There aren’t many kitchen showrooms that include a wall of digital radios and a room dedicated to electric log fires. That’s the first thing that strikes you when you walk into Glen Dimplex’s new showroom-cum-cooking school in Mt Waverly, 20 kilometres southeast of Melbourne’s CBD.

Formerly in Dandenong, Glen Dimplex has moved its warehouse and administration to new premises closer to the city. Not content to improve with a postcode shift, the Australasian team, headed by MD David Woodward and the Auckland-based chief executive Dave Wenham, decided to invest in a cooking school to showcase the Belling brand of range cookers.

Principally sold through Harvey Norman and The Good Guys, and a selection of independents, Belling is a cooking brand with rich history, dating back to 1912. Still manufactured on Merseyside in England, Belling is celebrating its 100th anniversary with new products and a renewed drive.

Formerly a specialist seasonal distributor, Woodward is embracing the challenges that come from being a major appliance supplier.

“We’ve gone from being a seasonal business, not completely to an appliance business, but a balanced business,” Woodward told Harvey Norman proprietors and staff yesterday at the showroom opening.

“We changed the skills sets in our team – we’ve grown a lot of us together through the last five years – and I think now as you can see standing here in this showroom, we have arrived as an appliance business.

“We’re serious about what we are doing with appliances and I’m very proud that you’re all here to witness what we’ve done with this investment.”

As a testament to this commitment, Woodward has recruited the first of what could be many dedicated service professionals.

“We’ll be launching our first man in a van in Melbourne. He’ll be branded and he’ll have spare parts on board, with the ultimate being that we fix the appliance the right way the first time, and that’s all part of us trying to recognise that we have to make life easy for you guys [retailers]. If you want to support our brands, we have to make life easy for you.”

The Glen Dimplex cooking school concept will mirror similar showrooms previously launched by Smeg, Bosch and Miele. Retailers will be able to send consumers to the showroom to look at the complete range, touch and feel, and cook a multi-course meal under the gaze of a home economist. They’ll then be sent back to the retailer to finalise the sale.

“As of today, we would certainly invite you to send consumers to us,” Woodward said. “We realise we have a big range – it’s hard to display all these products with limited space –so our door is open for you to send any consumer who can’t see the colour or fuel type they want in your shop.

“Please send them to us and they’ll be sent back, hopefully with the sale closed, ready to order from you.”

Glen Dimplex chairman and CEO Sean O’Driscoll (left) and president Martin Naughton flew in from Ireland to cut the ribbon at the new showroom.

Local MD David Woodward shows off a vintage Belling cooker to Martin Naughton and Rose O’Driscoll.