What do you think? From emerging trends to the latest business principles, Furniture News is setting out to gauge the trade’s feelings on a variety of industry-specific topics. Today, we’re asking our panel: How closely do you watch your competitors?
Nichola Hornby Bell (Alpha Designs Upholstery): I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I wasn’t aware of my market, disruptors, innovators and trends, so I obviously absorb myself in all things furniture as much as possible. However, when it comes to daily events, I tend to just get my head down and worry about my business, and let others do the same
Andrew Kerr (Siren Furniture): It’s essential to maintain current insight and foresight on industry trends to ensure Siren remains relevant. Key to that is continually reviewing what is happening in the retail market to see how the key trends are being interpreted into commercial collections to meet retailer requirements, and ultimately consumer demand
Greg French (Westgarth Furniture): Relatively closely, in terms of what is working or what isn’t, in order to keep ahead
Andy Stockwell (Gardiner Haskins): Not that closely. We have a wide catchment area but not much local competition (although the internet makes everyone a competitor). We focus on what we are doing, ensure we are competitive and providing great service
Brian Levitt (Brian Levitt Sales Agencies): Very, including my fellow agents on the road
Carole Nolan (Gallery Direct): I concentrate more on trends and influencers as we want to try and stay ahead of the market – we don’t want to just offer the same as our competitors
James Dunne (Prestige Beds): We keep an eye on what our competition is doing, but we mostly focus on ourselves and how we can improve
Jonathan Burrage (Hydeline Furniture): We have a clear understanding of our own direction. Whilst it’s important to understand what our competitors are doing, it does not drive behaviours within our business
Phil Spademan (BFM): We are fortunate to work extremely closely with other trade associations within the furniture sector, and whilst our members may cross over sometimes, generally we are all striving to raise the profile of British-made furniture
Martin Eastwood (Mattress Online): While we’re aware of our competition, that doesn’t lead our strategy or shape our daily decisions. Our product and service offer to the consumer, and our strong relationships with our suppliers, combined with product and industry knowledge, aids our ongoing goal to be market leading while always keeping a strong focus on the commercial requirements of the business
Paul Little (Airsprung Beds): It’s important to be up to speed with what’s happening out there, but I’m not obsessive about it – it’s always better to be looking ahead and innovating for yourself rather than playing copycat
Peter Harding (Fairway Furniture): I certainly keep an eye on competitors closely enough to know what they are doing, both promotionally and in terms of their operational models. While the industry tends to follow pretty well-established promotional models, regional independents such as ourselves can be more nimble and responsive, so shouldn’t be frightened to innovate ourselves, either
Sam Jackson (Bluebone Imports): Constantly. It’s important to understand what the market is doing both nationally and globally to ensure we are always in a healthy position to compete
Steve Warren (Sleepeezee): Closely, but purely out of interest and never as a distraction, as our focus is clearly on driving our own business
This Q&A was published in the November issue of Furniture News.