23 May 2024, 05:11
By Furniture News Feb 15, 2021

Core Products – not surviving, but thriving

With imports held up, raw materials in short supply and stores forcibly closed, a combition of fortuitious decisions has left Core Products in an enviable position as a supplier, explains the company's Mike Rowley …

How is the pandemic affecting your ability to trade?

Aside from the concerns we have over the health and wellbeing of everyone, the supply of raw materials to make products and the capacity within the factories to meet the increased demand are major issues. Combined with the well-documented shipping issues, it is fair to expect disruption for at least another year. 

Being locked down overseas at the start of the pandemic brought home the need to secure as much production as possible, even bringing forward new lines – this has helped ensure as much stock as possible is available in our warehouse.

Have you seen any products or materials really gain traction in the past 12 months?

As more people have been working from home there has been an inevitable increase in demand for home office furniture. Indeed, with more time spent at home, furniture is playing a bigger part in everyone’s lives – more robust, easy-to-clean and maintain finishes are in demand, which has accelerated the movement away from natural wood. 

Casual living is also heavily in demand (especially statement pieces such as wine cabinets and wall furniture). For many years, downstairs furniture was there to impress the neighbours – now it’s for colleagues and contacts, as the backdrop for Zoom meetings! 

How has your sourcing operation evolved?

Anticipating a surge in demand for mail order 20 years ago, Core purchased a former supermarket distribution centre located in close proximity of Scotland’s main port, with direct access to the major road network. This is giving us some consistency of arrivals, as the ports in the South are all congested. 

Also, as our purchasing is geographically diverse, we’re fortunate to be able mitigate the backlogs affecting Far East shipping routes to some extent. Ultimately, our supplier relationships, established over so many years, combined with our commitment to forward purchasing, is ensuring that, even now, we still have a considerable stockholding here in the UK.

… and your marketing strategy? 

With personal visits to customers severely limited, we’re all having finding other ways to communicate. With trade shows traditionally being the proven route to showing new products and ideas, we’re now finding trade publications such as Furniture News are very effectively filling the void for us.

What marketing assets do you offer stockists?

Early last year we projected that more and more retailers would look to enhancing their websites and social media over the coming years, but the current crisis has magnified this, with significant growth recently amongst retailers developing digital routes to communicate with customers. Because we already had proven ordering and digital marketing systems in place, we’ve seen more retailers expand their online portfolio to include our products, and this has certainly benefited us.

Many suppliers attest to being fast and reliable, and Covid-19 has truly put these promises to the test. How does your service stack up?

Supplying the mail order trade, even before the advent of ecommerce, meant we were one of the very first furniture companies to offer DHD deliveries with a fully supported online ordering platform. 

With so many retailers unable to open their doors, this is now more important than ever, and enables trading to continue. Despite all the news about shortages, customers are still hugely influenced by how long they have to wait – our ability to deliver in a matter of days does give our retailers a big advantage. With retailers able to access our stock inventory, which is regularly updated throughout the day, they are able to order with confidence of a quick delivery.

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