Interview: AWE and the future of custom install

posted on Sunday, 28th July 2013 by Steve May

Lighting Control  Home automation  4K  AWE Europe 

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Although it seems intrinsically linked to the luxury lifestyle market, the future of the custom install business is potentially far more diverse. That's the view of leading distributor AWE Europe, which is now actively looking to expand into surprising new areas.

"I think there are opportunities in the care and health market to really improve people's lives, rather than just home entertainment," AWE Europe's sales director Paul Mott told Inside CI. "There's an expanding market for care at home custom install products. Of course that's always been the case, but it's more so now than ever." He believes the technology is ideal for helping "older people manage in the home." By incorporating "smart lighting control, automated blinds and door entry, Mott says "I think that can make their lives securer and better."

We caught up with Mott on the coast of Sorrento, location for the 2013 D+M Group dealer convention. We were in town to look at the latest home entertainment technology, from streaming media systems to home cinema receivers, all traditional fare for CI installers, but there's so much more that the technology can offer suggests Mott.

"For people with dementia, who need more constant care at home, lighting control can be a particular help," he says. "Lighting, in the shape of Philips Dynalite, is a hugely strong brand for us. There's almost nothing it can't do. Link that to control brands like URC..." Mott confides that AWE is seeing its lighting control business increase "almost weekly." It's obvious that the man from AWE has a passion to break new ground. "This industry can make life more comfortable. That's something I'm particularly keen on seeing us develop  - this isn't just about care homes. There's a lot of us getting older, and there's not enough care homes. It's a social problem that we're going to have to deal with."

Entertainment trends in custom install
Of course, home entertainment techology will always be a business staple for integrators, and on the evidence of the new toys on show at the D+M dealer convention, there's rapid development on that front. "I'm finding that I'm using a lot of Spotify," says Paul Mott, "so music streaming is really becoming a major interest."

Looking forward, he argues the big trend is toward 4K Ultra High Definition. The launch of super-sized screens from the likes of LG and Samsung is something never before seen, he says. Indeed AWE is now distributing the record-breaking Samsung UE85S9ST, an 85-inch UHD screen squarely aimed at the luxury install market. "These are relatively easily accommodated in someone's home," says Mott casually. "Any reasonably sized house will have a room you can put an 84-85-inch screen in, and it'll be like a cinema."

Business opportunities in custom install
AWE believes that tomorrow's custom install business doesn't have to be focussed on the high-end. "Custom install doesn't have to be complex, it can be as simple as a cinema room and music in a few zones," says Mott. "The CEDIA Awards may feature fantastic, extravagant, incredible solutions, but the market for custom install is so much bigger than that. It's beginning to be accepted by people as the thing to have, an investable thing."

Mott suggests that changes in the property market are also playing into the hands of the install business. "I think we've seen a pattern recently in the property market where people have chosen to improve rather than move - and improvement allows for custom installation to happen, not just in home theatres but in kitchens and bathrooms."

The distributor has also been actively recruiting traditional retailers, through channels like RETRA and the CIH. "We made an early appearance at a RETRA conference, where our managing director Stuart (Tickle, pictured) basically got up on stage and said this is who we are and this is what we do - are you interested? I think that started to get high street retailers interested in what we could do for them. But you can't expect to convert someone's business through one event. Now through CIH membership, we've got an easy route to supply these dealers with URC control technologies and multi-room audio solutions."

For more on AWE's product portfolio and services, visit our partner page here. For more on the Samsung UE85S9ST click here.
Also read:
AWE ships world's largest 4K Ultra High Definition LED TV
Denon Marantz dealer Con 2013: Photo gallery
Reviewed: CEDIA Region 1 Awards 2013

Watch now:
The 2013 CEDIA Awards show - all the winners, exclusive backstage interviews

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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