Reviewing our stove sales so far this year in the run-up to peak stove season, we thought we’d share a snapshot of the changes in the mix of stoves we have sold.
- 1. Clearview Pioneer 400.
- It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows us that the Pioneer retains the top spot. Robust, reliable and of legendary controllability, with an incomparable airwash, it is also the size best-suited to most British sitting rooms, with an output range of 1 to 5kW. The main impetus to sales is from the actual fitters, who know the Pioneer will work exceptionally well in the vast majority of circumstances.
- 2. Clearview Vision 500.
- Clearview had a boost this year from the Which user survey of popular stove brands, which put Clearview in first place by a clear margin. The Vision used to toggle for top spot with the Pioneer, but as houses and rooms have become smaller over the years, and better insulated, the demand for 8kW fireplace stoves has slightly diminished, but the Vision is still an incredibly popular stove, with a wide door that will take a 15" log.
- 3. Chesney’s Salisbury 5 wood burner.
- Enjoying a dramatic increase in sales this year is this fabulous little stove. The Salisbury series have always proved (with our customers, at least) to be Chesney's most popular design, with a subtle and versatile aesthetic that makes it equally at home in houses ancient and modern. Chesney’s have modernised the stove to comply with (and exceed) Ecodesign criteria, and it burns very cleanly and efficiently. It’s probably fair to say that Chesney’s have cannibalised some of what would otherwise have been Clearview Pioneer sales, by capitalising on their Ecodesign-ready status, increasingly a concern for customers who are keen to ensure that their stoves meet the most recent standards. As an aside, we have been surprised not to have sold more of the slightly larger 6kW Salisbury 8-series, which we regularly light in the showroom. It’s a bit pricier, but has considerably more presence and a lovely large window. Maybe a stealthy winner for next year?
- 4. Contura 810 Style.
- Perhaps due to the increased trend for stoves in home offices and outbuildings, the 810, which benefits from extremely reduced distance-to-combustibles and a reduced heat output to suit the generally smallish dimensions of single-room outbuildings, has been our best-selling Contura model this year. It’s also a great-looking stove with a tall window allowing a superlative view of the tumbling structure of your fire. Typically ordered in black or grey, this picture is of the stunning white G model.
- 5. Clearview 400P.
- Unsurprisingly, we’ve always shifted a couple of these brilliant stoves (they’re basically a Pioneer with a log stand instead of legs) a month, but lately the 400P has increased in popularity, perhaps as a result of clearer guidance from HETAS on the use of heat shields, which can dramatically decrease the distance-to-combustibles at the back of the stove, making this stove a very viable option for free-standing application.
- 6. Contura 510 Style.
- No surprises here; this is Contura’s best-selling stove worldwide and their flagship model, and it continues to sell extremely well. Recently updated with a more streamlined look and cool-touch handles, there is now also a G model with a thin-framed door encasing a wider section of glass, for an even more refined appearance.
- 7. Contura 310.
- A more recent offering from Contura, capitalising on the trend for minimalist square-aspect stoves, this wide-screen panorama stove with a half-metre door, integral log stand and modular log storage options has proved very popular. It’s dramatic and well-priced, with a heat output well-suited to open-plan spaces like rear extensions.
- 8. Clearview 650.
- Historically, the main application for this high-output stove has been for large fireplaces, ideally inglenooks, in large, cold rooms. As a result, our sales have always been modest but steady, but we’ve noticed an uptick this year, with several of our 650’s installed in the middle of knock-through double rooms with twinwall flue.
- 9. Salisbury 10-series double-sided stove. Another surprise best-seller has been the Chesney’s only double-sided stove, the Salisbury 10. It’s always helpful for us to be able to point customers to the Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst who have one of these in their bar in a lovely brick fireplace. It’s worth noting that in our experience the stove does require a tall chimney to work properly, but for most applications (where a double-sided fireplace is serving two rooms) the large-sounding 10kW heat output actually equates to 5kW per room, making this a great solution to heating back-to-back rooms, even if they’re not particularly big.
Unfairly omitted from this list are any stoves from Chilli Penguin, who miss the top slots purely by virtue of our having sold a wider mix of their available models – the Short Penguin, Hungry Penguin, Woody and Penguin 8 primarily, with no one stove dominating sales (the Short Penguin has historically been our best-selling Penguin). They’ve also benefited from a thoughtful and subtle re-design, which has seen the windows double-glazed and the door handle modified, as well as improvements in efficiency. We are also expecting delivery of a new Penguin model – the wood-burning Stock Cube – which we are very excited about. Watch this space…
Another increasingly popular stove this year has been the Parkray Aspect 5 (and Aspect 4), which marries an eye-catching contemporary design with a large window and Ecodesign-ready status, and we have also sold more gas stoves than usual, and even a couple of electric stoves, including a magnificent double-sided model from Evonics.
Who are the losers? We’ve had a surprise deficit in orders for small insets, with the perennial favourite the Clearview Vision inset achieving minimal sales this year, and the fabulous Contura i4 experiencing a similar dearth. There’s no obvious explanation, and maybe they’ll bounce back next year.
Sales of boiler stoves, which can heat domestic hot water and run central heating, have also been low. This is perhaps unsurprising, as the bell tolling their complete demise – Ecodesign – is just around the corner, and with the advent of new technologies available to people living off the gas grid – like heat pumps and domestic PV – there is less and less demand. Chilli Penguin no longer offer boilers for their stoves, and Clearview are likely to follow suit in the next year or so, although spares for existing stoves will remain available for years yet.
Lastly, we have not sold nearly as many Barbas stoves as we would have liked. Despite having a much-appreciated Box 52 alight on the filing cabinets in our office at the entrance to the showroom on most winter days, this hasn’t translated into sales. Perhaps it’s down to price – the Box 52 clocks in at a shade over £2K – and in terms of design vernacular, it’s mimicked by the Contura 310 (as above) which eclipses it on price. So while we’ve sold a few Boxes and a handful of Barbas insets, overall sales have been a little disappointing. It’s a shame, as the stoves not only enjoy timeless good looks, they are also impeccably constructed to order in their state-of-the-art factory, absolutely bomb-proof (they’re made with an 8mm steel casing – if archaeologists of the next millennium find stoves in the ruins of our civilisation, they’ll probably be Barbas ones!) and work like a dream. Barbas is also a great, cutting-edge company with excellent after-sales service and spares available for decades, so their stoves represent a superb investment.