19 May 2024, 09:20
By Furniture News May 08, 2024

Rauch elevates design and delivery

Thanks to a swathe of new models and vastly improved delivery methods, German bedroom furniture specialist Rauch is going from strength to strength across the nation, explains Peter Friend, head of Rauch UK …

The German furniture industry is going through a challenging time – how is Rauch adapting to this changing market?

Last autumn we were fortunate to introduce dozens of new ranges which have been widely accepted by all – from our smaller independent retail customers, to the biggest international buying groups. Many of these were introduced to our UK customers during our partner days at Rauch HQ in Freudenberg, Germany, and more recently at the January Furniture Show in Birmingham.

Additionally, we’ve diversified by supplying furniture to customers on a contract or project basis, ranging from serviced apartments to other specialist applications.

How does this affect Rauch’s UK operation?

Here in the UK we’re lucky to benefit from a lot of these new products and finishes. During the next few months, many of these new ranges will be introduced to the market by our retailers – and the new finishes we’ve added to our existing successful ranges have already shown positive order intake development.

The eye-catching new Abraxxas range of sliding door wardrobes, for example, has been very positively received. It was launched last autumn, and shopfloor displays will be appearing over the coming weeks. The new Luana programme, meanwhile, has many new subtle lighting effects, and offers a mix of champagne and dark oak finishes. It is available as a DHD range.

Are there any other UK-specific activities that our readers should know about?

We currently have two main topics at the top of our UK focus. Firstly, although we’ve benefitted from some very clever and talented agents within the industry – who we have to thank for the historic growth of the business – we’ve started the process to move from sales agents to a team of employed regional sales managers and merchandisers.

This is by no means an overnight process, and will certainly be more of a blend over the coming years – but within the next few years we should enjoy a hybrid of the standard German sales model, combined with UK personality. The overall target is, of course, greater levels of sales support and more regular contact for our UK retail customers, both in the field and from our UK-based sales office in Evesham, Worcestershire.

Our second strategic activity is greater investment into UK logistics, and combining that with our DHD service. This will enable us to further improve our service levels to both smaller independent customers and our larger retail group customers.

What does greater investment realistically look like?

Good question – and again, there’s a two-part answer. Firstly, we’re investing in a new DHD digital interface for our customers and service providers. This will provide much greater transparency for retailers on the actual status of their customer orders which are supplied through the Rauch DHD channel. All topics including ‘real-time’ updates will be fully integrated.

The full ‘go-live’ for this portal will take place this summer.

The second part relates to the way goods are transported. Some of the talented designers at Rauch have diversified, from not only delivering innovative furniture designs, but to delivering a market-leading logistic service through design and innovation. Faced with our ongoing logistics challenges and increasing costs, combined with our company-wide sustainability philosophy, a global project was created – that the UK business has already started to benefit from during the first roll-out phase.

Initially, we reviewed our existing delivery process. The main hurdles were very labour-intensive processes: a loading time of four hours; an unloading time of up to eight hours; exclusively using box/ridged trailers; and many packages, with many opportunities for damage and mis-selection.

After intensive internal development, the Rauch Returnable Load Carrier system was created, to immediately bypass the typical obstacles of our flat-pack furniture logistics.

What are the benefits of the new system?

Minimising human handling not only saves time, it reduces the opportunities for human error, and dramatically reduces damage and, of course, the need for excessive packaging.

The Rauch Returnable Load Carrier system provides the following results: unloading times reduced by over -80%; further quality assurance of goods (over -50% reduction in claims due to up to five manual handling segments eliminated during goods transfer); sustainable and available materials for many years of re-use;

reduction of waste by eliminating damage, as damaged goods are typically destroyed at source; reduction of waste by correct picking, as orders can’t be mixed up during this movement; reduction of waste through correct storage, as goods are protected; reduction of packaging materials, because of less damage potential due to reduction in manual handling; safe storage of goods in multi-use warehouses, as goods are self-supported; and simple, space-saving storage when not in use (unlike regular trollies, the carriers can be simply broken down and stacked in columns of eight, then collected when further goods are delivered).

The system has required considerable investment from Rauch, and will continue to do so, but the benefit to our customers has already proved significant. This leaves our next target, to deliver 100% of goods bound for the UK on the load carrier system – which will produce additional challenges, but also opportunities. Watch this space …


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