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Fenwick’s future

‘Making changes for a better future’ was the theme at the recent forum held by BHETA (British Home Enhancement Trade Association). The headline speaker was Kieran McBride, Fenwick’s director of buying for furniture, home and food, who talked about the recent changes that will make the group ‘fit for the future’.  

Kieran discussed Fenwick’s period of internal transformation including new centralised functions on the warehousing and merchandising side of the business and a fully integrated stock management system. A good, better, best approach manifests itself in classic, contemporary and fashion-forward terminology.  Fenwick has taken this approach and applied it to the business as a whole – to include all stores and categories.

Above: Fenwick has embarked on ecommerce.
Above: Fenwick has embarked on ecommerce.

Kieran outlined the implementation of this approach across multiple categories and in the evolution of the Fenwick online proposition;  Detail of the new offer includes a local purchasing strategy with local marketing support for each store; assistance for time-poor consumers in creating ‘end-results’; the introduction of new and exclusive products in the run up to Christmas; and cross category concepts.

New suppliers and brands will play a crucial role in Fenwick’s mission to attract new customers, in addition to developing its strong relationships with existing suppliers. Fenwick also intends to expand its own brand proposition gradually.

Hosted for the first time by Seema Grantham, BHETA’s housewares sector manager, the forum included a presentation from Ian Gilmartin, industry director for retail and wholesale at Barclays.  Having pointed out that overall retail spend remained ‘robust’ and rising, he emphasised the importance of being able to navigate the new world of retail.

Dominic Speelman, founder and ceo of buyfair global (and known to the industry as md and founder of Make International) talked about his B2B auction site: “a premium B2B version of eBay – with a twist.”  Created in response to the commercial and environmental challenge of global overproduction, buyfair global is an auction site where sellers can choose whom they sell to, and buyers can access brands that might not otherwise have been achievable.

Above: The buyfair global site is providing a solution to overstock.
Above: The buyfair global site is providing a solution to overstock.

Phil Pond of trend forecaster Scarlet Opus talked about consumers’ frustration at the business world’s perceived slowness to own the challenge of sustainability. Quoting Mark Carney’s statement that “firms ignoring climate change will go bankrupt”, Phil explored the potential of recycled materials for product and packaging manufacture; products which help consumers to create less waste; products repurposed to focus on dietary change and the so-called ‘reduceatarian’; and conservation gifting.

Meanwhile, Dan Black, co-founder and lead designer at black & blum continued the sustainability theme. Charting the history of product design at Black & Blum, Dan focussed on the importance of ‘products with soul’ and products which not guilty of ‘greenwashing’.  Using examples of his product development, he cited the importance of products that are ‘built to last.’

Above: black + blum is designing products to transcend fashion and become reusable classics.
Above: black + blum is designing products to transcend fashion and become reusable classics.

BHETA’s chief operating officer, Will Jones commented, “Retailing continues to move fast, driven by the evolution of different shopping habits and consumer attitudes.  This forum was a unique insight into the opportunities for the future. “
* For more information about future BHETA events and the benefits of BHETA membership in general contact BHETA’s member services manager, Nicola Adams Brown on


Top: Dominic Speelman of buyfair global, Kieran McBride of Fenwick, BHETA president Alastair Fisher, BHETA’s Will Jones and Kieran, and Seema Grantham with Phil Pond of Scarlet Opus.

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