Lee outside the Cornwall-based warehouse for Rehasense UK image
Lee outside the Cornwall-based warehouse for Rehasense UK

Having recently opened a new purpose-built UK headquarters and warehouse facility and with plans to launch several new products this year, Rehasense UK’s expansion plans for 2021 have been going well despite a global pandemic.  The manufacturer and supplier of high-end mobility solutions is currently looking to expand its UK retailer network this year. THIIS caught up with Lee French, Managing Director at Rehasense UK, to find out more…

With aims to become one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of rollators and wheelchairs in the UK and Ireland, these are exciting times for Rehasense UK.

Since entering into the UK market in 2018, its UK Managing Director Lee French says that the Rehasense product range has had a good response from retailers.

“We have also received very positive feedback from end-users and OTs who have been impressed with the performance, quality and finish of our products and we hope to build on this growing reputation in 2021.”

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Despite the pandemic throwing a spanner in the works over the last 12 months, the firm has continued apace with its expansions plans, says Lee, which has included working on new products.

Product development

In fact, it was product development and design which led to Lee working with Rehasense. With its global head offices in Denmark and Germany, and customer service and logistics centres based in Poland, the manufacturer was looking to break into the UK market.

Lee has worked in the healthcare industry for over 20 years, starting off in care homes and working up to the position of Care Home Manager, before moving on to supply products in a retail setting up until 2020.

He became involved with Wheelchair Services contracts, which led to him working for one of the large wheelchair government contractors at director level. During this time, Lee started developing and sourcing products from all over the world. It was an area of work that he really enjoyed and he began to explore ways in which he could fully utilise his skill set.

“I had been aware of Rehasense Global for some years and watched them grow over time and grow their portfolio of high-quality products,” explains Lee. “I had been working on some projects for one of my overseas customers and had met with the senior management team which left me very impressed with them and the quality and attention to detail they put into their projects.”

Lee started to carry out some consultancy work and researched possible dealers for Rehasense in the UK and Ireland.

“We believe in talking to our retailers as they are the ones with the expertise”

“It was during a meeting with them that I suddenly thought to myself “what was I doing”? I had the industry experience and knew there was a gap in the UK market for the Rehasense product range.”

Lee knew that with the expertise of the Rehasense Global team, he could help bring these products to market in the UK and Ireland, where they would also be controlled from the UK.

“I believed there was a need for a new supplier in the market that would only sell through dealers and not direct to the end-user.”

In July 2018, Rehasense UK was set up. It took six months to bring the products in with the aim being to start off slowly as the business grew, explains Lee.  During this time, he had many meetings with the team at Rehasense Global headquarters to get the products ready, with some changes for the UK market.

“I now sit on the Global team and support where I can in new product development,” he adds. “We have an excellent team in the UK that will grow, and with the support of the Global company to support us with our product road map and further development in the UK I am sure there are exciting times ahead for Rehasense UK and its dealers.”

Tomasz Biduś, professional wheelchair rugby player and brand ambassador demonstrates the soon-to-be-launched PAWS model image
The TrackWheel model is designed to enable users to travel over more uneven terrain

Growing retailer network

Rehasense UK only offers B2B and sells through a UK dealer network, comments Lee, and it is hoping to grow its dealer network significantly in 2021. Dealers who come onboard with Rehasense have access to a growing range of products that are lightweight, made from high-quality material and backed by up to a seven-year warranty, he says.

“We are looking for new dealers who want to stock high-quality products that have a reputation for being among the best available and will complement their existing product ranges.

“Point of sale material is available and we are always happy to support our retailers at shows and events and offer advice should a customer have a query regarding one of our products as we want to help every dealer grow their business. New dealers will also be the first to see the exciting range of new products that will be launched later this year.”

Says Lee: “When talking to a customer, they can be rest assured that they will receive the product on a 24-hour delivery.”

Customer satisfaction is key to Rehasense UK’s ethos. After all, its target customer is someone who is looking for a quality, stylish mobility solution that will last and offer value for money, adds Lee.

“Over the years, I have seen a number of customers move dealers because they have been sold a product that has not met the expectations of the end-user. So, we always listen to our dealer and their customer to ensure the product they purchase will meet their expectations and that of their family or anyone involved in caring for them.”

Dealers can expect to be fully supported with training and education on the product range (see sidebar on pgXX for information on some of its latest additions) with assessment stock supplied to them if they require it, explains Lee, which is also available on next day delivery.

“Seeing the late Sir Tom Moore using our Server CF being knighted by the Queen was a wonderful moment”

“Here at Rehasense UK, we believe in talking to our retailers as they are the ones with the expertise and we value their feedback and involvement in new product design. Regular visits to our retailers in their showrooms are also a priority,” Lee states, who explains that these will recommence once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

“To support the launches that will come this year, we are setting up a ‘just in time’ facility which will allow dealers to order bespoke versions of our new product lines built to their specifications and those of their customer.”

The firm also plans to keep its dealers informed with the launch of a new quarterly retailer newsletter to keep them updated on its plans for 2021.

Highs and lows

Lee French at Rehasense HQ image
Lee French at Rehasense HQ

The past year has produced some real highlights for Rehasense UK, enthuses Lee.

“Like most companies we have had some very slow months, but we have also had some excellent months over the last year. I would say the proudest achievements at Rehasense would be how the team has supported our retailers and customers during such a challenging year.

“Seeing the late Sir Tom Moore using our Server CF when being knighted by the Queen was also a wonderful moment for the company.”

Like many other firms in the mobility sector, the firm also experienced a few challenges, he admits, with the pandemic slowing things down, but the team at Rehasense UK used this time productively.

“The slow months has given us the opportunity to work on new products for later this year and keep up with all the work that goes on behind the scenes so we can build those strong foundations that every business needs.”

There is light at the end of the tunnel and that is getting brighter every week, admits Lee, with the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out at a great speed. Lee is looking forward to getting to see the firm’s dealers face-to-face again and managing the new product launches this year.

Brexit-related import changes have been another headache, he acknowledges, with the increased freight charge and time on deliveries, and the logistical changes involved required a lot more communication over the phone and via Teams/Zoom meetings with dealers, the global team and R&D departments. There have also been a few challenges with distributing products to Ireland.

“Before Brexit It would take 48 hours. This is now taking up to 10 days but I am confident this will settle back down and we also have facilities in Europe that we can use if time becomes a barrier on the shipping front.”

Finding a base

Setting up the new purpose-built UK headquarters and warehouse facility in Cornwall during a global pandemic has been another challenge, says Lee, but it also one of Rehasense’s UK proudest achievements. The facility will enable the firm to offer a 24-hour delivery service to all retailers.

“Trackwheel will be a game-changer for the power add-on market”

When Rehasense first started to bring the products in to the UK it did not have a warehouse, explains Lee, apart from a facility in Leeds that was part of a 12-month agreement.

“From day one, we wanted to be in control of supplying to our dealers and be 100 per cent happy with the picking and shipping processes so in March 2020 we took on new facilities here in Cornwall.”

The new facility can hold around 5,000 products in stock at any one time which are ready to be shipped the next day, he explains, and as the facility is so close to where Lee and his administrative team live, it allows the team there to have full control of the service that it offers its dealers.

“From here, we supply all product, parts and support from under one roof,” he says.

And there are some other tasty perks to its location too says Lee. “Any visitors also get a complementary Cornish pasty for lunch.”

www.rehasense.co.uk


Rehasense UK reveals some exciting new additions

The latest products to be launched by Rehasense UK include the ICON 35 lightweight aluminium wheelchairs, comments Lee French.

“Weighing just 8.2kg, the ICON 35Bx is the lightest wheelchair in the ICON range and features an ergonomic seat and back angle to provide a superb seating position. The ICON 35Lx weighs only 9kg and is fitted with enhanced ergonomic seating, back upholstery and adjustable arm rests for increased levels of support and pressure relief if required.  Both models have a maximum user weight of 125kg.

Space Lx rollator image
Space LX rollator

“The Space LX rollator combines intuitive design and high strength alloy materials yet weighs only 5.8kg, ensuring it is very easy to walk with, lift and turn indoors and outside.  To ensure good posture, height-adjustable handles with indexed settings provide increased user comfort.

“Available in medium or large and three colours, the Space LX is fitted with a backrest, stick holder, quick positive braking system and integrated removeable basket as standard and has a maximum user weight of 150kg.

“For users looking for a more lightweight rollator, the Space CF is perfect.  At 4.7kg, it is the lightest carbon fibre rollator currently on the market and is available in medium and large.  With a maximum user weight of 150kg, the Space CF is easy to control and manoeuvre due to its exceptional lightweight design in both indoor and outdoor environments.

“As with the Space LX, the CF features a rigid X frame with easy-fold mechanism which provides more space in the foot area to reduce any risk of tripping.

“Later this year, we will also be launching the new PAWS (Power Assisted Wheelchair System) and Trackwheel. The Trackwheel system is designed to enable users to have increased stability when they travel over uneven terrain and it is set to be a game changer for the power add-on market. Completing our new product launches will be a new low-cost active chair and Tilt-in-space comfort chair.”

For more information on the full range of products available or to discuss potential retailer opportunities with Rehasense UK, contact Lee on 07764 409 729 or email lee.french@rehasense.com .  You can view the full product range at www.rehasense.co.uk

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