Hypnos may be fast approaching its 120th birthday, but its evolution continues apace, discovered Furniture News’ Paul Farley when he revisited the bedmaker’s Princes Risborough HQ to quiz group MD David Baldry (pictured) on sustainability, setbacks and successes in a new, post-pandemic marketplace …
It’s all change at Hypnos. The builders are in, departments are transitioning from one end of the facility to the other, and the decorators are putting the final touches to the reimagined layout, which is at once more inviting and more practical than I remember it.
The hustle and bustle should be no surprise, as this bedmaker has never been afraid of change. Hypnos embarked on its latest chapter just six years ago, establishing a raft of new principals and partnerships, and truly embracing its mission to be one of the world’s most sustainable manufacturers. Now, it is all set to mark its 120th year, starting in celebratory fashion at September’s Bed Show, where new products – and new thinking – promise to be in good supply.
Of course, there have been challenges along the way. In the past year, the group lost its long-time contract with Premier Inn, prompting it to reappraise its manufacturing facility in Castle Donington. More recently, it chose to focus purely on its beds specialism and wind down the group’s delivery arm, Keen & Able.
Both developments attracted a good deal of speculation, which David is happy to address. “The Keen & Able business was a very good venture,” he explains, “but it was also reliant on partnerships with large customers that simply aren’t around anymore, or have contracted. It would’ve taken huge investment to develop, so we decided to focus on other areas of the business. We’re a bed manufacturer at heart, and that’s where our specialism lies.
“It’s true that Premier Inn represented a significant share of our contract turnover, so that loss felt like a real blow at the time – but I’m happy to report that we’ve refocused and covered the required ground, and the change has given our team a real chance to shine.
“It’s often overlooked that we continue working with big names like The Other House, the Royal Lancaster, Soho House … we’re taking a more global approach, and the standard of hotel in which we’re helping to offer a great night’s sleep is a real point of pride. This is reflected in our great partnerships, as seen in our continuing Hotel Hypnos series.”
The exposure Hypnos’ hospitality business enjoys continues to support its retail endeavours, says David: “We’re opening in Bloomingdale’s on New York’s Fifth Avenue right now,” he adds, by way of example. “The loss of all that high-volume work meant we had a unique opportunity to refocus on value over volume in the factory, and lean more towards handcrafting. We don’t use a lot of automation, and I think that helps keep the brand true to itself. I like to think of us as part of the Savile Row of the bed industry.”
Comparisons aside, it is clear that Hypnos is more than able to forge its own path. In recent months, the bedmaker has worked hard to bring the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS, a global initiative from the Textile Exchange), to the UK, adding further credibility to its Red Tractor-endorsed raw materials, while championing the wider issue of biodiversity. It has stepped up its partnership with the Eden Project, in a bid to bring completely new and sustainable plant-based materials to the sector (a version of the 100% sustainable Project Zero concept bed unveiled at last year’s Bed Show could soon be a reality, teases David). Elsewhere, exports have gained momentum, and brand awareness is up.
Read the rest of the interview here.