Twin peaks

The overall resilience of the electrical appliance sector is encouraging alongside the collective efforts and successes in rebuilding businesses, which, for some, pretty much came to a halt in March. But we’re not out of the woods yet.

By Paul Hide, CEO, AMDEA

We are five months on since Boris Johnson confined us largely to our homes and electrical retailers were forced to close their stores. Whilst businesses are recovering well, we remain in a very different environment to that which we were in at the start of this year.

Economic recovery and consumer confidence remain fragile. Stock availability, whilst generally good, is finite as production shutdowns earlier in the year and global market recoveries place demands on supply chains that may prove difficult to meet in the coming months. Overall, large appliance volumes will probably drop this year versus 2020, however we expect the decline to be modest, less than 10 per cent, with cooling, laundry and free-standing appliances performing well. Many small appliance categories will be up year-on-year.

AMDEA is launching a PR campaign to promote how appliances have become heroes in the home since March. The objective is to remind homeowners of the value that appliances deliver day in, day out, helping increase consideration to purchase and securing some of the available consumer spending that will be diverted away from holidays and entertaining.

2020 was always going to be a challenging year. Before COVID-19 had reared its head we knew that the process and requirements relating to the final steps of Brexit would be complex and challenging. Clarification from Government as to the detail of changes that businesses must meet from 1 January 2021 are unconfirmed in spite of us now being less than four months away. Government departments have been consumed with managing the impact of the pandemic and resource previously dedicated to the detail of EU withdrawal has been diverted.

You might think that, in these exceptional circumstances, the Government would put a break on this timetable, to allow a catch-up from five months of minimal progress on this. However, there is a clear and unwavering political will to ensure we break away fully from the European Union at the end of this year and therefore, ready or not, it would appear that a collective leap into the dark may have to be taken.

There remain a number of actions that UK businesses and importers may have to take before 2021. The UK will adopt many current EU and global standards and regulatory requirements into local laws. For example, CE marking, a standard conformance mark, will change to a UK version – a UKCA mark. Whilst the standard will probably not change at this time, product will require an additional mark to identify its suitability for sale within the UK.

Energy labels will change too – the current scale doesn’t account for the huge increase in efficiency over the past 10 years. Appliances will fall into a spread of A to G categories, rather than the current cluster of A, A+, A++ etc. Manufacturers can start to supply the new labels – alongside the current ones – from November this year; although, in retail stores, you cannot display the new labels until March 2021. There will be a requirement to supplement the EU flag for a UK flag as well.

AMDEA has continued to press upon Government officials that we are now past the point at which producers can make changes in time for January. We are pushing hard for clarity on the changes required and a period of ‘grace’ before which any changes have to be made. We expect that Government will grant businesses 12 months’ notice of any such requirements, but, currently, we have yet to receive this confirmation.

More than ever this industry needs to stand together to protect our collective interests and influence the decisions that need to be taken between now and next year. Trade associations play a vital role in representing this industry’s interest and helping you prepare for the inevitable change requirements ahead. We’re over the peak of one challenge, but yet to fully scale the second peak. So if you are part of an association, get involved and have your say, and if you’re not, perhaps it’s time to sign up?