A record number of members flocked to the British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA)'s Open Forum on September 26 to hear the views of principle retail guest speaker Matthew Canwell.

Record turnout for BHETA forum

A record number of members flocked to the British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA)’s Open Forum on September 26 to hear the views of principle retail guest speaker Matthew Canwell.

During his presentation, the director of buying at Lakeland gave an update on the 67-strong housewares chain’s principles and plans for the future. He also gave advice to supplier members on how to attract the attention of his buying team.

Supplying Lakeland should be a two-pronged own-brand and branded affair, he said. He acknowledged that clearly the Lakeland brand is of enormous importance, being unique and price-protected. But the company also likes to sell branded goods – and it’s here, he said, that innovation and the willingness to offer exclusivity, or at least initial exclusives and tightly-managed distribution thereafter, is the key to success.

Lakeland’s own brand represents over half of turnover, and suppliers who choose not to provide branded deals and own label together, are missing out on considerable potential sales, he commented.

In terms of product development, core categories for Lakeland are ‘making and baking’ and home organisation including cleaning.

“Trust and provenance are key,” Matthew said, “thanks to the twin public scandals of horsemeat and MPs’ expenses, the fallout from which both drove up sales in products that enable ‘homemade not ready made’, including wine-making, cheese-making and sausage and burger preparation.”

“The point is,” he said, “that it is the supplier who needs to innovate and engage the imagination of the buyer. Suppliers who take a ‘we can do anything; just tell us what you want’ approach are not likely to be successful at Lakeland.”

Read the full report in the October issue of Housewares Magazine.

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