For almost 60 years, Rawsons Elite Appliances has mastered the craft of selling exclusive and desirable kitchen brands such as Miele, Smeg, Gaggenau, Neff, Franke, Bosch, Falcon, GE, Qasair, Highland and Teka. Sales director Jon Pysing recently told Appliance Retailer in our Mid Year Report Card that 2015 “started off like a rocket”. But what has happened since?
How has the first half of 2015 been for your business?
The year started off like a rocket. January saw lots of activity, especially from home renovators. Suppliers had some really good promotions and the clients responded. After a pretty ordinary 2014, you thought, ‘Hello — this could be a great year!’. But, typically, February was when it started to run out of steam with less store traffic and less activity around promotions. March and April continued on in this vein and now we are just starting to see more enthusiasm in the middle of the year.
What are your predictions for the second half of the year?
For South Australia, we are still feeling pretty upbeat. We are not like the Eastern states with bigger fluctuations; more steady as you go. However, South Australia is still recording good building activity and good indicators from the Project market. Retail is still keeping us busy but, like some recent years you need to be working harder and smarter to get sales over the line.
What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?
It’s all about the clients’ experience. Our core is cooking, our energies are largely focused on setting ourselves apart from large store competitors. The cooking appliances are still very entwined with emotive feelings: home, family, friends, style and substance. If you can create comfort for clients around these thoughts, the trust is being built. There are lots of pro-forma brands in our range so it isn’t on price: it’s the comfort to purchase level. Our stores need to look smarter than others and offer lots of engagement.
What threats are currently present in the industry?
Online sales from overseas websites. A lot of stores must be starting to feel some impact from clients directly importing. And I am talking the major premium German brands, such as Miele, Siemens, Gaggenau, AEG and Neff.
And, if a business is not aware of this they can’t be making the right enquiries of their clients. Some customers are happy to run the gauntlet of making an offshore purchase to save big. Given our pro-forma situation in Australia, they are happy to bypass us and bring it in. The worry is that European headquarters for these brands seem to be sitting on their hands and showing little inclination to prevent it. It is a reflection of how poorly these companies are treating the Australian market that it continues. And no, the clients aren’t too fussed about warranties and approvals. Rightly they feel that if it is good enough for Europe, then it must be ok.
What is your favourite product of 2015 so far?
I can’t split my two favourite products and a lot of times neither can our clients, so they purchase both! The Gaggenau 200 Series is really starting to be appreciated. Looking different than all other products on the market, the Gaggenau statement is unique.
And BORA inbuilt cooktop systems. Induction is the number one preferred cooktop and now you have it complete with down-draught extraction built-in. All design considerations can be given to the kitchen layout without encumbrances of overhead hoods. Our specifiers, designers and architects community has embraced both Gaggenau and BORA for their unique and functional attributes.