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Worth the wait…

Blinds & Shutters recently visited Amo Blinds for a sneak preview of its upcoming new collections, which will be launched in March next year.

 

A visit to Amo Blinds in Liversedge, Yorkshire is certainly an eye-opener when it comes to understanding the effort, time and care taken when preparing new collections. In a room dedicated solely to the ongoing research and decision making for its new collections, and filled to the brim with samples of fabric, photography and book bindings and covers, Richard Greaves, general manager, Amo Blinds, discussed the intricate process of putting together its always anticipated books.

Starting in January this year, and led by marketing manager, Helen Kilvington, Amo has been constantly reading design magazines, listening to designers, attending design, textile and fabric exhibitions and speaking to experts in colour trends. “The way we have approached the new collections this year is new. Normally, we would simply take note of paint trends, for example, but this year we put a lot of investment into gaining trend information from experts, and we fully expect this to pay off and make a significant and discernible difference to the new collections,” says Richard.

Having worked closely with colourists since the beginning of the year, Richard is confident that the new collections include all the trend colours in different hues slated for 2014 and beyond. “We will match the interior decor trends for the next few years and our customers will be able to offer clients the same colours and hues for blinds to coordinate with paint, curtains, towels, carpets and any other interior decor features,” says Richard.

However, as Richard points out, identifying the future colour and interior decor trends is just the beginning of the collections process. Next comes the lengthy procedure of finding the right fabrics. “We have to scour all the suppliers and while we can only create our own specific colours for a low number of fabrics, we have managed to get almost spot-on colour matches for everything else, particularly the plain roller blind fabrics.” Richard also explains that 65-70 per cent of the old collection will continue through to the new collections – there’s only so much that can be done with cream, grey and beige – and therefore the rest of the collection has to be absolutely right.

After sourcing the right fabrics for the new collections, Amo compares its collections to others available in the market. “Our core plain collections are substantially larger in comparison to others. In addition, while a lot of the colours are similar across all the collections, we also know that we are offering upcoming trends colours that will be current next year,” says Richard.

On the subject of trends, Amo’s new collections will feature more blackout fabrics in accordance with end-user demand. Richard attributes the trend towards blackout fabrics to the increase in large TVs and PCs within the home. He also notes a trend towards blackout prints, along with coloured backs, which will be included in the new roller blind collection.

One of the wow factors of the upcoming collections concerns fabric with designs. Along with botanical and wildlife themes, Amo is also including a number of its own designs, which will be printed by a trusted supplier and added to the collections. “What makes our collections stand out is that we’re bolder with some of the designs that we choose, are prepared to pay a little more for some of the fabrics, and we have a huge choice of designs, structures and types of fabric that we put into our collections. It’s not as commercial and safe as some others on the market,” says Richard.

For each new book, Amo goes back to the drawing board. This time, after an online customer survey, all of the elements that customers wanted to see have been considered. “There are many elements to putting a book together – everything from its size, weight and ergonomics, to simplicity in finding specific fabrics or colours, and importantly, the durability of the book. We’ve really acted on the customer survey with changes such as increased durability, the ability to remove samples and the increase in the number of blackout fabrics, amongst other requests,” says Richard.

Taking customer desires into consideration, Amo is currently deciding upon the cover and structure of the book to ensure it doesn’t scuff and is extremely durable. Richard and his team are also looking at the design of the book to ensure that the end result is current, attractive and cost-effective. “We are keeping the prices of the books as low as we possibly can. We are also keeping the book as simple as possible. We now have a concept for the books, which will be contemporary and as usual, the photography will be stunning,” says Richard.

The collections are almost finalised, and once this is achieved, the fabric will be ordered, cut, collated, drilled and included in the book. However, this is not before each and every new fabric has been put through stringent testing in its factory. “Every new fabric is made into a blind and we check each one against a spec sheet – which includes whether the fabric frays or cups, and cutting issues, if an end user would see a design as a flaw, whether the coatings are up to standard etc – to ensure they are good enough to go into the collection,” says Richard.

Originally, the plan was to launch the collections in September, but Richard has refused to hurry the process. “If we had rushed it, the collection wouldn’t have been as good as I know we can make it and there would have been aspects missing that would have given the wow factor. Putting a book together is an art form, which is why we’ve been choosing colours and fabrics since the beginning of the year, and are still not finished,” adds Richard.

The new roller and vertical collections are scheduled for launch in March 2014, and Richard promises it’s worth waiting for.

Amo Blinds

 

 

 

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