16 July 2024, 21:38
By Furniture News Jan 03, 2020

2020 vision: Peter Harding, Fairway Furniture

When the going gets tough, the tough reassess, refine, and reap the rewards. Furniture News asks the businesspeople leading the charge towards success to share their views on the past year and what the future might hold – in this article, Peter Harding, MD of four-store independent Fairway Furniture, offers his perspective …

The best deal we struck last year was introducing a much more contemporary and eclectic dining offer than we’ve traditionally offered, which has reinvigorated a category that has seen weaker performance than it should have

The biggest product trend in-store was the resurgence in upholstery, and fabric over leather in particular

What changed most about the way people shop was consumers feeling less constrained by the traditional suite or set combinations. They’re now much more likely to mix and match – particularly in dining, which makes managing displays much more challenging

What changed most about the way we sell was a renewed focus for our sales teams, making sure they’ve established everything the customer wanted, maximising add-ons and driving sales growth

What put me under most pressure was the relentless Brexit debate and the debilitating effect this had on consumer confidence, currency rates and offshore supplier reliability. We’ve lost count of the number of times our European suppliers have put plans in place to handle no-deal, only for it to then be kicked down the road again

In 2020, I’m most looking forward to hopefully starting a post-Brexit period of stability and renewed consumer confidence … until the trade negotiations collapse!

The next product trend coming in-store is eclecticism – this is growing, even among more mature customers, and I’m sure it will continue

The product trend on its way out is leather upholstery, which is losing its appeal, and is being replaced by more practical fabric options such as Aquaclean, which is really growing. The consumer desire for refreshing their home interior looks more regularly has been partly responsible

Our tech priority is continuing sustainable investment in our online retail presence to remain relevant and succeed in a very competitive online market

The biggest challenge will be ensuring we continue to remain relevant in a world where the multiples have such a large share of voice that independents have to offer something different to thrive

Knowing that the UK market continues to innovate and reinvent itself, therefore driving consumer demand, makes me hopeful for the industry’s future

Discover more perspectives in our annual retailer review, in January's issue of Furniture News.

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