Cabinet Maker caught up with Ebrahim Patel as he seeks to grow Vogue Beds here – and in Europe.
If actions speak louder than words, then Ebrahim Patel, managing director of Vogue Beds, is a man embodying the Keep Calm and Carry On mantra. While the country is in a state of limbo, waiting to see how our decision to leave Europe will play out, Vogue Beds has made the decision to expand into the continent.
The UK bed industry has not typically been a big exporter into Europe but, with the value of the pound falling, ‘Made in Britain’ becomes an even more attractive proposition.
Vogue Beds is ready to seize on this opportunity: the company has the established brands, the manufacturing credentials and the plain and simple wherewithal to grow its business overseas.
“The country may have decided to leave the EU, but we don’t want to see our industry retreat from Europe and the opportunities there,” explains Ebrahim, who is currently President of the National Bed Federation (NBF). “At Vogue Beds we certainly see mileage in selling our brands into Europe. The Brexit decision is not going to impact that strategy.”
Vogue has identified two brands to kick off its European expansion plans: Sports Therapy and Hampton, both specialist products that highlight the full spectrum of quality British manufacturing that Vogue is known for.
“Hampton is very British in the way it’s made. We think that its high-end quality, with Hampton’s natural fibres, hand-tufted tufts and pocket sprung base, will really make it stand out in the European market where they are more accustomed to foam bases,” explains Ebrahim. “On the other hand, our Sports Therapy brand is foam-based. The design and marketing behind it, as well as its high margin, could make it very attractive to European retailers.”
Vogue might be looking to Europe for new sales opportunities but its manufacturing plant remains in the UK, and the company is rightly proud of its Made in Britain credentials. In fact, the company has increased capacity at its Leicester plant and, for the first time, is manufacturing upholstered bed frames in the UK.
“We have a long history of importing these types of products from the Far East, under our Limelight brand, but the cost benefit of doing that has become eroded over the years,” explains Ebrahim. “Bringing production in house is a real positive: it supports British manufacturing, and it also gives us far more control over the product.”
The two frames, the Regal and Ambassador, are available in Vogue’s most popular colours and will be available for same day collection from the company’s Leicester factory (as with all Limelight imported frames). The Regal is a contemporary model, while the Ambassador is more ornate and design-orientated. The double bed models are available from £149 and £189 respectively.
NBF Bed Show
Visitors to next month’s National Bed Federation exhibition (20-21 September) will have the chance to see the two upholstered bed frames at the Vogue stand (A18), where the company will also be showing its newly-launched full-end lift and half-lift ottomans.
“We’ve been producing our side-lift ottoman for around ten years now, but retailers were asking us for full-end and half-lift versions so we could see that there was a market for them. We’re really excited to launch the new bases at the NBF show and see what the reaction is like.”
Vogue will be occupying a slightly bigger space at this year’s show, thanks to the dedicated stand that the company is taking for Sports Therapy (A20). All four Sports Therapy mattresses will be on show next month, and visitors will be able to assess the changes that have been made to product design.
Each mattress in the Sports Therapy range has been updated with smart fibre fabric, which is micro-quilted to a new John Cotton Eternity pad (a condensed polyester-based pad). The overall effect will add a sumptuous visual finish to a range, which has become established for its therapeutic benefits.
And how is Ebrahim himself feeling about the show? As NBF President, he must give a speech to over 500 of his industry colleagues at the event dinner. This year he will effectively be the warm-up act, introducing stand up comedian Marcus Brigstocke. So, no pressure then.
“I’ll try and keep it short and sweet – let people get on with their night, and enjoy themselves,” he says. “The NBF put on a great show and it’s always a very friendly atmosphere. Everyone seems to enjoy each other’s company and support each other. It really is a chance for us to just celebrate our industry.”
Vogue Beds has been around for three decades and, in that time, has truly tapped into the industry. They know when it’s time to switch things up, in terms of new launches and product updates, but they also recognise the value of sitting tight and letting a product speak for itself – as has been the case with Henley, one of Vogue’s original best-sellers that has remained largely unchanged for 20 years. This year’s NBF will be a chance for visitors to see those old favourites, as well as plenty of new additions.