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THE ERT INTERVIEW HOWARD GRINDROD


packs a vast array of features and technologies for the price; we’re trying to offer a greater set of functionality to a greater section of the market, and ultimately deliver a better 4K experience for all. And finally, we’re introducing OLED TV into our UK range for those seeking even deeper blacks and self-emitting pixels. With ULED, Laser TV and now OLED on offer from Hisense, we’re giving even more choice for consumers at the premium end of the market.


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Q: What about the 8K TV market? HG: We haven’t released an 8K TV to the UK market but we displayed our 8K offering alongside a concept of MicroLED at previous CES and IFA shows, demonstrating the levels of innovation the brand is capable of achieving. Looking at 8K specifically, we have the technology so as the market moves forward and content becomes more widely available, we’ll be sure to bring this to the UK. There are lots of other things to talk about at the minute; consumers, arguably, are getting used to 4K and then the enhancements of 4K through HDR and backlight technology are immense. It wasn’t even that long ago when we had HD Ready at 760! At CES we showed another technology – an extension to ULED called ULED XD. It combines two panels, a 4K RGB panel up front and a 1080p greyscale panel in front of the backlight, resulting in incredibly deep blacks and dazzling brightness. It’s very new, not something that will be hitting the shelves this year, but it’s something that we’re looking at further into the future. It shows that we can still deliver these innovations in screen technology but for now we’re focusing on delivering the best viewing experience to the UK market right now.


Q: When it comes to your retail partners, how do you work with them to know what they need? HG: The product ranging decisions are quite a process. The biggest issue we’ve had over the past few years is getting people to accept a new brand, which, thankfully, they have. We are a design and technology company and the


Gorenje integration is quite fascinating; we have got an immense product range and we haven’t got the breadth of scope of organisation to actually sell every single product that we’ve got in our armoury within the UK market. We have to be selective; we are now in that


really good position where we select products from our own availability and introduce these to our customers. So that range selection begins with us as a local subsidiary and then involves our retail customers to refine the selection for what’s right for the consumer.


Q: Is that important for you to listen to your customers and share ideas? HG: Absolutely, that’s how we’ve ended up with such a strong range of multi-door fridge freezers. We talked to our retail customers and listened to what they wanted. We’re very adaptable and we don’t get bogged down in red tape – if we want to make a change


to a certain product or get some feedback from customers, we can be quite reactive, which does give us a competitive advantage.


When we first started we engaged with a lot of independent retailers. When you’re a new brand coming into a market you have to give people that security that you’re here for the long-term. So we’ve taken it step by step with the independents and as they’ve become more confident with us we’ve built on our product ranges.


The first major UK trade show that we did was


the Euronics Showcase back in 2014. And this year’s Showcase was our fourth one. So we’ve engaged fully with the independent dealers, but to get brand recognition you have to have a balanced distribution – the multiples and the independents. We need them now to actually take the brand forward. Gorenje is already strong within certain


“We haven’t released an 8K TV to the UK market. Consumers are getting used to 4K and then the enhancements of 4K through HDR”


areas but we’ve now got the strength of the Hisense company behind that.


Q: How will your product ranges grow as the company grows? HG: Well, to be honest, all the markets that we operate in are either flat or in som e kind of decline, but within those markets there are segments that are increasing in size – multi-door refrigeration being one and 65-inch-plus TVs another. As a manufacturer we have to innovate and


reinvent ourselves and that’s what the retailers expect. We’re really grateful for retailers’ acceptance of us as a new brand – it gives them something new to talk about when they want a quality product that they can feel confident in selling. Through Hisense I believe we’ve given a fresh perspective in certain areas over the last few years. We’ve only been selling TVs in the UK since 2015, but now Hisense is the third biggest producer of 4K TVs in the world. We are truly innovative.


Q: And hopefully in another few years there’ll be something new to offer, new to talk about and a new direction to head in…? HG: I definitely hope so! Take the connected home, for example, it’s something that has got traction, but it has got to be truly connected and part of a larger ecosystem – it’s got to be something that is upgradeable. We’re in a very strong position and we will get involved when the time is right; we are working on it now and we will have products in the future that are part of the connected home. Every area that we go into we need to offer class- leading design, quality and trust – the consumer has got to have trust in our brand going forward because we want them to come back to us. Our research has found that the consideration of the Hisense brand is going up and up; consumers are now thinking of us for their next purchases, which is really encouraging.


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