the BIG interview “Prior to my move to Samsung, a number

of retail buyers had started to move abroad to Courts Worldwide which really interested me and resulted in my appointment as Sales & Marketing Director in Courts St. Lucia. Unfortunately, my time in the Caribbean was cut short due to illness and resulted in me having to return to the UK and then not be able to fly again for 6-9 months. “Upon my return to the UK in early 2000, I

secured a role with Imagination Technologies (Pure Digital) initially as a Sales Manager bringing some of the first portable DAB Radios (Evoke 1) to the UK Market but rising to the role of Associate Director of Sales (UK – Europe – Singapore – Australia). In 2014 I moved to VQ to help set up an emerging DAB brand with the added attraction of bringing to market Emma Bridgewater-designed DAB radios which at their peak sold nine thousand units on Black Friday on QVC. Since October 2016 I have been at Witt.” With such an interesting and varied career

already behind him, Geoff has been able to bring a good deal of experience to his current role at Witt, as he explains. “Having worked with very prestigious Japanese (JVC), Korean (Samsung) and UK companies, combined with my sales experience in department stores on the road sales representative/manger roles and also National Account responsibilities, has allowed me to bring a wealth of experience to Witt by understanding what the UK retailers’ requirements are, whether they be independent, national or purely online. We at Witt pride ourselves on the fact that we are not just a distributer delivering products but that we make the retailer feel that they are dealing direct with the manufacture, with structured promotional campaigns, regular face to face meetings and key PR and marketing support, so the brand can develop and grow within the challenging UK market.” Of course, Witt is well-known for supplying

Roomba robotic vacuum cleaning appliances, and Geoff is keen to offer detail on this new and exciting development. “Roomba vacuum cleaners do more than just pick up visible dirt from your hard floors and carpet, they can be scheduled to clean every day, seven days a week. They actually deep clean the floors and carpet using a three stage cleaning system of brush rollers and paddles on the 600 range. The more advanced models like the E5 900 and I7 ranges use Aeroforce rubber extractors that clean deep into the carpet pile and lift dirt and debris from deep below the surface. All Roomba cleaners have a side cleaning brush that rotates to sweep dirt into the cleaning path while the Roomba is going about its cleaning task - this side brush also performs the twin tasks of sweeping around the edges of furniture legs while cleaning the edges of the rooms and corners.

September 2019

“Some models have features which will look

for dirt in the carpet (so-called Acoustic and Optical Dirt Detect) – the device listens for grit and dust going through the rollers and, if detected, will automatically concentrate its cleaning on that area to ensure it cleans thoroughly. Meanwhile, the optical sensor looks for fine dust and hair. “All Roombas can be left upstairs as they all

have cliff sensors that detect drops – they don’t fall down the stairs!” The UK market for vacuum cleaners is currently

sluggish, but Geoff sees definite potential for the new generation of robot vacuum cleaners (RVCs). “The UK vacuum cleaner market is down by -7.3% while RVCs are at -4.3%. However, the RVC category has a massive potential, the household penetration in the UK is below 0.5% while in the US it’s 8%, and in Spain, Austria, Norway, Italy, France and Germany it’s above 5%. The mature market expectation is around 30% household penetration. The main reason why it is down in the UK is the expectation of Brexit and the lack of marketing spend on promoting this category. In the UK we can see over 70% volume market- driven by premium RVC brands like iRobot (54.2%, Neato 17.2% and Dyson 2%). We expect to see the increased presence of established Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi & Ecovacs in the near future.” So with exciting technology leading the

way, how is Witt looking to capitalise on these innovations? “Witt’s expansions plans are continually increasing in the UK and Ireland as we are not just distributors for iRobot. Airfree

Air Purifiers were added to the portfolio in September 2018 and Segway/Ninebot in June 2019. Witt e-bikes will launch in September 2019, and the company has just signed an exclusive distributor contract for Roidmi vacuum cleaners for the Nordics and UK as recently as July 2019. “In the Nordic countries Witt A/S has a long

history of distributing premium brands, and currently has up to fifteen different brands in its range including iRobot, Segway, Sage and Liebherr, to name but a few.” Finally, Geoff has these words for retailers

who are considering stocking RVCs for the first time. “Robotic cleaners are the future of floor care. They are an exciting product to have on the shop floor, and packed full of technology for the sales teams to sell and get behind. IRobot have been producing Roomba cleaners for over twenty five years and know a thing or two about robotic cleaners. They have over 600 patents, and are now on the eleventh generation of Roomba cleaners with the new I7 and S9 models. Demonstration is key to show consumers exactly how they operate and definitely helps a successful sale or conversion from the traditional vacuum cleaner purchase. There is a price range for all consumer budgets from £249.00 up to the new flagship model Roomba S9 at £1499.00. All models offer a great margin over the traditional cleaners in the market, of which some sectors we know are slowing down unlike the RVC sector. There has never been a more exciting time In the vacuum cleaning sector since the first door to door sales man in the 1900’s!” | 11

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