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21st September 2018
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CIH Chairman Robin Millwood says industry must pull together to increase margins
Combined Independents (Holdings) Chairman Robin Millwood has called on the industry to pull together to increase margins, singling out retailers in particular as being able to do more.
Speaking at the suppliers' lunch, at London's Dorchester Hotel, Robin said:
"2017 has turned out to be a very strange year because as I stood here a year ago we had already seen some price rises following Brexit, with a strict warning of more to follow during the year. This has turned out to be true, but to the detriment of our industry, there appears to have been very little follow through at the retail end.
"With a market that has been falling all year, many retailers, if anything, are selling cheaper now than last year, but this has not stemmed the fall. In some areas the market is down 13 -15%, but with an average fall of approximately 8 - 9%, I am glad to report that CIH/Euronics is holding its own and is ahead of the game.
"Hopefully in 2018 with more price rises to come - assuming retail prices increase - we will all be in a better position, but pressure needs to be put on the retail sector to reflect this and maybe we will all make a bit more margin to reinvest into our shops and future.
"I think we have just finished Black Friday (sorry Black November) and, as usual, there was good turnover but no margin and many sales were brought forward which then makes the run up to Christmas even more disappointing. This all appears to be the tail wagging the dog so do we really want it, or need it, as from reports coming in most of the turnover was on-line which is where currently many of our members do not want to be, due to the low margins and poor PPS buying prices."
Robin then went on to update those in attendance, on the group's £multi-million investment which is well underway. The new distribution hub in Preston, which opened in April, now services all members north of Birmingham. This has released more capacity which has facilitated three deliveries per week to most members across the UK and at the same time has made the warehouses more efficient.
"This was not an easy transition and I have to congratulate both Ken White Distribution and Panther Distribution, and the Central Stock team on sticking with it during some early problems; these are all now resolved and working well so many thanks to you both," said Robin, who went on to explain exactly where things were with regard to CIH's
SAP/website upgrade and reimplementation, where the group will transfer onto the latest SAP platform on which will sit the new B2B and B2C website.
"This should all go live in June 2018," he said. "To help us with this we employed Robert Blair as head of marketing and eCommerce who has a wealth of experience in B2B & B2C."
Robin also mentioned the launch of the new Euronics International logo in 2018 as well as other 'upgrades', before confirming that the Showcase/Conference, which wasn't held this year, will be back again in September 2018.
"You can see we are not standing on our laurels, but something that is a concern is falling membership and in the past we have not been an easy group to join," he added. "This will all change from January where we will be launching an Associate Membership, where retailers can join us without the restrictions of the past. Watch this space!
"We have a clear vision to become a true omni-channel buying/retail group.
"In this industry, there have been many characters but today it seems that they are disappearing fast. Gone are the days of trust, handshake deals, confidence in who you are dealing with... to be replaced with corporate compliance... and there are many things the Europeans have brought to us over the years but this has got to be the worst.
In a very busy year the Executive, Euronics directors and the Board have all had to work harder than ever in an environment that is ever changing, and more difficult, so my thanks to them all for their help and support during the year."
The formal proceeding concluded with two presentations, with Robin saying:
"For many years we had tried unsuccessfully to get all major brands within the CIH/Euronics fold and for two of the leading brown goods suppliers they continually batted us away. However, a couple of years ago finally one of them offered a small compact range with a promise that if things worked out this would expand to include a full Agency range.
"Well things did work out and the turnover is rocketing, ranges are good, members and Agents are very satisfied with the support they have received and this goes to show (take note the other brown goods suppliers) that if you support us we will support you and work together for a profitable future!
"The Supporter of the Independent for 2017 is Sony.
"Now for the Euronics Supplier of the Year:
"This company has created an exclusive Agency range which actually allows us to make a workable margin, but we still have quite a few of the standard models and although these at times can be ultra-competitive, the account manager always tries his hardest to help us and the members.
"In a world of suppliers where turnover increases appear to be a thing of the past, this supplier has consistently increased its turnover month on month and with the projected new models next year, with even more exclusive lines, this can only bode well for the future. All it needs is for the company to add in the couple of ranges that we currently cannot get and we will have a full house.
"The supplier of the year is not always about the biggest, brashest, boldest - or, come to that, even a major appliance/consumer electronics supplier. We must not look back but forward in how companies can work with us, and the industry in general, and we are sure with this supplier that it will be continually top of the pile and Euronics needs to stand alongside it.
"The Euronics supplier of the Year is Dyson."
CIH is an electrical buying group, part of Euronics, Europe's largest electrical buying group, which operates in over 30 countries with an annual turnover of �19 billion. With around 500 members and approximately 1000 stores, CIH provides a range of services and benefits to support each independent electrical retailer, as well as exclusive ranges that the members' customers are unable find anywhere else on the high street, or internet.
8th December 2017