Chris Honer is a man of several hats. Currently the managing director of Britannia Living and responsible for a clutch of brands that includes Britannia, Bertazzoni and BEST, he was previously the MD of distributors BCG and has enjoyed stints with Waterline and MWD.
Britannia Living itself is part of the Glen Dimplex Group and it includes Stoves, Belling and New World – three very strong UK cooking brands.
The UK consumers’ love affair with range cookers is well-documented and to a certain extent Bertazzoni rode on the back of this by providing a collection of cooking appliances that had a high specification with a strong appeal to the more serious hobby chefs. It effectively carved a niche for itself that was above the other range cooker offers from within the Glen Dimplex Group and Britannia in terms of both product spec and price point.
Bertazzoni is on the point of being seen as a status symbol within range cookers. Increasingly owners are taking their Bertazzoni cooker with them if they move home and there are plans to extend the brand across a range of cooking accessories. But now arguably comes the Bertazzoni brand’s biggest gamble – can it equal this success in the built-in arena?
Grahame Morrison: Apart from the engineering quality of its appliances, what do you think it is that makes the Bertazzoni brand stand out from the crowd?
Chris Honer: What really sets Bertazzoni apart is its Italian heritage and passion for high-quality engineering, both of which are beautifully translated into its product design. Little touches like the oversized retro dials, branded brass hob details and the quality feel of the dials contribute to the stylish look and feel of Bertazzoni models.
Bertazzoni products are created in the region famed for its supercars – they are also painted in the same factory where the most prestigious and famous Italian cars are painted. A six-step process provides these designer range cookers with the vibrant and hard-wearing colours that they are renowned for. Even the company logo itself, looks like it would be at home on a supercar, nodding to the heritage of the brand and making it a desirable marque amongst domestic chefs.
GM: A recent report from GfK suggests that demand in the premium range cooker market has started to slow down. Is this what has prompted you to push the Bertazzoni built-in collection?
CH: Britannia Living is not experiencing a premium cooking slowdown, if anything since last year’s acquisition and the initiatives we have put in place for our customers such as: a) increased stock holding b) home deliveries 6 days a week, we are gaining new accounts and growing share within our existing retailers.
The move into built in with the Bertazzoni brand..just makes sense for us. It is not new for Bertazzoni as it has successfully sold built in appliances in both Europe and the US for many years. We are positioning Britannia Living as the ‘Home of premium appliances’. Bertazzoni built in is just one of many introductions that will be happening over the next 48 months.
GM: We in the UK know Bertazzoni as range cooker specialists; can it successfully make the transition into the built-in arena?
CH: Predominantly famed in the UK as a premium range cooking brand, the company now sells its products in more than 60 countries internationally. Established by Antonio Bertazzoni in Emilia-Romagna in 1882, the company has a love of food and engineering at its heart. The Bertazzoni family were so passionate about cooking that they created a family recipe book and legend has it the original, handwritten version of which is still housed at the company’s HQ in Italy.
GM: What will be in the Bertazzoni built-in collection?
CH: The collection of Bertazzoni built-in appliances includes electric 60cm multifunction ovens, matching 45cm combi-microwaves, warming drawers and barista coffee machines. The line-up also includes a matching combi steam oven which combines steam, hot air and grilling for fast and healthy cooking that seals in flavour and vitamins.
It also features a choice of 90cm segmented hobs which can combine gas, griddle and induction within the same hob.
GM: The built-in market is a crowded sector too! What are the features that will give Bertazzoni built-in appliances their appeal?
CH: The stunning built-in collection from Bertazzoni epitomises Italian design. The oven models are available in both the Design and Professional Series. They feature micro-processor controlled cooking modes while the doors have at least triple-glazed insulation. New advanced materials are also used to insulate the oven cavity and further improve energy efficiency.