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 Philip Perham, deputy managing director at Fujitsu General. He says dealers need to put more energy and attention into merchandising and retailing air conditioning appliances.

10 Fujitsu General Philip Perham
Low cost alternative: Philip Perham.

How has the first half of 2014 been for your business?

For Fujitsu, this period crosses both the conclusion of the fiscal year, which ends 31 March, and the first quarter of the new year, so it’s always an interesting period.  From a purely air conditioning perspective, the summer season tapered off relatively quickly after January, but overall the business remained solid across its various distribution channels.  Warmer autumn conditions haven’t harmed sales too much since April, and the Free Money promotion is tracking well against last year.

What are your predictions for the second half of the year?

Fujitsu is looking for positive growth across the air conditioning market largely driven by wall hung split system sales.

What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?

The air conditioning category is one of the categories that has been bucking the trend in terms of price erosion and we have seen an increase in average selling prices.  Generally speaking, the floor space given to air conditioning should be leveraged better to maximise returns.  For such a high yielding product category, it is too often neglected in terms of display, presentation and location. 

We’re also starting to see sharp price increases in the natural gas market, which should only further help the reverse cycle air conditioning sales opportunities, as it is a viable, lower cost alternative to gas heaters in most areas around Australia.

What threats are currently present in the industry?

From an industry sense, all suppliers are keenly following the current government’s efforts to repeal the mining tax and, of course, the removal of the refrigerant levy, which applies to all air conditioners.  How and when this all takes place is still somewhat up in the air.

What is your favourite product of 2014 so far?

My 6-year-old son’s iPad Mini.  It makes all our long family car trips so much more bearable!

Great for kids: iPad mini.
Great for kids: iPad mini.