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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
28th January 2021


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I've had an interesting response to last week's leader from my good friend Stephen Munton of the Domestic Cleaners Alliance (you can read it below). It has taken me back through a history of the electrical appliance industry that I hadn't known existed, because of the long break between the end of my freelance writing for the then-IPC/Reed trade publications ERT & lesser known sister publication Electrical &Electronic Trader, and taking the helm of KBzine.

Stephen, who once worked in electrical retailing, talks about changes to the industry, to products and the way electrical retailers worked when in 1998 the Government brought in laws against price fixing, before moving on to the impact made by the Internet and the growth in online shopping.

His words reminded me of a conversation I had with a group of toilet tissue sales managers, who'd faced similar issues in terms of prices being driven down until they were selling at a loss, in the hope that they could make profit on other items that would become part of the order. Quality dropped and some manufacturers found ways to make it look as if there was a great deal more tissue on their rolls than there actually was, such as bigger cores and/or fluffing up with talcum powder. Customers complained and companies went out of business - and not just the companies that were selling sub-standard products but also those that couldn't sustain the practice of selling product in bulk, at a loss.

Eventually though, it dawned on facilities providing a washroom service (stores, motorway service stations, hotels, shopping centres, bars, restaurants, etc) - and also we as consumers, that although we might be getting a cheap deal, we were also getting a product that didn't last long and which certainly didn't do its job properly. We realised that far from saving money by buying cheap, we were actually squandering it.

Stephen makes the point that much of the white goods production that had been based in the UK, now takes place in other countries where costs are lower, to enable manufacturers to supply quality goods at lower prices - something that once again took me back to my days at IPC when I asked a colleague why our magazines were now being printed in Singapore. I had no idea back then, that we'd be reading news online and following computerised recipes displayed on our oven doors...



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Jan Hobbs



29th September 2017

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