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.
Nicholas Fry is the head of product and marketing at Leading Appliances. He shares some insights from his nascent retail group’s first 12 months in operation.
How has the first half of 2014 been for your organisation?
Consumer sentiment remains fragile, and as a result the retail trade remains challenging. However, our members have recorded an increase in sales for the first half, and most pleasing is an increase in profitability as well. Our brand is becoming more and more established and, as a result, customer awareness and loyalty is beginning to reflect that in our sales results.
What are you predictions for the second half of the year?
We don’t expect any drastic change to current trading conditions, but while interest rates remain low we will hopefully see an upsurge in consumer confidence leading to increased foot traffic in our stores.
What opportunities do you see for the electrical retailing industry?
A focus of our business is the level and quality of customer service we provide in store. Improved levels of service overcome the debilitating ‘price down’ mentality that pervades our industry. A step away from discounting for no tangible reason; and a return to quality, professional, friendly and knowledgeable customer service; is a glaring opportunity for the industry, as it’s worth remembering that ‘profit’ is not a dirty word!
What threats are currently present in the industry?
As per my previous answer, the race to the bottom in search of market share has led to ongoing price and profit pressures for all retailers. This is a huge threat to the industry, because as profits decrease pressure comes to bear on all interested parties. This transcends across to eCommerce, and the fact that many retailers have forgotten that the main reason consumers shop online is not price, but convenience. The focus must move away from not who can be the cheapest, but who can provide the best service and most professional shopping experience.
What’s your favourite product of 2014 so far?
Small appliances is a major strength within our business and I’ve been very impressed with some of the great new products from Breville. In particular, the Hot Wok & Steam (BEW820) is a high quality multi-purpose stainless steel appliance.