19 May 2024, 22:02
By Furniture News May 08, 2019

Bazaar sets sights on stores with Ayla

With the launch of its first in-store retail range starting to shake up the soft seating sector, Northumberland’s Bazaar Group has come a long way since its formation in 2005. Paul Farley caught up with Philippe Galland, Bazaar’s sales and marketing manager, who has overseen the creation and launch of the company's new collection, Ayla …

“Space in the home is shrinking,” says Philippe, “and with the trend towards compact living, it’s important to have a different mindset as a starting point for developing new products.” 

Philippe’s passion and enthusiasm for the design process is infectious, and aided by his warm Gallic charm. He speaks a lot in concepts – shapes, living trends and design – but it’s clear a lot of market research has gone into the launch. 

Prior to Ayla’s launch, Bazaar’s investigations highlighted increasing migration to urban areas, with smaller living spaces. According to the World Bank Group, the average floorspace of UK homes is just 80 sqm, making them some of the smallest in Europe – and Bazaar sees an opportunity here. 

“Soft-seating is an underdeveloped category in retail,” says Philippe. “Our history in the category has shown us there is a real hunger for well-designed pieces that fit in with urban lifestyles and shrinking living spaces.

“The challenge for us was to create something that offered support and comfort but could also move and mould with the body. To ensure the pieces kept their shape, we needed a certain amount of structure, so we spent months working with different upholsterers and furnituremakers to find techniques that could do all that, as well as remain lightweight.”

Bazaar Group has been making soft seating for 13 years, growing from the days when founder Jayne Dolder sold a few homemade pieces to its current 42,000 sqft commercial premises. It now boasts a seven-figure turnover, and estimates that 5% of all UK homes house at least one of its products. 

Philippe believes the company’s success is down to its approach to design, which always begins with how a person interacts with a piece of furniture – a philosophy which has been developed through its educational range, Eden Learning Spaces. 

The Ayla collection comprises the Wave sofa, love seat, snug chair and Origami pouffe. “The models are easy to move around and versatile enough to work in any space,” says Philippe. “It’s furniture that lives with you, and not the other way around.”

For retailers, the size of each model means they do not take up much floorspace, and can be easily moved into different in-store lifestyle displays. But perhaps the biggest factor in Bazaar’s favour is its slick logistics operation and rapid lead times, developed over years of online fulfilment. Bazaar offers a range of delivery options, all of which negate the need to carry large amounts of stock. 

Philippe is confident that forward-thinking retailers will see what Bazaar is trying to achieve with Ayla. “The consumer is a lot braver than you think,” he says. “There are some retailers who will keep doing the same thing, but then expect different results – isn’t that Einstein’s definition of insanity? Sometimes, when things get tough, it’s that differentiation that becomes even more important. This concept is actually very consumer-friendly.”

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