U.K.-based supplier looks to extend its brand to America’s retail, distribution and A&D communities.
By Reginald Tucker
Havwoods International, a U.K.-based supplier of hardwood flooring products with 40-plus years experience in the business, is looking to expand its global footprint. The company—which specializes in wide-plank, oil-finished, European oak products featured in high-profile commercial/hospitality establishments as well as upscale residential applications—has its sights firmly set on the U.S. market.
The strategy, according to Allan Singh, general manager, North America, hinges on several components: establishing a warehouse facility to help fulfill distributor and retailer orders; tailoring products that cater to local tastes and preferences; targeting the A&D community to boost specifications; and developing a marketing/social media strategy to drive consumer awareness of the Havwoods brand.
The first phase of that strategy has been realized via the recent grand opening of a 18,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution hub in Belcamp, Md. Shipments have already been dispatched to customers in California, Florida, Missouri, New York, Nevada and Utah, with more inbound shipments on the way. All 200 lines developed for the U.S. market are stored at the center.
“Looking at our global strategy, we saw an opportunity to launch the Havwoods brand into the U.S. market,” Singh told FCNews, citing the success the company achieved in other regions around the world, namely Australia and the United Kingdom. “We have been selling products in the U.S. for a while now due to the projects specified through architects and designers in America. With our distribution center now up and running, we are looking to establish a showroom in the New York area in the spring.”
The next component entails the development of a product portfolio based on trendy styles, formats and colors U.S. consumers and end users crave. To that end, Havwoods has created what it calls a “Wood Book,” a well-researched catalogue of products tailored for a specific market.
“Each country has its own book, with different products based on the market we are in,” Singh explained. “It gives architects and designers—our primary customer base—a full depth and breadth of products from which to choose and provides talking points for their clients looking to set themselves apart from their competitors by creating a unique space.”
Havwoods’ offering for the U.S. market is indeed broad. Available products range from in-demand solid and engineered offerings as well as specialty reclaimed wood floors. Designs include wide-plank, chevron and herringbone patterns, as well as unique painted floors. Signature lines include: The Italian collection, TrikBrik, Venture plank and Vertical (wall surfaces); prices run the gamut from $3.55 all the way up the ladder to $22.40 (reclaimed). According to Singh, the bulk of the products fall somewhere in the $5-to-$8 range.
While Havwoods does not own manufacturing plants, it partners with several reputable manufacturers in Europe. That’s certainly not a shortcoming in the company’s eyes; many of its clients can speak directly to the product quality. “Havwoods are always happy to go out of their way to assist us and make sure we get exactly what we’re after,” said Tayla Reynolds, principal with KW Interiors, based in Australia. “Their professionalism, efficiency and great range of timbers is what encourages us to specify Havwoods whenever we can.”
Will Ashworth, managing director of the Watergate Bay Hotel, Cornwall, U.K., shares a similar experience. “I have worked with Havwoods on several challenging projects over the last few years, and each time they have exceeded expectations. Buying a wood floor is easy, but securing exactly the right floor for the application at the right price requires the professional expertise of the Havwoods team.”
By design, Havwoods puts a lot of emphasis on the A&D market. Some of its marquee installations can be found in high-profile venues such as Marriott hotel properties, Pret a Manger locations and other well-known restaurants including Nando’s and Giraffe. As Singh recalled: “In 2005 we changed our strategy on how best to market our products. We started looking into the specification market by getting in contact with more architects and designers. That’s where we started seeing the greatest potential.”
However, Havwoods is not limiting its focus. Despite a crowded U.S. field, the company still sees opportunities via traditional distribution channels as well as potential direct-to-retail partnerships. “Our main clientele is the architect and designer, but we are also targeting flooring distributors and contractors,” Singh said. “We are also looking at the major trade shows such as Domotex, NeoCon and Surfaces, and we are utilizing the various social media networks to reach the consumer.”
DID YOU KNOW…
Havwoods International is a family-owned company founded by Henry Wiley in 1975. He started making solid parquet floors reclaimed from the Liverpool docks in the U.K., before moving on to produce new solid oak boards for the flooring market. Henry’s son Oliver joined the company in 1980, expanding the line to include more durable engineered products. Today, Havwoods has a presence in five different countries with agreements in place with various manufacturing partners around the world. It also currently operates designer showrooms in Berlin, London, Rome, Sydney and Melbourne. A New York location in is the works.