Rolling back the years – December 1997-2007

By Merv Robertson December 18, 2017 Rolling back the years

What happened in the industry, as seen through the eyes of Wares magazine, 10, 15 and 20 years ago? Merv Robertson reports.

To view a PDF of the complete profile as it appeared in Wares magazine, click the download button at the bottom of this page.



Our Government in 1997 was led by National in coalition with New Zealand First. Jim Bolger was PM and Winston Peters his deputy. However, Jenny Shipley grew increasingly frustrated with Bolger’s conservative style, secured the numbers and was sworn in as New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister on 8 December.


Electrolux takes a bow – In the December issue 20 years ago, Electrolux had the front cover while inside we read that the Swedish manufacturer had undergone a name change here to coincide with a low-key entry into the New Zealand whiteware market. Previously Electrolux and Husqvarna floor care had been distributed under the Husqvarna Agencies banner.


North Shore shenanigans – Reading the Editorial again, I was reminded of the shenanigans that surrounded the opening of Harvey Norman’s first store in Wairau Park. For example I remember Farmers delivery trucks being parked outside Harvey’s with banners on the sides advertising the department store’s interest-free terms...

Hot & bothered – EWT, one of Europe’s leading heating manufacturers was established in 1957 and became a supplier here 40 years later when EWT (NZ) was established in Christchurch under the leadership of Murray Reid.

20 years later, Murray is now General Manager of Serene Industries New Zealand, marketing specialised heating products with a focus on the trade.


Strike a light – I guess if folks need to replace light bulbs these days, it’s simply an addition to the supermarket shopping list. But, back in the day, GE was a prominent lamp supplier to the appliance and hardware/DIY retail sectors.

To compliment the business a range of Osram fixtures was introduced in 1997, enabling the dealer to display and demonstrate a variety of lighting options.

Brenda Hill and John White were pictured in the magazine showing off an extended range at retail presentations and here’s the thing – Brenda and John married and now own Amare Safety (, which markets safety/protective equipment and workplace apparel to end user customers.


Got gongs? – In October we remembered the Finalists in 1997’s second annual Appliance & Consumer Electronics Industry Awards but now we can acknowledge the winners!

Retailer of the Year was an ecstatic Brad McConville from H&J Smith in Invercargill, recently appointed Home Appliance Sales & Marketing Manager at the iconic department store after seven years in the industry.

Brad is now National Sales & Marketing Manager Australia & New Zealand at Bernafon, a Swiss hearing health company. After the 1997 Awards he moved to the UK, with different sales roles in the consumer electronics industry then relocated to Brisbane with his family, transferring his experience to the pharmaceutical industry, before finding his current role at Bernafon.

Scott McIsaac of Bond & Bond in Napier took out the Young Retailer of the Year Award. Scott started his retail career in 1989 and as well as his Napier store responsibilities, he was also Area Manager for Hawkes Bay and Gisborne.

The judges saw him as possessing well rounded retail skills but, tragically, Scott was killed in a motorcycle accident a few years ago.

1997’s Service Person of the Year was Colin Woollard of Woollard Electrical Service in Hastings and it was his wide-ranging industry experience over 32 years and personal input which carried the day.

Woollard’s employed five staff and – guess what? – Colin and his wife Liz are still running the business today, having started out in the home garage after Colin was made redundant from Bell TV.

“I became a consumer electronics solution provider from an electronics serviceman and I’ve managed to stay in business for 37 years by keeping up with new technology.”

Breaking news is that Colin and Liz are now hoping to put their feet up and have decided to put the business on the market. Phone them on 06 870 9000 or 021 430 636 for details!

Right said Ted – In December 2009 Wares launched the “Where are they now?” series with a profile of the life and times of Ted Holland, one of the most loved and highly respected blokes to grace our industry.

In his quiet, dignified way, Ted was a true mover & shaker and, as Group Manager of the Fapay Purchasing Group (pre-cursor to Appliance Connexion), he shared his time and thoughts with Wares 20 years ago this month.

Ted had commenced his career 38 years previously with the Wanganui Rangitikei Electric Power Board and, by the time he and his wife Noeline moved to Auckland in 1989, he had been heading up the appliance retail operation as Marketing Manager for several years.

Fapay had been founded in 1983. All members were Fisher & Paykel franchised dealers and operated independently but also combined as a co-op buying group with central billing, making the business competitive with national chains.

Ted had been a foundation Director and by December 1997 the group’s membership boasted 170 storefronts. In December 1997 John Heginbotham (father of this year’s Young Retailer of the Year!) was in the Chair with Brian Mason, Grant Heathcote, Phil Hall and Peter Halkett joining him on the Board.

Ted and Noeline retired to Red Beach on Auckland’s Whangaparaoa Peninsula but recently moved north to Whangarei.



This time a decade and half ago, the second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was released. That same month, the Black Caps played India in two cricket tests, winning the first at the Basin Reserve by 10 wickets and the second at Seddon Park by four wickets.


Appliances take to the water – Staying with sport, Fisher & Paykel had announced a sponsorship deal with Team New Zealand in its quest to retain the America’s Cup with John Bongard seen making the presentation to Ross Blackman.

“We can all see how focused the challengers are this time around,” said John, “and we want the Cup to stay here in New Zealand so we are doing what we can to help.”

No coincidence possibly that the majority of apartments developed around the Viaduct Harbour had been fitted out with F&P appliances.


BDT handed keys to the door – 15 years ago, BDT had just celebrated its 21st birthday and Wares, along with the late Ken Lilley, took the opportunity to look back and to cast expert eyes over the retail scene in New Zealand.

As Melco, the company had enjoyed unprecedented success with the Mitsubishi Black Diamond range of video and television but had then downsized and restructured in 1996 when Mitsubishi withdrew from the audio-visual sector.

Melco then added a number of brands to ensure it remained a significant, well diversified supplier and was renamed Black Diamond Technology.

“The consumer products side of the company was in survival mode,” Ken told Wares. “We had downsized and had three brands to sell – Aiwa, Thomson RCA and Mitsubishi (dehumidifiers and refrigeration). Without the support of retailers, especially old friends we would not have got the ship afloat again.”

Asked what had changed most over BDT’s 21 years, Ken replied: “Everything. But perhaps the biggest changes have been in retail. Smiths City recovering its position, the merger of Bond & Bond and Noel Leeming into PRG, the entry of Harvey Norman and the consolidation and revival of the two largest independent groups, Appliance Connexion and Retravision.”

Ken concluded with the observation that the industry hadn’t aged with its people – it had become more sophisticated and had stayed passionate, energetic and informed. “Basically, the industry just has great people,” he said.

Nilfisk’s new “weapons” – Girls were to the fore in December 2002 with Nilfisk-Advance looking forward to its “new weaponry” in the form of new salespeople Nicole Jones (now Bult) and Michelle Campbell (now Perry).

Nilfisk’s research showed that in a market of 160,000 vacs, the average retail price was just under $265, some 70% of sales were under $249 and private label models occupied six of the top 10 spots by volume (not to mention 30% of the total market!).

Today, Nicole is an Administrator with Dairy on Demand in the FMCG sector and Michelle lives in Brisbane and works as a Client Services Manager with Ability One, a company providing financial management for folk with an acquired brain injury.


Salton adds whites to smalls – Paul Holdsworth is an industry identity and, as Salton’s National Sales Manager at the end of 2002, he could boast an impressive line-up of brands, including Russell Hobbs, George Foreman, Pifco, Melitta, Calvin Klein and others.

Maybe the biggest news was that Salton was planning the launch of Westinghouse appliances into the Australasian market.

These days Paul is National Sales Manager at Speed Queen Laundry Systems.


JVC looks up not down – According to Wares, 15 years ago JVC had set about changing the way it did business. Hagemeyer, JVC’s distributor, was no longer struggling to compete in the only product range it was traditionally known for, micro audio systems. Instead it began aiming to capture a greater share of product categories at the higher end.

Now heading up Fujifilm, Stephen Hodson was JVC’s General Manager back then and blamed declining margins and intense competition for market share.

Hence JVC was forging alliances with retailers with a new retail stance of marketing higher-end and value-added products.


The faster the Betta! – It was all V8 power and passion at Pukekohe Park in late 2002 when the V8 Supercars visited the famous raceway. Team Betta Electrical was a leading team of the day and during the visit took the car to Findlays, Wingates and Dalbeth Betta Electrical shops where they were overrun by fans.

After John Feron, Wayne Knapp and Pompey Manahi were snapped with driver Tony Longhurst, the locals took the Aussies fishing on Lake Taupo and the three days of fantastic racing entertainment were capped at the after match where Pompey of ECL Bay Betta Electrical provided some impromptu entertainment – as he was wont to do.

Today, John and Denise Feron own Applianceplus in Alexandra, while Pompey is a Prison Officer in Western Australia. Sorry to say I can’t find Wayne – anyone got a clue?

Magnificent Magness – The JVC Retailer of the Month in late 2002 was Magness Benrow 100% Your Electric Store in Highland Park where Catherine Magness was the Manager. JVC’s Paula Wade made the presentation and Catherine paid tribute to her team of Tony Erceg, Michael Singh, Richard Stewart and Peter Borrie.

Catherine and Tony are still with Magness Benrow, Catherine as Marketing Manager, while Tony plies his trade in the Green Lane shop but the whereabouts of everyone else in the photo is a mystery to me, so I hope to be enlightened.


Retravision expands – Retravision’s 2002 conference, gala dinner and Awards were held in Auckland, where General Manager Leighton Cox, now retired, confirmed that 10 more storefronts had been added in 2002, bringing the national total to 62.

At the Retra Awards 2002, Hubands Retravision Whangarei was crowned National Retailer of the Year with Regional Awards going to Hubands, Selectrix Retravision Cambridge, Duckworths Retravision Napier and Stoke Retravision Nelson.

Supplier Awards went to Pudney & Lee, HWI, Electrolux Home Products and Panasonic.


Movers & Shakers – This month 15 years ago we were congratulating Frazer Scott on becoming Xbox Sales & Business Operations Manager at Microsoft, where he still is, as Chief Marketing & Operations Manager.

Kimberly Turnbull was a new Key Account Manager at Electrolux Home Products and at BDT, Darren Lawson was appointed Divisional Manager Consumer after stints heading up Thompson/RCA and Aiwa for the company.

Kimberly is now Kimberly Sinclair, running her own business, Choose Organic NZ (, while Darren is a Mike Pero Mortgages Franchisee, having recently taken out the Broker of the Year Award for the seventh time!



On 2 December 2007 news broke that 96 medals, including 9 Victoria Crosses, had been stolen from the National Army Museum in Waiouru. It would be February 2008 when the medals were recovered after a bounty was paid and another two years before two men were eventually convicted.


To the winners… – The 2007 Wares Awards was another wonderful event and the winners were well recognised in the December issue.

Brian Stewart of Bay Betta Electrical in Tauranga was crowned Retailer of the Year with the judges having this to say: “This savvy, professional operator exhibits extensive knowledge and understanding of local dynamics. Brian is well aware of how the industry is changing and has future-proofed his business with an eye to maintaining turnover and supplier support.”

2007’s Young Retailer of the Year was Peter Hill of Barrell’s 100% in Whangarei and again, the judges summed up: “In a sea of up-and-coming retailers, Peter stands out as the one to watch. Enthusiastic, knowledgeable and confidently professional, this person has an extensive overview of the industry that reflects their role in their organisation.”

Stephen Brady of Philips carried off the Sales Professional of the Year award, having demonstrated “great professionalism in his role and throughout the entire judging process.”

Brian is now Manager of Kitchen Things Tauranga, Peter is a Director at Barrell’s with a focus on 100% Albany Extreme Appliances and Stephen is at Spark where he is Emerging Markets Channel Manager, looking after the interests of both Spark and Skinny.

Ian Johnstone of Harvey Norman Porirua was rewarded with a Young Achiever Award and, like some other Wares Awards winners, would later change channels to become Mitre 10 MEGA Kapiti’s Retail Operations Manager.

Ellerys 100% won 2007’s Retail Store of the Year up to 400m² while Harvey Norman Invercargill took the over 400m² prize.

From boots to booze – Sony had signed a major sponsorship deal with the new Wellington Phoenix football club, the Phoenix having replaced the ill-fated New Zealand Knights in the A-League.

Martin McManus was Sony NZ’s Managing Director at the time and saw the rise of the Phoenix as a good fit for his brand. The club made the play-offs in 2009-10 and 2010-11 but Sony’s involvement ceased after the 2012-13 season.

Martin is now General Manager at fine wine distributor Negociants New Zealand.

Dyson’s decade – At the end of 2007, Avery Robinson and co-founders Brett Avery and Mark Robinson were celebrating their first decade with the Dyson brands.

Mark still heads up the company and Brett is in England, living in Surrey where he is Managing Director of Farplants, the largest wholesale supplier of outdoor plants in the UK.


Ecstatic Electrolux – Also with a new range was Electrolux Floorcare. General Manager, Alan Dalton, paid tribute to his sales team – Maxine Purvis, Tracey Beagle and Chrissy French, supported by a small, but efficient back office.

Today Alan is General Manager of Home Care & SDA at Electrolux NZ, Maxine is enjoying life on the Mainland, Tracey is now in Brisbane and Chrissy is still doing one week in three for Electrolux, as a merchandiser.



When people bought cameras – 10 years ago people were still buying affordable cameras and Stephen Hodson, Fujifilm’s New Zealand Divisional Manager and his team were looking back on 2007 as a year of outstanding success.

Not only had Fujifilm achieved number one in digital camera sales in the early part of the year, but it had also been rolling out its Fujifilm Digital Photocentre – “a retail solution that can invigorate business and deliver high value, high margin sales products that generate a quick return on your investment”.

This type of product still generates good if reduced levels of business a decade later.

Local talent – December 2007’s Energy Star Focus on Retail took a trip to Turangi and Lockyers Retravision where the ever smiling Tangonui (Tong) Kingi held court along with his two offsiders, Jennifer Foxall and Tau Thompson.

The Lockyer family name had been around since 1898 in Napier before moving to Taupo after the terrible Napier earthquake of 1931. The Turangi store opened in 1966.

Tong, who had joined the company in 2000, was made Appliance Manager in 2004 and became a Director and 30% shareholder in 2005, was named 2005’s Young Achiever at the Wares Awards, was a Young Retailer of the Year Finalist two years later (not to mention Retravision’s 2007 Young Retailer of the Year) and would go on to be named Young Retailer of the Year in 2008!

These days, Tong is Chief Fire Officer at the Turangi Operational Support Unit. Jennifer is now Jennifer Stewart, a stay-at-home mum in Turangi looking after the books for the family plumbing business, while Tau is a Counsellor looking out for Turangi’s youth.


Movers & Shakers – First up 10 years ago was Graeme Watt, who’d been named General Manager of Harvey Norman Electrical following the departure of Industry Hall of Famer Nik Papa. Wattie is still in the chair, although the small appliances category has been split out.

At Sharp Corporation, Brett Nicholls became Marketing Business Planning Manager – Consumer Electronics, joined by Rajesh Krishnamurthy (Product Marketing Manager – Consumer Electronics) and Sam Rogers (Account Manager).

Brett later founded The Chocolate Story in Petone which caters for corporate and private gift solutions as well operating a boutique shop selling, of course, made-on-site chocolates …

Rajesh now has his own financial services advisory company call Moneykart and, on leaving Sharp, Sam joined Miele NZ before making his way to the UK, still with Miele, as Commercial Manager Projects.

Felicity Herron was announced as General Manager at Dick Smith Electronics New Zealand, Ian Rowlay joined Electrolux Floorcare as Service Technician & Spare Parts Controller whilst Nicki Treves also joined Electrolux as South Island Account Manager.

Corinne Chin was the new Philips Peripherals Product Manager and Parex Industries welcomed Cameron Hoyle into the fold as Bissell Sales Manager.

In 2009 Felicity went back to Australia where she is an Executive General Manager at Toll Group and Ian is still doing the business at Electrolux. Nicki, now Nicki Smith, is at Electrolux Home Products as a Territory Manager.

Corinne later headed over the ditch, last working as Digital Product Manager at News Corp. Cameron started his own floorcare cleaning business, since sold, and his company, New Zealand Floorcare is now the New Zealand sales agent for Bissell.


Well, that’s 2017 behind us! In February we’ll look back on the changes at Sunbeam Victa from February 1998 and reviewing the 2003 JVC Retailer of the month. A clue may be that the manager’s name was Toby Tagg

It’s been a blast presenting yarns about the industry as it used to be, through the eyes of Wares for the last eight and a bit years and I’m certainly looking forward to tapping away again next year.

May I wish you & yours a very joyous Christmas and your businesses a profitable New Year!  

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