This year, Buckinghamshire-based family retailer Back in Action is celebrating 35 years of helping customers sit more comfortably. With stores in Amersham, Bristol, Marlow and London, the business is proving invaluable for a growing number of people afflicted with back pain, says senior ergonomics adviser, Lucinda Newbound …
Founded by David and Lindall Newbound as a pop-up store in their Berkshire home, and since taken over by daughters Lucinda and Romilly, Back in Action prides itself on its range of stylish, ergonomic furniture and associated backcare solutions – and the work it does to address the causes of back pain.
Thanks in part to the work-from-home (WFH) revolution, Back in Action has become an increasingly popular destination for those investing in health and wellbeing. Offering a mix of top Scandinavian brands and proprietary solutions, the retailer truly values the opportunity to engage customers in a physical setting, explains Lucinda …
What prompted you to specialise in back care?
Back in Action was started in 1987 by my father David Newbound, an engineer who suffered a debilitating neck injury in 1982. When he discovered there was an alternative to constant pain, David formed the company to share the information and help other people.
Over the last 35 years we have helped thousands of people lead happier, pain-free lives. All in all, we’re pretty proud of what we do and the people we work with. Our team is the core of our business.
How does your sales approach differ to that of a standard furniture store?
At Back in Action, our experts are at the very core of our business. In fact, many of our staff started their relationship with Back in Action as customers and subsequently decided to join the team – so they’ve got a pretty good idea of what customers are going through. Together, our expertise and passion for helping people lead happier, pain-free lives continues to grow. We strive to manage, prevent and treat the symptoms of back pain, and help customers find the perfect chair – whether that’s for long periods of desk work, dining or relaxing.
What sort of feedback do you receive from customers?
Many of our customers have sought help from doctors, physiotherapists and chiropractors, and still they suffer with back or neck pain. As a last solution they come to us – often we can diagnose and come up with a solution we know will help them within minutes of them walking into one of our shops.
Has the WFH movement created a tangible difference to sales?
We know that many people have struggled over the last few years as the movement to WFH has become the norm. We’ve seen workers sitting in unsuitable dining chairs at the kitchen table, propped up on a stool at a kitchen island or breakfast bar, and even working from bed and bath! Any of these could lead to back pain, bad posture, sore neck and shoulders and more.
Over the course of the pandemic, the desire for ergonomic furniture has grown – we have seen an overall +400% uplift across the board for ergonomic home office items. The difference this could make to productivity is staggering, especially when our research over a 10-year period has shown the average proportion of back pain-related sick leave in the UK is 40%. We’ve seen that, by sitting actively, this can be reduced to less than 0.1%.
We feel very lucky to have been in a position over the last two years to make huge changes to the way thousands of people are working. We are motivated by creating lasting positive change, by adjusting the way people use their bodies through a working day. This means that we love working one on one, getting things right for each individual.
The key for us when starting is always knowledge – understanding the person, the space, the possibilities, the restrictions, and their needs. We love getting to know things from the inside out so that we can achieve the greatest change possible.
Back issues seem to be affecting younger people. Do you feel you’re relevant to that demographic?
Oh absolutely, there is nothing better than getting to a problem early – and yes, we really are seeing issues younger and younger. Being able to help a broad demographic of age and affluence is why we sell items to help with posture, back pain and fitness starting at just £29.
How do you keep abreast of the latest product innovations and developments in ergonomics?
We learn from our colleagues, customers, from the chiropractors, physios, doctors and osteopaths that we work with, and by attending training courses and seminars. We are right on the front line – working with real people and learning what works from real-life situations.
Pictured: The Newbound family, from left – Lucinda, Lindall, David and Romilly
Read the rest of the interview in September's issue of Furniture News.