Swift Electrical’s commercial director Malcolm Scott looks at how more appliance manufacturers are finally coming up with ranges specifically for certain retail channels
This month certainly has seen a lot of changes in the appliance sector. Much of the change has been driven by the bigger manufacturers listening to retailers like Trevor Scott who clearly stated [July, pg15] in this magazine last month the reasons why manufacturers need showrooms, complementing the argument made by Paul Crow of Ripples last month [kbbreview, August, pg25] about the reasons retailers need brands.
Some of the changes have been in the planning for many months and some are rather more spontaneous responses to Brexit and subsequent ‘one-off’ currency realignment.
As a direct result of Brexit, we can expect to see all domestic appliances costing about 10% more, with Smeg, Bosch, Neff, Siemens, Hotpoint, Indesit, Hoover, Baumatic and Candy already advising of, or applying, increases.
The Glen Dimplex Group, the last major manufacturer still to make most of its offering in the UK, will also be applying some selective increases to cover a rise in component costs. My guess is that since much more furniture is made in the UK, furniture prices will increase more gradually. Since the overall cost of a basket of appliances has been falling steadily for years, a double-digit increase will still leave appliances costing consumers less than they did five years ago.
Looking at appliances again, the Whirlpool Group has been rather busy. Discontinuing every single product in its current Whirlpool appliance range and relaunching a whole new modern-looking, high-specification range.
Kitchen studios were treated to a full preview at Waterline’s Crown furniture showroom in Daventry and at the Swift Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, which is home to a major historic collection of photographs of grand prix and sports car racing.
The route to market for the new Whirlpool built-in collection and the new Hotpoint Built In Studio Collection is specialist distribution, with five companies being appointed – Swift, Waterline, O’Neills, Blackheath and HDL. These new kitchen distributor exclusive appliances are the next phase of the group’s successful Luce experiment, featuring completely different products, which has already attracted several hundred kitchen studio outlets.
Insinkerator, Smeg, Glen Dimplex and BSH have all been busy with new initiatives. Insinkerator has launched a new kitchen-channel-only collection of higher-specification products with a ‘top end’ waste disposal unit and new hot taps supported by a glossy brochure.
Glen Dimplex Group is all set to dazzle the trade with a new feature-rich range branded New World, which promises to be at ‘private-label’ prices, but with great new products, including a new 450mm compact steam cooker with built in microwave, grill and convection oven – a 4 in 1 oven.
Smeg has already dazzled the ‘chosen few’ with the launch of its new Dolce Stil Novo collection of very exclusive, restricted-distribution, stunning new built-in appliances. This new collection from Smeg includes a built-in wine cooler with the most fabulous accessory drawer, guaranteed to hold the attention of those ‘top-end’ customers. The new Dolce ovens are packed with features and are supported by a great selection of innovative new hobs.
BSH Group has applied price increases right across the range but has sweetened the pill with some great consumer redemption offers. Bosch, for example, is offering a free food mixer with selected ovens and has greatly improved the dealer finder service on its website, so that you can now find kitchen studio outlets. The successful BSH Group strategy to support showroom trading partners with exclusive products will continue and the improved website should drive more consumers into your showrooms.
I’m pleased to see that the appliance industry seems to have learnt that the high visibility and the high profile of internet traders can be used effectively within the framework of an omni-channel product placement strategy. One that develops internet retailing as a channel in its own right with products and offers that are suited to mass-market retailing, rather than acting as a parasite that feeds off specialist retailers.
All retailers, whatever their route to market, should generate their own sustainable sales model.