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Components on demand
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00

Louvolite is launching components on demand following in the footsteps of its cut length fabric service.

 

Many years ago life seemed so much simpler than it does today and for good or for bad, there were fewer choices. Now, life is all about choice – the more choices the better – yet looking back, the industry offering was indeed much less complex.

There were wooden spring rollers, 2” venetian blinds, typically white or cream unless you lived by in a seaside resort where they all seemed to be multicoloured slatted blinds. Then came the new vertical blind fresh from the commercial market and Louvolite believed there was a domestic market for it and persuaded retailers to offer it for sale.

Roller blinds too have blossomed and matured into products that grace the living and sleeping areas of stylish homes, no longer banished to just the kitchen or bathroom. It would seem that the change from small fabric option choices (white, cream, beige) featuring very safe and conservative colours to the explosion of fabric choices first seen in the late 80’s and early 90’s has done exactly what is was meant to do – extend the offering into a more fashion related product designed to appeal to the widest consumer base and then continue to progress.

This has worked well. Professional supply companies hold significant stocks with the blind manufacturing companies tending only to hold simple fabric stocks of high moving classics and order everything else as a cut length. The better the offer (more choices again) the greater the chance of success, and so on and so forth. The industry has fine-tuned this concept so we hardly ever think about the impact it has made by increasing the audience for window shading as more consumers were attracted by better quality fabrics and design options as the products became more fashionable and design led. This has also lead to the further extension of products to satisfy the demand for unique looks and the consumer drive to personalise their homes.

Other programmes have developed over the years to help satisfy the growing demand for window shades and perhaps add to that demand by offering new options not previously seen before. The Louvolite roman blind system, for example, uses a very clever operating design concept to allow traditional roller blind fabrics to operate as a roman blind. This has allowed programme manufacturers access to a market that they hitherto did not have access to.

The Louvolite open cassette system, designed to carry the roman programme, has lent itself to other products now – firstly with Apex, the 50mm pleated shade, and more recently the Vision programme, which has been a success to all those who offer it. Again these ‘new’ products have been made more available due to the blind manufacturing companies not having to invest heavily in fabric stocks to support a new line – Louvolite holds the stock and ships the fabric as and when ordered, in quantities that satisfy the blind order.

So the market is becoming more sophisticated, but as this happens the consumer becomes more demanding. No more is the consumer satisfied with aluminium or white hardware components and systems, now they want the whole image of the blind to work better. As a system designer/producer, Louvolite sees how a roller shade can be greatly enhanced by the correct combination of headrail cassette and bottom rail combinations.

To accommodate this demand for change, Louvolite has revisited its profiles and associated component parts and provided colour combinations designed to enhance its fabric offerings.

This leads to more opportunities for the blind maker/supplier to provide a tailored product personalised for the individual consumer. It also leads to further profit making opportunities as the traditional market changes. For example, the slow but steady demise of the scallop leaves a profit vacuum that can easily be filled by a coordinating, sophisticated open cassette.

The vertical louvre blind continues to offer the consumer phenomenal value for money while performing heroics in its primary task of light control. Now with fabrics such as shot silk and chenille, it reminds us again of how beautiful it can look. To further enhance this, Louvolite’s premium vogue hardware systems have created an even more sophisticated look with piano black and champagne gold colour options vying for pride of place in consumer homes.

The extension of the system options to complement the fabric collections Louvolite offers has created some issues for manufacturing companies to consider. The options look and work wonderfully well and can help manufacturers achieve that extra value for the sale or swing a potential order from a competitor’s product – but of course extra stocks of aluminium and components ties up both space and cash both of which tend to be at a premium in our industry.

The inability to progress can, without doubt, harm an industry, leading to product performance and options being curtailed and consumer demand being left unsatisfied. This in turn can result in fewer options being offered using lower quality products in an attempt to mop up the sales that can be satisfied. But this shouldn’t be the way of our industry and it certainly isn’t the Louvolite way.

From January 2014 things will change – in a big way. For the first time, Louvolite manufacturers will be able to order quantities of headrail profiles, cassettes and coordinating component parts in volumes that satisfy unique orders. Just as with Louvolite’s cut length fabric service, manufacturers will be able to order the equivalent of cut length component service – components on demand.

This innovative service will immediately allow all Louvolite programme manufacturers the ability to offer a substantially wider product mix than ever before without committing themselves to the cash and space traditionally required to do so.

Customers will be able to take full advantage of Louvolite marketing products that feature the enhanced blind systems and provide the consumer with arguably the widest choice of window blind products available.

At a time when margins are being squeezed, the ability to provide the consumer with a product that can be tailored to exactly meet personal needs creates a more satisfied customer and extra profit opportunities for the blind supplier.

Louvolite

 

 

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