July/August 2021

The touchy-feely brand Mr Christan says that Smeg is always a brand he has worked very closely with – “the touchy-feely brand”, as he calls it. Kris Horley is Head of Independent Kitchen and

Electrical Retail at Smeg UK. He explains that the Premio Partner scheme supports retailers to enable them to offer a point of difference in the marketplace. Premio – meaning ‘prize’ and ‘reward’ in Italian – Partner status is awarded to the company’s best-in-class retailers regionally, rewarding them with the very best support package for mutual growth. Coopers is one of a select handful of electrical

retailers across the UK that will enjoy this new shop- in-shop format. It’s a big investment for the manufacturer, but one that is important to create more lifestyle stores similar to its own flagship Regent Street outfit in London. Mr Christan continues: “It is impossible to sell

luxury products like £2,000 sous-vide vacuum drawers or coffee machines out of a brochure or online. You need to make them a coffee or demonstrate exactly how the vac-pack works so they can really see and appreciate the benefits. Having a working showroom is the only way to achieve this.”

Adds Mr Horley: “The key thing for us is selling

up. While we do believe in omnichannel retail and the merge of online and offline activities, to grow our businesses product demonstration and education is essential, really understanding what consumers need. You can only really do that face-to-face.”


Q: So how did all this come about and how do you feel now it’s complete? Darrin Christan: I bought the business with the intention of completely overhauling how we interact with customers, display products and operate as a business. Being a key manufacturer within my plan, Smeg was always one of my top displays to tackle. This would then be rolled out with other key manufacturers over the rest of the year. I’m sure even without these changes Coopers would have continued to be successful, but I wanted growth and to create a leading first-class destination that would help drive people in. Essentially a new way of retailing. Certainly a new way of retailing for us.

Kris Horley: I had already identified Coopers as a store that we wanted to work with; the demographic in Bath and the surrounding areas was the right fit for us and Coopers is so well known, not just locally but also within the region. I didn’t realise that Darrin wanted to work closely with us, and he didn’t realise that he was on my wish list, so we ended up meeting in the middle! We worked together on the designs of the new

area. Yes, we want to get as many products on display, but it has to be a retail-able space. And we’ve definitely achieved that. Most high streets have got some form of

appliance retailer. If people want to buy a commodity product there are lots of companies out there, but Smeg isn’t that type of brand, customers take time to think about what they want

and where better to come than a store like this to learn about the ranges and see them in action. Coopers has always been a key partner for us.

Darrin is always keen to work with us and try new ideas, always taking us up on staff training, and that is exactly what we want from a Premio Partner. One of the key things we are always keen to

do is create theatre and get customers through retailers’ doors. Alice is one of our Home Economists and Product Trainers and she’s been helping get Darrin’s staff up to speed, and will also be hosting demo events using our appliances.

DC: I am really happy with the end result. The Xpressions team [the shopfitters with Smeg] really nailed the brief, and they worked extremely hard to understand my vision. I didn’t want the display to feel like a kitchen furniture shop but I did want to take design inspiration from the high-end kitchen design world. We’ve got a huge reputation to uphold and Bath

is a great destination city. We’ve also been working on advertising, social media and of course our well- known window displays, and it’s beginning to pay off. We regularly have people popping in and say ‘I’ve heard about your new showroom and wanted to take a look’. This is laying the groundwork for the next generation of customers.



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