Interview with Derek Lovelock, Chairman of The Children's Furniture Company
Derek Lovelock was announced as Chairman of The Children’s Furniture Company (TCFC) just a couple of weeks ago. We caught up with him to find out more about his new role, to ask him what sets TCFC apart from its competitors – and what his business plans are for the year ahead…
What was it about TCFC that attracted you to the role of Chairman?
TCFC is an exciting new business with an ambitious entrepreneurial team, which has achieved some great growth to date. I love the products (my daughter is a customer) and I like the direct to consumer model the team has developed. I believe there is a great opportunity to build the brand and plenty more scope to grow the business in the UK and beyond.
You were previously at Mothercare and Mamas & Papas; what do you specifically enjoy about being involved in the nursery market?
Our business currently focuses on an age range just above the newborn/nursery sector, from a first bed onwards – a growing market sector which has historically been under-served by traditional retail and as such has lots of potential. The business is well positioned to explore expansion into the nursery segment given, its design ethos, supply chain, revenue model and customer base. With the recent demise of traditional brands such as Mothercare and ELC, there’s an interesting opportunity in the nursery sector, particularly with a direct-to-consumer business model.
It’s a challenging time for retail – how do you think the next 12 months will be across the sector as a whole? And for the nursery sector in particular?
eCommerce is obviously going to play a key role for both the retail and nursery sectors. With traditional retail suffering during the pandemic from the lock-down measures, direct brands, such as The Children’s Furniture Company, as well as eCommerce retailers have an opportunity to grow market share in the sector. The pandemic has proved a testing time for supply chains as manufacturing adapts and reacts to the global lockdown in most countries. There are currently many challenges around importing goods from Asia and Europe which means businesses must intelligently manage their cost base and pricing structures, to ensure profitability is maintained whilst always providing value to customers.
How has TCFC reacted to the Coronavirus pandemic and how have you had to adapt how you operate?
As a direct brand with an online revenue stream TCFC has been well positioned to manage itself throughout the pandemic period. The business has been affected as we had to close our own showroom, as have some of our wholesale customers. As with all businesses, TCFC has had to adapt to new working practices, and in particular we have modified our own supply chain quickly to respond to the inevitable challenges.
Why should a retailer stock TCFC’s products?
With strong design appeal, TCFC offer a differentiated product providing both form and function, which his rare in the sector. Our quality is excellent as is our value proposition.
What would say is TCFC’s best-selling product – and why?
We’ve recently seen our Princess and Holly collections drive really very impressive sales levels but in truth we have seen strong levels of demand across all categories.
Can you share any specific plans or developments for the year ahead?
We have some exciting plans ahead! We are reviewing our product hierarchy and we will be looking at driving NPD to grow the product range to create a complete offering across bedroom, playroom and study-time furniture. We currently target age ranges from 3 years to around 10 years of age. We believe there is an opportunity to grow the brand either side of the age range, which will allow us to increase our relevance to our customer base by providing furniture solutions for their children from birth to teens. Further down the line we’ll be looking at how we can take the brand overseas as we have had lots of interest from both retailers and consumers in many international markets.