What motivated you to enter into this very particular luxury segment?
Having previously worked exclusively for large businesses, I wanted to try something hands on and entrepreneurial. When my business partner and I heard about The Savoy’s Bedworks we were intrigued and quickly discovered it was a hidden gem.
The Savoir story began in The Savoy Hotel, when in 1905 impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte unveiled an establishment revered for its luxurious creature comforts and legendary services. With no bed meeting his pioneering luxury standards, D’Oyly Carte commissioned prestigious upholster James Edwards ltd to create The Savoy Bed. This luxurious model, slumbered on by the rich and famous down the decades, is still made today as the Savoir N°2, the Icon.
I couldn’t imagine a better heritage for a bed company, it had been created with the sole aim of giving the best night’s sleep to the most demanding clients in the world. Liza Minnelli had refused to leave The Savoy Hotel without one; Emma Thompson said the bed had cured her insomnia. The product had been raved about for over 100 years by the most demanding guests in the world, yet they were not available to the general public. The opportunity was too good to pass up.
How has your company performed 2018/2019 and what are your expectations for the rest of 2019? (no specific financials – only general terms)
I’m really pleased with the performance of Savoir in 2018 and so far this year. We pride ourselves in being at the forefront of designer collaborations and each year we hand-pick the best brands and designers to create inspired and innovative designs. Last year we collaborated with Fromental, Nicole Fuller and Steve Leung.
So far this year we have introduced our first Savoir Linen collection which marries the finest natural cottons with impeccable British craftsmanship. The range will soon be available to buy directly from our website, this is the first time we have offered an e-commerce element to our business.
Last month we launched THE THREE SIXTY, the world’s most luxurious bed. Available exclusively at Harrods, it is the bed for those wanting to push the boundaries of bespoke as it elegantly combines aesthetics, technology and ultra-luxury.
Do you anticipate any impact from Brexit, in any of its forms?
All our beds are made with the finest natural materials including horse tail which we source in Argentina, is processed in Switzerland and comes to us by road on the Calais-Dover route. The lead time from ordering it to receiving it is five months, and we decided it’s the one thing we definitely cannot do without. We took the decision last year to stockpile as much as we could to minimise the impact of Brexit.
What is the profile of your customer? To what extent do you also target individual customers?
Good sleep is fundamental to our health and wellbeing and our customers understand and appreciate the quality sleep a Savoir can provide.
Over the last decade, I have seen a notable increase in the amount of time our customers are taking to select a bed that is perfect and specific to them. They have a greater interest in the materials used within the bed, its construction and the craft process.
Consumers have become much more aware of the importance of sleep over the last 20 years. The macho “I can perform on just 4 hours sleep a night” has gone. We all lead lives that are too busy and too stressful and people recognise that sleep is the best antidote to this, leaving them mentally and physically refreshed. People therefore spend more time selecting what is right for them, and are more interested in what goes into their bed and why. They are no longer satisfied with the dusty bed department tucked in the corner of the third floor of the department store, they want the service, style and satisfaction they find in other retail experiences, and this is what Savoir delivers.
Which are your main distribution channels? How important are physical showrooms? (brick & mortar)
We have 14 showrooms around the world from London to New York and Paris, as well as worldwide in China, Germany, Russia, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong.
Physical showrooms are very important to us. Given you spend a third of your life in bed, it is worth taking some care, and time, when buying one. At Savoir, customers start with a ‘fitting’ at one of our Showrooms, where our expertly trained staff will discuss your needs and test you and your partner on various models and support options. We encourage customers to lie down, roll around and read a book or magazine – make a day of it.
Which are your main target markets? Are there any new markets you are particularly targeting?
The US is a very important market for us, as it remains the biggest luxury market in the world. While many of the “big” luxury brands are close to saturation there, emerging brands like Savoir have great opportunities in the market. We currently have two Showrooms in New York and are hoping to open a store in LA later this year.
Of course Asia is developing rapidly, and we are growing its presence there with Showrooms in Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and next month we will be opening a 1,385 square foot Showroom in the new Raffles Hotel Arcade in Singapore. We are in advanced discussions about a showroom in the south of China too, so a lot to look forward to.
What are the competitive advantages of your brand?
Craft, heritage and skill lie at the heart of Savoir. We continue to hand craft beds at our North London Bedworks and in Wales, just outside Cardiff. Every Savoir bed is made to order for a particular client, built by hand to meet specific needs and deliver unsurpassed comfort.
Focusing on the finest also applies to our use of natural materials such as curled horse tail, which provides a breathable sleeping surface and the ultimate temperature control for enhanced sleep. The end result is not only a wonderfully comfortable bed for our clients, but one that matches their style aspirations, as only a bespoke product can.
How important is innovation? Tell us more about your approach
We insist on producing the ultimate sleeping experience, so there is no tradition for traditions sake, only a focus on the skills required to produce the very best.
In 2017 we unveiled our partnership with the National Gallery whereby every painting within their collection can be upholstered on to a Savoir headboard and base to create a one of a kind bed. We used the newest technologies to digitally print the artworks onto a selection of three fabrics, from a lustrous velvet, textured linen viscose and classic cotton.
Our collaborations give us the opportunity to showcase new innovative designs, materials and techniques. We’ve recently collaborated with leather specialist Bill Amberg to reinvent the leather bed. It is a celebration of British craft and innovation. A modern aesthetic, pioneering leather printing and skilled craft combine to develop a new revolutionary approach to a classic piece of furniture. A collaboration of deep rooted and heritage craft to create innovative bed designs.
Are there any particular disruptors your business has been facing?
The mattress market has seen a large number of on-line “bed in a box” entrants such as Casper and Nectar from the US, Simba and Eve from the UK. A huge amount has been invested, and many players are loss making and will probably disappear. However, they have changed the market significantly. Easy delivery (one person courier versus the usual need for a two person installation), easy returns (100 day return policies are common) and on-line purchases are now a big part of the market, and are likely to remain so.
These disrupters are not cheap, they have pushed average price points up, and the sheer increase in marketing spend within the sector will have grown the market.
For Savoir it has been positive. Our product and service are very easy to differentiate from the new entrants – we use natural materials versus synthetics, we create bespoke comfort and designs versus one size fits all, Savoir has heritage and pedigree, together with an amazing in-store experience, which creates useful talking points with clients. It also opens the door to on-line sales in an industry which has traditionally lagged behind in this area, and Savoir intends to lead in this space at the premium end of the market
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