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.
Today we visit with Jim Kalotheos, national marketing manager at Smeg Australia. It’s been a busy year for the team at Smeg, with more than 100 new products announced at EuroCucina in April and a remit to reach the brand’s full potential.
How has the first half of 2014 been for your business?
We have continued to experience strong sales growth following on from 2013. In part, this has been fuelled by retailers who are increasingly focusing on the increased demand for whitegoods as a result of a pick-up in renovations and the ongoing love affair with food.
The other factor driving Smeg’s increasing sales is the growth in the architect/designer market. This specialist market has recognised the fact Smeg is the only brand to offer real choice in terms of aesthetics. We have always collaborated with the world’s leading architects and designers when developing new product and our aesthetics reflect this.
What are your predictions for the second half of the year?
We will continue to grow because the true potential of the Smeg brand in Australia is only beginning to be recognised. There is a real awareness amongst both consumers and professionals of the passion and the value in a Smeg appliance, both in terms of performance and aesthetics.
We also believe firmly in investing in strong retail relationships and will continue to release new products and technology.
Smeg Italy recently released more than 100 new product lines at EuroCucina and was widely recognised as the most exciting and innovative brand at the show.
Comprehensive marketing, training and product information will support retailers as we continue to work hard to be the best people and company to deal with.
In terms of the industry in general, I think both retailers and suppliers that can’t clearly communicate their value proposition will struggle.
What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?
As above, whitegoods will continue to set new benchmarks in terms of technology and design and cooking will continue to be a hot category.
Retailers who understand the consultative style of selling, especially at the premium end of the market, and can combine this with an in-store experience, will benefit the most in what will always be a highly competitive market. As an industry, we need to continue to find ways to attract and engage with the consumer.
What threats are currently present in the industry?
Complacency on the part of retailers and suppliers: we constantly need to excite, inform and offer more than others.
Retailers and suppliers should avoid trying to be all things to all people.
What is your favourite product of 2014 so far?
The Classic 90-centimetre Pyrolytic Multifunction Oven (SAP3900X) designed by renowned Italian architect Guido Canali. It is a piece of pure beauty that is highly functional. I admire the fact that it is almost understated in its aesthetics and yet it is a powerhouse of functionality: 18 functions, 2 pyro cleaning programmes, 90-litre capacity and fingerprint resistant stainless steel.