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This month, Zano Sales & Marketing Director Jenny Knighting caught up with Andrew Moseley, Head of Procurement and Marketing at CEF. Here, Andrew shares his views on the electrical wholesale industry.

How long have you been in the electrical wholesale industry?

Since 1987, but I joined CEF in March 2014.

Has the industry changed much in that time?

Remarkably little has changed when you look back over the last 25 years.  One thing that does stand out is the consolidation of the supplier base, with larger corporates taking over smaller brands.  The other big change is LED: it’s amazing how fast the transition to LED has happened, in just the last few years.

Would you say that LED has shaken the industry up?

It has been a revolution. It has exposed some of the major lighting brands, because smaller, more agile companies have seen an opportunity and taken it.  However, the market is overcrowded and there are huge variants in the quality of the products that are out there. I do have concerns about safety and performance; in particular, the guarantees that some companies are quoting are yet to be tested.

What’s next, in terms of demand and innovation?

The efficiency aspect of LED isn’t going to create the same scale of energy savings that we have seen thus far and for me the next big thing is controllability and connectivity.  The challenge there for our customers is how comfortable they are to work in that space – do they see that as an electrician’s job?  If they do, there’s a whole new chapter of opportunities. 

How have online channels disrupted electrical wholesale?

Wholesalers are very traditional and as an industry – with some exceptions – we have been slow to embrace online.  Some are now realising that to survive they have to embrace a multi-channel strategy.  I also think that asking your customers today what they want is a dangerous thing, because there is going to be a noticeable generation gap. It’s the customers of tomorrow– i.e, the apprentice now that will be the business owner of the future – that will demand more from their electrical wholesalers. They will want to trade in a way that suits them and how they buy in their personal life, which is increasingly online.

That’s not to say that the local branch relationships, service and support will become irrelevant, but ultimately the customer will expect more.  Thirty thousand products available next day, with an 8pm cut off – how many branches can deliver this?  Yet an online channel like CEF Online can.

What would you say to your 22-year-old self about joining the electrical wholesale industry – and would you still want to?

It’s going to sound a bit clichéd, this, but I think our industry is a well-kept secret.  There are some great people, I have been to some great places and seen some amazing things.  Stuff you would never usually get to do.  It is very entrepreneurial.  In fact, I think it is such a good opportunity I have encouraged my youngest son to get into it.

What sets CEF staff above the rest?

Our ability to make quick decisions and invest for the long term. And training is key.  Knowledgeable, well-trained staff are critical.  CEF have just opened a training academy and we are working closely with the EDA on training programs. As changes happen we, as a business, have to continue to maintain our reputation for having knowledgeable, reliable, expert staff.

Lastly Andrew, what keeps you awake at night?

My bad back.