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Monday, January 11, 2010

Meet Scarlet Opus' Phil Pond

Phil Pond, Scarlet Opus

Phil Pond & Scarlet Opus: Focused on Flooring Products That Floor Consumers!


Phil Pond is co-owner of Scarlet Opus - a business development and trend forecasting company dedicated to interiors - and a fellow consumer/flooring enthusiast from the other side of the 'pond' [i.e., the Atlantic]. He also shares an interesting article in which he compares flooring retailers to giraffes...

I recently 'met' Phil as a result of the Carpetology post on Celebrating Carpet: UK's Fun On The Floor With Style. We quickly discovered a shared passion for the consumer and frustration with the flooring retail experience. He and life/business partner Victoria Redshaw - whom I hope to meet in person at Surfaces 2010 - share a common aspiration to make flooring manufacturers provide retailers with products consumers actually get excited about buying – just as they do wallpaper and furniture.

Phil Pond's experience spans 30 years in international sales & marketing with companies such as Mars Inc. It also spans every continent. He's been involved with the Flooring industry since 2003 [as have I] with manufacturers in the UK, China, UAE and Scandinavia and in retail with Harrods. In the US, he built flooring manufacturer representative teams for two UK businesses one of which was Brintons. He owns 50% of a small custom UK Axminster manufacturer and 50% of a sourcing company based in Qingdao China.

Scarlet Opus operates in Europe, China, India, the Middle East and soon the US! It's definitely a family business as one of his 3 children, Shelley, works in Scarlet Opus Dubai.

Phil shares with us the following article.

Do you like Giraffes?



A family favourite forever these majestic animals according to experts have reached the end of their evolutionary road. All that is in store for the giraffe now is to travel slowly toward natural extinction as Darwin’s theory dictates.

Darwin’s theory of evolution sees the strongest and most adaptive of a species survive their ever changing environment through ‘natural selection.’ Does the carpet & flooring industry have some giraffes? Maybe a few dinosaurs? You might think our ideas contentious but we only report the trends and maybe cause a few to move through the evolutionary process of the carpet/flooring retailer.

We have forecast for the past 1.5 years that:
  • Consumers will require a more experiential service, but will spend more on each purchase buying goods that last.
  • Retailers making the buying experience a pleasant and rewarding one will win.
  • Consumers want a choice but not confusion; want guidance with freedom and want straight forward trading.
Some retailers have already responded and made necessary changes: opening showroom spaces by reducing the range of products displayed; de-cluttering a mass of POS ‘stuff’, focusing with fewer suppliers - maybe only 2 of each carpet/flooring type.

It may surprise you how positively consumers react when offered a good but not overwhelming choice. More choice adds more confusion to the consumer’s decision making which inevitably takes longer.

A small seating area, in which consumers can relax and talk about their choices, samples and their plans amongst themselves and with you will secure more orders from more people. You will be bringing the decision process under your roof where you have a greater chance of influencing it.

Some US flooring showrooms give an open, spacious, inviting feel; they exude quality. They work with a select few suppliers. A great example is that of Wade Carter in Arizona. The experience for the consumer is altogether more pleasant, more relaxed and more decisive, resulting most importantly in fewer showroom visits. The experience for retailers like Wade is more profitable because the consumer relaxes and focuses on getting the right design, colour and quality as opposed to price. Wade’s showroom also attracts more commercial clients who now see his ‘carpet shop’ as a ‘flooring design centre.’

It is difficult to make radical change during a recession – we all think we will need what we no longer have. But Darwin has already proved that change is the only viable option, hasn’t he? Find other ways to secure ‘once in a blue moon sales’ if you must. Those showrooms that do not de-clutter, create space & time for the consumer to buy in a relaxed way will, like the giraffe, reach the end of their evolutionary journey sooner than they might expect.

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Thank you, Phil!

What are your reactions to Scarlet Opus' forecast about consumers? Have you noticed the same? What successful examples of flooring retail experiences have you encountered? What about giraffes and flooring -and other categories- in our midst. Are you one?


For more information about Scarlet Opus and trends, read the Scarlet Opus Trends Blog.

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