Best of British: Insurance policy

Andrew Stanbridge, Carpet Foundation ceo on supporting independent retailers and communicating to consumers

What is the purpose of the Carpet Foundation?

Independent retailers are a vital route to market for manufacturers and our role is to support them and promote them to consumers. This is particularly relevant at the moment as there is renewed interest in ‘buying locally’. We can do things collectively that most companies can’t do on their own, such as promoting carpet to consumers nationally; running a code of practice for retailers; giving independent and impartial advice; dealing with negative stories about carpet, and talking to government.

How do you know your message is getting through to consumers?

We can see that when we advertise, for example on consumer websites, visits to our website shoot up – and one doesn’t visit a carpet website for fun. While the code of practice may not be a ‘deal opener’ we do know it is a ‘deal clincher’. As for advice, again looking at our website statistics, by far and away the most popular pages are ‘Find your local

retailer’ and ‘General buying advice’. Without us, independent carpet retailers wouldn’t have a consistent, collective voice or be promoted nationally, while for suppliers, our benefit is best summed up by the ceo of a manufacturer: ‘The Carpet Foundation is like an

insurance policy. You never know when you are going to need it but when you do, you thank your lucky stars you have it.’

What does the future hold?

Digital is the way forward in terms of communicating, both with consumers and with the industry at large. We’ve been around for 21 years and adapting our business model has stood us in good stead.

How many members do you want?

We are a ‘Marmite’ organisation – we know that. Obviously, we would like more members but we just want to be big enough numerically to make a meaningful contribution for our retail and patron members.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like?

A greater understanding of the role of trade associations within an industry of our size. As one member said to us: ‘If you didn’t exist, we’d have to invent you.’

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