The January Furniture Show (JFS) plays host to some of the biggest names in the furniture and furnishings industry – showcasing everything from cabinet furniture, upholstery and beds to soft furnishings, flooring and giftware. In this issue, JFS speaks with Aubane Pattar, sales and marketing director at adjustable bed manufacturer, Furmanac to find out what challenges the industry faces over the next 12 months and why the exhibition works for them.
What are your main responsibilities?
I am responsible for building and maintaining strong, long lasting relationships with both our national and independent retailers. In addition to this, I manage our team of sales agents spanning a wide geographical area, all while developing and executing strategic plans to achieve sales and profit targets along with expanding our customer base.
By far one of my favourite responsibilities is representing Furmanac at exhibitions. It is overseeing all aspects of the exhibition from the stand booking, to design, and the development of new products to be launched that make exhibitions such as JFS my busiest and most exciting times of the year. One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is getting to witness how well our new products are received and also seeing the hard work of so many people pay off over the course of a few days.
What direction and changes do you think will happen to the industry next year and how will you be adjusting to this?
We have found that Brexit is making an impact with the increased cost of raw materials and we expect more changes to occur within the industry as a result of the vote to leave. However, regardless of what changes may happen, a great credit to Furmanac’s ability to successfully trade over almost 50 years which stems from our ability to adapt, evolve and adjust to changing trends and varying customer needs.
What trends will be emerging for 2017?
We are certainly seeing motion furniture becoming more of a desired item rather than a ‘needs based’ purchase, much of the credit for this being the changing demands brought on by digital disruption. In addition, we also anticipate more demand for plain velvet fabrics as fashions change.
You’re a family run business, what are the benefits of this – particularly in this industry?
It is not just the senior management team that we consider to be family - we like to treat all of our employees and customers as part of it. You can always be honest with your family, you can trust them and they will always go above and beyond to support each other. Not only does this extend to our customers but also our end users - we just want everyone to be satisfied and find great comfort with their purchase. Furthermore, as a small industry we have seen just how much having the ‘family touch’ can benefit the business. Finally, one great benefit that I have to mention is that I am able to bring my dogs Zelda and Link to work!
How do you capitalise on exhibitions like the January Furniture Show?
The January Furniture Show gives us access to a lot of prospective new customers and we always leave with plenty of new leads to follow up on. We have also found it to be a great platform to obtain feedback on newly launched products and also test the market for new ideas.
What are the key reasons you exhibit at JFS?
Ultimately JFS is a great show, with an excellent footfall consisting of both existing and prospective retailers for Furmanac. We have also found that it falls at the perfect time of year for customers and consumers alike who are looking for new products after Christmas.
What are you looking forward to the most at the next show?
Being able to catch up with our customers outside of our respective offices is always a highlight of any exhibition. For JFS 2017 we are also looking forward to following up the successful product launches from the NBF Bed Show. After the great reception of the new MiBed collections we are excited about doing big relaunches of other brands in January.
What advice do you have for retailers visiting JFS and how they can make the most from it?
First and foremost, I would say enjoy it. There is always plenty going on at the show and we certainly love to have a laugh and joke while speaking to our existing, new and prospective retailers. It may also be worth staying overnight - there are plenty of attractions nearby with Resorts World and Birmingham city centre not too far away. To make the most of the show I would certainly recommend planning which stands you want to visit in advance. The sheer size of the halls can be overwhelming for first time visitors so it is certainly worth having a plan in place - and you can’t go wrong if Furmanac is on that list!