When the going gets tough, the tough reassess, refine, and reap the rewards. Furniture News asks the businesspeople leading the charge towards success to?share their views on the past year?and what the future might hold – in this article,?Jerry Cheshire, director of?independent?Surrey Beds, offers his perspective …

The best deal we struck last year was sourcing a latex mattress supplier in Europe. The great value allowed us to own-brand and increase margin

The biggest product trend in-store was a new sales focus, which actually created a trend towards new products.We made two major changes in-store that we focused our sales towards – we brought in latex mattresses, and also moved upmarket from our main supplier. This gave us a higher invoice value and a higher margin. Win-win!

What changed most about the way people shop was nothing major, just a confirmation from previous years of the influence the internet has. We don’t offer ecommerce, but we use social media and our website as an information resource for our prospects

What changed most about the way we sell was very little, really. We have a particular way of selling that tries to build a relationship with each customer. This is based upon integrity. We try to attract a specific target customer, and all our marketing effort is aimed towards that target – this hasn’t changed

What put us under most pressure was the increase in business rates. Ours trebled at first. Eventually, after reviews and rebates, the increase became a more reasonable (but still painful) +35%. At the beginning of the year, I had to pay the full increase. It’s horrible when you have no influence or control

In 2020, I’m most looking forward to expanding our latex mattress range and offering it to other retailers

The next product trend coming in-store is yet to be determined. However, we are opening a new wooden bed studio on the first floor, so hopefully that!

The product trend on its way out is memory foam, hopefully (finally!)

Our tech priority is nothing notable. We’re very low-tech here – as long as we have my PC and a means to process payment cards, we’re happy!

The biggest challenge will be generating more footfall – as always

Discover more perspectives in our annual retailer review, in?January's issue of Furniture News.