Supplier Spotlight: How Invacare is pushing forward in mobility
THIIS chats to Mike Farrell, Managing Director for Invacare UK, about how it is supporting its retail partners and the latest mobility products to hit the UK market.
As featured in THIIS Magazine, January 2024 issue.
Multi-national mobility supplier Invacare supplies a comprehensive product range which includes pressure area care and respiratory care products as well as powered and manual wheelchairs.
Working with clinicians, healthcare professionals and retailers, Invacare employs approximately 5,000 associates worldwide and markets its products in over 80 countries around the world.
In 2023 year the firm introduced the Erivo and ViaGo products to the UK market as well as supported its partners with a range of product training programmes, as Mike Farrell explains.
Can you tell us a little bit about your story with Invacare?
“I joined Invacare in December 2018 having spent most of my professional career in various sales and marketing roles within the healthcare sector.
“I was really attracted to Invacare by its guiding principle of ‘making life’s experiences possible’, which resonated with me for many reasons.
“I had a good introduction to Invacare joining alongside the retirement of the previous Managing Director, so I had a comprehensive handover, with a remit to continue the good work Invacare had been doing across the UK market.
”Not too long after I joined the business, the Covid pandemic struck and it is fair to say, none of us were really as prepared for the implications of that as we would have liked.
“Our evolution since the pandemic has been slow but steady, linked mainly to supply chain challenges. However, one thing that has been constant for us has been the loyalty and support of our employees and customers, for which we are truly thankful.”
What have you been most proud of during your time at Invacare?
“It’s easy to think about improved financial results or effective product launches but considering the impact of the pandemic, I’m most proud of the fact we were able to keep our employees safe and well, whilst still meeting the needs of our customers.”
What are Invacare UK’s bestsellers?
“That’s such a difficult question as we have many ‘blockbuster’ products that our customers really do value. From my perspective, I’m really happy to see how we have maintained the significant increase in demand we saw for our bed range during the pandemic.
“We also have some stalwarts in our powered and manual mobility portfolio that keep performing really well due to their build quality, reliability and customisation.”
Can you tell us about any new mobility products from Invacare?
“We have recently introduced the Erivo and ViaGo products to the UK market.
“The Erivo is an all-new folding power wheelchair from our Alber family that combines the simplicity and practicality of a folding design with the type of powerful and more stable drive, which you may only expect to see in a larger power wheelchair. Erivo also encompasses market leading LiNX technology.
“The ViaGo, also from Alber, is the latest in our range of push aids from our power add-on portfolio. The ViaGo provides extra power assistance when manoeuvring a wheelchair and has been designed to be ‘plug and play’ with most wheelchairs available on the market today.”
What are your thoughts on the trend towards smart mobility?
“Clearly ‘smart’ devices are here to stay and anything that makes our daily routines easier to navigate will be welcomed. From communications to AI controlled vehicles, it seems inevitable that our ‘social mobility’ will be increasingly influenced by technological advances as new ideas and concepts are translated into real world applications.”
Do you see lithium-ion batteries becoming the norm in the mobility sector?
“The benefits of lithium-ion batteries within the mobility sector are clear so I would expect them to become the norm if they aren’t already! As THIIS has featured heavily in previous issues, we would encourage all our partners to ensure they are following guidance on storage and recycling of these batteries in order to minimise risk and reduce waste.”
Can you tell us more about how Invacare products are distributed in the UK?
“Invacare supplies products to our UK customers in a variety of ways. For private consumer clients, we supply via a national network of experienced, value-added retailers, whose expertise in supporting those clients is hugely important and of course allows us to reach all parts of the UK.
“We also provide products to the NHS and social care services across the UK, both directly and indirectly via key service provider partners.
“Of course, our experienced sales teams are on hand to support all customers.”
Is Invacare looking to expand its dealer network?
“Invacare is always looking to expand its network of expert retailers wherever possible and takes pride in selecting the very best partners to represent our products. We further ensure the best service to the consumers by supporting our partners with a comprehensive range of product training programmes such as our Invacademy, an extremely popular and well received initiative, which has been offering high quality, free-of-charge training for decades.
“If our dealers would like to book training, please contact our marketing team at email@example.com. All current training sessions for 2024 are published on our website at www.invacare.co.uk/training.”
How has Invacare managed to navigate global supply chain challenges over the last couple of years?
“The supply chain challenges brought about by the global disruption have been extremely difficult for many sectors, including ours. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis and inflationary pressures have also meant recovery from the supply chain restrictions more difficult, with many costs rising significantly.
“We have endeavoured to keep our customers up to date with our product availability and are delighted to see the significant improvement over the last six months. We will continue to work diligently in order to ensure we meet our customers’ expectations.”
What do you see as the main issues affecting the mobility sector?
“There are many issues that have the potential to impact the mobility sector. In particular, many of the more experienced retailers that put clients at the forefront of their business are being replaced by more commodity focused resellers, many of whom don’t have the relevant experience to properly assess client needs.
“Product quality is of immense importance to Invacare, however we do see a number of low-quality imports being brought to market, which in turn can impact those most vulnerable.
“Whilst there are clearly some benefits to online retailing, the advent of e-commerce has presented a real challenge for the sector, with traditional high street retailers sometimes priced out by those with a solely online presence. We believe clients will always need the expertise of the more traditional retail network.”
What else is Invacare focusing on at the moment?
“In relative terms, 2023 has been a very good year for Invacare UK, despite the challenges that continue to impact our business.
“As we go into 2024, we will be implementing a number of initiatives that will help us regain customer trust and become a dependable supplier once again. We also have some exciting new launches planned from across our portfolio for 2024.”
What’s next for Invacare over the next 12 months?
“Our main focus for the next 12-18 months will be to continue with the improvements we have seen in supply chain reliability, and also improve our responsiveness by implementing a ‘one-stop shop’ for our customers.
“We will be adding to our team with a number of key appointments (see page 58 for latest vacancy) aimed at further improving our commercial presence and customer service levels.
“We will also be expanding our Invacare Pro capabilities so that our retail network can place orders online. The development of ecommerce within this platform will offer our retailers a simple, efficient method to use our online tools to place and monitor their orders providing a more effective service.”https://thiis.co.uk/supplier-spotlight-how-invacare-is-pushing-forward-in-mobility/https://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/IVC-Alber-VIA-GO-BE26.jpghttps://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/IVC-Alber-VIA-GO-BE26-150x150.jpgNewsroomSupplier SpotlightTrade Focusaccess,care,Invacare,Mobility,pressure area,respiratory,SupplierTHIIS chats to Mike Farrell, Managing Director for Invacare UK, about how it is supporting its retail partners and the latest mobility products to hit the UK market. As featured in THIIS Magazine, January 2024 issue. Multi-national mobility supplier Invacare supplies a comprehensive product range which includes pressure area care and...Liane McIvorLiane McIvorliane@thiis.co.ukEditorTHIIS Magazine