26 May 2024, 02:40
By Furniture News Oct 08, 2015

Corndell’s swift recovery

Corndell has made so much progress this year that it’s easy to forget that the brand was bought out of administration just 14 months ago. Its principals’ aim to secure the continuity of the business, whilst developing the quality furniture ranges for which the brand was renowned, remains healthily on track, discovers Paul Farley upon speaking to MD David Hudson …

Was Manchester Furniture Show a success for Corndell Quality Furniture?

The show created the next step change in the continuing growth of the Corndell brand. The order intake was impressive, with buyers, who browsed in January, now committing to substantial display orders.

Our trade press activity since January has also built momentum, and it encouraged a number of national retailers to visit us at the show – the combination of trade press and the show builds awareness which will generate business in the second half.

Following the restructure, what new directions has the brand taken that it might not have otherwise?

We now enjoy an element of financial security and independence which allows us to drive the brand in its own direction, developing our design and quality niche. Investment in the manufacturing and finishing plant in Witney enables us to improve productivity and produce a product finished to order – in turn allowing us to offer a broader range of colours, handles and finishes than any other UK supplier.

What has been the most significant challenge in getting the brand back on its feet?

There is, understandably, an element of caution in the trade when dealing with a re-formed company. We’ve had to work hard to convince the UK retail trade that not only have we survived, but we’re in a better place now – well positioned to create new product, but at the Corndell quality levels they recognise. We believe that the work we’ve done over the last few months has built levels of trust to a point where substantial orders were being placed at the Manchester Furniture Show, for example.

What will your new staff appointments bring to Corndell?

Melanie Mills has been appointed design manager, and is soon to become design director. Upon graduating from Nottingham Trent University, Melanie worked for one of the industry’s most influential designers, Maarten Baas. Subsequently, working in Asia for the last five years has broadened her knowledge across many different cultures and creative styles.

Having an in-house dedicated design director demonstrates the level of emphasis being placed upon the development of Corndell’s design handwriting, and also allows us to work in collaboration with key retailers and buying groups to develop exclusives – the launch of Milton for AIS members is a key example.

“Unlike other manufacturers we’re able to hold good stock levels in Witney and then finish to suit customers’ requirements. This enables us to be fast on our feet and meet the growing demand from consumers for choice and personalisation”

Anthony Lewer has been appointed as our new Midlands region area sales manager. Anthony is a well-known figure in the industry, with over 20 years’ experience in the furniture trade, having spent the last 10 years working with UK retailers and, prior to that, supplying UK furniture manufacturers with timber, components and hardware with Totem Furniture.

With his experience in manufacturing, wholesale and retail, he brings a unique set of skills which are ideally suited to Corndell.

Finally, Simon Richards, who has been with Corndell for a number of years running our logistics operation, was promoted to factory manager due to his exceptional management capabilities and understanding of the Corndell business. Following this appointment we’ve seen a dramatically positive change in our output.
 

What other developments have been made in the manufacturing side of the business?

We have really focused on transparency to our management team and employees, to help them understand what Corndell as a business is trying to achieve in the short and long term. This has allowed us to make significant changes to the way we operate our business due to buy in from the workforce, thus improving productivity, building levels of the right stock, and making people aware of the costs, without compromising quality – which is the key driver of the Corndell brand.

What prompted you to introduce the ranges you have this year?

The launch of Fairford and Arlingham at the January Furniture Show provided the ideal opportunity to demonstrate our quality and price positioning. These products, with their strong Corndell design styling, both represent the strength of our product design expertise.

We recently relaunched Annecy with its new colour palette, the wooden detail option and a wide range of handles – this is the perfect vehicle to demonstrate our finishing capability.

Where has Corndell managed to maintain its point of difference from the competition?

The developments we’ve made to the Annecy ranges have proved pivotal. Unlike other manufacturers we’re able to hold good stock levels in Witney and then finish to suit customers’ requirements. This enables us to be fast on our feet and meet the growing demand from consumers for choice and personalisation. Our price pointing, quality finish and brand reputation are also clear differentiators for us in the industry.

Are there any new developments in the pipeline?

Our next area for development is the well-known Nimbus range of product, which has been well exposed in UK retail for a number of years. There’s a number of key developments being lined up ready for January 2016, too.

This article was published in the September issue of Furniture News magazine.

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