Richard Walker – Commercial Director, Eddingtons Ltd.
The Global Forum’s second day, Tuesday September 17, offered a full schedule of presentations to introduce retail overviews of five countries/regions.
Richard Walker, commercial director of Eddingtons Ltd discussed the UK market and the distribution firm’s reach through the UK and Ireland. He highlighted the types of products and suppliers that make for ideal entrants into these markets.
Eddingtons is a privately-owned distributor founded in the mid-1990s and established as Eddingtons Ltd in 2000. Walker listed key brand partnerships with housewares suppliers such as Full Circle, Bee’s Wrap, If You Care, Lodge, CDN, Progressive, Epicurean and Aerolatte. Key retailer relationships span channels of trade to include stores including John Lewis, Lakeland and Harrod’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Fortnum & Mason, TJ Maxx, Dobbies, ProCook and Amazon.
Market Overview: Demographics and Challenges
The U.S. population is 329 million, the UK is 67 million. Average home size about half of the typical U.S home. Walker cautioned U.S. manufacturers to consider this fact for product size in smaller rooms and storage availability. He outlined the differences in the product safety standards in the U.S vs. the EU and the terms for pricing. Brexit uncertainties also impact pricing and logistics.
He discussed transportation distances and times from Eddingtons’ warehouse west of London to the Heathrow airport, Belfast in Northern Ireland, Manchester, docks in Southampton and Portsmouth and the Eurotunnel from Dover to Calais.
In the £12.4b retail housewares market, representative sectors include cook and dining 29%, household 15%, lighting 6%, decorative 13%, textiles 37%. While most categories have been flat, barware, kitchen accessories, general cleaning, outdoor/seasonal, food storage and lunch boxes/thermoflasks categories have enjoyed stronger sales.
Walker discussed conditions with individual stores in each channel of trade. For example, he compared practices and performance at stores in the grocery segment such as established operations Waitrose and Marks & Spencer with more recent competitors such as Aldi and Lidl; Dobbies in the Garden Centre market, John Lewis, Debenhams, Harrods, TJX in department stores, Lakeland in specialty and Borough Kitchen in Independents. He pointed out online retailers such as Wayfair, Amazon and Harts.
He discussed struggling retailers and shops that have closed, along with innovative retailers that have successfully blended online presence, in-store events and approaches to omnichannel engagement. Walker also gave examples of increasing consumer concerns about ecological dangers and retail responses. Bans on single-use plastic bags, straws, and food containers have propelled the development of reusable items and retailers are increasingly offering refilling stations for consumables.
Influences on Consumer Purchasing
UK consumers are influenced by seasonal and promotional campaigns: Christmas, Easter, spring/summer, fall/winter, back to school, Black Friday and January sales.
Key Trade Fairs, Trade Publications and Associations
- Birmingham Spring Fair in February and Autumn Fair in September
- Hotel Restaurant & Catering March – Bi Annual
- Exclusively Housewares London in June
- GLEE – Garden and Leisure Birmingham in September
- Harrogate Gift – Twice per year
- Top Drawer London- Gifting – Twice per year
- Various UK regional events throughout the year
- Licensing Show in October
Publications include the Progressive Housewares magazine. He explained the British Housewares Retailers Association and mentioned the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association.
Eddingtons Strategy and Distinctiveness
Walker outlined Eddingtons’ structure and staffing and explained how the organization works. The recent six years have seen rapid growth due to acquisition and a rise in turnover £10million (12million USD) is expected in 2019.
Its channel strategy focuses on home and kitchen, outdoor living, food service and home gifts categories. The company seeks out world class, innovative, fun and quirky and different products. They look for brands and products that are high quality, first to market and eco/sustainable. Eddingtons is attracted to products that surprise customers and make them smile. The company seeks brands with breadth of assortments and that offer fine customer service. Eddingstons builds relationships in selling to retailers in the grocery, garden centre, DIY, department stores, specialty shops, independents and online channels. Eddingtons’ business is split 60% with exclusive brand partnerships brought to the UK and Ireland and 40% are distinctive private label brands created by their own product development team.
Walker showed examples of Eddingtons four annual catalogs and discussed how they plan promotions. He then took questions from the audience and conversed with individual attendees, advising them that any questions on Brexit would require a longer conversation.