Shopfloor PROFILE: WHO?

to blame for the reason independents have suffered as badly as they have, they held us back when a select few retailers went online and started to build big businesses. If we’d have been encouraged to do more at the time I don’t think we’d now see only a few retailers accounting for the majority of online sales. But now it’s completely reversed and the manufacturers are really helping us again. They’re definitely engaging more and giving us content to make customers look at our sites. But there are too many new products coming out every five minutes. When it comes to TVs, consumers want the newest and brightest thing all the time, and older models become dead stock quickly. TV margins are so low that most dealers who were only brown goods have moved into white goods, and those that were in white goods are now moving into built-in and kitchens. They’re finding other avenues to make money and rescue some margin.

Q: What’s new at Stellisons and at this Chelmsford store? SS: We’ve recently had a refit of our Miele section on the ground floor here and we’ve had a whole new Fisher & Paykel area go in. Then, by the end of this year, we’ll also have an AEG built-in area and a new Rangemaster area for built-in products. As well as this, we’re going to have a new Smeg shop-in-shop. We do tend to renovate the

showroom every so often, depending on what’s new. We also have ambassadors for each brand that will attend the various training sessions and then train other staff on each new product. It works really well and makes things interactive between staff. Our Chelmsford store has done very well every year. Neil Hope, one of my two General Managers, has been with

July/Aug 2019

February 2

I’ve been doing kitchens for over 40 years. You can make very good margins when you start doing well, but you might not get there straight away.

the business for a long while and he’s done a fantastic job. It’s a big store, but the ethos of all our shops is that we’ll go one step beyond any other retailer, especially the multiples. And I believe most indies are similar in this respect. In-store theatre is a lot more relevant now than it ever was. We regularly hold cooking events and things like that to entice customers into the store. In fact, the Ipswich store has a commercial kitchen and a full cook school, so we’re always using that.

Q: What do you do that is different to other retailers nowadays? SS: Firstly, two years ago, we started implementing electronic price ticketing for all our stores. This is part of a new project I’m rolling out, including electronic signage and interactive

displays, which consumers can walk up to and they’ll play a video, as well as new built-in display stands. This is something I’ve been working on for about five years. We are starting with our Brentwood store, which we are currently refitting. It’s my new concept store of the future, sort of thing! Chelmsford will end up like this, too – it’s how I feel an electrical retailer needs to be to make sure it is relevant in the market, whether they’re small, medium or large.

Q: Does your kitchens offering make you stand out enough now? SS: Yes, people know us for our kitchens. But they are not an easy sell and consumers are now taking a lot longer to make their decisions with these kinds of purchases. Sales are doing OK at the moment,

not as well as I’d like them to, as I think people are holding back on large investments, but that department is gradually growing for us.

Q: What would your advice be to other retailers looking to move into this area? SS: Stellisons has been doing kitchens for over 40 years. For a retailer that’s not operated in this area before,

don’t think it’s a silver bullet that will suddenly fix any margin expectations of your business. It’s an investment in store space and taking the time to learn about the market.

Step back and ask: Is it worth the investment? You can make very good margins when you start doing well but you might not get there straight away. Firstly, if you’re doing white goods and not doing built-in solutions, that’s the first step. The freestanding kitchen market is declining and more people are buying built-in. Start with just one or two brands, but be good at them. However, one kitchen display isn’t enough, you need three or four easily. Show some difference and some flair – you can’t just have a display stand with lots of appliances as customers won’t buy into that.

Secondly, you need a good fitting team behind you that can fit everything you sell, as these are the people that step into the customer’s home and it makes all the difference when they go the extra mile. Don’t be afraid to charge for that service and you’ll make money. If

you’re already in good kitchen

you want to do kitchens, partner with a


built-in and For

example, CIH has DER KREIS, the kitchen and bathroom buying group, with several brands running through it. Lastly, whether you’re small, medium or large, make sure you’re known for doing kitchens, whether you’re rebranding or diversifying. What will help you stand out? Three years ago we changed the name of our kitchen department to Bentons Kitchens, to make a point of difference, and after a bit of advertising to get the Bentons name out there, we had better engagement and people associated it with a kitchen specialist.


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