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British manufacturing at its best!

* Utopia-Henley.jpg
KBZine's editor Jan Hobbs tours Utopia's fantastic new showrooms in Wolverhampton

"British manufacturing at its best!"

That was the enthusiastic reaction from one retailer in response to Utopia's recent groundbreaking product launch and I have to say I was just as impressed - not only with the products themselves but also with the clever and useful way they were presented.

* Utopia-Claudia.jpgFour brand new furniture concepts were launched during a three week programme which saw over 800 key retailers visit the company's Wolverhampton headquarters for the day - and the reactions of those who attended made the efforts that clearly went into the building of the showroom and the launch presentation itself, incredibly worthwhile.

The day's packed schedule began with a detailed presentation by Utopia's CEO Simon Russell in which he introduced the four new ranges before guests were taken on a guided tour of the new products. The furniture was imaginatively displayed in a series of beautiful new roomsets in the brand new, purpose built, 7,000 sq ft showroom on the mezzanine floor.

It was jam packed with wonderful things...

I would look at one and think: "Perfect!" and move along to another, only to observe that this one might possibly be even better than the last - and I often found myself going backwards and forwards from one to the other, trying to work out which roomset I actually preferred and which of the fantastic features I'd opt for when choosing a new bathroom. This happened time and time again.

'Spoilt for choice' doesn't even come near it!

Speaking after the launch programme had ended, Helen Clark, Utopia's Marketing Director, commented: "Holding our launch event at our own headquarters allowed us to present the new ranges in great detail, giving each collection the attention it deserved. We are always delighted to welcome our retailers on site as it gives us the time and opportunity to showcase not just our new products but the whole company and its personnel.
"The response to this launch, our most innovative and significant to date, was truly exceptional but don't take my word for it, a brief selection of comments from our guests follows."

"It was certainly a more impressive launch than anything I witnessed at this year's ISH at Frankfurt, which was actually a very good show.

* Utopia-unusual-spaces.jpg

It is also fantastic to see British manufacturing at its best - focussed investment, engineering excellence, quality product development, and a motivated service-driven workforce and management team - a rarity indeed."

"The launch of your new concepts and products is fantastic! The new designs, colours, introduction of the tiles to complement your furniture, etc., are like a breath of fresh air to the industry especially at this time when there is not much to shout about."

"I only wish other manufactures would 'grab the bull by the horns' and go for something innovative rather the 'safe and simple'."

"The new products are simply stunning and I look forward to seeing them on display in our stores."

"This was one of the most innovative and important product launches by any manufacturer for some considerable time. It adds another dimension to your portfolio of products."

"It was so important that not only are those products new and innovative - but saleable too. We are both extremely enthused by what we saw."

"I was blown away by the launch. The product was well presented, the team was so enthusiastic and overall it was a breath of fresh air."

"I have impressed on my team the urgency for them to see the new products in situ as soon as is physically possible. Rarely do we get the chance to see such a variety of displays in the format you have chosen .It would be suicidal not to take advantage of this!"

"The difficult part now is going to be to try to emulate what you have achieved in our store ....watch this space!"

"It is nice to see a manufacturer launching new ideas and concepts in these difficult trading times. I wish you all the success with your new products
and will see you soon to discuss our options in the showroom."

The comments from the members of the press, with whom I toured the facility, were equally enthusiastic and indeed although we can be known for being a bit picky at times, I didn't hear one negative comment from our group.

To top things off, I was given a one-to-one guided tour of the factory and came away with a wealth of knowledge about how and why things were done the way they were. I have to say that while I've been on a lot of factory tours in my time, this plant was by far the cleanest and tidiest of them all and I was impressed by the attention to detail and the way the operation was streamlined so that everything would run smoothly, all the time.

If this is the way the Utopia team looks after all its guests and if you're a retailer or specifier and were unlucky enough to have missed the launch, I'd make a point of arranging a visit without delay!

In the meantime, do look out for details of the new products in forthcoming issues of KBZine...

15th July 2011

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