Sean Frost-Palmer, sales director at Kingstown Furniture, answers Furniture News' questions about the company's strongest product area and the issues surrounding it.
Tell us about your bedroom furniture product offering.
We have an extensive range of ready-assembled bedroom furniture collections to suit a variety of tastes – from sliding door wardrobes to painted finishes.
What are your historic and current bestsellers and why are they so popular?
Historically, the Signature range remains one of our best sellers. I think this is because it is just so classic – it manages to have that timeless appeal. Also our Azure range, which features high-gloss fronts on a Swiss elm-effect carcass, is another collection that remains fashionable. This range is so versatile, too, as the wardrobes are available as bi-fold, hinged or sliding doors, and I think this gives it its added popularity.
Currently, our Estelle range – a very sleek and sophisticated sliding wardrobe collection – is a great success with customers. We like it so much we named the wardrobes The Great British Slider.
What trends are you currently experiencing?
Sliding wardrobes are very popular. The height of wardrobes have changed over the years. We seem to produce wardrobes now that are at the taller height of 2100mm. I think this reflects how customers are requiring more and more space and perhaps opt for sliding wardrobe doors as a space-saving solution. White and oak remain the most popular.
Have customer preferences changed much over time?
I think we’ve seen a bit of a vintage revival, so in order to keep up with this trend, this year we launched our own vintage-inspired bedroom collection, Helena.
What are the main issues affecting your product at a retail level?
The economy has had an impact on the business, with consumer confidence and spending being lower than it has been historically. However, over the last year we have seen an increase in sales. We have strengthened links with existing customers whilst also forging relationships with new customers.
Competition is another big factor. We have to make sure we are constantly responsive to customer needs and try to remain innovative and react to the times.
And at a supply level?
Being responsible towards the environment is what more and more companies are working towards now, so all of our suppliers are also adhering to the same standards, which helps us to maintain our commitment to the environment. We implement a full chain of custody system at Kingstown, which means that the products we use are derived from sustainable sources.
What are your observations on how best to retail this product?
Well-maintained displays in stores are vital and these need to show several of the range items. Ideally, these need to be within a roomset so that customers can visualise the collection in their own bedroom. Clear point-of-sale that includes all of the product details and diemensions, and brochures that the customer can take away with them are also important.
What are your personal tastes and preferences?
Personally I am a fan of sliding wardrobes, in particular our striking Estelle range. I also like classic, painted finishes such as the Signature range.