25 May 2024, 19:24
By Furniture News Sept 06, 2013

Friday Five - Alison Nottingham, Bianca Lorenne

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 Alison Nottingham, founder and director of designer bedlinen specialist Bianca Lorenne  …

How did you get into the trade?

I have always loved quilting and embroidery, and it was a hobby of mine that I did at every spare moment. Along with my passion for interiors, it seemed a perfect fit to design a range of timeless, quality, hand-crafted bed linen with an edge – to create something special and unique where I saw a gap in the market.

What was the turning point in your career?

My background is in accounting. One day, after working full-time and studying by correspondence for my business degree, I decided that I’d had enough of this monotonous office work and needed to free my creative juices! It was then that I decided to make a change in my life and I have never looked back – I only wish I had started it earlier. In saying that, the accounting has definitely been a great grounding for the business.

What is the key issue today?

Making sure you have a point of difference and always being on top of your game. Constantly researching and looking ahead for new trends and ideas. Keeping control of your costs and margins.

How can retailers increase sales and profitability?

The internet is a wonderful tool and so widely used these days that it is imperative that retailers have a web presence to sell online, or at least market themselves. Regular email  newsletters – but not too many to annoy your customers – combined with participation in social media applicable to their market is a free and easy way to build awareness, create followers and loyalty. 

Retailers need to ensure their outlets have fresh and interesting stock and displays to keep their customers interested. In store, events and promotions – and encouraging complementary add-on sales – will help to increase turnover. As will monitoring your costs and overheads, and being careful to reduce those that will not effect the overall image of your business and what you stand for. 

Customer service is so important in a retail situation. This is a major point of difference to online selling – the ability to build a personal face-to-face relationship and trust with your customer. Training staff in superb customer service has never been so important.

What brings a smile to your face in this industry?

Many people think Bianca Lorenne is an Italian company. It puts a smile on my face to see their reactions when we tell them we are a New Zealand-based family company, named after my daughters Bianca and Lauren. In keeping with our family culture, my brother and sister-in-law have recently taken on the distributorship for the UK.

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 to have a free digital issue delivered to your inbox each month.

© 2013 - 2024 Gearing Media Group Ltd. All Rights Reserved.