Housewares industry ‘is an under-achiever’

The housewares industry is failing to realise its full potential and has the opportunity to double in size.

Housewares industry ‘is an under-achiever’

So believes Steamer Trading cookshop chain managing director Ben Phillips, one of the speakers at last week’s inaugural Housewares Conference.

Outlining a host of reasons for the industry’s under-achievement, he said that both the products and the retail environment lagged behind the trend for housewares to move from its hardware roots to a lifestyle-oriented sector. There were few aspirational brands and little consumer advertising, and the industry needed to enhance the perceived value of its products.

Phillips said the industry should start to look outside itself for inspiration and innovate product. Both suppliers and retailers should build their brands and communicate more with and educate customers. They should also create more reasons for customers to shop on a regular basis, for example, develop add-ons, upgrades and disposable items.

He also gave his audience an insight into why Steamer Trading has become so successful. He explained that the chain had expanded gradually and in the right towns – chosen more by instinct than research. He had waited for the right building to become available – all the stores looked different but had an appealing character. And he ensured that every store performed well.

He said Steamer Trading only stocked products it could justify, but that not everything was cooking-associated, and the company had backed strong brands with confidence. It had built relationships with suppliers and built customer trust, but most importantly employed good people.

Housewares Magazine, joint organiser of the Housewares Conference with, will carry a full report of the conference in its April issue.

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