talking shop

Are you looking forward to Christmas trading? The weeks running up to Christmas are always a special time of the year and will of course be particularly busy. Halesworth and Huus are decked out in winter lights which help brighten these dull, grey days. Some customers struggle with ideas for gifts for family or friends, or ideas for freshening up their homes for the season, whilst others are very clear as they have shopped at Huus before or have been given a ‘wish list’. It’s fun to help others make their choices and then package their purchases up.

What’s next for Huus? We’re really excited to have been chosen as the winner of Exclusively Shows’ ‘Thrive and Survive’ competition. The consultation is a fantastic opportunity for us to work with the Scarlet Opus team to identify opportunities to strengthen our brand and business. Tunnel vision can creep in easily and it’s

important to keep up with, and ahead of, the market in this difficult era of British retailing. Working with Scarlet Opus will help us set a clear vision.

How do you find new products? We have already developed good relationships with some carefully selected suppliers that offer evolving, trend influenced product ranges. As well as trade magazines, we regularly visit trade shows in the UK and overseas. We are always on the lookout for inspiration -

from other media, consumer events and even when shopping in other retail outlets at home, abroad and online. Networking with similar business owners can also spark ideas.

What products are selling well at the moment? Increasingly more consumers are thinking about the ethical source of products, so bamboo-related housewares are becoming more popular. As Huus partners with Dutch and Danish suppliers for lighting and small furniture pieces, we can offer alternative styling options for the home. The Huus team works with customers to identify particular pieces and place specific orders - this more bespoke service is proving popular.

What sets Huus apart? It’s difficult to be unique in today’s global retail environment, particularly with the competitiveness of the online offering. Although online has to be an area of focus, we work hard to create a strong ‘real time’ customer experience in our bricks-and- mortar’ location. In a year, our customer base has extended to

cover Suffolk and southern Norfolk. Many customers are home renovators, second homers or regular visitors to the area. By focusing on customer service, quality products and bespoke styling advice, we continue to widen our reach.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Delighted customers! We are located in a Suffolk market town so we try to offer a range of products across the price points. It’s important to understand customers by engaging with them whilst they shop. That way, customers will leave smiling, either with a simple piece of glassware or having at last found an unusual piece of lighting to complete their room renovation.

Ten years ago this month in Housewares Magazine…

• Debenhams was the winner of Housewares Magazine’s Mystery Shopper report on Westfield London shopping centre in White City. The department store beat House of Fraser and Habitat for its ‘friendly staff and shopability in spades’

• Kuhn Rikon Colori paring knives, Delfinware dish drainers, KitchenCraft MasterClass bakeware and Eddingtons EggShell silicone egg poachers were the best-selling housewares products at A La Carte in Pershore, Aladdin’s Cookshop in Southrepps, The Billericay Cookshop in Essex and Cooking Fantastic in Knaresborough respectively.

• KitchenCraft topped Housewares Magazine’s Best of Best Sellers poll for 2008, followed by Horwood, CKS, Dexam, Eddingtons, Kuhn Rikon, Le Creuset, DKB Household UK, JWP and Typhoon.

• The wooden spoon was voted ‘most useful gadget of all time’ in a survey of housewares published in ‘Waitrose Food Illustrated’ magazine. In second place was the Microplane grater, while the

KitchenAid mixer was third, followed by the stick blender (the original and most loved is the Bamix, the report said) and the Magimix food processor. Other ‘superstars of the kitchen’ that made the top 10 were ‘moulin a legumes, wooden spatula, tongs, Y-shaped peeler and big mortar and pestle’. The list of ‘most useless’ gadgets included the Philippe Starck lemon squeezer, garlic press, breadmaker, egg poacher and milk frother.

• Research by annual trade show Spring Fair into ‘the mind of the UK buyer’ revealed that, for Autumn/Winter 2009 collections, the most popular trends were sustainability, eco, retro designs, hand-made products and bright colours.

• Housewares supplier Brabantia was celebrating after producing three million of its Touch kitchen bins since the product’s launch in 1999.

Source: Housewares Magazine November/December 2008

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