was vital to get the message across to consumers, saying: “For us, it is about how to ensure that retailers know what they are talking about when they talk to the end consumer.”