As part of our commitment to bring you the latest trends and innovations in curtains and blinds, our team travel the world exploring the latest trends and speaking to our friends playing in the international market. Recently, we sat down and chatted trends and the UK blinds market with with UK blinds expert David Roebuck. David is Managing Director of Direct Blinds. Here’s what he had to say:
What is the most popular products sold in the UK blinds market at the moment?
Obviously as an online only retailer we can only relate to our particular marketplace and this is influenced mainly by domestic sales for use in the home. Roller blinds are our most popular product followed by Wooden blinds with Vertical Louvre and Roman blinds remaining popular. We have seen a decrease recently in the popularity of 25mm Metal Venetian blinds. Electric motorised Roller blinds are becoming popular due to the reduced costs of this control option.
Plain Dim Out and Blackout fabrics dominate the sales in Roller blinds whilst transparent Voiles are also very popular. In my opinion the aesthetic look and feel of blinds in the Uk market often comes before the practicality of light, solar and privacy control. UPVC Faux wood blinds are a growing trend due to cost and the option of a grained effect on the popular white finishes.
What are the current colour trends in the UK blinds market right now?
Grey is becoming the new cream in the UK. Shades of grey have been popular now for around a year and show no signs of slowing down. Having said that white is still by far the most popular if uninspiring, choice closely followed by tones of creams and beige.
Where do see the UK blinds market in 5 years?
Whilst the UK is a world leader in E-commerce I believe that we still have plenty of scope for further growth. A recent feature has seen many of the big high street names moving up the rankings, generally based on their Brand power rather than on their made to measure product offering. Whilst Google continues with its ‘big brand’ preference it will make the work of the specialist more difficult. The state of general economy will also be paramount and with Brexit creating so much uncertainty at present who can really guess where this will go in the next couple of years, never mind five.
What percentage of the UK market are buying window coverings online vs. traditional retail shops?
We are still looking at a single figure percentage of online sales – so massive potential to grow online!
Are you seeing motorisation becoming more popular with the DIY online market?
Yes, the falling cost of motorisation particularly battery powered for Roller blinds, is proving popular. The importance and greater consumer awareness of chain loop safety is also a factor as is the general move to automation and technology.
How and why did Direct Blinds start their online business?
Direct Blinds began selling and manufacturing blinds under the Swift Blinds name, from the founders family home back in 1969. All types of blinds were supplied into all markets using a traditional showroom and field sales force approach. Around 50% of blinds were measured and installed by the company with the remaining blinds being sent by carriers to various other retailers and blind users around the UK.
Soon after the millennium we became a supplier and distributor to a local new launch online blind retailer and both parties enjoyed a successful period of unprecedented growth. The relationship became difficult due to the pressure of price and margins for the two companies and we decided to go our own way.
Our experience gave us the insight and confidence to go all out and transform our business model into what it is today, a 100% online business with no other way to market. The journey took 5 years and saw some fundamental changes in personnel, customers and products alike. Google are now our largest ‘supplier’ and the old showroom is now our sampling department!
Going online has its own different issues and problems compared to our previous model and isn’t for everybody, looking back we were in a pretty unique position of having a wide diverse customer base that gave us the opportunity to move on without the risk of losing everything in one fell swoop. I think everyone in the business would now agree that it was the right move for us and at the right time.