In search of newness
Disa Blackburn, Head of Buying for Home, Furniture and Gifts at Debenhams explains how they seek out new products to appeal to their customers.
WHERE DO YOU LOOK TO FIND NEW PRODUCTS AND BRANDS?
Trade fairs such as Ambiente, Chicago, Spring Fair, Exclusively and smaller design fairs are great places to identify new products and suppliers. The team also venture further afield for a broader and more in-depth overview of the market, with development trips to the Far East and European destinations. We also regularly undertake competitor research gained through shopping trips in the UK, US and Europe. We do also find that recommendations and direct approaches from industry and factory contacts have proven useful.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS AT THIS TIME?
Great value for money and good quality product at a fair price. We always strive to offer continuing newness and innovation in products to keep the customer interested and coming back to our stores. Statement pieces at great value are key and showing the customer how to pull together affordable trend-led looks.
WHAT ARE THE KEY PRODUCT TRENDS THAT YOU ARE FOCUSED ON?
There is a real trend for health and wellness amongst customers with product such as spiralisers, water bottles and ceramic coated cookware proving popular. We have also seen a growth in social dining and a casual eating trend across dinnerware, dining and glass.
HOW DO YOU LOOK TO DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
Our main USP as a high street retailer is our unique designer offer from Jasper to Julien to Matthew Williamson. Each has their own different look and fit with different product categories to suit our broad customer base. We pride ourselves on offering contemporary brands to complement our designer and own bought trend statements. This mix of established international suppliers alongside new to market brands, offering seasonal or trend-led statements, ensures we remain innovative and competitive in the market