The Mobility Furniture Company customer till
The store aims to deliver a personal touch in its new store.

When The Mobility Furniture Company opened its first new store in Tunbridge Wells in December 2021, it was only too keen to show that it was adding a personal touch to its new retail offering…

The Mobility Furniture Company recently opened its flagship store in the affluent town of Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

The store features the company’s key products – bespoke rise and recline chairs and adjustable beds – alongside stairlifts, mobility scooters, bathrooms and gardening products from carefully selected affiliate companies.

As James Mitton, Managing Director of The Mobility Furniture Company, explains: “The shop itself is full of character with bare brick walls and industrial metalwork – we have leant into this when dressing the shop and created a very comfortable and airy space.”

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The store is located directly opposite a large car park, making it easily accessible to customers. James explains that as The Mobility Furniture Company is the first shop that people see when they leave the car park, having clear signage and a window display is key to footfall. And it has certainly worked out well for them so far, he reports.

“Although it’s early days, we are receiving a lot of traction with a large range of products in the shop. People’s interest seems to be sparked particularly by the display of mobility scooters that we have facing out of our large front window, which is made all the more inviting by the twinkling lights and seasonal garlands dressing the front of the shop.”

Customers tempted to head inside will discover a store delivering that personal touch, with warm, friendly lighting, cosy areas for appointments, tea, coffee and biscuits on standby, and a welcoming team of advisors.

Store background

Based in Weston-super-Mare, The Mobility Furniture Company was formed 2019 after GM Geeco acquired the assets of The Mobility Furniture Company Limited. “Since then, we have worked tirelessly to restructure the business into what it is today,” James states.

James Mitton, The Mobility Furniture Company
James Mitton

“The whole business and all of its processes were reviewed. Improved operating procedures were put in place for all operations, and the company and brand has moved forward with great success.”

James is proud of the services and products that it provides to customers, as well as the working culture within the business.

“We strive to support each other, work as a team and approach all situations with positivity,” he says. The firm’s work ethic was even recognised by the Care Sector Supplier Awards (cssawards.co.uk) this year, in which it was one of the finalists.

Before becoming Managing Director, James was Operations Director, and had previously worked in almost every department in the mobility sector over two decades, from the sales team to planning delivery routes for logistics.

As James explains: “Gaining fundamental knowledge of how the business operates, and the intricacies of the entire mobility sector, enables me to understand the issues that the rest of the team face on a daily basis.

“There’s a great satisfaction in the knowledge we that we provide products that improve quality of life to a huge range of people, enabling them to live at home for longer.”

Other key members of staff at The Mobility Furniture Company are Bryony Bell, Logistics and Retail Manager, who has overseen the entire project of opening the store. Says James: “Her drive and determination are complemented by her vision of providing a comfortable and friendly retail experience for shoppers.”

Bryony is supported by a store manager, Sabrina Guempel, and two store assistants.

The Mobility Furniture Co. exterior
The exterior of the flagship store in Tunbridge Wells.

Opening the store

The decision to open the shop in Tunbridge Wells was made when lockdown began in early 2020, so the store was fortunate not to be affected by the pandemic to any great extent, comments James. It did, however, specifically seek out “well-prepared and equipped suppliers” for products to avoid any supply chain issues.

Since opening, the shop has kept its vulnerable customers and staff safe by providing hand sanitiser and masks, when necessary, and it has kept well informed about local rates of COVID-19 and changing advice from government.

For the store’s opening weekend in November, customers were offered cakes, fizz and tea, and it hosted some of its key suppliers, such as social enterprise Arthr and Quingo Scooters.

Bryony Bell
Bryony Bell, Logistics and Retail Manager

Bryony worked carefully throughout this project, James explains, to select products that complement its own range of rise and recline chairs, adjustable beds and homecare furniture.

“We will always focus on our own range of rise and recline and adjustable furniture, but the beauty of this new venture is that we include many categories of the mobility sector, including scooters, bathrooms, gardening and personal items,” he says.

The product areas within the store will be influenced by the feedback the store gets from customers, he says.

“We will closely analyse results and get to know people who walk through the door – both of which will direct future areas of growth for the shop.”

Meeting customer needs

As James explains, the mainstay of the store’s potential customers interested in mobility furniture will always be older people who are looking to live more comfortably and independently in their homes for longer. Its target market also includes those whose older family members need specific products, and younger people with health conditions too.

He adds: “We’re always forging relationships with residential care homes as well, which is why it is important that the location of the shop means that it’s visible within the town and easy for anyone to drop in for a chat about their needs.”

Online and offline advertising of its brand and products are fundamental to the business, he says, and work in synergy with one another. To help achieve this goal, the store has also been working with an advertising agency, Griffin Media Solutions, to help transform its marketing strategy.

“Online activity drives traffic to our website, where people can look at our products and book an appointment for a company representative to bring furniture to their homes for them to try out,” comments James. “Or customers can order stock items that are posted out or delivered.”

Offline activity is focused around raising awareness of The Mobility Furniture Company’s products and brand, explains James. “People then phone up to book an appointment, or visit the website first and then book an appointment.

“So when it came to advertising the shop opening, we took a dual approach that involved a door drop invitation to the launch weekend, advertising in regional press (offline and online) and reaching people in the area via social media platforms. “

The store has also been working with TV Doctor Dr Rob Hicks over the past year – an arrangement which is set to continue into 2022.

Over the past year, Dr Hicks has been writing a series of features for the store’s website, highlighting core mobility issues such as arthritis, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s and other conditions that can develop. This dialogue is being shared via the store’s social media sites, as well as in press, advertisements, inserts and catalogues.

Explains James: “Working with Dr Rob Hicks has been tremendous fun and good for our brand. He’s a super professional yet approachable person, and we’ve put his knowledge to great use whilst developing our product offering.”

The Mobility Furniture Co store
The store offers its own range of mobility furniture.

Looking to the future

James feels very positive about the store’s future. “Navigating a company through a pandemic, when advice is constantly changing, has made us realise how quickly our business can evolve.
“Despite the constraints we’ve been under, the company has continued to thrive and looks set to grow at least another five per cent in 2022. We’re always looking to ensure that the infrastructure of the business can support the increase of orders.”

There are “absolutely” plans for more stores, says James. “We’ll keep a close eye on results, margins and consumer demand and make a call in a few months’ time. Location is key – of the demographics of the urban area and within any town itself – and we will tap into Bryony’s expertise once again. No doubt she’s already thinking about her next premises…”

Taking a wider view of the mobility sector, with businesses increasingly experiencing longer waiting times for raw materials and component parts and no end in sight, James says: “Managing customer expectations will be important, but we have a excellent dialogue with customers and find that the public are generally relatively accepting of this now.

“With the population getting older, living for longer, and the preference to continue living at home, the main challenge for us is keeping up with demand. But with the systems, work ethic and support we have in place, we are ready to take this on.”

For now, the staff are busy preparing the store for the festive season with pine leaf garlands, a Christmas tree and stockings all helping to give a real “Christmas at home” feel. He says: “Mince pies and hot chocolate will be offered to customers, as well as a Christmas wrapping service for any items purchased in the shop that are destined to be gifts.”

mobilityfurniturecompany.co.uk

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