Each Friday, Furniture News puts five questions to a selected industry professional to explore their background and approach to business. Today, it's the turn of David Lawton, national sales manager of Jim Dickens Fabrics …
How did you get into the trade?
I was originally working in the accounts department for a medium-sized English weaver of woollen throws and scarves. I began helping out at various trade shows, and eventually, through time, my role within the company changed, and my love for sales and interaction with customers began to tempt me away.
What was the turning point in your career?
After 14 years with my first employers, I decided to make the leap and become a fully-fledged sales representative, and joined a number of fabric wholesalers supplying interior designers and upholsterers. With a large area covering Yorkshire, the North, Scotland and Ireland, my love for sales grew and grew. My next step was into sales management, and I am now fortunate to manage a successful team of sales agents with representation throughout the UK.
How will the industry evolve?
Like any industry, the need to evolve is a key element for success. Brand recognition for any industry or product is the difference between success and failure. I strongly believe that if your brand is clearly recognisable and sets you apart from your competitors, you are certainly heading in the right direction.
How can retailers increase sales and profitability?
Part of my remit when joining any organisation has been to improve turnover – this can be done by using the tools that are around you and utilising them to your advantage, in addition targeting weak areas where quick results can be achieved.
For example, finding reputable partners for key export markets where there has been no or very little marketing and sales can make a significant difference to any business, large or small. It is no secret how Jim Dickens has continued to grow at a rapid rate in recent years, in what are difficult times. Our strong identity, marketing, customer service and quality of product have been the building blocks of our success.
What brings a smile to your face in this industry?
I really believe this is a fantastic industry to be part of – be it a supplier or retailer – one where competitors young and old socialise and generally get on. Friendly competition is all part of the driving force. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a strong, friendly team, and I am constantly reminded by customers of how pleasant and efficient our core office team are – they are, after all, the first voice that our customers hear when placing that all-too-valuable order.
This is an extract from an article published previously in Furniture News magazine. For more stories like this, you can subscribe to receive a regular physical copy of the magazine, or sign up to have a free digital issue delivered to your inbox each month.