How we worked with a Spanish Independent to expand our shop! by @seriouslysofas #IndieRetail

In August 2011 Seriously Sofas opened its doors for the first time.  They’ve guest blogged for us a couple of times since then, sharing their journey. Now, 20 months later, they are opening a new, expanded shop with the UK’s first FamaLiving concept store – a partnership with Spanish independent upholstery manufacturer, Fama. Here’s what they’ve learned…

Lesson 1. Be Innovative

Seriously Sofas is an independent retail specialist focusing on bespoke UK and customisable European upholstery.  We started working with Fama 15 months ago when we wanted to add to our European product range.  Fama products are well priced, nicely designed, colourful, flexible and different. We knew we could sell it in the UK.  We experimented with colours, fabrics, designs and customisation – something few of their other stockists had asked them to do before

Within 12 months, Fama products became some of our best selling pieces.

Lesson 2. Get Talking

Spanish upholstery manufacturer Fama is an independent owner/managed business, established in 1972.  They have developed a reputation for comfortable, stylish furniture.  Over the last two and a half years Fama have opened a number of FamaLiving concept stores across Europe and North America.

In January we took the chance to meet up with Fama’s owners while visiting the furniture show at Birmingham’s NEC.  We used the opportunity to closely inspect a wider range of their products.  Despite the language differences, we were impressed by their attention to service and quality and similarly, they by our genuine passion for what we do.

Lesson 3. Believe in your business

Although working at opposite ends of the furniture business (they a manufacturer –we are a retailer) it was clear that we both shared the same ethos.

We both believe that it’s not just about business – it’s more than that.  It’s about putting the customer first and only selling it if it’s right for the customer. 

Lesson 4.  Be Passionate!

Fama have chosen Seriously Sofas as their partner for their very first FamaLiving store in the UK.  We are excited to open FamaLiving London, from our newly extended premises in Kingston, South West London, on 25th April 2013.

With a wider range of products and marketing support from Spain we are very excited about the next 12 months!

Fama chose to work with us not because we were their largest stockist, nor did they work with us because we sold the most pieces for them.  They chose to work with us because we shared their ideals and their passion.

Believe in what you do, do it well, and do it with passion.  Ole!

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About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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