Daniel Hadley: ‘We’re serious about working with independent KBB retailers’

Daniel Hadley recently took over the role of managing director at Smeg UK. Kbbreview caught up with him at the EuroCucina fair in Milan, for an exclusive chat about his plans to elevate the brand and strengthen its relationship with retailers

Q: How’s business for Smeg in the UK and how are you reading the wider market at the moment?

A: Although I’m new to Smeg I’m not brand new to the industry. I’ve come from Dyson, which is a very similar product-driven business, which helps me offer an accurate overview.

Obviously, the economy has got big challenges. The cost-of-living crisis seems to be on the front page every other day at the moment. The products that are winning in a market that’s challenging are the ones that have distinguishing features. And often, they can be at the top end of a market or the bottom end of the market. Normally, it’s the middle of the market where that gets really squeezed.

Look at the 2008 recession. The grocery retailers that won were Lidl, Aldi, and Waitrose. The ones that got squeezed were the ones that didn’t stand for anything in the middle. Smeg unashamedly sits at the top end of the markets that we play in, and we’re well set to win in an unstable economy.

The exciting thing is that consumer behaviour indexes have started to shift in the right way, which is great. The other thing that plays to this sector’s advantage is that, in recessionary periods, consumers move more towards home entertaining. And that becomes the exciting part of people’s lives because they pull back on going out.

Q: What’s the message to independents in a challenging economy?

A: Independent retailers have a real chance in a tough economy because, when consumer confidence is low, they are loyal to the places where they experience good service and felt looked after. They’re less likely to go to places where they don’t feel wanted, they don’t feel looked after. Increasing that level of confidence is important for the long -term health of all our businesses. Independent retailers have a core place in both society and local towns.

The message from Smeg is that we want to get behind those investing in proper retail experiences, so stick with us. There’s a synergy between Smeg and most independent retailers – we’re family-run. We want to partner with independents, we’ve got the stock, and with the new range of products launched in Milan – that is the lifeblood of the company from 2024 -25 onwards – we’ve showcased that we are serious about this sector of the market, and we are keen to work with partners in the KBB sector more and more moving forward.

A: You touched on something important there in the fact that we’re in Milan which has a history of fashion. The secondary point that I’d note is obviously I’ve just joined the business, but I’ve joined a product business, not a brand business.

Smeg is still family owned and run. We’re Italian so EuroCucina is the home fixture for us and its core to the philosophy of the company and the family behind it. Design is critical to the work that we do. We work with external designers. We work with internal designers. But what we come up with is products that are distinctive and catch the eye with real functionality. What Smeg delivers are moments in the kitchen rather than just products.

Q: Do you, as a brand believe, connectivity is the future of appliance technology?

A: For us it goes back to that real functionality element. Yes, we can offer retailers Wi-Fi -enabled products that they can offer their customers but it’s about making sure the consumer will get tangible benefits from that technology. Products must be functional and relevant to the user.

The consumer behaviour that drove the smart home revolution is convenience. Smeg absolutely offers smart-home products, but for us the function or the feature must have a reason for being a smart home or connected product because otherwise again we’re not being true to our values, it’s just adding stuff on the top. That’s a branding exercise, not a product driven business. At its heart, Smeg is product driven.

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