Finnforest focuses on merchants for the garden products season

Finnforest focuses on merchants for the garden products season

Published: 11/04/2011 00:00
Finnforest is positioned for the 2011 garden build and refurbishment season with a leading selection of innovative products. This includes one of the widest decking portfolios available and an innovative log cabin range. Finnforest’s robust supply chain supports the channel to drive sales and take advantage of the opportunities ahead.

Ken Reidy, Head of New Product Development explains: “One of our key objectives for 2011 is to allow the range review to be cascaded to the end user. Finnforest works proactively behind the scenes to monitor consumer trends, changing tastes and requirements. It carries out its own research and contributes to research by independents such as AMA. This activity underpins our strong relationship with the customer, providing new point of sale materials, in branch and online promotional material and innovative product development. Both Finnforest’s decking and cabins ranges are underpinned by a dedication to service that is designed to benefit the merchant in the current challenging economic climate. Refreshed literature and web presence provide the merchant with effective promotional tools to maximise sales this year.”

Finnforest has one of the widest ranges of decking products and accessories on the market. It is actively encouraging merchants to broaden their decking portfolios in order to appeal to a wider range of trade professionals, landscaping and DIY customers. With a leading range comprising of six deck finishes including Softwood, WalkSure, GrasseDeck, ThermoWood, Composite and Hardwood there is a decking product to suit most, if not all requirements.

The market for decking is a mature one and merchants need to offer this kind of choice through product diversification in order to secure further sales across a broader audience. According to AMA Research’s ‘Domestic Decking and Landscaping Materials Market UK 2010-2014’ report, the domestic decking market represents 4% of the overall domestic landscaping market, which is worth an estimated £915 million. Of this, decking occupies 12% of the hard landscaping sector specifically. Drilling down further, deck boards make up 46% of the decking segment, while balustrades and other accessories account for 30%. Based on this steady growth rate, there is a case for merchants to consider holding a plentiful supply of staple softwood in project quantities, complemented by a range of alternative deck boards and accessories such as balustrade kits to offer to customers. Decking is seen as the environmental choice and in addition to this consumers and trade customers recognise the versatility of a deck installation, making it an attractive purchase over alternative landscaping options.

Last year saw a large review of the range of Finnlife log cabins from Finnforest too. This year Finnforest expects increasing popularity in the demand for models with a new and innovative corner profile, for a sleek modern finish and increased interior space. The cabins range has been diversified in this way in order to appeal to a broader customer base, with more diverse tastes and requirements from a garden structure.

The aspirations of the consumer, combined with the ‘stay at home’ culture resulting from current economic uncertainty encourage homeowners to enhance their gardens and invest for the future in additional, adaptable living space. Research suggests the main uses for log cabins are as summer houses and garden storage. There are cross-selling opportunities for the merchant too, where a foundation is required there is the chance to push ballast and cement, while finishes such as additional insulation, electrics or decorative flooring products can also help to increase the sale.

Product development and innovation in this particular product sector has been driven by the need to develop marketing strategies that ‘walk the buyer through’ the process of selecting, installing and using a log cabin. The challenge for the merchant, drawing on the materials and support of the supplier, is to make such a considered purchase an easy and straightforward process.   

Finnforest’s website plays an important role in the support and promotion of sales through the merchant branch. Its annual visits are recorded at over 100,000. The stockist locator is the most frequently viewed section, with an average of 5,000 visits per month, while decking and cabins are the most popular product sections. Of visitors to Finnforest’s website, some 55% seek out the decking and cabin sections.

Ken Reidy comments: “With an ageing population that is healthier, wealthier and more active than previous generations there is far more scope for the trade customer to sell garden products and installation services into the homeowner market, presenting a real opportunity for the merchant. Combined with this the TV and media focus on gardening and lifestyle means that there is a growing trend for ‘instant effect’ garden solutions. A deck or a log cabin provides this immediate refreshment for any outside space.”