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A year in housewares: looking back at 2019

So what stood out in 2019? HousewaresNews.net looks back on some of the stories and themes of the past year.

The news that rocked the industry at the dawn of 2019 was the acquisition of Steamer Trading by ProCook in a pre-pack administration deal. Taking on 27 stores, at the time Steamer Trading Cooking and Kitchens were to keep their brand identities. However as the year has unfolded, it was time to say good-bye to both those brands that had been so central to the independent housewares retail scene.

Above: Good-bye Steamer Trading.
Above: Good-bye Steamer Trading.

Some 13 of the Steamer Trading group have transitioned to become ProCook stores (the others closing). This means that ProCook has a newfound presence on the high street, bringing its total number of stores to 50 and introducing ProCook branded products to more consumers. The retailer reported a ‘solid’ performance in stores and excellent ecommerce figures for its first half year. However, company founder Daniel O’Neill reflected: “Absorbing the Steamer Trading business into ProCook has been a huge task, much bigger than expected.”

Above: ProCook – now on the high street.
Above: ProCook – now on the high street.

It’s been a year of celebrations for several retailers, including Harts of Stur, which held a year of family themed foodie events to mark its centenary year. The achievements of retiring managing director, Philip Hart were recognised when he was presented with The Honorary Achievement Award at The Excellence in Housewares Awards.

Above: Phiip Hart with the Honorary Achievement trophy.
Above: Phiip Hart with the Honorary Achievement trophy.

Another centenary for a family business, Glanvilles of Wadebridge thanked its customers with prizes galore.

Above: T&G’s Patrick Gardner helps Glanville’s Rosie Hamm draw its grand raffle.
Above: T&G’s Patrick Gardner helps Glanville’s Rosie Hamm draw its grand raffle.

Meanwhile Potters Cookshop, Hockley was swept away in the windy city as the UK gia winner – not just with Chicago’s wintry winter but in a flurry of international attention as the UK gia winner. Back home, Potters is one of many cookshops helping the zero waste cause – it’s been linking up with a local primary school’s eco-warriors.  Potters has also been delighting customers with its events – including cheesy celebrity Sean Wilson’s foodie demonstration for Potter’s 110th anniversary.

Above: Potter’s Tom Carter and Alison Hobbs with ex-Coronation Street’s Sean Wilson.
Above: Potter’s Tom Carter and Alison Hobbs with ex-Coronation Street’s Sean Wilson.

In the realm of department stores, it’s been a rocky year in the news for House of Fraser and DebenhamsFenwicks has launched ecommerce and John Lewis & Partners has put experiential shopping at the top of its agenda. Working with Waitrose & Partners more closely going forward, John Lewis & Partners and its sister retailer opened a new concept – an “experience playground” at the Southampton store.

Above: The first Waitrose Cookery School has opened in a John Lewis & Partners store.
Above: The first Waitrose Cookery School has opened in a John Lewis & Partners store.

More on sustainability, the Excellence in Housewares Awards product judging panel enthused about the new Eco Award (won by Eddingtons’ If You Care range).

Above: Judging the Eco Award.
Above: Judging the Eco Award.

Proving it takes sustainability seriously, the team behind new brand Smidge (from Horwood) took the beaches to pick up litter.

Above: The Smidge team braved the elements to clean the beach.
Above: The Smidge team braved the elements to clean the beach.

It’s been a significant year when it comes to the sale of knives, with twists and turns in the evolution of The Offensive Weapons Act 2019. Campaigning spearheaded by Taylor’s Eye Witness’ Alastair Fisher (now BHETA president) and Sheffield MPs lead to amendments, meaning that it will still be possible to deliver knives to residential addresses if using an age verified delivery service.

Above: The focus is on preventing new knives getting into the hands of under 18 year olds.
Above: The focus is on preventing new knives getting into the hands of under 18 year olds.

BHETA’s taskforce for the responsible sale of knives has brought together leading retailers and suppliers, making an industry submission to the Act’s consultation period, and forging ahead to create Challenge 25 collateral for retailers, suppliers and delivery companies.

While some major retailers have taken knives off their shelves this year, suppliers have also been looking at solutions including new in-store display concepts. There have also been calls in the public domain for ‘pointless knives’, and new ranges from Prestige (Meyer Group) and Viners (The Rayware Group).

Above: Part of Robert Welch Design’s new knives display concept – launched at Exclusively.
Above: Part of Robert Welch Design’s new knives display concept – launched at Exclusively.

The three-year campaign by Bira (The British Independent Retailers’ Associaiton, representing cookshops and housewares retailers) to reform business rates has finally made an impact. The newly re-elected Conservatives have promised a 50% reduction. All retailers with a rateable value below £51,000 will be eligible, giving independents a saving of up to £12,500.

Above: Good news for the high street ‘s independents with changes to business rates afoot.
Above: Good news for the high street ‘s independents with changes to business rates afoot.

ICTC was supplier casualty at the start of 2019 going into administration on January 31 and shutting its Norwich factory, citing factors including Brexit uncertainty and the demise of Steamer Trading.

However, Norwich had some good news when it came to the Excellence in Housewares AwardsJarrold (which turns 250 in 2020) was crowned both Best Dependent Store (Independent) and gia UK winner.

Above: The Jarrold cookshop team with the giant KitchenAid mixer.
Above: The Jarrold cookshop team with the giant KitchenAid mixer.

It’s been a big year for several big names – including KitchenAid and Brabantia, both celebrating centenaries. The latter was granted Royal Designation in the Netherlands.

Above: Centenary cake for Brabantia at Ambiente 2019.
Above: Centenary cake for Brabantia at Ambiente 2019.

Not forgetting another trend – with so many stressors in the news including Brexit, climate emergency and electioneering – one answer to getting away from it all is cleaning and tidying your house. Just to prove the new popularity of cleaning and organsing, there was a whole troop of cleanfluencers at Exclusively Housewares.

Above: The cleanfluencers at Exclusively.
Above: The cleanfluencers at Exclusively.

As the year closes, Borough Kitchen opens up in Islington – the temporary pop-up paths the way for a permanent store next year. It will be a short hop from industry highlight, the (officially rebranded) Exclusively Show at Islington’s Business Design Centre – now owned wholly by BHETA and driving forward new initiatives.

Above: Islington is a new venue for Borough Kitchen.
Above: Islington is a new venue for Borough Kitchen.

The team at HousewaresNews.net wishes all of its readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

We’ll be back on Friday January 3 with our first newflash of the new year (and Spring Fair and Ambiente just around the corner) so send us your big stories for the new decade.

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