Hydeline’s pioneering spirit came to the fore at this year’s JFS as the seating specialist presented the latest from its eponymous recliner label and captivating lifestyle brand, At The Helm. Furniture News asked new MD Jonathan Burrage about finding his feet, the trade’s response, and his vision for the company’s future …

How were the respective brands received at the January Furniture Show?

There were noticeable gasps as people walked through the doors of our At The Helm showroom. Our customers arrived with high expectations, and we certainly did not disappoint!

Our sofa collections, Signature Heritage and Modern Explorer, were exhibited alongside handcrafted authentic wooden canoes, bespoke compass bookshelves and rope pillars. It was important for us to create an interactive experience for our customers that would convey our sphere of British heritage, our adventurer spirit, and our strict craftsmanship ethos. 

With expanding international recognition, and a boldness in daring to be different, At The Helm’s innovation of both sofa and stand was received with both praise and ovation from all our clientele. Our customers who attended emphasised strongly how comfortable the sofas were, verbally communicating that they could feel the exceptional comfort, and how they were impressed by the sleek, inviting designs. 

This was an important moment for us, because we have worked tirelessly to ensure aesthetic, craftsmanship and supreme comfort exists for all our models.It was superb to observe all our hard work over the past year – carefully designing, manufacturing, and sampling our sofas and concepts – all come together in the end. The result was very rewarding. We were so pleased it was received well.

Which models elicited the most positive feedback, and why? 

Although we saw a great reaction to our new additions, we were particularly impressed with the buzz Leo received. A modern take on the quintessential sofa, it’s created using FSC-certified timber and padded with sustainable Dacron from recycled plastics.

The Leo is a stylish statement piece that radiates character and charm whilst offering optimal comfort. Most importantly, it’s manufactured using the very best sustainable materials – as we evolve, so does our pledge to create a greener and better future that everyone can enjoy. 

At The Helm is renowned for our classic heritage collections, and so whilst all our models garnered significant attention, the Livingstone was a clear winner. Boasting key features such as a relaxed and inviting seat, sumptuously padded scrolled arms with relaxed pleat details, and curvaceous corners supporting the body for enhanced comfort, the Livingstone was a huge topic of conversation.

Do you think the business will consequently take any new directions?

At The Helm will continue encompassing our ‘explorer’ spirit, challenging ourselves to reach new heights, and improving our product offering each year. We are a young and ambitious brand, and there are many exciting ideas under development. Our relentless focus on customer experience will remain at the heart of everything we do.  Watch this space! 

Following the unrivalled success of our chesterfield sofas, the brand continues to evolve with the introduction of contemporary, British-inspired designs which have been carefully considered and thoughtfully improved for today’s home.

You attended JFS with two brands across two stands, which can be difficult to juggle. Do you see any easy wins or synergies between the two that haven’t yet been exploited?

I feel that because At the Helm and Hydeline are two separate entities, they complement each other very well. At The Helm offers British heritage and expert craftsmanship, which is at the very heart of our brand. It is why we are committed to using only the best materials and passionate artisans to create superior products. Every time. 

Widely regarded for our unrivalled comfort, fused with innovative style and skilled craftsmanship, At The Helm continues to lead the way with our perfectly designed sofas crafted for modern-day living.

Hydeline, meanwhile, offers game-changing recliner technology, and superior comfort. Many of our recliners are constructed with individually pocketed coil springs, layers of varying density foams, a memory foam topper and wrapped in a durable Dacron layer, meaning you can indulge and escape into the utmost comfort.

We’re so confident our recliner sofas are built to last, which is why we offer a lifetime guarantee on all frames and a five-year guarantee on all motors and electrical components.

Could there be a collaboration between the two? Maybe, but I don’t think there’s any need. Both companies have unique identities whilst still offering exceptional products to the consumer.

Can you tell us a little about your own background, and what you’ve brought to the business?

I have a broad and varied background in customer-facing organisations, where my focus has always been on the end-consumer. Whether B2B or B2C, we must always be asking ourselves how what we’re doing will impact/benefit the end-user. Our furniture does not end its journey with our retail customers. Each piece will ultimately take pride of place in someone’s home, and remaining focused on this ensures that everything we do, from product development through to the marketing and presentation of our furniture in a high street store, ensures we get it right time after time after time.

In recent years I have developed new IT systems which have provided game-changing levels of service. There is much that I’ve learned that will benefit our industry, and our customers will see the benefits in the coming months.

What’s kept you busiest since you joined the company?

I’m lucky that I’ve joined a team of extremely hard-working and dedicated individuals. We are all immensely proud of At The Helm and Hydeline, and it comes across in everything we do. I have lost count of the number of trade shows I’ve hosted in my career, but this was the most incredible project. I’m extremely thankful for the collective efforts of the team, our friends at Envisage and Ryan McNeish, in ensuring we delivered a stand to rival anything I’ve seen. 

The industry differs very little from others in which I’ve spent my career.  We have our idiosyncrasies, but let’s not forget that there is a consumer at the end of the journey, with an expectation of receiving great products with great service within a time frame that meets their busy lifestyle.

What’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2022?

Our success is intrinsically linked to our ability to keep evolving. Our design team have some big challenges to keep the pipeline flowing, and I’m sure we’ll keep surprising the industry with new, beautifully designed and well-built furniture.

What’s the best point of call for anyone wishing to find out more?

We have a number of different touchpoints to ensure we’re always available to our customers. Whether via your regional area manager, our office-based customer hub or our websites, it’s easy to keep in touch with us. I am always keen to hear from our valued customers, and I’ve already been on the road to meet many of them. 

We rely on feedback to ensure we learn and grow. I would invite anyone to call us direct if they wish to learn more.