(Image From Reisoglu)
Last year the world was struck with disaster when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. In response to the dangers posed by the virus, many countries initiated a lockdown, which resulted in many businesses having to close for the foreseeable future, including those in the interior textiles industry. The lockdowns have affected the industry in many ways, leaving many people to adapt to the new modern world.
Last year the textile industry was forecasted a potential 50% drop in sales. For many businesses production had to stop, which resulted in many cancelled orders and overseas trade deals becoming strained, which would have a major financial impact on many in the industry on top of many businesses having to close or shut down.
One company that hasn’t been affected negatively by the pandemic is Alpaca Comfort LTD. Since the beginning of the first lockdown the company’s turnover has shot up by 50%. Alpaca Comfort Limited began in 2002 with a small alpaca farm in the Peninne hills of Yorkshire. Alongside this, they were also running a small business importing textiles from Peru and because of their current business were also buying and selling natural fibre bedding items such as pillows and duvets. When their suppliers closed, they took the opportunity to buy a mill and start manufacturing their own fibre bedding items.
Shaun Daniel from Alpaca has said, “We are struggling to keep up with orders, so we are bringing in more machines and staff. If this changes we will adapt.” Shaun has said he doesn’t know the cause of his recent success but believes the pandemic does have a large part to play. Alpaca have continued their online shopping option and because more people are at home, more people have been purchasing their products which are becoming increasingly desirable. Their success has been gradually improving throughout the year, despite the lockdowns and some of their larger clients having to shut down. Now that the Prime Minister has announced his exit plan from lockdown some businesses will have been preparing for the world to start returning to normal, but Alpaca plan on continuing as they have been given their recent success.
From Alpaca Comfort LTD
‘Interior Needs’ based in Gloucester are a family run business Interiors Retailer and Showroom who, like many, have also been affected by the pandemic. They provide at home consultations where they can measure and provide quotes for window coverings, provide interior design advice, and use their experience in tricky bays, conservatory roofs and motorisation. They also work with outdoor furnishings.
Last year the company had more positives than negatives and have been more busy than usual, shown by the fact that they had to shut down for 3 months and still broke even in 2019. In the last year, the pandemic has allowed Interior Needs to focus on improvements such as holding more controlled appointments. They have also focussed on marketing and advertising the company, mainly on Facebook in the hope that they will become more well-known and get better recommendations.
Jayne Court from Interior Needs described the first lockdown as very scary because no money was coming in and this caused them to panic. However, everything has been fine since then. Like many companies they have had to adapt to the rules the country has had to follow and to reduce risk they have been going to home addresses for presentations rather than having customers come to the showroom, despite how time consuming it is. They plan to continue to safeguard their future by working by appointment and having different people working on different areas of the business so more is covered. When asked about how she thought business would be next year Jayne said, “I don’t know… it’s scary, business might stop when people start to go on holiday and stop refurbishing when things get back to normal.” She believes that the lockdowns have been very influential on their successes because people have been stuck staring at the same 4 walls and have been saving money so have decided to redecorate.
From Interior Needs Facebook Page
What about the rest of the World? Well Angelo Carillo, an Italian fabric supplier selling Worldwide under the brands Via Roma and Gruppo Carillo, like many has had to face the troubles caused by the pandemic. However, Angelo claims that although he had a quiet period for roll sales from March 2020 to March 2021 his cut length business exploded and he say that since April he has never experienced a better period for business throughout his career! He has managed to kickstart their roll service again and is now having successful meetings with wholesalers, shops & distributors throughout Italy. Angelo has said, “the feeling now is very positive, everyone is selling again. Of course, our Italian customers know us very well and they know that we are the right partner to work with.” They hope their current success will continue and that their export sales will start to grow again. NOTE: If you are interested in seeing their fabric range sold by the metre cut length and rolls – contact their UK AGENT email@example.com
From Via Roma
The lockdown has also affected young designers hoping to get into the industry. BITA member Janna Alu graduated from university last summer with a BA in Textile Design and like many people has struggled to find a job since finishing her degree. Despite crediting the first lockdown to helping her finish work for her degree, she has been looking for a job that will allow her to put what she has learnt at university into practice. Janna was able to get an internship in Amsterdam last year, where she was able to gain some experience in the textile industry. However, she was forced to finish it at home due to the pandemic, cutting her hands-on experience short. Despite the frustration of unemployment, Janna hasn’t let Covid stop her from pursuing her dream and has adapted to the situation by creating and selling facemasks and scrunchies on Instagram. Janna’s experiences show the wider impact that covid-19 has had, as it is not only affecting existing businesses but also prohibiting talented young people getting into the industry. NOTE: If you are based in the South of England and would like to give Janna some unpaid work experience in the industry (ideally pay her travel expenses) – please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Harding – Managing Director of Norfolk House Consultants and BITA reports that many of the industry’s larger suppliers have had a really difficult time due to a large % of their business being export. With the whole world being affected by this pandemic – sales are down both in the export and contract industry with hotels around the world shut and development on hold. Diane says she is aware of many redundancies throughout the industry during last year and new appointments being postponed due to the uncertainty. However – there is a light at the end of the tunnel with many reporting excellent cut length trade in the UK during the latter part of last year and early part of this year and now hotels are beginning to open contract sales are on the increase. We are sure 2021 will be a far better year for the industry and by 2022 sales will be back where they should be in all sectors.
It is difficult to tell if all businesses have been impacted in the same way, but it is safe to say that the pandemic has affected everybody in the interior textiles industry in one way or another. Some business will have found success, and some will have had to shut down but now there is an end to this in sight there will be many companies hoping to return to some sort of normality. We here at BITA would love to hear about your experiences from the last year and your thoughts about the future?