Cabinet Maker caught up with David Lane, commercial director at Willis & Gambier, to find out how business is going six months after its new Peterborough-based site became fully operational, and get a sneak preview of the company’s plans for the future.
The saying goes that one of the most stressful experiences in life is moving, and for a business to do so in the run up to the Brexit vote and potential uncertainty would be a brave move indeed. That is exactly what Willis and Gambier did, having put more than 18 months of preparation in place to become fully operational in its new site in March of this year.
As a company that prides itself on quality design, responsibility, commitment and loyalty, the potential challenge which lay ahead was easily out-weighed by the advantages that additional land and resource would provide in future proofing the business for a number of new opportunities going forward. Six months on, Cabinet Maker was excited to catch up with David to find out what some of these opportunities will entail.
“It’s fair to say that 2016 has certainly been a challenge for the business,” he told us, “but a challenge that we are pleased to have met head on. We have successfully moved premises, and we have also now undertaken the refurbishment of a new and exciting showroom.”
One might think that moving premises would be quite enough of a challenge for one year, but there’s no laurel-resting for Willis & Gambier, as David explained: “This year we have additionally launched new products for both the independent and group sectors of our business. For independents we have launched the West Coast Bedroom collection, which is beautifully stained and lacquered with natural distressing, for an elegant antique silver finish. Crafted in Solid Pine, the collection is perfect for any country styled home or modern setting alike.
Also new for independents are the Genoa and Kennedy Dining collections, as David continued: “The sellable benefits of the Tuscany inspired Genoa Dining include frames crafted from solid birch, with birch veneers and a beautiful oyster grey paint finish. With beautiful solid oak tops. A wide collection of designs are available, including some occasional kitchen pieces, making it a great seller for those who require modern day family living.
Kennedy Dining, on the other hand, is designed to appeal to consumers looking for contemporary compact living. Crafted from solid oak and oak veneers, with a gently lacquered finish, the natural wood finish with the blond tones, alongside the unique design detail of the tapered leg and chamfered leading edge provides the range with a contemporary sophisticated feel.”
Group customers are also enjoying new opportunities from the company, with the additions of Boardwalk Bedroom for John Lewis and Gilmore Dining for House of Fraser - and product development does not look set to stop there. David told us: “Yes, we have more group account exclusives for 2017 and five new ranges to launch at the NEC for both group and independent customers alike. It’s of utmost importance to us to work hard ad ensure our product development is strong for the 2017 January Furniture Show at the NEC.”
A great deal of importance is clearly placed on helping the customer for Willis & Gambier, particularly in today’s less than certain climate, as David outlined: “The market and political instability will undoubtedly be a concern for our retailer customers, and the possibility of recession will place pressure on the price points of all furniture.
“In terms of trends, one of them is an emphasis on smaller furniture due to current new build trends, and we will have something to assist our customers within in our NEC offering. The great thing about the range is that it will not compromise our existing style, and so is fully inclusive for retailers’ customers, regardless of the size of their home.”
With January firmly in the company’s sites, it is not the only opportunity for retailers to catch up with the company. Willis & Gambier will also bring its range of wooden bedroom and dining room furniture to the Independent Hotel Show on 18 and 19 October at Olympia in London, as well as, in conjunction with Laquercraft – contract, global hotel design event, Sleep, at the Business Design Centre in London on 22 and 23 October. And with more direct consumer presence planned for 2017 through PR and Marketing we will certainly be hearing more about this dynamic company. We look forward to the next six months.