Celebrating the best of independent electrical retail

In Features On

The Retailer of the Year survey is sponsored and administered by leading warranty provider Domestic & General and is designed to reward the very best customer service across the independent electrical retail channel in the UK. Each year, throughout the 12 months from 1 August to 31 July, approximately 250,000 ROTY survey questionnaires are posted out to consumers that have recently made a major purchase at an independent electrical retailer.

The customer information is gathered through retailer data, manufacturer product registration data and from Domestic & General customers to give an unbiased return covering every independent electrical retailer in the UK. Customers are encouraged to return the survey by being entered into a free prize draw to win back the cost of the new product to which the survey relates. A free-post return envelope is provided.

The survey is split into rating for High Street retailers and online retailers and asks consumers to rate four key areas of their experience on a scale of 0-10.

High Street retailers are rated on the following criteria:

1.       Appearance of the store

2.       Courtesy of the staff

3.       Product knowledge of the staff

4.       Product demonstration.

Internet retailers are rated on the following criteria:

1.       Appearance of the site

2.       Ease of navigation

3.       Product information

4.       Efficiency of delivery.

A further question relating to both High Street and online retailers asks customers to rate their likelihood of recommending the retailer to friends and family, also on a scale of 0-10

Over 500 retailers had more than the minimum number of surveys (30) returned to qualify for the title of Retailer of the Year 2011.

The 2011 winners

The three Retailer of the Year 2011 accolades went to the High Street retailer and the online retailer, with the highest combined scores in their category, and the retailer whose customers rated the shop as most likely recommend to friends and family.

The High Street Retailer of the Year 2011 award went to Aclands of Bridgwater in Somerset. Regularly appearing in the top 10 for High Street Retailer of the Year since the survey began in 2002, this year’s accolade is the fourth time the trophy has gone to this friendly independent store – the highest number of wins by any one store in the survey’s history.

Internet Retailer of the Year 2011 was another close battle across the top 10 rated retailers with Hughes Direct (part of Hughes Electrical in Suffolk) taking top honours in front of runners up Marks Electrical (Leicester) and PRC Direct (part of PRC Hi-Fi & Video in Essex). Hughes Direct was rated very highly for its exceptional product information and went on to gain the highest average score for delivery the internet part of the survey has ever seen, a staggering 9.94/10.

Most Recommended Retailer of the Year was a new category for 2011. Based on a single survey question asking customers to rate, on a scale of 0-10, how inclined they were to recommend the retailer to their friends and family. Clear winner for this inaugural award was Barretts Digital World (Kent), with an incredible average score of 9.41, leading runners up Barkers Domestic Appliances (Sussex) and Wellingtons (Kent) by almost a clear point.

Retailer of the Year 2011: Aclands of Brigwater, Somerset

Founded in 1896 by current MD Martyn Aclands’ great grandfather, the company has traded from its current Bridgwater location since 1932. The company employs 10 full-time and two part-time members of staff. The operation is very much family focused with both Martyn and wife Venetia working on various areas of the business. Aclands has made a conscious effort not to develop a presence online, choosing to concentrate on in-store customer service, specialising in the likes of Toshiba, Phillips and Samsung. Keeping the operation at a manageable size to ensure customers (many of which are repeat visitors) receive a first class service. The longest serving member of staff has been with the company for over 40 years. This represents the fourth time Aclands has won the ROTY trophy, taking the silverware as the UK’s best electrical retailer in 2003, 2008, 2009 and now 2011.

Internet Retailer of the Year 2011: Hughes Electrical (Hughes Direct), Ipswich, Suffolk

Hughes Electrical was founded in Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 1921 by Frank Hughes. Originally the company rewound industrial electrical motors for the fishing industry, but by 1928 the company had branched out into the production and sale of radios. The Company began its expansion in earnest in 1962 with the purchase of Norfolk Radio, based in Great Yarmouth. There was further expansion into the Norwich area in 1972, Ipswich in 1976 and Bury St Edmunds in 1979. The Hughes Direct website went live in 2003 and the Hughes Trade centres opened in 2006, offering product and services direct to businesses. The Hughes Direct business has grown significantly. It now has five distributions centres in Thetford, Birmingham, Lowestoft, Ipswich and Chelmsford and 15 full time staff at its Ipswich head office.

Most Recommended Retailer of the Year 2011: Barretts Digital World, Canterbury, Kent

The Barrett family’s connection with retailing in Canterbury goes back to the late 1800s with bicycles and latterly motor cars. By the 1930s, Barretts opened its first radio and gramophone shop next door to its motor business and through fire and rebuild became one of the most impressive shops in Canterbury by 1940 – only to be flattened by a German bombing raid a few years later. Through building and rebuilding the fate of Barretts stores has had something of a roller-coaster ride over the ensuing decades until the 1980s when the company opened Barretts Sound & Vision at the height of the hi-fi boom. By selling the last of its original city centre properties, the company funded the spectacular 10,000 sq ft Barretts Digital World which opened in 1998. Under the directorship of Shaun Barrett the company has gone from strength to strength, this year scooping the inaugural Most Recommended Retailer of the Year 2011.

Brand loyalty 2011?

•        21.7% of purchasers replaced or upgraded with the same brand

•        White goods brand loyalty was 20.6%

•        Consumer electronics brands loyalty was 22.6%

Replacement or upgrade 2011? (in recession)

•        Straight replacement – 62.6% (58.2% in 2010)

•        Upgrades
– 20.2% (25.2% in 2010) 

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