THE new Independent Flooring Group (IFG) held its inaugural Conference & Supplier Sessions on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 March at the new premises of The Witch Group in Altham, Lancashire.
‘At the new Independent Flooring Group, we’ve developed a new concept in digital distribution over the past couple of years,’ says ceo Ken Robb.
‘Through our 14 launch members and with more to come, our distribution system enables on and offline retailers, contractors, and installers to order products on their phone, tablet, laptop, or computer for fast delivery anywhere in the UK from the common stockholdings of our local member network. Our focus is on a high quality/value ratio with an initial range offering covering key ‘under the floor’ products such as underlay, adhesives, screeds and accessories.’
Ken continues: ‘The IFG system aims to be faster, more efficient, and greener. A new ‘ordered centrally, delivered locally’ concept will cut out literally millions of wasted delivery miles in a single year and has a particular benefit for online retailers who may be based in, say, southern England, but require delivery in the north.’
At the conference, IFG members learned about new ways of working and an ethos that puts ‘greener’ products and working practices at the heart of its mission. As an example, the new TG Floorgear range includes recyclable, upcycled underlays and spray adhesives that, the company says, don’t include dichloromethane. ‘We’re working closely with manufacturers to develop new product concepts that will lead the industry towards a greener future,’ continues Ken. ‘As a result, we engage with manufacturers more as partners than as our ’opponents in a pricing battle.’
The group has trademarks on the TG & Floorgear brands that carry its concept to market. ‘TG’ stands for ‘True Grip’, the name featured on its adhesive and carpet gripper ranges, with ‘Floorgear’ covering its wider product ranges. Both names feature on the composite TG Floorgear logo which ‘will become a regular feature on every installer’s wish list in the months and years ahead and for good reason’.
‘TG Floorgear carries a no fuss, no problem, great quality, great value ethos that an increasingly digitally driven trade will respond to,’ says Brad Patterson, managing director of IFG member Bournemouth Flooring Supplies. ‘Installers want a screed that flows well, gripper that doesn’t warp or splinter and adhesives that do what they say they do. Retailers and contractors want decent product at a decent price – simply put – this is what we’re about.’
Another key IFG difference is provided by one of its members, ‘Floorstars – The National Installation Service.’
Says the company: ‘Online sellers of flooring are now based all over the UK and growing rapidly, but they lose out on the further market penetration of a vertical service package, enabling them to add a fully-fitted service to their offer – anywhere in the UK.’
Through its partnership with Floorstars, IFG says it offers the first national fulfilment model for the flooring industry, stocking and providing locally across the UK for collection and installation by Floorstars. ‘This unique combination offers endless opportunities for those who aim to deliver the advantages of a digital approach,’ continues Brad, ‘With the product and installation service marketed as a composite offer.’
The inaugural IFG conference had a new feature – ‘The Supplier Sessions’.
Scott Lockwood, managing director of IFG member, The Witch Group, explains: ‘Here at the Witch Group we have one of the largest, most efficient distribution warehouses in the UK, designed to support the growth of the long-established Rolfe Carpets business, now under the Witch Group name. We’re delighted to be a member of the new IFG and fortunate to have a large exhibition floor at the complex which was ideal for the first IFG Supplier Sessions.’
In addition to displays of the new Witch Group carpet, grass, and hard flooring ranges, 14 suppliers were welcome. These enjoyed one-on-one sessions with every group member, in a process similar to a speed dating format. This ensured every member had an opportunity to meet most of the ‘under the floor’ suppliers in the ‘Phase One IFG Supplier Partnership’ in what was described as a relaxed but professional setting.
Members and suppliers reportedly got to know each other and considerable volumes of business were done. ‘This is an outstanding format that has great advantages for suppliers and members alike,’ says Robbie Thomson of Carpet Trader. ‘I can’t wait for the next one!’
‘The mission of IFG aligns closely with our aims at Bostik,’ says Jake Hodder, business development manager. ‘We look forward to helping the IFG network and Floorstars to achieve their digital distribution and national fulfilment objectives.’
Members and suppliers gathered for a dinner on the Friday evening at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel near Accrington enjoying a convivial evening in great company to celebrate the launch of the UK’s newest flooring concept.
To find out more about the group, its products and services, readers can visit the below websites.