Rolling back the years – April 1997-2007

By Merv Robertson April 28, 2017 Rolling back the years

What happened in the industry 10, 15 and 20 years ago, as seen through the pages of Wares? 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.


In April 1997, something remarkable happened at the Augusta National Golf Club on the occasion of the 61st Masters. The remarkable event was a 22 year-old called Tiger Woods who not only won his first Major but did so by a massive 12 strokes.

Staying with golf, our very own Lydia Ko was born on 24 April 1997 in Seoul. She came to New Zealand with her family as an infant, started swinging a golf club at the age of five and became a Kiwi aged 12.


SmartDrive, smart promotion – Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge had just opened Fisher & Paykel’s new SmartDrive clothes washer factory in Brisbane, which employed 45 people and produced 200 washing machines a day with plans to more than quadruple that figure over time.

The move capped off dramatic inroads across the ditch made by our iconic manufacturer and to capitalise F&P marketers turned the container ship Takitimu into a floating billboard. Takitimu had a continuous run between Sydney, Auckland and Tauranga.

The idea was conceived by F&P Distribution Commercial Manager, Geoff Larsen, who said: “The idea of a sign travelling into Sydney Harbour, past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge to dock in Darling Harbour had strong appeal.”

Geoff told me recently that F&P considered the venture a good branding success with only positive feedback. Geoff by the way is “well & truly” retired, plays a bit of golf and generally “dithers around”.

When you’re hot, you’re hot – In April 1997 Masport had two new high-efficiency domestic gas fires in our pages. Andrew Hamilton was Masport’s Heating Products Manager back then.

These days Andrew is still into “hot” industries as the CEO of business incubator The Icehouse (, a Government-backed organisation founded in 2001 by the University of Auckland Business School to provide inspiration and coaching for Kiwi SMEs.


Doing Domotechnica – Domotechnica in Cologne was the world’s leading appliance show back in the day and in 1997 dozens of Kiwis made the pilgrimage, among them Wares and four exhibiting manufacturers, including Fisher & Paykel and Applico plus a group from New Zealand who were visiting Philips.

One retailer who remembers that event very well is Warren Huband who at the time owned Hubands Retravision in Whangarei. He was “blown away” by the sheer number of brands on display and during his stay gave the thumbs up to Miele’s new range of remote controlled washing machines and dishwashers as well as the Dyson vacuum cleaners which had yet to debut in New Zealand.

These days Warren owns Hubands Energy with expertise in all things aircon, solar energy and ducted vacuum systems (


Who’s got the power? – The American phenomenon called Power Centre came to Auckland in 1997. Basically a home improvement destination, Wairau Park saw Auckland’s first Power Centre, followed by a second in Manukau featuring Hill & Stewart, Briscoes, Rebel Sport and Shubar.

Newly appointed Managing Director of the Hill & Stewart co-operative, Mohammed “Mo” Khan (Wares “Where are they now?” October 2015) gave Wares a guided tour, saying: “We’ve achieved the competitive edge with the right location and the right size of store. I don’t think our competitors can match it yet.”

In retirement, today Mo applies his business and management skills through consultancy as well as doing pro bono work with the Red Cross and the Friends of the Pacific Trust.

Recalling Jolly good timesBrian Jolly bought Ruawai electrical business BH Turner in 1970, purchased Marlin Electrical in Kerikeri a decade later and moved his operation there at the same time.

In 1981 he joined Appliance Traders, the appliance and consumer electronics arm of Retail Trading Society (RTS), then opened a second shop in Kaikohe followed by a third in Paihia in 1985 and a fourth in Kawakawa in 1987.

The Paihia store closed but, by the time RTS secured the Retravision operating licence in 1993, Northland had six Retravision shop fronts, three of them branded Jolly’s.

In April 1997, Wares was covering the grand reopening of the fully renovated Jolly’s Kerikeri store which was celebrated in fine style, aided and abetted by All Blacks Ian Jones and Glenn Taylor, both products of the Taniwha region.

Brian and wife Anne sold the business to South African couple Neil and Patricia Hewlett in 2003 after which Brian ran a carpet overlocking business from home, retiring just last month at age 70. Anne continues to sell real estate in Kerikeri.

In closing, Brian Jolly wistfully recalls the days of operating his business with a GP of 39%. By the time he sold the business, that number was 9% and he shudders to think how retailers survive today.


Movers & shakers 20 years ago – In April 1997 Wares had Movers & Shakers aplenty so I’ll take a big breath, drop them into this yarn and then try and find as many as I can to see how life has changed for them.

Starting batters were Paul Tooley and Diane Phillips accepting new positions at Parex Industries after the company had been sold to private investors the Oceania & Eastern Group. Paul became Managing Director and Diane Marketing Manager. Paul went his own way at the end of 1997 but remained heavily involved in sales in his capacity as Principal of Tooley & Associates providing customised management and sales training across a variety of industries.

However, Paul has decided it’s time to retire and he wound up the company at 31 March to enjoy well deserved leisure time. These days Diane is an Account Manager at Sika (NZ) and a bit of star around the home improvement channel.


Who was who at Sony and Philips? – Over at Sony 20 years ago, Grant Tansey was appointed National Sales Manager following a year looking after major accounts. Today we find Grant a Director at Layaway Depot, a business providing retail layby services on furniture, appliances and other personal and household items (

Two decades back, Philips had been through a restructure and out the other side came Lee Caudwell as National Business Manager – Farmers, Matthew Moran and Kerry Loughran as Marketing Assistants – Sound & Vision, the late Jonathan Wight as Senior Product Manager – Colour Television & VCR and Stephen Hodson who became National Business Manager – Buying Groups.

Lee is now Lee Eglinton, reverting to her maiden name and she’s General Manager Australia & New Zealand for Certus Solutions, the Australasian IBM systems integrator and she tells me she maintains contact with several past Philips colleagues.

Matt still calls Philips home, albeit in Singapore where he is Head of Business Transformation APAC after stints in Sydney, Amsterdam and Moscow. Kerry (now Kerry Wheeler) is Marketing Manager Wine at Pernod Ricard and Stephen Hodson is Director and GM at Fujifilm NZ.

What became of PDL’s dream team? – Changes were also afoot at PDL Industries to cope with the national distribution of such brands as PDL Home, Goldair and Mistral as well as SKC tapes and Toshiba batteries. Our good friend Brett O’Neill (these days the irrepressible CEO at Breville), headed up the activity as National Sales Manager.

His team comprised Mark Rice (Product Manager SKC), Dougal Ferguson (Auckland/Northland/Bay of Plenty rep), Cyril Burborough (Auckland/Waikato rep), Peter Bouzaid (Regional Manager Retail – Wellington), Walter Forman (Hawkes Bay/Manawatu rep), Ray Dunn (Regional Manager – Christchurch), Andrew Nisbet (Nelson/Marlborough rep), Aaron Nuttall (West Coast/Timaru reo), Diane Cooper (Christchurch/South Canterbury rep), Dave Nelson (Regional Manager – Dunedin), Bevan Tillard and Blair Burgess (both Otago/Southland reps).

These days Mark Rice is the big kahuna at CDB Media, distributor of many well-known brands across electrical, lighting and appliances. Dougal is seconded from New Zealand Trade & Enterprise to the Lincoln Hub as International Commercial Manager.

Cyril lives in Christchurch these days and is retired after having interests in the racing industry until around a year ago, Peter is working as a Technician at Wanganui Powertool Centre and Walter is Assistant Manager at Ideal Electrical in Hastings.

In terms of what became of PDL, it was acquired by French multinational Schneider Electric in 2001 and five of Brett’s team from 1997 are still there.

Ray is Country President & Executive General Manager, Aaron is Business Development Manager, Andrew and Dave are Sales Reps in Christchurch and Dunedin respectively and Bevan is Regional Sales Manager based in Christchurch.

Blair operates as Area Sales Manager for Independent Liquor out of Dunedin but I have not been able to locate Diane.



Queen Elizabeth the 101 year-old Queen Mother was farewelled on 9 April 2002 when her funeral was held at Westminster Abbey – she was 101.

Towards the end of the month, Dunedin-born Ian Fraser became CEO of Television New Zealand. Following a distinguished career as a tough current affairs interviewer with TVNZ he left for a four year stint as CEO of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra but the top TV job could not be denied, come 2002.


About Sony’s Style trio – The opening of the third Sony Style showroom created plenty of interest and Group Manager Clark Hamilton assured Wares that the new Wellington site was a showroom, not a salesroom the aim being was to capture people’s imaginations with Sony innovations and grow the market for all Sony dealers.

“Sony Style is all about being hands-on,” he said. “We want people to be able to experience our products, to touch and try, to look and listen and find the product which suits them best.” He added that while all featured products were for sale, the ethos was to provide the public with a no-pressure atmosphere.

Clark Hamilton moved to Australia with Sony in 2010 then came back just over two years later, joining Vodafone in the role of National Sales Manager, Retail. He left at the end of last year.

All about music – Melco’s Aiwa brand had just signed a co-sponsorship deal for RTR, the country’s top rated television music show, in conjunction with Coca Cola. RTR was a long-running TV2 show with three slots every weekend.

At the time, the late Ken Lilley for Melco said that this was Aiwa’s biggest branding campaign in several years. RTR’s 18-30 year-old demographic was ideal for Aiwa and would help drive people into stores asking for one of New Zealand’s preferred brands.

Fittingly, given the massive contribution Ken made to our industry, the Young Achiever Award at the annual Wares Awards carries his name in tribute.


Of promos and birthdays – The team at Avery Robinson are always good for promo ideas and 15 years ago they were running a campaign targeting pet owners. Custom-made POS was freely available to dealers and everyone who purchased a Dyson DC02 Turbo, DC05 Motorhead or DC07 Classic received a free pet owner’s cleaning booklet and a toy puppy.

Avery Robinson Director and co-founder Brett Avery was our man on the spot 15 years ago but these days he lives in Surrey, England, where he is Managing Director of Farplants, the largest wholesale supplier of outdoor plants in the UK with an annual retail turnover in excess of £50 million.

Back to Godzone and Avery Robinson, now led by co-founder Mark Robinson, is 20 years young this year – happy birthday!


Remembering Ringgrip – In Wares’ April 2002 magazine it was announced that Ringgrip NZ had been granted the right to use the famous Mistral brand in New Zealand. Stewart Grainger headed up the operation as National Business Manager, supported by Business Development Manager, Clive Whitehead.

Other high profile brands in the Ringgrip portfolio were Dr Feelgood and Dr Scholl in personal care, Revlon hair care, Linda Electric blankets and Chief appliances and cookware but sadly the business closed in July 2009.

Stewart is in the DIY business nowadays, as National Sales Manager at DIY Resolutions, a supplier to the hardware industry of modular cabinets, doors, panels & benchtops. Clive is a Territory Manager with CDB.

What a difference 15 years makes – The Association of European Domestic Appliance Manufacturers took a bold step in February 2002, starting up the HomeTech international trade show in the face of other long-established events around the world.

Reporting on the event in the April issue, Wares went to Berlin to attend the inaugural expo, along with 60,000 other visitors and it was declared an unqualified success.

There were 725 exhibitors from 39 countries including Parmco, Fisher & Paykel and Robinhood from New Zealand playing good hands and other Kiwis joining their international counterparts, including Darryl Robinson, Nick Ruffel and Paul Ravlich from Bosch NZ.

Darryl is GM of BSH here in New Zealand, Nick rejoined BSH from Asko last year and is based in Melbourne as GM Category Management, while Paul has the concurrent roles of CEO at Siemens (NZ) and Regional Manager of New South Wales.

15 years on, it’s fascinating to re-read our April 2002 HomeTech coverage with headlines like “Integrated home management now a reality”, thanks to Whirlpool’s “wireless web fridge” concept. It came complete with a touchscreen interface…

Doing well in Dunedin – In August 2010 we profiled former Dunedin retailler Bill Grey in our “Where are they now?” series. Bill established the business in 1986 but by April 2002 was featured in Wares under the leadership of Bill’s son, David.

Yarning with David recently, it’s obvious that he wasn’t content with just surviving. He wanted growth and better margins, but to achieve those basic goals he needed to make a change. So, in 2014 he severed his relationship with Appnet to go it alone as Smyths Living.

These days you don’t see consumer electronics or small appliances in his product line-up. What you do see is segmented specialisation with a comprehensive range of kitchen and laundry appliances, supported by an in-house service department. You also see a parts department which includes an array of laundry taps.

David has also secured the Palazzo Kitchens franchise for Dunedin and this standalone store opened alongside the “mother shop” last year, offering services to customers as far away as Wanaka and Queenstown, including a full scale kitchen design facility.

Father Bill, in the meantime, still enjoys his bowls and regularly travels across the ditch to visit other family members.


Who was shakin’ at Pana? – 15 years ago this month, Panasonic owned the movers & shakers spot with news of a rearranging of the deck chairs. Chris Peau, who had been with Pana back in the F&P days moved from service into a Customer Support role; Donna Quist, after a six year absence, rejoined as Sales Co-ordinator; Matt Goodin came onboard as a Sales Cadet; and Phil Wallace, after 18 years’ service, became National Sales Manager.

Chris’s profession is logistics and currently he’s contracting to Metro Performance Glass but he also keeps his appliance hand in with his own small online retail activity called Appliance Pacific (

These days, Donna is married to Phil Jayne of Panasonic and is working as a primary school teaching aide; Matt is New Zealand Country Manager at London Fittings & Flanges in New Plymouth; and I can report that Phil is in a sector which has long been a passion, but prefers to keep details out of print.



This month a decade ago the New Zealand Under 19 rugby team won its age group World Cup, beating South Africa in the final. The team featured young whippersnappers the likes of Sam Whitelock, Zac Guildford, Israel Dagg and Ryan Crotty.

Our Kiwis League team were however woeful in the Anzac Test in April, losing to Australia. Elsewhere in the world, on 23 April, former Russian President Boris Yeltsin died.

Who will be “at your service”? – A decade back, service sector companies were unimpressed with not only growing numbers of cowboys but also manufacturers and their distributors also shifting towards either in-house servicing or single source contracting.

As a result, most of Auckland’s service dealers got together and formed One Stop Network. Its CEO, Gavin Bowden, told Wares at the time: “Yes, it is understood that small, professional companies have actually stood the test of time and are successful, but the point is, how long can they resist the sheer weight of competition on their own, and more to the point, be able to resist the reduction in work that is being moved in-house or to national service companies?”

One Stop was not a franchise system but a co-operative venture, initially focusing on greater Auckland with the intention of adding air conditioning and consumer electronics service companies.

Now, in 2017, Gavin is CEO of the Electro Technical Association (ETA). He recalls One Stop Network ran efficiently for around three years, boosted by its appointment as official service agent and spare parts centre for Sanyo whiteware.

However, when Sanyo withdrew from the market and more and more manufacturers took servicing in-house, the concept of a co-op organisation became “much less viable”. One Stop Network was eventually deregistered in June 2012.

One door closes, another one opens – By April 2007, the previous year’s takeover of Hill & Stewart by Australian retailer JB Hi-Fi indicated that a significant realignment of the Auckland scene was already well underway.

Hill & Stewart Glen Innes had already relocated to Lunn Avenue in Mount Wellington, with Managing Director Nigel Merrett reporting it was going “gangbusters” with turnover double that of Glen Innes.

The article notes that the first JB Hi-Fi-branded store would soon open on Auckland’s Queen Street. Described as a “software” store rather than a “superstore”, it would still cover some 1100m2, with over half being devoted to music and DVDs.

JB Hi-Fi would soon have nine of its own stores around the North Island (it currently has 16) and, when the leases expired on the last four Hill & Stewart stores in 2010, the brand disappeared.


PowerHouse: too big for its boots? – Many will recall that Dick Smith’s first PowerHouse superstore in Hamilton was met with some scepticism. A year later, Wares’ April 2007 issue had a story on the second in Manukau City and Store Manager Daniel Mills.

Sylvia Park by that time was also up and running by that time and the GM Merchandising, James Cunnold, was asked what was next?

“We’re going to carry on doing what we have been,” he answered. “We’ll continue to implement and demonstrate more innovative technology so customers can understand it. That’s talking about convergence, a demonstration of what technology is available now to use in the home.”

James is now at Foodstuffs as Brand Manager for Gilmour Wholesale. He tells that the New Zealand PowerHouse operation was outperforming Australia but the concept really would have suited 1,200m2 stores rather than 2,000m2. “They were just too big,” he says.

Daniel is Rewards Commercial Manager at Loyalty New Zealand (FlyBuys).

April 2007’s movers & shakers – The first to sign on at the group’s inception in 1998, Retravision’s CEO, Leighton Cox, had just resigned. Leighton started in the appliance industry with Wrightson Appliances in the Waikato and then moved to the Selectrix support office when Wrightson NMA got out of appliance retail.

On leaving Retravision, Leighton had a break before joining Tradezone as CEO where he remained until retirement.

We also read about the visit to our shores of Nilfisk-Advance’s Global GM for Consumer, Soren Sorensen. He was pictured with Nilfisk Account Manager Nicole Bult and Hill & Stewart executives Kara Waetford and Anita Patel.

Soren is Commercial Director at Kompan A/S, a leading global supplier of playground equipment while Nicole is working part time as an Administrator with Dairy on Demand in the FMCG sector. Kara is now at The Warehouse as General Manager Warehouse Mobile, and Anita is a Category Manager at Progressive Enterprises.

At Warranty Group Serena Hollis had become Business Development Manager and Chris Green had joined EECA to develop marketing communications for the ENERGY STAR programme. Serena is Malcolm Bain’s life partner, enjoying life as a stay-at-home mum and Chris is Senior Marketing Advisor at Worksafe.

10 years ago, Peter Bonisch of Fujifilm had stepped up from a position in electronic imaging to the Sales & Marketing chair and Jan Anderson became a Sunbeam Account Manager after 14 years with Bendon.

Groupe SEB announced that Bronwyn Muldrew had joined from Noel Leeming Group as Trade Marketing Manager with Danielle Craighead being appointed Administration & Marketing Co-ordinator.

Peter is still with Fujifilm as Marketing Manager for the Imaging Division and Jan is at Fletcher Living as a Sales Consultant.

A decade on and Bronwyn is still with Groupe SEB as a Sales & Office Executive while Danielle left the company some years ago to take up teaching, a career which has taken her to the Makuhari International School near Tokyo.  


Goodness, time rolls on with indecent haste! In June we check in with Peter Wood, in 1997 was the owner-operator of Powerco 100% Your Electric Store in Wanganui, we review the Appnet conferences of 2002 and 2007 and look in on Harvey Norman Lower Hutt as it was in 2007 under the stewardship of Andrew Horgan. Oh we’ll also whip over to Raro for Harvey Norman’s 10th New Zealand anniversary.


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