29 May 2024, 16:34
By Furniture News Jan 30, 2023

Libra scales up this spring

Hot on the heels of a 50th anniversary year packed with new developments, interiors supplier extraordinaire The Libra Company is forging ahead with even more plans in 2023 – starting with an unmissable appearance at Spring Fair, says owner Paul McLaughlin …

What’s keeping you busy right now?

We are serving our retailers, who have mostly been busy, despite the obvious pressure on households and gloom and doom in the press!

We’‘ve just completed a photoshoot for our Spring ‘22 launch, which we are all really excited about.

Any big plans for 2023?

Lots! We’ve signed an agreement with Laura Ashley to design and source their home accessories collection launching in the autumn. It will feature furniture, lighting, wall decor and home accessories, which will be available to purchase from Libra starting in September. It’s been really exciting working alongside such an iconic brand and talented team.

We are very much looking forward to our return to Spring Fair in February on stand 7-A51, The Summerhouse.

And we have new representation in Scotland in the form of The Interior Collection run by David and Emily Johnson, the dynamic father-and-daughter duo! David and Emily already have an impressive collection of brands and will be selling Libra to independents and interior designers in Scotland from this month. We have a brand-new showroom opening in Edinburgh in collaboration with them later this year, and we will be exhibiting at the Scottish Interiors Showcase on 21st-22nd February.

How is demand for accessories and interior decor looking at the moment?

It is holding up surprisingly well. We are seeing some natural price sensitivity, but I feel that as long as we’re able to offer our customers a point of difference, they’ll continue to buy.

Can you give us an idea of your newest lines?

We have about 150 new products to launch, debuting at Spring Fair. These are across our usual categories of furniture, lighting and accessories. It’s top secret, so come and see us at the fair to find out more!

Have you established any interesting new sourcing partnerships?

We had an extremely successful buying trip to India in October, and we cannot wait to show customers the latest developments from our visit. These will come online during Libra’s May open week in our Newmarket showrooms. 

The rate of development in India is staggering at present. Our strength is in the longevity of our supplier relationships, with whom we are working ever-more closely. In addition, we found two phenomenal new suppliers who I believe will give us the edge this summer.  

How did last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations go?

Very well indeed! We have had lots of different celebrations, but the highlight was the party in a hotel in Cambridge during June open week. Two hundred friends, family and customers joined us, and it was fantastic to bring everyone together. People travelled from far and wide, and I was really touched by how many former colleagues attended. There were several sore heads the following morning!

Did autumn’s at-home show influence your direction this year at all?

We launched less newness during September’s open week, but what we did have was very well received. We launched a new study theme which went down well,and as a result we will be showcasing it at Spring Fair.

How are [former sales director] Alistair’s replacements doing?

Hilary and Tara are absolute superstars! They had enormous shoes to fill following our dear friend Alistair’s retirement after 40 years, but they have both risen to the challenge incredibly well and I am proud to have them as part of the sales team.

Have any other key developments taken place in the business in the past 12 months?

We’ve recruited some strong new talent into our sales, finance and supply chain teams. There were some big anniversary milestones within the business, and I know we are very lucky to have such great continuity and support. Last year marked customer service co-ordinator Delia’s 22nd year with us, and warehouse legends Mark (30 years) and Maggie (38 years). Our business is stronger because of them. And we have no less than four babies due at head office in the next five months!

Take a look at some of The Libra Company's newest lines in January's Furniture News.

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