Robust whatever the future holds
In March of this year when we all got informed that normal life was suspended, the end of 2020 seemed to be very far away, but here we are in December and still surviving.
As I write this piece it is increasingly likely that we will be leaving the EU without a deal and so we are potentially moving into another period of uncertainty. To be honest I am far more relaxed about the start of 2021 than I should be.
I think the experiences of 2020 have proved to me that we are far more robust as an industry than we probably thought, and we are more than capable of dealing with not knowing what the future holds, and making the best of whatever is thrown at us every day.
I am incredibly proud of the Blum team and our customers for all that has been achieved this year, and I am confident that we head into the New Year in a better place from the experiences of 2020.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very peaceful and healthy Christmas and hopefully a prosperous New Year
All the best
Cover image: courtesy of Daval – see their article page 6
How to cope with Christmas
During the festive holidays the pressure of being seen to be having a good time can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re experiencing any emotional difficulties.
It’s supposed to be the season to be jolly, but organising everything to be merry at this time of year can lead to sacks full of stress. Christmas does generally mean lots of excesses, whether that’s travelling, eating more food, drinking too much, family arguments, financial burdens and extra household chores – with 2020 having already been an epic emotional rollercoaster!
View found a really helpful piece by Clinical Psychologist, Amaryllis Roy, which addresses the impact that Christmas can have on our mental health and it provides some great suggestions and fresh ideas on how to maintain the sparkle.
From advice on being realistic about what days with the family will really be like (and that’s going to be even more important this year in our bubbles) to strategies for protecting our self-esteem and the need to build in some ‘time out’, this article packs a great deal into five top tips. It concludes by expounding the sage advice that we all know to be so true – everything in moderation!
And, another of our magazine contributors, Daval offer their take on making this Christmas special with a back to basics approach. From making the most out of decorating your tree to enjoying a Christmas classic film, Daval have a few helpful suggestions to make the most out of Christmas this year.
Time to relax and re-charge...
Mark reflects on the year and the lessons to be learned from it
I don’t want to harp on about all the obvious and abundant negatives arising from this extraordinary year. They have been more than sufficiently talked about.
As this year draws to a close, and we’re all given a chance to catch our breath, I thought it was worth focussing on a handful of the silver-linings that have peered around the edges of the obvious and well-publicised clouds.
There’s been more community spirit. In the first lock-down we saw evidence of many communities coming together. In our local neighbourhood, a group was set up to ensure that we could keep an eye out for our vulnerable neighbours. Official figures state that some 10 million+ have volunteered their time and support through this crisis.
Social distancing didn’t make us anti-social. Many of us used the unexpected free time to contact old friends. I’ve lost count of the E-beers, Zoom/Facebook catch ups and even House Party events that I attended. I was able to see and speak to my elderly mother every single day.
Social Media as a force for good. When stuck at home during lockdown I sought solace in social media. I had my first proper introduction to the world of memes, jokes and internet videos. Although I hate to admit it, they helped while away many hours during the long weeks of lock-down. My first genuinely positive experience of Social Media.
We have all learned to feel comfortable in the virtual meeting world. Zoom, Teams and many other platforms allow us to communicate with anyone around the world. Of course, this doesn’t replace genuine face-to-face exchanges, but it certainly has the potential to compliment/increase/enhance our opportunities to communicate with each other.
Our industry is booming right now. Consumers have presumably got fed up, staring at the same four walls. Many have diverted their holiday, hospitality and travel budgets into their houses. The result is that, overall, the industry is running at around 40% higher than usual with many customers telling us that their order books are filling up well into 2021.
For me the biggest positive from all this is how the whole Blum family has “stepped up to the plate” and risen to the challenges being thrown at them. This crisis and the unprecedented high levels of business have combined to put our whole organisation under the highest ever, and sustained, levels of pressure in its long history. Proud is a word that does not do justice to the way I feel about our people.
In summary, I am certainly not suggesting that everything is hunky-dory – however I am suggesting that there are some positives to be found if you care to look hard enough.
So, whilst I accept that 2020 has brought more than its fair share of challenges, I do urge you all to use the coming break as an opportunity to relax and re-charge. From me, and everyone at Blum UK, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Mark Richardson is the Managing Director for Blum UK. Initially joined the business in 1987 on the day Blum UK was established. Mark’s fun fact is that his first job was as a Security Guard in London and for 3 days (at the age of nineteen) he was assigned “bodyguard duties” for a Japanese businessman. “Had anything vaguely dangerous happened I would have run away quicker than you can say Sayonara”.
A Very Ruby Christmas
Written by Ruby & Dave Grant
Well, another year nearly over! I am 10 human years old now and recovering from a cruciate operation. Hence the shaved leg – it isn’t a fashion statement!
In all my years I have not experienced such strange incidents as in the last 9 months. Most of the humans I see now in town are wearing muzzles, apparently it is because they did not learn to sit & stay!
My Dad (Dave Grant of Blum the Technical Team) has spent a lot more time at home – which has been good as he has been better able to watch over me whilst I recuperate. During the day he taps away on a black box, mutters & swears about ‘the tinterweb’. When he goes to cock his leg (a frequent occurrence these days), I get to peer at his screen and get an insight into his ‘Blum world’ that he gets so excited about.
They seem to be preparing early for Christmas as I have seen videos of MINIPRESS P decorated with flashing lights they call EASYSTICK. The lights are of course Orange (a shade of Grey to me). They are very proud of this & want to invite customers to come in and play with it, but due to the current strange times they are unable to do so. There is however plenty of information they can email.
So, this year Christmas will be different. There will be no Christmas party this year, Dad is actually quite pleased about this as he is a grumpy old git – doesn’t like loud music & dancing. There will be no beautifully decorated tree at Blum HQ, no secret Santa. The comforting thing though is that we will be at home together on Christmas day. Wishing you all the best for this somewhat different festive season, and perhaps more importantly a healthy & prosperous 2021!
on https://blumkit.co.uk/ between 14–20 December 2020
Continuing to do what comes naturally
Daval, based in the heart of Yorkshire, remains proudly owned and managed by the family that founded the business in 1978. Talking to MD Simon Bodsworth it’s obvious that their philosophy is underpinned by a huge sense of responsibility for protecting the planet and for passing on a legacy to the next generation.
View asked Simon Bodsworth about delivering sustainability and how Daval’s product mix has evolved in response to a changing market.
Concern for the environment has been a constant, central theme as far back as he can remember. Simon recalls his father wanting to make people aware that the process of making their beautiful furniture used a lot of natural resources. It was then that the logo was changed to incorporate a nightingale to accentuate this message. By sourcing materials domestically Daval has been able to lower its carbon footprint. For instance, today their paint comes from just across the Pennines in Manchester, many of the door handles are supplied by another family business in Birmingham and the timber (slightly further afield) comes from properly managed forests in Scotland.
Simon believes that the 2008 recession accelerated the desire to buy into a sustainable lifestyle with consumers questioning ‘who am I actually dealing with and do their values match my own?’. In addition to this, due to Covid we’ve all learnt to appreciate the world around us a little more. Against this backdrop, Daval has always recognised that people purchase a lifestyle and emotion first, the product comes second. Daval is a company that puts knowledge before assumption, having done lots of trend-mapping over the years to ensure that it focusses on what people want. Simon makes the point that all too often factories manufacture what they want in a very insular way.
Continued on next page...
We’re all about celebrating individuality. Your home is the greatest place for self-expression.
MD Simon Bodsworth
Of growing importance to consumers, is where their new kitchen is made. Daval have heard from retailers that they are being asked: “What have you got that’s British made?”. Which means, as Simon puts it, “It’s not just a case of sticking a flag on it”. The end customers are discerning and know that the UK adopts the highest quality standards. As the Daval website states: “There’s something we trust about a British product”.
Interestingly the history of Daval sees them on a journey from bedrooms first then to kitchens, as opposed to many companies who add the ‘soft comfortable side’ as an addition to kitchen making. The head of the family (Mr Bodsworth, Senior) started his career as a cabinet maker when sliding wardrobe doors first became popular. The development from one to the other was another natural move it seems, with their customer base rightly proposing ‘Do for kitchens what you have already done for bedrooms’. This was pretty straightforward, although Simon notes that the motivation behind kitchens was really to embrace customisation. So, it drove changing production processes as much as it refreshed the sales proposition. In August 2007, Daval moved away from batch manufacturing and they became the first manufacturer in the UK to offer made-to-order at volume. This afforded them a great business model of competitive pricing coupled with enhanced flexibility and, as Simon emphasises, kitchens are all about personalisation. The transferable skills of their workforce meant that diversification came with relatively low risks.
Our conversation with Simon finally turned to the family and why having a company with a flat hierarchy is such a blessing. He describes Daval as “smaller and more agile” operation – one that’s able to turn quicker when outside influences demand it. Daval have no shareholders to answer to so it’s just Simon and his brothers who make all the strategic decisions, united in their commitment to delivering great quality and value for money furniture to clients’ exact tastes and specifications.
Design at a distance
November was a busy month for online events, the calendar having been adjusted to accommodate the ‘new normal’. Decorex/ Sleep&Eat took place in cyber space rather than in the usual surroundings of Olympia, and the 18th of November marked the first ever virtual Designer Awards. The organisers took on the challenge of delivering an event that lived up to the memory of previous years, in the most accessible and socially distanced way possible.
For the full list of those who walked away from the event with an award, you can find them here. Of those who won, a few names you might recognise were featured.
For ‘Innovation in Kitchen Product Design’; Dekton Liquid by COSENTINO, Renzo by DAVAL FURNITURE and Q-Line by MEREWAY KITCHENS. A fabulous accolade for Oli Moss at Roundhouse in winning ‘Ultimate Luxury Kitchen Design of the Year’. The ‘Editor’s Award’ went to David Woollcott of Fisher & Paykel for his altruistic vision in leading the SaddleUp initiative.
The day after the event, Decorex ran a session on ‘What makes the perfect kitchen’. In this panel a discussion group of design specialists explored the process of designing the ideal kitchen. Giles Kime, Gary Singer, Barbra Sallick and Henriette von Stockhausen talked about what this space means to them, and why they believe kitchens are the heart of any home. How, when skilfully crafted, it epitomises the perfect balance of practicality and style. For more on their thoughts, download the full transcript below.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry...
Caple have been helping people cook, cool and clean for over two decades. Established in Bristol in 1995, their starting point is always how customers want to use their spaces and appliances; then they add intelligent design, technology and beautiful finishes. The Caple brand is well-known in the industry for being innovative, reliable and superb value for money.
Stress-free Festive Fare
There are so many things to love about Christmas, but at the top of the list for most of us is food and entertainment. Whilst this year, getting together with our loved ones will be slightly different, mini gatherings with bubbled-up family and friends are still going to require some catering!
In this issue of View, Caple’s resident national trainer Jo Underhay shares her tried-and-tested Christmas party food recipes. If you’re crazy about cranberries, potty about pigs in blankets and mad about mince pies read on with the mouth-watering Caple blog here....
Mistletoe and Wine
Caple also reminds us, especially at this time of year, that a dedicated space to store wine isn’t decadent, it’s vital! After all, wine is fussy about where it lives and it will only be at its best if it’s been properly looked after. Caple are the largest brand of wine cabinets – one of the fastest growing market sectors. Their cabinets ensure your wine isn’t disturbed until you’re ready to pour on Christmas day. Caple’s wine cabinets ensure that your bottles are kept at the optimum temperature, appropriate humidity, right level of air circulation and is only exposed to low-vibration until then.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry ...continued
by Linda Parker
Well... we wanted to bring you some festive cheer and inspirational ideas for seasonal showrooms but global events have nearly squashed our plans, needless to say. But having thought about it, we decided to stick with showing you some lovely Christmassy ideas to perk up your displays – even if you can’t put them into action this year (or only have a few days to spring into action!).
Fingers crossed for next year, and if any of you have managed to get Christmassy this year, do send us some pics!
1 Christmas Star bunting and kitchen textiles, Ragged Rose
2 Festive wreath, Interflora
3 Maddox stars, Garden Trading
4 Seasonal candles, ChilliWinter
5 Linear kitchen, Harvey Jones
6 Vintage style mats, Perkins & Morely
Seasonal Showrooms continued...
Main Image Burbidge Kitchenmakers
The showroom doesn’t have to look like a Christmas grotto, a few carefully chosen items can add a festive feel without going overboard.
Put focal point display islands to good use. Go for a seasonal bouquet, a pre-ordered arrangement, such as The Kiri from Bloom & Wild; or try an individually designed Christmas Wreath for the main window from your local Interflora florist. This is the time, shop-openings and lockdown rules allowing, to support your fellow local independent traders.
The simplicity of a tall glass vase filled with different coloured Xmas baubles is a pretty and easy way of adding colour. Or try several vases, grouped in colour codes – perhaps one per island or one per shelf. Try the supermarkets for large packs of baubles, or order from Paperchase.
Folding paper snowflakes are easy-peasy too. Buy dozens, all in one colour – white looks fabulous – and suspend at different heights from the showroom ceiling. A cloud of them hanging above an island or peninsula looks gorgeous too. We’ve seen them in all sorts of shops, but try The Paper Snowflake Company or search White Paper Snowflakes on Amazon.
Greenery and decorations suspended above an island or dining table look spectacular – you may have to get creative with wire grids and/or Command Strips & Hooks, which are widely available.
Don’t forget cupboard and drawer interiors. Glazed cabinetry can have some baubles suspended behind the glass doors, tall pull-outs could perhaps be stocked with Xmas goodies.
Place settings are achievable and quick to do, stick to a single colour theme for maximum impact.
All our ideas are very much on a ‘DIY’ basis... grander schemes need a greater element of forward planning and it’s very much worth considering bringing in the professionals where large spaces are concerned, budgets allowing.
from Amanda at
Blum Experience Centre
Step into a virtual Christmas
This year more than ever we need to engage our teams, have some fun and celebrate getting to the end of 2020. Here, we give you a glimpse into Blum UK’s Christmas workshop as our Elves create the perfect online season. I hope we can inspire you to ‘Step into Christmas’
Wishing you all good health, happiness and a brighter new year. See you in 2021
Sugar and Spice and all things nice
The team at Blum UK have all received a Gingerbread house courtesy of Mrs Claus at the North Pole. The whole family is encouraged to get involved in the decorating and post their finished creations to the social chat.
We cannot wait to see the results and award a Mrs Claus Wooden Spoon to the winning entry.
Dress to impress
The Christmas end of year party at Blum UK is always an event to remember! The thought of missing out this year was not an option, so we had to get creative. Blum UK will be dusting off their Xmas jumpers, digging out the tinsel and meeting online for 90 minutes of fun and games, hosted by two of Santa’s Elves.
I spy with my Mince Pie
The Christmas season wouldn’t be complete at Blum without overindulging in the food and drink department. “Oh, go on then, another mince Pie” “If I must”.
We will be creating a Christmas Teams Channel and encouraging everyone to post their favourite Christmas recipes, inspiring us all to get baking this season.
Santa’s elves will also be posting a Christmas cocktail recipe and seasonal joke every day in December.
Mrs Claus has been very busy creating a hamper of seasonal treats, the team at Blum UK will get these to share with the family at home. The Blum elves have also been making mulled wine kits to send out to all on both the naughty and nice list.
Pass the Brussel sprout...
Who doesn’t love a good Christmas game? A few drinks and some distant relatives...what could possibly go wrong?
This year, as part of our online party we have included Blum Go Bingo!
Hark the herald Angel Sing...
Tra La La La
The only missing element is a good old sing-along and this year we have our very own virtual Blum Choir.
Blum UK and our Austrian colleagues have been divided into 4 teams, and each given some lines from a well-known Christmas banger... WINTER WONDERLAND
Practice makes perfect! Teams will be encouraged to loosen up their vocal skills in advance of the final performance at our online Christmas party, where all teams will come together to perform. Woollen earmuffs come highly recommended!
Blum UK, Mandeville Drive,
Kingston, Milton Keynes, MK10 0AW
Tel +44 1908 285700