Cooking: Burning ambition

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Market trends

According to figures from GfK, the built-in oven and hob market has grown by almost 48% in volume since the end of 2001, making it the biggest single category accounting for 52% of all cooking sales worth over 1.3m units per year. This is good news for the retailer as the market continues to stay strong.
“Single built-in ovens in particular have recently experienced huge growth,” says Stephen Dickson, built-in product manager for Glen Dimplex Home Appliances. “According to GfK, almost two out of every three ovens sold in the UK are single 60cm ovens.”

Lee Holloway, branch manager for Raff UK – an independent retailer in Barnes, London – says that built-in is certainly more appealing to the younger market.

Technology moves on

Discerning customers are looking for appliances that can give them the edge, so ovens now feature electronic controls for precise temperature regulation with automatic programmes that take the guesswork out of cooking.

Cannon’s Precision Cooking System is one example where the latest technology offers the customer professional cooking expertise. Its electric and dual fuel cookers have three levels of functionality – fan and traditional oven, ‘profile cook’ and ‘perfect bake’. The EPS oven from Bosch, however, comes with its own built-in cooking manual that will choose the correct function for the type of cooking required.

Pyrolytic cleaning has really taken off as customers can understand the logic behind it and there are few who would turn down the chance to never clean the oven again. Leisure has got everything covered with its LFS6RPX intelligent multifunction oven with 12 cooking modes, built-in memory and menu options and an advanced pyrolytic cleaning system.

Electrolux has a first for the steam market with the EOB98000 multifunction steam oven that allows users to combine steam with other cooking functions such as fan or grill, while its EOC68000 oven has a choice of over 80 recipes and a heat and hold function, which maintains the temperature at 80ºC to prevent food from drying out.

Built-in ovens are staying strong

Accolade, the new collection from Stoves will provide retailers with a comprehensive portfolio of built-in appliances and accessories. “We have worked hard to ensure the new collection goes above and beyond consumer expectations by incorporating good looks with beneficial features and functions that really stand out from the crowd,” says built-in product manager for GDHA Stephen Dickson.

As the UK brand leader in built-in ovens, Neff boasts the latest features with its CircoTherm fan system, electronic controls, memory recipe functions and telescopic shelving. Flagship ovens from Miele continue to feature cutting-edge sensor technology. Its H4681BP KAT Navitronic model adds a revolutionary concept to the line-up with automatic programming that selects the optimum temperature, cooking duration and rack level for perfect results every time.

“Pyrolytic cleaning and pre-programmed recipe selection continue to remain key features in ovens,” explains Maurizio Severgnini, managing director for the built-in division at Hoover Candy Group.

Fagor is offering customers top end features at a mid-market price; the 5H-760X oven has pyrolytic cleaning and eight cooking functions.

When it comes to practicality, integrated ovens offer huge ergonomic benefits, especially when installed at eye level as this makes it easier to access the food inside. Wolf is taking on the market with an appliance that has eight cooking modes and a dual convection system that reduces cooking time without drying food.

If double ovens create space issues, then Gorenje has the answer with a pair of double ovens that fit into the cavity under the worktop.

Sovereign has also introduced a range of built-in products including two stainless steel fan ovens, hobs and canopy hoods, while Beko has expanded its range to include a comprehensive collection of single and double ovens, gas and ceramic hobs, 45cm and 60cm dishwashers and an undercounter larder fridge and matching freezer.

“Today’s consumers know what they want and what they are prepared to spend money on,” says Jane Massey, brand manager for Siemens. “The appliances have to look good but they must also be easy to understand. This is especially true of built-in cooking appliances.”

However, retailer John Clarke of Cookers Galore in Chichester says that his customers are less interested in features such as self-cleaning and more keen on oven capacity. “The extra cost of something like pyrolytic cleaning is of no interest,” he states. “But the size of the oven is more of a concern.”

Range cookers offer extra choice

Those who like to entertain at home or who are just passionate about cooking are investing in freestanding range cookers. The problem in recent years is that the technology has failed to keep up with their built-in counterparts but this is rapidly changing. A high spec model will offer precise temperature control and multiple operation modes for specific cooking requirements.

New to the market is Fisher & Paykel’s OR90LDBGX1 90cm wide range cooker, which comes with electric multifunction ovens and five gas burners. Falcon’s 1092 Deluxe also features a roll-out grill and induction hob.

Caple’s Gastron model has an impressive A energy rating, which is rare in this sector, while the cast iron central griddle, triple glazed doors and handy slide-out storage drawer are key features.

Britannia’s director of marketing, Henneke Duistermaat, predicts that a greater opportunity to customise range cookers is going to become increasingly important, especially at the top end of the market.

Hob top cooking is popular

Gas hobs still have the majority share with 60% of the market. This is because consumers appreciate the simplicity and familiarity of gas as well as the instant controllability. To meet the demand for high heat wok cooking, some manufacturers are launching quadruple ring burners for an extra heat boost.

Ceramic hobs have come down in price in recent years, which has made them more attractive to the customer. Caple’s latest versions boast four ceramic plates with audible touch controls, residual heat indicators and a complete safety system.

Lee Holloway, branch manager of Raff UK in Barnes, says that around 80% of his customers are aware of induction and its benefits: “Because price is coming down and there’s more advertising, people are asking for it by name.”

If induction has been slow to take off in recent years, the solution could come from induction pioneer De Dietrich, which has just launched its Continuum hobs, which feature continuous induction zones that are perfect for accommodating larger pans or fish kettles. “These hobs work by simply pressing two touch controls simultaneously,” explains Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for FagorBrandt UK, “converting two zones to one larger zone, where inductors cover the entire surface area.”

Hoods – a design focus

Cooker hoods are increasingly being used as a design focus in the kitchen while the technology is not to be underestimated. Insight hoods from Electrolux feature perimeter extraction so air is directed to the edge of the cooker hood, reducing energy consumption and noise.

Miele’s DA424V ventilation hood is height adjustable, which enables it to glide up, out of the way or down to the cooker top when needed. Smeg continues its Linear Series with two extractor hoods in steel and glass, Baumatic has the PI1SS geometric hood while Caple has introduced a downdraft hood for the top end of the market. “Motorised, the DD600 rises and retracts effortlessly from alongside the hob to offer both an exceptionally innovative and space-saving extraction solution,” confirms Amanda Lowe, product and marketing manager for Caple.

Design, finish and style

Stainless steel is still the material most consumers aspire to, as Lee Holloway, branch manager of Raff UK, confirms. “Aluminium died a death and colours like white or black are only of interest if they are within budget. The majority of our customers are looking for stainless steel with LED display, temperature control and nice stylish handles. It’s all about feel and touch and the quality of appliances. This is something customers can’t get over the Internet.”

Those with young children may be interested in Whirlpool’s anti-fingerprint versions. “This special treatment preserves appliances from scratches and the effects of aging,” confirms Peter Steward, category manager for Whirlpool.

Another retailer, John Clarke – owner of Cookers Galore in Chichester – finds that offering cookers and hobs in discontinued colours such as brown or green gives them the edge over their competitors: “The majority of our sales are for the replacement market where a cooker has broken down and they need it replaced immediately.”

Range cookers are becoming more colourful with a variety of enamelled finishes offering the customer the chance to personalise their kitchen. “In the recent past we have seen a trend of stainless steel appliances,” says James Parkinson, brand manager at Falcon. “Now consumers are increasingly requesting more bold and interesting colours. To match the colours of all our range cookers, extractor hoods are now available to colour match.” Britannia is going one step further with a Couture Range that features three patterned designs.

Dawn Stockell, brand and marketing manager for Electrolux Major Appliances, predicts an increased use of light as both a design feature and to create subtle ambient effects. “Electrolux is leading the way,” she says, “with its Insight range of built-in appliances that have a slim horizontal white light bar.”

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