All posts by Tony

Swanglen’s two tone story

Swanglen Furnishings truly understand fabric, and at this year’s Bed Show, they will be launching a brand new range of fabrics. New textures and colourways will be brought together in a brand new swatch featuring around 40 fabrics. The major focus will be on what national sales manager, Nick Gigg, calls the Two Tone Story. As Nick explains, “In addition to our enhanced swatch, we will launch a dedicated range of exciting, stylish and durable wool-look fabrics in eight fashionable colours. These muted tones are designed to be sympathetic to each other and combining them gives fantastic results.” Swanglen are well known for their upholstery skills and this concept will show them at their best. Nick continued, “The customer will be able to choose from two brand new headboard designs and specify any two of the eight colours. The contrasting fabric can then be applied to the borders, piping or buttons, giving a huge number of combinations. This allows customers to personalise their headboard and make an almost unique piece.”

Also on show will be a new collection of contemporary winged floor standing headboards that have to be seen to be fully appreciated. Last year’s show saw Swanglen launch a range of beds for the first time and progress in this area has been rapid. This year there will be two new base options to sit alongside the traditional divan, all of which are available with headboards in matching fabric. Firstly there is the ottoman which has undergone a thorough risk assessment with FIRA, leading to what they describe as “one of the safest products of its kind on the market”. Finally, there is a new low profile contemporary divan base. Essentially this is a storage divan that has the look and styling of a bedstead. As Nick explains, “We had many customers ask us, given our expertise in upholstery, to rethink the traditional divan. Our R&D team has developed a real winner. It has the contemporary slim styling of a bedstead with all the advantages of a storage divan. Of course, it can be seamlessly integrated with any one of our headboards in any one of our fabrics, giving an almost endless choice. The few retailers who have had a sneak preview have been extremely enthusiastic and I think we will see a fantastic reaction at the Bed Show.”

 

Reimagining the no-turn mattress.

Gainsborough Beds have been hand making quality mattresses for over 30 years. Using some of the finest materials available – including merino wool, silk and cashmere – these beds have an enviable reputation as among the finest available in the UK. The ‘no compromise’ attitude to quality delivers an extraordinary level of comfort, but it does raise some issues. As Andy Richards, sales director at Gainsborough, explains, “we always strive to give the very best sleeping experience, but in common with other handmade mattresses this results in somewhat of an issue with weight for some customers. There can be up to 4,000 pocket springs in our double mattress and, along with the fillings, that soon adds up” The answer is to make the mattress ‘no-turn’, however, this normally involves merely taking out the fillings from one side. Andy continues, “Gainsborough has never taken this approach because ultimately it reduces the lifespan of the mattress by 50%.” The issue is mainly one of settlement of the fillings. Gainsborough has put considerable resources behind R&D to deliver a range that is engineered to reduced settlement and thereby not sacrifice the lifespan of the mattress. Andy says, “We are excited to launch the No-Turn Dual Pocket mattress range. I know this has been an issue for many customers looking for a quality mattress and, finally, retailers will have a product to satisfy these consumers.”

Also new this year is a revamped range of Windsor Bed mattresses. Gainsborough Beds has always supported the independent retailer and The Windsor Bed range allows ‘bricks and mortar’ customers to offer exclusively a handmade quality mattress range at incredible value. Complementing all these new developments for Gainsborough Beds is a fantastic collection of contemporary headboards – both strut and floor standing.

There are sofa beds available that give either, a comfortable seat or a comfortable sleeping experience; it’s very rare that you get something that delivers both. Gainsborough are recognised as among the best and most comfortable sofa beds on the market. Using the best mechanisms on the market, the sprung slatted base features a webbing seat platform that ensures total comfort whether as a sofa or a sofa bed. All of our standard models are available with open coil, pocket or memory upgrades. At the Bed Show we will be debuting exciting new fabric swatches and several new shapes with an emphasis on a more contemporary look. Andy Richards concludes, “This is going to be a very busy show for us, there’s a lot going on with both beds and sofa beds and we can’t wait to show it to customers.”

A Breath of Fresh Air

This year’s NBF Show will see Airsprung Beds continue to provide exciting and innovative solutions for retailers. It will be a showcase for fresh Kids’ ideas, bringing excitement and flair to a relatively predictable market.

In addition, Airsprung will be demonstrating its new, innovative Ottoman storage solution – a major first in the industry.

There will also be some fresh ideas around natural fillings, fabrics and finishing details that so often make a product successful.

As a benchmark brand for value, Airsprung believe that value does not mean utilitarian – many new and refreshing ideas have been created over the past few years and the growth in retailers adopting the Airsprung brand are testament to the fact that they are a manufacturer that listens to its retailers and, in turn, their consumers.

The first manufacturer to truly embrace online retail, Airsprung has matured in the market and now provides complete turnkey services for its online retailer base – the products themselves are only the beginning of the journey. Add to this a comprehensive Direct Home Delivery network, along with add-ons such as Collect and Recycle, and it’s easy to see why retailers trust Airsprung to make their lives easier and, ultimately, more profitable.

Expanding on this successful formula, Airsprung launched its new premium brand Hush From Airsprung two years ago – with the same ethos of quality, service and value. However, the Hush From Airsprung offer was to be focused more on premium fillings and fabrics. It was also designed to maximise the potential of each mattress and provide a premium product with excellent specifications and exceptional value. This gave Airsprung a much wider offer which was designed to attract retailers with a more demanding remit. To date, this has been a huge success and with that success a greater demand for “Private Label” products.

The largest retailers in UK now rely on Airsprung to design and produce their flagship models, be they divans, mattresses, headboards or ottomans. Teams of dedicated Trade Managers are on hand to look after their needs. Furthermore, Airsprung take every opportunity to share new ideas and innovation with its retailers, giving them a useful advantage in the market.

With Airsprung consistently delivering on price, quality and service, it’s no wonder that more retailers than ever before are trusting Airsprung to deliver for them, and to their customers.

NBF’s Code of Practice adopted by trading standards

NBF’s Code of Practice adopted as Assured advice by trading standards in new Primary Authority Partnership agreement

The National Bed Federation’s Code of Practice has been awarded Assured Advice status by trading standards, effectively giving NBF members who are following the code’s requirements reassurance that they are legally compliant when it comes to flammability regulations, cleanliness of fillings and trades descriptions.

Acceptance of the NBF’s code as Assured Advice comes on the back of setting up a co-ordinated Primary Authority Partnership with West Yorkshire Trading Standards. “We are thrilled to be able to offer NBF members a chance to join a co-ordinated Primary Authority Partnership,” says NBF president Stuart Hibbert. “Members who join the scheme will benefit from consistent and fair enforcement of regulations as well as access to robust and reliable regulatory advice which will apply to every NBF member in the scheme. Plus, having our Code of Practice adopted as Assured Advice means that regulatory authorities will accept our members are meeting their legal obligations in those areas it covers. If that doesn’t prove that our code has teeth, I don’t know what will!”

“We are now in the process of inviting all eligible NBF members to join the new Primary Authority Partnership,” says NBF Executive Director Jessica Alexander. “To date more than two thirds have indicated their intention to do so. “Members of the scheme will benefit not just from a consistent approach to interpreting regulations relating to product safety and fair trading but will also be able to ask for advice and guidance on any queries they might within those two categories. And advice or guidance given is then shared across all local authorities so will apply across the board for all our bed manufacturers.”

Primary Authority Partnerships were introduced in 2009 to provide businesses regulated by multiple local authorities a single approach to legal compliance and protection from the confusion and frustration that can be caused by different local interpretations of legislation. As long as a business is following advice from its Primary Authority, other local authorities can’t ask it to do something different and can direct against any enforcement action proposed by another authority, if it is inconsistent with the advice given.

The Primary Authority scheme was extended in 2013 to groups of businesses following a shared approach to compliance – such as a Code of Practice operated by a trade association. The NBF’s partnership currently only relates to regulation in the areas of fair trading and product safety and only covers companies based in England and Wales. Although the scheme only has the force of legal status in England and Wales, it is acknowledged that authorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland do take note of any Assured Advice offered by a Primary Authority.

The NBF’s Code of Practice is a compulsory requirement of membership for all bed manufacturer members. It covers compliance with the flammability regulations, cleanliness of fillings and trade descriptions and is underpinned by a rigorous regimen of regular third party audit.

NBF supports its ‘Approved’ mark with online advertising

The National Bed Federation is to urge consumers to look for the ‘Big Tick’ NBF Approved logo in an online advertising campaign which kicks off this weekend (Spring Bank Holiday).

A series of animated display adverts will pop up as consumers browse the internet for mattress and bed purchases. Over the next six months, it is expected the £50,000 campaign will clock up more than 29 million online impressions. A special one page microsite – www.sleepsafesleepsound.co.uk – which has been developed to support the campaign, provides a brief overview of the scope of the Code and a list of approved brands consumers can check before they buy.

“In a recent consumer survey of bed buying habits conducted by the NBF, 36% of respondents said they had seen the Approved logo, which is a pretty good start,” said NBF executive director Jessica Alexander. “But we wanted to increase awareness and to demonstrate our continued commitment to the Code. It’s not a one-off exercise – we are developing its scope all the time and have a programme of re-auditing which will ensure all members are audited at least every two years.”

“We want to keep on reminding consumers that they can buy an NBF member’s products with confidence, knowing that they are safe, clean and honest,” says the NBF’s new President, Ebrahim Patel. “This new campaign will hopefully bring what we are trying to do to the attention of many more of them.”

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Managing Director of Swanglen to retire

Martin Allen, managing director of Airsprung Group’s headboard division, is set to retire at the end of March. Martin joined Swanglen as operations director 23 years ago and in that time has been responsible for the complete overhaul and modernisation of the business. The key improvements are the introduction of new technology, working methods and quality procedures. The thing that Martin is most proud of, however, is the Swanglen team, as he explains. “I have been asked what I would miss most and the answer is simple; it’s the people. Both the fantastic team we have built here and the wonderful customers I have worked with over 25 years.”

National sales manager, Nick Gigg, will be responsible for customer accounts and sales from next month. “Nick has already built a great rapport with our customer base and I am delighted they will be in such good hands.” Martin said. He’s also confident about the future for Swanglen, adding “We have an exciting pipeline of products which the team will be launching over the next 12 months and I shall be watching their progress with great interest.”

Tony Lisanti, CEO of Airsprung Group said “I would like to thank Martin for his hard work and dedication to Swanglen and wish him all the very best in the future. Although, knowing Martin’s passion for renovating and riding motorcycles, I think it’s going to be far from a sedate retirement.”

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Toys galore for Children’s Hospice

Airsprung employees raise funds in a collection for Charlton Farm, a children’s hospice based in Wraxall, North Somerset.

When Kevin Hatter, a divan operator at Airsprung Beds became aware of the work of Children’s Hospice South West and the fact that they are nearly entirely dependent on donations, he decided to do something to help. Mr Hatter mentioned it to colleagues at Airsprung Group in Trowbridge and suggested a collection. The donations snowballed and before long, nearly £500 had been raised. The team contacted Charlton Farm, the children’s hospice based in Wraxall, North Somerset, and suggested they provide a shopping list which they were only too happy to do.

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Tamara Downes and Debbie ColemanDuring one of the charity’s monthly open days, Debbie Coleman, Group HR Manager at Airsprung handed over bags of toys, bedding and crockery to Tamara Downes, Community Fundraiser at Children’s Hospice South West. The handover followed a tour of the facilities given by Colin Eastbrook, one of the charity’s many volunteers. Debbie explained, “Colin was clearly passionate about the work of the Hospice, having been involved right from the start. When you see the environment they have built here you cannot help but be impressed. It really is a home from home and just feels so welcoming; nothing is too much trouble.”

The charity was established 25 years ago by Eddie and Jill Farwell and opened the first of three hospices five years later, the hospice at Charlton Farm was opened in 2007 by HRH The Countess of Wessex. All three hospices are predominantly funded through donations and fund raising events. Tamara said “We are very grateful to Kevin and the team at Airsprung. Every amount, small or large is always welcome and everything raised goes to making a difference to life-limited children and their families.”

To find out more about this vital work, visit www.chsw.org.uk and click on ‘Support Us’ to see how you can help.

Gainsborough Beds announce new showroom

Gainsborough Beds have taken up residence in their second showroom. The space at Harrington Mill, Long Eaton is designed to showcase product for northern based customers.

Andy Richards, Sales Director for Gainsborough, explains. “For many years we have had a showroom at our headquarters in Wiltshire, but have been conscious that it is not the ideal location for many retailers, particularly those who are further north” It is increasingly important that retailers have early access to new product, Andy continues. “At Gainsborough we always try to see things from our customers’ point of view. With retail space under pressure it is very difficult to ask our customers to take a leap of faith, they need to see it and touch it. Retailers’ time is always stretched so anything that gets the product closer to them is going to be a real advantage.”

In addition to the current range, Harrington Mill will also be used to display prototypes and new designs. The majority of the floor will feature Gainsborough’s beds, but there will also be a selection of their sofa bed range.

Long Eaton, of course, is normally associated with quality upholstery and eventually the ground floor studio space will be shared with sister companies Swanglen, Cavendish and Collins and Hayes. Andy believes that Gainsborough beds are a natural fit. “Long Eaton is synonymous with quality and craftsmanship, and so is Gainsborough. The Collins and Hayes customer would also buy a Gainsborough bed and vice versa. So having the two side by side is perfect synergy.” Having this permanent display space also means that Gainsborough will be showing at Long Point for the first time.

Cavendish Upholstery, and Collins and Hayes will be in place by Spring Long Point but the Gainsborough and Swanglen ranges are available for viewing now.

Macmillan coffee morning

In conjunction with Macmillan Cancer Support, a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning event was held in the main Airsprung Beds office on 26th September 2014.

The Coffee Morning organised by Macmillan Cancer Support is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event, where people across the UK hold a coffee morning and raise money for people living with cancer.

In 2013, 154,000 people signed up, raising a record £20 million.

The Airsprung event raised a total of £216.02. The Company matched this amount making a total donation to Macmillan of £432.04

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Collins and Hayes in Long Point debut

Hot on the heels of the appointment of a new Managing Director, Collins and Hayes Furniture announce that the Sussex manufacturer will be exhibiting at the Long Point Exhibition for the first time. Following on from the show on September 15-17, the premium upholstery manufacturer has secured ground floor space at Harrington Mill to provide a full time showroom. Matt O’Flynn, the incoming MD, has a personal affinity with Long Point as he chairs the Long Eaton Guild of Furniture Manufacturers. He explains; “I am delighted that Collins and Hayes will be exhibiting at Long Point and the addition of a permanent showroom in the Midlands will be invaluable. We will be able to invite our trade customers to this more central venue to view new collections and it will be an excellent venue to offer training and sales support to our retailer network.”