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Shopfloor DEALER PROFILE: KNEES HOME AND ELECTRICAL DEALER PROFILE: SEVENOAKS SOUND AND VISION


“A first class demonstration every time”


34


As part of this month’s Connected Audio feature, Jack Cheeseman spoke to Rob Lawley, MD of Sevenoaks Sound and Vision, about educating consumers and being the go-to experts on all things audio.


I


ndependent hi-fi and AV retail chain, Sevenoaks Sound and Vision, has been at the forefront of the industry since 1972. Today, the business has moved on from the


old style of traditional hi-fi retailing and now benefi ts from the huge rise in connected smart home technology. With 25 stores spread across the UK, (and in fact


just last month it was announced that a new store will open in Manchester in November), Sevenoaks is appealing to a wider audience with a wider portfolio of products; but it’s also doing this with an increased emphasis on customers’ needs as today’s tech gets trickier to understand. Speaking to ERT at the flagship store in Sevenoaks in Kent, Mr Lawley says the company has even recently set up a new over-the-phone support service to help customers learn more about their devices. But why has it done this? “Well, we have a huge range of brands in our


stores,” he explains. “Sometimes customers don’t know where to start and they just need a bit of help. I think choice is important because there is no one path for consumers.” Whether it’s an off-the-shelf mainstream


product or a high-end, networked multi-room system, when it comes to


integrating these


products into their home, Mr Lawley believes that people nowadays want something that’s more aesthetically pleasing than necessarily functional. He adds: “If they want something a bit more


interesting because it lends itself to their decor, we should really be aware of that.”


Q: How have changes in the audio market affected your business? RL: Well, up to a certain point, we were really just offering traditional hi-fi, like amplifiers, turntables and speakers, that sort of thing. But when certain brands arrived on the market, like Sonos, for example, that was an eye-opener for us. Sevenoaks has always been on the edge of first time adopters; our customers expect that from us.


So when we first saw products that allowed customers to escape the confines of just traditional audio, we knew we had to start providing these too. And the up-take was actually quite quick. Since then the market has changed and grown massively, with people having things like soundbars and speakers elsewhere in their home. People just want a little speaker on the bedside table and one in the kitchen and they want them to be connected. The demand for this came at the same time that manufacturers were creating these products.


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