29 May 2024, 12:01
By Furniture News Sept 25, 2015

In Focus – Comfort Zone Sofas

Riaz Ahmed, owner and MD of Comfort Zone Sofas, answers Furniture News’ questions about the company's strongest product area and the issues surrounding it.

Tell us about your product offering
We manufacture our sofas and chairs to high standards, using properly seasoned hardwood frames that are dowelled and glued or screwed, and quality fillings, such as Duratech carded fibre and Reflex foam.

What are your historic and current bestsellers, and why are they so popular?
Our bestseller is Chaucer. It’s a traditional sofa in a two-seater and chair with wings and scroll arms, with wooden legs in a choice of dark or light coloured wood. A wide section of the market favours this classic style and the sculptured lumbar support to the back cushions enhances Chaucer’s appeal. The seat and back cushions are filled with high resilience, high density foam for comfort.

Challenging for bestseller status this year is Glenmore, a classy-looking high-backed chair launched this January with wooden legs and attractive, more contemporary arms. It features Reflex foam to the seat cushion and fibre to the back – again for long-lasting support and comfort. It’s been so popular since its debut that we’re about to launch a matching two-seater. It is a modern variation on the traditional high-backed wing chair like Chaucer which is probably why it’s been doing so well.

What trends are you currently experiencing?
Looking at materials, the market wants quality in their sofas. There’s a growing understanding that buying the cheapest available means that a sofa’s levels of comfort will quickly fall beyond what’s tolerable, sometimes in a matter of weeks. So we’re gradually seeing a switch away from the disposable approach, or at any rate, there’s a market out there that is sufficiently large for our products to do well.

The market that values quality is usually not the market that wants the latest style trends and fashion colours. They’re often happier with something classic. However it’s a fairly wide market with different tastes and while they might not want cutting edge, they do want modern, so we’re making sure our range of styles and colours has a wide appeal.

One thing we are told by retailers is that some of our competitors’ sofas don’t suit the average size of consumers. We ensure our seat width and depth is generous.

What are the key issues affecting your bestselling product at a retail level?
With Glenmore, it was simply that we only offered the chair and matching pouffe and customers were asking for more products in the range. We’re addressing that by introducing a matching two-seater sofa. This should give us more space on the stock floor – although a single chair can be very successful as many retailers will squeeze in a chair where they can’t take a suite.

A further issue is, as with all furniture, ensuring the retailer has sufficient knowledge to be able to tell the customer what they’re paying for – what the different fillings and frames mean in terms of comfort, support and durability. Our brochures provide a lot of this detailed information and we have been proactive in going into major retailers’ and explaining face-to-face.

As demand for Glenmore and our other ranges grows, we are coming under pressure and that is why our £1m investment in new premises, which will be dedicated to Comfort Zone Sofas, is such a good thing.

... and at a supply level?
As ever, sourcing top quality materials at a price that doesn’t make the sofas either unprofitable or unsellable. Striking that happy medium is always a challenge. We manufacture as many elements of our sofas as we can and are always looking for ways to be more efficient and more self-sufficient so we can achieve the price points we need without compromising on the quality promise inherent in our products.

What are your observations on how to retail your bestselling product?
Sofas always look good with as much space around them as possible. Hinting at a room setting with rugs and perhaps one or two elegant additions shows them off to advantage when it’s done skilfully. Coupled with this, there should always be either written information to highlight the main features and benefits or staff ready to explain these to consumers.

What is your personal preference?
I like a traditional fabric sofa with a firmer seat and softer high back.

This article was featured in the July issue of Furniture News magazine.

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