BHETA Forum highlights housewares opportunities

A Housewares Forum run by BHETA (British Home Enhancement Trade Association) earlier this month attracted a packed house.

At the event, which was held on November 9 in central Birmingham, more than 80 BHETA members heard presentations from a line-up of speakers invited to highlight opportunities in the housewares industry.

The headline speakers were Steamer Trading Cookshop owner and director Ben Phillips and chief executive officer Mark Saunders. The duo outlined the history of the family business, its current profile and future plans.

Founded in 1985, the specialist retailer runs 42 shops, two websites and two cookery schools, with a total staff count of 550. With a top end offer aimed at affluent, well-educated home owners who are “real foodies”, its brands include Steamer Trading Cookshop, Kitchens Cookshop and Divertimenti.

The housewares chain’s objective is to become “the destination omnichannel retailer for kitchen lifestyle products”. Ben and Mark discussed their plans to open more branches (including outlet stores), develop the e-commerce operation and capitalise on the cookery schools, which are part of the Divertimenti brand. They are also keen to build a reputation for innovation by being first to market with new products and ideas.

Other speakers at the Forum included Keith Warren, director of CESA (Catering Equipment Suppliers Association), who gave an overview of the foodservice sector.

With potential for diversification a big issue in the housewares market, Keith highlighted the opportunities for light equipment and tableware suppliers to expand into foodservice. He advised members to engage with operators such as hotels and restaurant chains, and equipment resellers, via CESA.

He pointed out that CESA offers training courses for new entrants and suggested that BHETA members should attend relevant exhibitions and read ‘The Caterer’ (a weekly business magazine for hospitality professionals) to understand sector’s dynamics and eating out trends.

Eric Churet, business development manager of Sedex, provided an insight into this global not-for-profit membership organisation, which claims to be ‘home to the world’s largest collaborative platform for sharing responsible sourcing data on supply chains’.

Sedex is used by more than 40,000 members in over 150 countries to manage their performance around labour rights, health & safety, the environment and business ethics. Eric explained how a Sedex endorsement is becoming increasingly critical to decision-making because it is increasingly being used by retailers to determine whether a product secures a listing – or not.

CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) project director Susan Oxley and principal case officer Nadia Muhammad explored the role of this government-appointed body. CMA is an independent non-ministerial department that works to promote competition for the benefit of consumers, both within and outside the UK. It has wide-ranging powers to act against and penalise any restrictive practice (including distribution and pricing) which is against the interests of the public.

Delegates heard Susan and Nadia outline the CMA’s role and powers, with examples of how suppliers can fall foul of legislation.

BHETA housewares sector director Will Jones commented: “The Forum was extremely well attended. It was great to catch up with so many members, update everyone on the latest news, and facilitate some high calibre presentations on current issues and opportunities. It was a really positive session.”

For more information about BHETA and BHETA events, contact the Member Services Team on 0121 237 1130.


L-r: BHETA housewares sector director Will Jones with Ben Phillips and Mark Saunders of Steamer Trading Cookshop

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