23 May 2024, 10:05
By Furniture News Dec 03, 2013

Silentnight's Steve Freeman talks fire safety

Why react to disaster when it can be pre-empted? In any market, poor quality product can lower public perception – yet it can also have more alarming health and safety ramifications. In this interview, Paul Farley speaks to Silentnight Group MD Steve Freeman about the significance of keeping standards high ...

In November, the National Bed Federation (NBF) launched its Code of Practice, a certification scheme that aims to raise standards across its membership, conscious of the dangers inherent in flouting Government regulations.

Now, the Silentnight Group – an NBF member itself – has launched a national awareness campaign that seeks to bring to light the threat of mattresses that do not comply with the UK’s fire regulations. The bed group has created a video for retailers and consumers that demonstrates the dangers of non-compliant mattresses, hoping to expose ‘death trap’ products and reaffirm the credentials of its own.

“From one-man internet retail operations to seemingly reputable bricks-and-mortar businesses, flawed products are being sold – because they are cheap, even if they are illegal,” says Silentnight Group MD Steve Freeman. “If there are products out there that are, quite frankly, death traps, they shouldn’t be out there – and we should get rid of those companies selling them.”

With the exception of, perhaps, Holland, the UK employs stricter fire regulations than any other European country. It is a cause of frustration for many importers, yet, as Steve believes, a vitally important statement of safety over profit.

“There are a lot of fatalities caused through fires started in the bedroom – and one fatality is one too many,” he says. “To me, it’s such an important issue that I’m putting 100% of our company’s weight behind it.”

With a website that now attracts around two million visitors a year, the Silentnight Group is well placed to broadcast this message. It will be helped in this endeavour by the NBF – indeed, the matter was discussed as part of talks on the NBF-approved initiative back in the spring.

“Pressure is constantly on manufacturers to reduce price,” says Steve. “Price is the main caveat in many markets, and it really shouldn’t be.” Instead, Steve suggest that quality and innovation should be at the heart of any offering. He says that the Silentnight Group currently boasts an “embarassingly healthy” order book, thanks in part to the introduction of its latest innovation, Geltex, at this year’s NBF Bed Show.

“When I joined this company four years ago, we had great product – but we didn’t have outstanding product. In short, this market needs innovation. We are certainly seeing conversions of our Geltex floor models in far greater quantities than we did on our core models."

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