By Merv Robertson June 08, 2018 Rolling back the years

A snapshot of the industry this month 15 years ago, as seen through the eyes of Wares magazine.

15 years ago, President George W Bush set out for his tour of the Middle East, promising “to work for the goal of Israel and a Palestinian state being able to live side by side without any bloodshed.”

Prince William’s 21st birthday was on 20 June 2003 and he opted for an “Out of Africa” theme for his party.

Here at home, credit where credit’s due.

The England rugby team was back on our shores for a short tour and won two from two, beating New Zealand Maori then the ABs by a couple of points with Jonny Wilkinson kicking four penalties and a dropped goal to snuff out a Doug Howlett try and three goals from Carlos Spencer.


Sony aims young with Aiwa – Sony made good use of our June 2003 front cover (see above) and an inside cover DPS which told us that it was renewing the Aiwa brand (Sony bought Aiwa in 2002) through a new global strategy targeting the youth market.

A new logo was revealed at the same time. “We are very excited about the Aiwa brand,” Matthew Walton-Smith, Sony’s Divisional Manager for Consumer Products, told Wares.

“The Aiwa brand is strategically complimentary to Sony’s business and opens new opportunities for us beyond our stronghold of valued customers. With Aiwa we can now enter untapped consumer segments such as the niche youth market, with a brand developed just for them.”

The youth market is a fickle one however and Sony discontinued the Aiwa brand in 2006.

Aiwa does live on though, Towada Audio in Japan having recently secured the brand rights.

Matt Walton-Smith still works for a Japanese corporate, as National Manager Marine, at Yamaha Motor NZ.


Killing it with Kamo – Philips and the All Blacks feature regularly in this series and in June 2003 it was more of the same with Scott Wright, Philips’ Marketing Manager, saying that the brand would look to “dominate retail floor presence and consumer mind space”.

Part of this would be thanks to the appointment of former AB great, Ian Jones – the “Kamo Kid” – as the Philips Rugby Ambassador.

These days, Scott is Business Development Director at Lion Breweries.


Fiercely, femininely local – June 2003’s JVC Retailer of the Month was Selectrix 100% Your Electric Store in Invercargill, which was a major sponsor of the Southern Sting netball franchise and as such, got to have Bernice Mene as store spokesperson and TV advertising front.

Sting players also featured in the store’s advertising and made frequent visits in-store to meet the fans.

Co-owners, Wayne Young and Ross Swain observed that with Selectrix’s mainstream business being whiteware, it was a natural fit, “as it’s the female who makes the decision.

"They’re the one who use it. They know what size washing machine they want and what they want in the kitchen.”

Although Wayne and Ross were facing the arrival of Harvey Norman in town, they believed they were well ready to meet the challenge, armed with a great location but also the hearts and minds of a solid Southland customer base.

“We go along with the logo of the 100% group – we are local and we care.”

These days Wayne has retired to Wanaka and Ross is Sales Office Administrator with Flooring Xtra in Queenstown.


Southern hospitality – Staying with the Mainland, Appnet’s 2003 conference (“Betta people to do business with”) took place in Dunedin, attracting 85 delegates.

It was reported that the group’s annual growth of 23% well exceeded the industry average, confirming that strategic initiatives were having the desired effect, and special mention was made of the positive impact of the partnership with AA Rewards.

Prominent rugby administrator and raconteur, Phil Kingsley-Jones was the event’s MC, overseeing an eclectic range of presentations covering products, finance, AA Rewards, Betta Stores Australia  and Sue Lindsay from Achievers New Zealand gave a highly motivating performance on the power of passion, people and focus, leaving delegates with some gems they could easily implement in their own lives and businesses.

Friday night’s entertainment was a boot party at Carisbrook ahead of a Super 12 rugby match in which the Highlanders comfortably beat the visiting Brumbies – no surprise there.

Saturday night’s gala dinner was held at the elegant Larnach Castle where attendees were treated to Scottish pipers and a traditional haggis ceremony, whose history was related by William Webster (Electrolux Home Products), Rob Morris (LG Electronics) and local identity Bill Grey (Smyths Betta Electrical), all wearing traditional Scottish attire to boot.

Today, William is running his own business, Willco Consulting, Rob’s still with LG as Senior Sales Executive looking after the lower North Island and Bill (who remembers that night at Larnach Castle very well) is enjoying retirement and giving the bowling greens a working over.


At your serviceWares also carried a report on the 2003 Betta Stores conference in Beijing which featured a shot of Debbie and Mike Mann of Mike Mann Betta Electrical in Waipukurau, utilising local pedal powered transport.

Having sold CHB Betta in Waipukurau, to Roald and Marian Bjerga in 2016, Mike’s focus these days is on Flemings Electrical which was founded in 1983 by Duncan and Brenda Fleming and which Mike bought in 1995 after Duncan succumbed to leukaemia.

Mike is joined at Flemings by Debbie, who looks after admin, and daughter Stacey, the Service Manager.

Flemings is service agent for a raft of leading suppliers to our industry as well operating in house wiring, air conditioning, ventilation systems, satellite & aerial installations and much more.


Taking the pulse of the industry – Staged at Auckland’s Aotea Centre, the theme of Retravision’s Australasian 2003 conference was “Feel the Pulse”.

An unusual feature back then were the closed “peer-to-peer” sessions covering “Big is Better” (larger stores – a must for the future), “Fight or Flight” (how to compete in a cut throat market) and “Category Blitz” (get the full potential out of every product category).

Rob Duckworth was Chairman of Retravision New Zealand and he would have been pleased to report that in the five years since Retravision NZ had been formed, following the demise of RTS, turnover had trebled and the figures for the year ending 31 March 2003 were up 32% on the previous year.

Sport as ever had a part to play with Tab Baldwin, coach of the New Zealand Tall Blacks basketball team (which had dumped Australia out of the World Championship qualifiers!) spoke on complacency and how it could damage not only sports teams, but businesses as well. Former AB first five, Frano Botica, also led a trip to Eden Park and tried to teach the Aussie visitors the Haka.


Rob and Monty move – The Retravision train kept going with news that Duckworth Retravision had moved to a purpose-built, modern store in Munro Street Napier, and that Monty Knight Retravision had moved to bigger, brighter premises on Commerce Street Kaitaia. 


Movers & shakers – 15 years ago, Dave Lawes had just joined LG to run the Central North Island region after eight years in retail, Paul Wynne had joined Sunbeam as Major Account Manager, armed with 16 years’ retail experience with Smiths City and Farmers and Nicki Treves was now at Remington as South Island Territory Manager at Melco.

Dave is now Key Account Manager at Direct Imports. After 15 years at Sunbeam, in March Paul decided to take a break which turned out to be short lived, as he was soon hunted down by Key Service where he is now Senior Account Manager looking after Braun.

Nicki (now Nicki Smith) is a Christchurch-based Territory Manager for Electrolux Home Products, covering Christchurch and the West Coast.    


Check out our previous instalments of "Rolling back the Years" here and keep your eyes peeled for more retrospective reading from June 2008 in the coming week.

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