Steve Birtles explains how Louvolite has worked around the clock to produce its new fabric collections for 2011
There was a great line spoken by Louis Spence from Pineapple Dance Studios in a recent TV documentary series: “24/7? Don’t talk to me about 24/7, darling – I do 25/8!”
It has to be said that when you’re running against the clock to meet deadlines that cannot change, it really does feel that way. Louvolite’s new fabric collections will be launched in January 2011 and quite simply you cannot put that timeframe on hold or turn the clock back, so there are an awful lot of people at Louvolite right now that understand the concept of working ‘25/8’.
The very first samples of the all new Louvolite fabric collections for 2011 will be rolled out over the next few weeks for customers to preview and there is no doubt that they will attract interest from all quarters. The new program has been created over the last 17 months – in reality Louvolite starts to review a ‘new’ program around three months after its launch, so it was March of 2009 that saw the first review meeting.
There is a huge team of people involved in the bringing of a new fabric program to market starting, first of all, with our customers. It is our customers who talk to our sales team about what works for them – and of course what doesn’t! They comment on fabric options – what they would like to see and any practical requests regarding the way the book physically handles and works during a presentation. All of these thoughts are reported back and considered as a new book concept is born.
The fabrics that have been selected to continue are reviewed for colour options based on their typical market sector relevance and if required the range is modified to reflect the latest and forecast changes that Louvolite’s design experts believe will best meet the market’s needs.
In addition, the performance characteristics of a range are reviewed to ensure that novel and beneficial performance-enhancing elements can be introduced to allow Louvolite fabric customers to offer improved performance to their customers. One fabric which typifies such changes is Carnival – one of the most successful fabrics available.
The Carnival colour options have been increased in number from 33 to 36. The new colours provide greater depth in the popular creams through to beiges and, in addition, new colours such as Peacock Blue and Sunflower Yellow hit the fashion points that will be seen in furnishings over the next few years.
Carnival’s performance has been uprated by a unique concept known as CCT. CCT refers to a process called cold coat technology – this process is unique to Louvolite in the window blind industry and its use enhances the solar performance of fabrics. Typically, lighter fabrics reflect more heat and light whereas darker fabrics tend to absorb much higher percentages. CCT improves the performance of fabrics so that the solar gain rejection performance of darker fabrics is massively enhanced. An example would be that the solar rejection of Carnival Raven CCT (black in colour) is now 23 per cent – previously this was 6 per cent.
CCT is a process that has been applied to Carnival, Guardian and Tribune fabrics. Whilst these are popular in the residential market they are particularly relevant to the commercial sector and this is where the benefits of CCT really helps reduce solar gain issues. Guardian also receives Ultrafresh treatment.
So all the existing fabrics are reviewed and uprated – new fabric requirements, driven by market demands and customer suggestions, are introduced where appropriate and merged with ongoing fabrics to provide a true collection which is designed to supply options to any requirements that may be presented to a Louvolite manufacturer.
One example of changes in such requirements would be the increase in demand for blackout vertical fabrics, even though a vertical blind by its very nature can never truly be described as ‘blackout’. This demand has led Louvolite to totally revamp its Ex-Lite fabric colour palette and introduce a new textile blackout fabric, Plaintex, also available in roller blind fabric.
Louvolite is renowned for introducing new concept products into its programs which can help push the envelope in terms of product development and also increase the size and value of the market for its customers. This is an obvious inclusion in the new roller blind fabric collection where a number of fabric designs are offered which really extend the popularity of the program to market sectors not typically available to the majority of blind manufacturing companies.
The book too evolves from collection to collection – this latest program lifts the bar even higher in terms of the customer impact, involvement and quality. The illustrations used to support each fabric section are deemed to be the best Louvolite has ever produced and really do help set this program apart from the rest.
The roller blind book perhaps illustrates these points best. Open the book and it will be noticed that the arch metal used to hold the fabric has been increased by 10mm to assist in leafing through the options within the book. The finishing touch card now lies to the left of the open book allowing the customer to view fabric sample, illustration and finishing touch braids and accessories all at the same time.
Better still is a change which will increase the sales opportunity for every blind manufacturing company: the new Louvolite roller blind book comes in three options each featuring the new layout and fabulous imagery.
Louvolite launched its new roman blind program in 2010 – it will be recalled that this program allows blind manufacturing companies to use traditional Louvolite roller blind fabrics to make fabulous roman blinds.
In a bold and imaginative move, Louvolite is offering its new roller blind book as a roller/roman program with beautiful illustrations that show the fabrics offered in both roller blind and roman blind formats (see page 28). This move reflects the massive positive response Louvolite has seen to its new roman program and the fact that most blind manufacturing companies will want to offer the roman blind as an option.
For those companies who wish to use the roller book as a three-product compendium and include panel blinds, this option too is available with a special section dedicated to panel blinds within the book.
For those not yet ready to take the next step to roman blinds or wishing to keep their roller blind presentation 100 per cent roller, then rest assured, this option is of course fully available.
The new pre-launch Louvolite vertical and roller/roman fabric collections will be in the hands of your local area manager soon and there is no doubt that the Louvolite team will do all they can to ensure you get a viewing as soon as possible to allow you to decide which is the way for you to go.
We hope that when you view it you like what you see and agree with us that whilst working ‘25/8’ can really stretch an individual or a team (for example over 5 million pieces of fabric will be cut punched and labelled for the launch), occasionally such a task really highlights the team’s focus and something very special is created. The new 2011 fabric collection from Louvolite is perhaps one of those occasions and we hope you find that it makes a really positive difference to your business.