Retailers nationwide are innovating to maximise cooking sales

Around the country, retailers are investing in how they showcase cooking appliances in order to drive consumers up to better-featured, more expensive models that will better suit their needs. It has been said by industry insiders that cooking is the last bastion of profitability for a retail sector beset by margin pressure.

The rise of our celebrity chef culture and the constant stream of cooking-based reality competition TV programs has been a big boost to the industry, but it is a zeitgeist that must be captured.

Garry Thyer Betta Home Living in Townsville has begun hosting cooking classes in its store, which it films and then posts to a YouTube channel.

“We wanted to bring in an area dedicated to cooking,” said assistant store manager Jamie Clarke. “We want to showcase appliances, instead of simply selling them, and we want to teach our customers how to use all of the functions available on their new products.”

Athan Papoulias proprietor of two Designer Homeware showrooms in Sydney is attacking the ultra-premium downdraft ventilation market.

“You’ve just got to get people standing around watching — it’s an entertaining show — it’s unreal,” Papoulis said, referring specifically to Bora’s new range. “It would probably be the best cooking demonstration available — there is nothing as impressive as that downdraft system working.

“The system vents internally, it takes down all the grease, filters it through charcoal filters, and then doesn’t release the air anywhere. It’s pretty impressive.”

Down in Melbourne, Harvey Norman has started hosting cooking demonstrations at its Chadstone store, in partnership with consumer mag Australian Gourmet Traveller.

“We actually open our store an hour before the event starts so people can come and look at the products that we are cooking with and ask any questions that they have,” said Harvey Norman senior brand manager Gary Brown.

Across the Nullarbor, industry legend Rick Hart has opened a second Kitchen HQ showroom in O’Connor. Ever the innovator, he hired a nightclub designer to create the new concept, which will no doubt be a magnet for high-end customers — just like the new Winning Appliances flagship store in Sydney is already proving to be.

At the other end of the scale from the glitz and glamour of Rich Hart and John Winning’s retail empires are the ‘mum and pop’ stores in the country, now organised into the Leading Appliances group.

These hardened retail veterans have survived multiple buying group failures and are now beginning to rebuild. The inaugural Advisory Committee for Leading Appliances recently met for the first time in Sydney.

The Committee is comprised of Peter Bolte (Taree, NSW), Stu Caruthers (Gloucester, NSW) Anne Blampied (Mansfield, VIC), Chris Thomson (Euroa, VIC), Gavin Douglas (Longreach, QLD), Steve Lestone (Charters Towers, QLD), Rick Macera (Mt Gambier, SA) and Karen Hayes (Merredin, WA).

A lot of these names will be very familiar to readers, having been leading Retravision retailers before that brand was sold to Narta. According to reports out the first Committee meeting, the nascent group is beginning to prosper.

Steve Lestone said the influence of Michaer Carr and Nick Fry from the Leading Appliances head office had been a “breath of fresh air” for these stores and for the industry. Good to hear.

Featured Images: Bora Basic cooktop extractor.

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