26 May 2024, 04:31
By Furniture News Jul 10, 2018

Silentnight Group brings innovation back to Brooklands

Sealy UK returned to Brooklands Museum for its annual show in May, and was joined this year by its stablemates Silentnight and Rest Assured, making for a comprehensive presentation of new products from the UK’s biggest bed group. Paul Farley reports …

Whether it’s the intimacy offered by the Surrey venue or the echo of the Salterforth shows of the past, the Brooklands bed show clearly works well for the Silentnight Group.

“We’re under no pressure to sell,” says Neil Robinson, Sealy UK’s sales and marketing director. “We’re just here to gauge our customers’ responses to new lines, in lovely surroundings.”

Silentnight Brands’ marketing director Nick Booth agrees. “It’s fantastic that we’ve got this space to show new products and ideas,” he says, confirming that there’s likely to be a “northern version” of the event later this year, plus greater interaction with stockists on a one-to-one level. “We want to offer our retailers more of a personal touch through smaller shows, and if we have to take the products to them, we will,” he adds.

This energy towards customer engagement is reflected in the opening of Silentnight’s showrooms – two to date, in Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Lakeside, described by Neil as “ideal opportunities for brand flagships in high-traffic areas”. It’s also one of the reasons behind the group’s decision to attend the January Furniture Show in 2019, after many years’ absence.

The group is taking measures to address changing customer demands, and working hard to find solutions for its stockists in an increasingly competitive marketplace. “The market is changing so rapidly,” says Neil, who has spearheaded a campaign for greater product transparency when selling mattresses. “The consumer will decide how and where they buy.”

Nick agrees. “They want it simple and convenient – but they also want to deal with brands they can trust,” he says, in a nod to Silentnight’s enduring Superbrand status, amongst other consumer endorsements. “We’re working very closely with our retail partners to improve the customer journeys on their websites, and investing heavily in product innovation and development.”

And there’s plenty of exciting developments on display at Brooklands. 

Silentnight’s product branding and labelling is the clearest it’s ever been, and helps communicate a bed offer which is focused, yet covers all the bases. As well as a couple of Studio models, there’s the Inspired collection – in essence, Silentnight’s popular Signature Collection, subtly reworked for independent customers. 

There’s also a healthy showing of divans. “Divans have become very popular,” says Nick. “We’ve used streamlined headboards and nice fabrics to make them look great. And, as rooms get smaller, people need to be more efficient – our divans take up no more room than the mattress itself.”

The star of the show is Silentnight’s new Eco Comfort Breathe range. An evolution of an existing line – the Eco Comfort Pocket 1200 was recently re-awarded Which? Best Buy status, and described by judges as “one of the best value mattresses we’ve tested” – the collection marries comfort and responsible manufacturing. 

Each mattress is fully recyclable, and offers a three-layer “micro-climate system” that enables air circulation, support and moisture removal. 

The principal sales message behind the collection is its low environmental impact. The Eco fibres in each mattress contains the equivalent of 125 plastic bottles – saving some 105 million bottles from entering the oceans and landfill in the last year alone. Silentnight has partnered with the Marine Conservation Society to encourage the reduction of plastic pollution, squarely addressing a prominent consumer concern.

“This collection will appeal to a very wide customer demographic,” says Nick.

“There’s a huge public belief in sustainability,” adds Neil, remarking that Sealy UK was the first national bed brand to achieve zero-to-landfill status, over five years ago. 

Since implementing a brand overhaul last September to bring it into line with its US parent company – “it’s a more unified approach, and it’s really lifted the brand,” comments marketing co-ordinator Natalie Armstrong – Sealy UK has been working hard on a new line which targets consumers’ desire for health and wellbeing, and the results are on display here.

Principally targeting the 30-35 age bracket, Sealy’s Activsleep offers nine models, combining various fillings and technologies to aid effective rest and revitalisation.

Activsleep is an interesting new direction for Sealy UK, says Neil: “We’re traditionally very science- and technology-oriented, and more about support and zonal products, so we didn’t expect such a positive response when we tapped into this lifestyle trend – but the fit between the technology and the product is so strong that we now have extremely high expectations for it.”

As well as a PostureTech Zero Deflection system to minimise partner disturbance, models in the collection feature ingredients such as Purotex (bacteria-releasing microcapsules which clear up allergens and reduce humidity), gel-and-foam combination Geltex, and Sealy’s Smart Fibres, which help keep the sleeping environment cool and dry.

Again, the group is hitting the zeitgeist, giving stockists an engaging story to tell their customers, both online and in-store. Sealy UK plans to promote and distribute Activsleep as widely as possible across every channel, and has enlisted some of the country’s best-known wellness and health influencers to do so.

Next to Sealy’s offer is a selection of premium models from Rest Assured, which also underwent a brand refresh last year. Still going strong thanks to its three pillars of quality, heritage and affordable luxury, Rest Assured has also seen the introduction of several exclusive headboard designs, further setting it apart as a brand for the discerning consumer.

In all, the sheer number of product launches makes Brooklands a thoroughly worthwhile outing, and the busy show floor is testament to how well the format works for the Silentnight Group and its customers. 

But it’s just a taste of what’s to come. “The strength of our brand is our appeal to a very wide audience,” says Nick, who is doubtless looking forward to proving this assertion at the NEC in a few months’ time.

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