October 2020

‘COVID-19 forced consumers to prioritise home life’

As consumers were forced to spend a lot more time at home this year, there was a huge movement towards baking and cooking from scratch in the kitchen and SDA and food prep appliances were in high demand. Barrie Saxby, UK Sales Director at Morphy Richards, tells Jack Cheeseman about how the market has grown…

10 Q&A

Q: We’ve seen a number of new products from Morphy Richards in the last few months. Tell us more. Barrie Saxby: Sales of our cordless iron, the easyCharge 360, went from strength to strength and in fact it has beaten all sales projections to become Morphy Richards’ best-selling iron this year. We have launched a couple of new

breakfast collections – Verve and Illumination – which include kettles and toasters, plus a coffee machine in the Verve collection; and we were very excited to introduce Intellisteam to the market – a table top steam cooker (below) that has three separate compartments and an intelligent timer to synchronise the steaming process of separate ingredients. The strength of SDA sales this

year and these products were the catalyst for the launch of a huge multi-channel consumer media campaign which has made Morphy Richards visible across TV, print and digital and social media ads.

Q: What has this year been like for you so far, the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic? BS: Unlike many sectors, the first half of this year was strong for SDA, moving from a small year-on-year decline in January to +27 per cent in May – and that was largely due to us all being at home and decorating, renovating and gardening. The feedback from Retra is that

independent retailers are very happy since reopening stores in June. Sales have been surprisingly buoyant and increased beyond expectations as the general public seem to be keeping away from large public areas and shopping malls, preferring to shop locally. As most independents are now also offering online purchasing there is the added advantage of local knowledge and installations etc.

Q: Why do you think the SDA market has fared so well during the pandemic? BS: The lockdown resulted in significant uplift in SDA sales, specifically kitchen appliances such as mixers, smoothie and soup makers etc. COVID-19 forced consumers to change their behaviour and prioritise home life – and now the ‘new normal’ has shifted them from panic-mode, to adaptation of the new business as usual. As such, ‘insperiences’ have become

important because, in the period when amenities such as gyms and cinemas were not available, consumers had to find alternative equally enjoyable experiences, such as scratch cooking and baking at home.

The Verve collection.

Q: What product areas stood out? BS: Food Preparation drove the +18 per cent value growth for SDA across the two months April-May versus 2019. Specifically, stand mixers and hand mixers were responsible for massive growth in food prep sales during April-May of +93 per cent compared to the year before. Soup makers saw a boost in sales

and with coffee shops closed during lockdown consumers were looking to recreate that barista experience in their own home so we saw coffee machines selling well.

Q: According to GlobalData, “online shopping has become an absolutely vital pillar of modern commerce”. What do you think the effect will be on independent electrical retailers? BS: As a result of lockdown consumers became much more reliant on their local independent retailers for products and services, knowing they’ll go that extra mile. We had a great example with one of our retailers – Hardy’s Electrical of New Milton – where the proprietor,

Helen Hardy, was taking orders for small appliances over the phone and then setting up a table in a nearby car park where customers could socially distance to collect their purchases. That’s what I call service! The flip side to this is that

independent retailers need to remain ahead of the game to continue to compete with the multiples. So, ensuring customers have visibility of product ranges, whether online or in store, is vital and going to extra effort with window displays to attract people into store or at least gain customers’ attention from outside. As ever, it is all about knowing your

customers and how they shop and then building your strategy around this. Availability is king – consumers will go elsewhere if you don’t have it in stock, so you have to do everything you can to capture them. As multiple bricks and mortar stores

are under pressure, the independent shops should be the cornerstone of towns across the country, giving that extra personal service that can only be found locally.

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