Welcome to Influencers, our annual series that speaks with the heads of retailers, suppliers and industry bodies to find out what is happening in appliances and electronics and how different companies are shaping its future.
Gwenno Hopkin is the general manager — retail tracking services at GfK. She reflects on a flat 2014 so far and highlights some pockets of the growth for the remainder of the year.
How has the first half of 2014 been for the industry?
GfK’s Retail Tracking data to April 2014 shows a very flat industry performance for the year so far. There are pockets of growth, particularly within Small Domestic Appliances, where Food Preparation and Vacuum Cleaners have enjoyed sustained value growth for the past couple of years. Sales of Media Tablets are still very buoyant, and Wireless Speakers, Headphones, Hobs and Rangehoods all performed well.
These growth segments haven’t performed strongly enough to counter the revenue declines across the rest of the industry, however. Even Smartphones revenue, which plateaued in 2013, has been in decline so far in 2014.
What are you predictions for the second half of the year?
GfK is expecting the industry to remain pretty flat for the remainder of the year. The positive news is that the rate of decline in revenue for TVs is continuing to slow, and we’re still expecting to see plenty of opportunities within discreet categories and segments to balance some of the decline elsewhere. But there aren’t significant enough technological innovations expected in the short-term (that we’re currently aware of) to inject any significant revenue growth into the industry.
What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?
There’s a lot of product innovation out there, and plenty of consumer fads and fashions that will continue to generate growth opportunities. The window of opportunity tends to get smaller and smaller, however, and the fashions more and more short-lived. So the industry needs to keep an even closer eye on the trends, and needs to stay very closely in touch with its consumers to understand the increasingly complex path to purchase.
What threats are currently present in the industry?
The general, post-budget, consumer economic mood isn’t great at the moment, and the unseasonably warm weather has been a challenging start to the autumn/winter season. The biggest threats, however, are probably ones that aren’t currently quite so close to home. The entry of a big, international, online retailer, for example, could significantly change the local retail landscape we know today.
What’s your favourite product of 2014 so far?
I bought a wireless speaker a couple of months ago, and I love it! It was recommended to me (good old word of mouth), and I’ve recommended it to others since. We stream all our music through the speaker, and I take particular delight in streaming Welsh-language radio through it as well.