Omega and Smeg conflict lingers at official relaunch to Star-struck retailers

By Patrick Avenell

Marquee nightclub at The Star casino in Sydney was awash with retailer logos last night as Shriro Australia officially relaunched the Omega appliance brand.

Amongst the 300-strong crowd were the bright yellow shirts of 2nds World, The Good Guys’ blue sweaters, Joyce Maine’ blue and gold trim and the bold red of Harvey Norman. Bing Lee staff sported jackets while the Winning Appliance team was conspicuous by its mufti clothing.

It was all business for Craig Handley, Omega’s new national sales and marketing manager, who took to the stage at this lavish event to reflect on the past and introduce a bold new vision for the Omega brand. Despite this forward thinking, a significant proportion of his speech was dedicated to Omega’s old Hagemeyer brand-mate Smeg.

“The Omega brand is over 30 years old — a lot of people don’t know that — it was actually launched as a partner to the Smeg brand,” Handley said. “The goal of the brand at the time was to bring quality European appliances to a different price point to where the Smeg product sat. In other words, try to bring Smeg quality product to a more affordable price, where more people would be able to access the product.”

Current.com.au has been told that this timeline is incorrect. According to Smeg sources, Omega was introduced to Australia in 1981, three years before the Smeg brand was first sold. There is consensus, however, that the Omega brand was positioned at a lower end of the market than the Smeg brand.

Handley noted that “back in those early days”, much of Omega’s range was manufactured by Smeg Italy. The current range of Omega products, Handley said, is now manufactured by Meneghetti, while some dishwashing appliances are assembled by Midea and Smeg Italy.

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The event was very much a brand launch, rather than a product launch, with Handley telling Current.com.au that more information on products, and perhaps dedicated launch events, will be coming in the second half of the year.

The new Omega brand will be based around four pillars, all designed to help retailers close sales. Broadly speaking, these pillars are dedicated staff, showrooms, in-store display and a marketing investment.

Shriro currently has 17 dedicated Omega sales representatives across every state, as well as a product and marketing team at the Sydney head office. This home base in Kingsgrove will also double as a showroom, with 650 square metres of space to showcase Omega, Blanco and De Dietrich products. Once completed, this showroom will be used to entertain consumers and retailers.

Omega has already rolled out five prototype in-store displays, with a view to expand this coverage throughout more retail outlets.

To promote the product to consumers, Handley outlined a $3 million campaign, 6 per cent of his quoted annual revenue of $50 million, which will largely encompass online and print.

“Shriro is now one of the largest cooking distributors in Australia,” Handley said. “Shriro has over 200 people on staff, including product development, quality control and manufacturing experts. It brings a level of expertise to Omega that we didn’t have in the past and, more importantly, it has financial backing and has the scope and size to really drive Omega forward to the next level.”

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