Spring Fair promises three stages of insight

Spring Fair promises three stages of insight



Spring Fair, taking place from 2nd-6th February at the Birmingham NEC, has announced its new theatre line-up for 2020.

Across five days and three stages, visitors will be treated to fresh retail sector insights from world-renowned industry innovators and disruptors. Recognising that consumers’ needs and wants are evolving, Spring Fair’s theatre programme has been curated to help visitors identify opportunities to invigorate their retail business and fuel greater sales and profits.

For the duration of the show, Spring Fair’s Inspiring Retail Stage, located in hall 6, promises to offer some of the best ideas in retail. The stage will host seminars, celebrity Q&As and panel discussions covering topics such as sustainability, customer experience, and the move towards hybrid retailing. This stage will also delve into consumer trends and equip retailers with additional tools to better engage with customers and the community.

Alongside major industry keynotes, John Lewis, Selfridges, Google, PwC and Mintel, as well as show trend partner Colour Hive, will join the stage alongside industry commentators and independent retailers, to share their successes with the audience.

The Design and Source Stage, meanwhile, will feature as part of the show’s new Sourcing area in hall 18. Speakers will provide talks on how to get one step ahead of market rivals in 2020 by looking beyond the UK’s borders, while addressing the latest design practices and inspiration sources, and helping educate visitors on more practical issues such as product lifecycle management and sourcing techniques.

Among the stage’s speakers will be designers and creatives from some of the UK’s most well-known retailers and brands including Oliver Bonas, Harrods, JML, West Elm and Penguin Random House, alongside interior designers and international sourcing experts. Colour Hive, Spring and Autumn Fairs’ trend partner, will also be on hand to guide audiences through the colour, material and finish trends for 2021.

Covering the essential best practices for the retail industry in 2020 will be the speakers of the popular Retail Skills Theatre. Located in hall 2, this stage will host a number of educational speakers focused on delivering practical insights for everyone from fledgling start-up retailers to established online independents. Among the speakers will be management coaches, HR experts, digital consultants and PR strategists, with Google Digital Garage running a series of workshops within the theatre.

Charlie Cracknell, Spring Fair portfolio director, says: “The climate that retailers operate in is in a state of transformation. Whilst many businesses are making it work, business models are being challenged – at Spring Fair, we want to give ambitious retailers the knowledge and assurance that embracing real change and transformation opens the door to opportunity. Those that have that fresh thinking in their approach and put their customers at the centre of their business are those that will thrive.

“Our 2020 line-up is highly relevant for today’s challenges. It will help shape thinking and we anticipate it to be our most exciting yet. We’re taking steps to embrace and indulge inspiring ideas from the industry’s most exciting innovators and disruptors. We want attendees to leave feeling invigorated, inspired, and with a new mindset for the year ahead and beyond.”

Register to attend for free here.



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British associations respond to election result

British associations respond to election result



Following the Conservative Party’s election victory, prominent UK associations are begining to return their verdicts on the result.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), comments: “We look forward to working with the new Government on the many issues facing retailers. The Prime Minister must now fulfil his manifesto pledge and urgently begin a fundamental review into the broken business rates system to relieve the burden on retail businesses and create a system fit for the 21st century.

“Retailers employ three million people across the UK, making the industry the UK’s largest private sector employer. It is therefore important that the Apprenticeship Levy is made more flexible to enable the industry to use funds for any form of accredited training to suit its skills needs and create a workforce fit for the future. Equally, retailers need to see action from Government to tackle retail violence. Every day, 115 people are attacked at work – no-one should go to work in fear.

“It is also vital over the coming days and weeks that the Government commits to bringing clarity on the UK’s future relationship with the EU and pursues a fair deal for consumers that maintains tariff-free, frictionless trade with the EU.

“With retail conditions the toughest they have been for a decade, the Prime Minister must act to support the successful reinvention of retail locations and local communities. We look forward to working with ministers on a strategy to strengthen the retail industry during this period of unprecedented change.”

Hew Edgar, head of UK Government relations and city strategy for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), says: We congratulate Mr Johnson on his election win, and hope that his Government provides the stability the UK’s built environment craves, as well as the attention it needs and deserves. For too long, domestic issues have been sidelined by the Brexit debate, and this has negatively impacted investment and growth in land, property and construction. 

“It is imperative that key issues, such as housing supply, high street and town centre renewal and climate change are a top priority for this Government. RICS will work with the new administration to ensure that these issues are tackled, in consideration of the social and environmental impact that any policy or legislation might have.”



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Kaymed celebrates double award win

Kaymed celebrates double award win



International furniture and bedding group Harvey Norman selected leading mattress specialist Kaymed as its Homewares and Linen Product of the Year 2019, for its innovative Sleep Studio Pillows – and the Kaymed brand was named Sleep Surface Supplier of the Year at Harvey Norman’s annual award ceremony, hosted in Dublin this month.

The award is contested by some of the leading lights on the international bedding scene, including many leading manufacturers, and Kaymed describes this achievement as “a great honour”, which complements the fact that it previously won the award in five of the last seven years, and is an acknowledgement of its efforts in supplying the 12 Harvey Norman stores across various categories.

Robbie Auckram, general manager of bedding for Harvey Norman Ireland, says: “This award recognises the bed supplier who has provided the highest standard of customer service and the most progressive product innovations over the preceding 12 months. Kaymed, once again, impressed us in these areas, as well as their overall retail partnership approach, ensuring that not only did their product meet the highest level of quality, but also the service provided to the stores from all aspects of the business met this same standard.”

David Moffitt, CEO of Kaymed, comments: “We are absolutely delighted that our hard work and efforts to continually enhance customer service and product innovation are acknowledged by this prestigious award. The award is particularly meaningful because the winner is selected by staff and managers of the bed department within each store. This is testimony to the efforts of our 300 employees to make Kaymed the best and most innovative mattress manufacturer for retailers in the UK and Ireland to do business with.”

Pictured from left: Marty Paukste and Daven Healey, buyers from Harvey Norman; David Moffitt; Christine Martin, account director for Harvey Norman Group at Kaymed; Donal Heagney, Kaymed product development; and Conor Stapleton, Kaymed’s international sales and marketing officer



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New technology at January Furniture Show

New technology at January Furniture Show



January Furniture Show, which will take place from 19th-22nd January at Birmingham’s NEC, will take a step into the future with three advanced technology systems in 2020.

The first of these is a collaboration between Symmetry CGI, [show organiser] Clarion Events, KeyShot software and MC Designs, which will demonstrate how 3D modelling can be used in product development and product and brand marketing.

From its stand in hall 2, Symmetery CGI will explain how to create full product images and lifestyle shots from basic building blocks, and show how finishes and colours can be changed easily to show alternative colourways, finishes and lifestyle backdrops, giving manufacturers and suppliers the opportunity to see how a product will look without the need to make expensive prototypes or long photoshoots to generate product and lifestyle shots in different finishes.

For retailers, the CGI system will give customers the opportunity to view furniture in a room virtually, enabling quick and simple room planning, speeding up the selection process and removing uncertainty. Via a phone or tablet with an AR app, products can be superimposed into a customer’s own home, with a 360° view of a room, giving them an instant feel for how the furniture will look.

Second is JFSConnect. Returning visitors will be familiar with the event’s SmartBadge system, which allows them to collect sale and product information preloaded by exhibitors on the JFSConnect platform. Each entry badge has a Smart chip which interacts with the JFSConnect touchpoints on every stand, and by simply tapping these visitors can collect the data and exchange contact details with the exhibitor.

Lastly, JFS has developed a Networking Platform to help visitors plan their visit and get even more out of the event. Using JFS’ website they can search by company name, product sector, trail and hall, then highlight exhibitors and products of interest.



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Dunelm positive after web platform transition

Dunelm positive after web platform transition



Dunelm has positively revised its profit expectations for the year, thanks to the transition of its customers to a new digital platform.

The retailer says that its modern, flexible, cloud-native platform will be used to accelerate the development of its customer proposition.

“Customers have responded well to the new website and we are delighted that during this critical transition period we did not see any adverse impact to our performance, maintaining our strong sales growth both online and in stores,” states the retailer. “Gross margins have been stronger than expected as a result of sourcing gains and better sell-through. Operational costs remain well controlled and in line with our expectations.

“In light of the above, the board now anticipates that the full-year profit before tax will be higher than our previous expectations, assuming no significant change in consumer demand as a result of the outcome of the general election.”



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Habitat’s MD steps down | Furniture News Magazine

Habitat’s MD steps down | Furniture News Magazine



Habitat‘s MD Clare Askem has decided the time is right to leave the business, and has stepped down.

Taking on responsibility for the retailer is James Brown, commercial director of general merchandise and clothing, who says: “I’d like to thank Clare for her contribution to building the Habitat brand over many years, most recently as MD. We wish her all the best for the future.”

A retail development specialist, Clare joined the retailer in 2011, rebooting the brand (founded in 1964 by Terence Conran) after Home Retail Group bought it from administration. Sainsbury’s acquired the group’s Argos and Habitat businesses in 2016.

Read our interview with Clare from 2015 here.



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Consumer confidence flatlines in November

Consumer confidence flatlines in November



GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index was unchanged at -14 for November. One measure increased, one stayed the same, and three measures decreased – including the major purchase index, which fell by one point to 0 (up three points YoY).

It has been nearly four years since consumer confidence was in positive territory.

Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, says: “In the face of Brexit and election uncertainty, consumers are clearly in a wait-and-see mode. The score for the general economy over the coming year has ticked up three points, and this is possibly an indication that some consumers believe the imminent general election might clear the Brexit deadlock, even though this sub-measure is still in deeply negative territory at -34.

“The general election is potentially an opportunity to move us out of the doldrums – but for this to happen there must be a clear result. A hung parliament could be very damaging for consumer confidence and would surely deepen the obvious malaise that we see month after month.

“We have not seen a positive headline score since January 2016 – that’s nearly four years ago. Uncertainty is nobody’s friend. So, while many issues are under the spotlight in this election, political parties will need to satisfy voters that they will be effective for the wider economy and that, as a consequence, people will be better off next year and beyond. Consumers need to be convinced they will be able to balance their personal accounts beyond ‘just about managing’. Fantasy economics alone will not guarantee votes.”



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Shire obtains quality certification | Furniture News Magazine

Shire obtains quality certification | Furniture News Magazine



As part of its drive to improve standards by establishing a quality management system (QMS), Dewsbury’s Shire Beds has achieved ISO 9001:2015.

MD Fara Butt (pictured) comments: “We are proud of our achievements. Our QMS will help us to deliver quality products and service consistently to our customers.”

Shire Beds has invested heavily in continuous growth, which began with investment in plant and machinery to build capacity, says Fara. Its current focus on systems and practices enabled the company to achieve the ISO 9001 certification, which recognises the company’s consistent operations and processes.

“Our customers can be assured of our commitment to operational excellence,” she continues, “and this certification is part of that commitment.”



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