Glen Dimplex | Scoring a century

Managing director of Glen Dimplex Home Appliance Mark Davison explains why Stoves has been resilient for 100 years and explains how it plans to grow through the kitchen specialist channel

26 Mar, 20

Managing director of Glen Dimplex Home Appliance Mark Davison explains why its Stoves brand has been resilient for 100 years and explains how it plans to grow through the kitchen specialist channel.

Scoring a century | Glen Dimplex

Mark Davison joined the company from Aga Rangemaster and plans to make Stoves the market leader in range cooking.


Stoves has long been a seminal brand in cooking appliances and is, in fact, celebrating its centenary having been established on Valentine’s Day in 1920.

Then it was a manufacturer of sheet metal and gas heaters, but having recognised sculleries were transforming into larger kitchens, Stoves began to make cooking appliances.

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Originally based in Warrington, five years’ later it relocated to its current premises – a former munitions site – in Prescot, Merseyside.

The company started making gas cookers, producing the Bakerloo, Reliable, Kitchenette and Newhome brands.

By the 1970s Newhome had grown to such as success it reportedly held a 15% of the UK cooking market, as Stoves claims the brand introduced a number of industry firsts, such as an ignition button and self-cleaning oven lining, which are now a staple of oven design.

And cooking continues to be at the heart of the company, with the brand offering both built-in and range cooking, as well as hoods, splashbacks, refrigeration, dishwashers and wine cookers.

Business changes

Of course, for a company to have survived 100 years’ trading, it means it can’t have been all smooth sailing.

And over the last 18 months, GDHA had to implement tough changes in the business, pulling out of loss making appliances and outsourcing some of its product manufacture.

It has been one of the biggest changes in the company’s history but has helped secure its future.

Managing director of GDHA Mark Davison explains: “We’ve changed our focus from a product point of view and within that we’ve made the decision to only continue certain manufacturing in the UK.

“So for example freestanding cooker 550/600mmmm, with two ovens and a hotplate, apart from mini ranges we’ve exited completely.

“We’ve had to change the size and shape of the operation in Prescot, which is never easy. We’ve had to reduce the number of people employed here, particularly in manufacturing.”

Scoring a century | Glen Dimplex 1

Stoves moved to its current premises in Prescot, Merseyside in 1925 and parent company GDHA invested £1.5million into the manufacturing site for making range cookers.


Establishing cooking brand

However, the company retained the manufacture of range cooking in the UK, which managing director of GDHA Mark Davison says is important for consumers.

He continues: “The majority of the business is still cooking and going forwards we are focusing on range cooking more and more”, adding: “it’s an area we do think we can grow in.”

Although Davison concedes built-in is a bigger category, he says it is much more competitive, adding: “We think there are better returns for range cookers at the moment”.

And he makes the claim: “I would like to be market leader in range cooking.”

Focus on ranges

In fact, range cooking has been a recent focus of its new product development.

It has seen the company introduce powerful wok burners, the ProFlex cavity splitter to divide a tall oven into two separate model, as well as connectivity through its Zeus timer.

Mark Davison adds: “We happened to have produced a lot of new products on range cooking in the last 12-18 months.

“We are still making range cooking in the UK, which for the UK market is important.

“Our main competitor is made in the UK, Rangemaster, and from a marketing point of view it’s where we want to focus.

“As we relaunch our other product ranges, such as built-in, then obviously we might adapt the focus to be more balanced. But at the moment, it’s very much to do with range cooking. “

Supporting range sales

And the company has supported its range cooking with a six-figure investment in consumer market to modernise the brand and brand awareness.

Davison admits: “We probably haven’t been investing as much in consumer marketing as we should have done and we wanted to focus on consumers at a certain stage in their purchasing decision because, clearly, when people are buying a new appliance it’s often in conjunction with a new kitchen.

“When you see a Stoves advert now you’ll see it in the places people will look at when they are reaching to buy a new kitchen.”

The company now also more targeted in terms of the type of consumer it is targeting through its marketing activity: “We are targeting now 35+ professionals who are more into creating great food.

“They are probably more affluent and can pay a little bit more for both a better quality product and the certain style they want.

“We’ve positioned Stoves as being engineered for food, so we’re targeting people who want products that work well but at the end of the day don’t have to have all the gadgets but they help you cook better.

And he says Stoves is already “seeing some good results but you don’t see success overnight.

“It takes a lot of continued focus and investment to move consumer metrics in the right direction.

At the end of the day, we just want to make sure the Stoves brand appears on people’s lists when they are thinking about kitchens and appliances.”

Expanding showroom presence

So to reach the consumers interested in purchasing a new kitchen with appliances, unsurprisingly Stoves is looking to grow sales through the independent kitchen showroom channel.

Davison comments: “In terms of our strategy in the marketplace, we’re trying to now focus on channels such as kitchen multiples, kitchen specialists which clearly for a product like ours are increasingly important going forwards.”

He continues: “It’s just part of an evolution. We have been a mass market appliance manufacturer. We’ve sold, in the past, big volumes of mainstream products through a lot of different channels but with probably more of a focus through electrical retail.

“Now, we’re being a bit more strategic and asking ‘where do the people shop who are looking to buy one of our new products going forward?’

That’s not to say Stoves doesn’t want to capitalise on the distress, replacement market as Davison explains: “If somebody’s cooker breaks down and they need to change it, we still want to be in that market for replacement but clearly some of the more premium products are probably more linked with when somebody is buying a new kitchen.

“We still think when you’re paying £2,500 for a range cooker, in particular, people do want to go see the product and touch the product. Obviously that’s one the primary ways we can get products in front of consumers.”

In fact, such is the focus on growing the number of displays in kitchen showrooms, Davison reported: “ I would want to grow our presence in kitchen specialists by 300-400%.”

Helping him achieve this figure, Davison is also looking to grow Stoves built-in cooking sales, as well as strengthen its refrigeration. “We have increased our offer but I think we need to do a bit more in terms of breadth of range, possibly including some more premium products.”

Scoring a century | Glen Dimplex 2

Created in Umbra glass which is black and turns transparent when cooking, the Precision features four oven cavities. It comes with two 5kW Powerwok Plus Burners and a Proflex Splitter to divide the tall oven into two separate cavities


British brand resilience

With brands entering and exciting the market, how has Stoves remained so resilient? “I think it’s a combination of things”, say Davison.

“I think over the years, we have had pretty strong product offers across the categories we operate in. We’ve expanded the range of products available, beyond cooking, so people can have the Stoves brand on refrigeration.

“We’ve improved the products with new features and new designs over the years. And also, let’s face it, we are seen as a British brand which for some consumers does make a difference.”

And he explains why being British can influence a consumer, stating: “Some people like the fact they can buy an appliance that is linked more distinctly to a British business, including some products which are made in the UK and are therefore providing jobs for people in the UK.”

Against the backdrop of Brexit and uncertainty around trade deals, Davison believes “some green shoots are starting to appear, so maybe people are starting to see lights at the end of the tunnel.

“I don’t think we’re there yet because every time you pick up a paper or click on the internet, there’s doom and gloom about retail sales on the high street.

“So there is a bit to go yet, before confidence is restored and people are changing kitchens, buying appliances and moving house.

However, he points out Stoves first financial quarter, which ends in December “was probably better than we’ve had for a while.”

And Davison says to continue to keep Stoves relevant for the next century, is all about understanding the target consumer and what they are looking for in an appliance.

He concludes “it will be a blend of communicating the heritage and experience of the brand  but not only talking about the past. Take a look at what we’re now doing to develop the brand over the next 100 years.”

Scoring a century | Glen Dimplex 3

Featuring a monochrome Union Jack, the Stoves Stirling Mini range cooker is an electric model which measures 600mm wide. It features a main and top oven and four ceramic hob elements