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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 235 • April 2018



Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Issue 235 April 2018

Time for a retail spring clean Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Retailer discusses the importance of sprucing up the customer experience MORE ABOUT…


Herida Healthcare

Scotgate Mobility


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Other partnership levels ... Affiliate Partners promote and market Stiltz products, undertake customer home visits and complete the sale. Stiltz will manage technical surveys and installation of the Homelift. You will receive flexible head office marketing support.

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…from the editor It seems that a new story about a retail giant or high-street mainstay facing trouble and having to shut shop appears in the news every week. It can all seem rather gloom and doom, but for some retailers in our industry, the future is looking far more positive.


n February and March, retailers such as Toys’R’Us and Maplin entered administration, with the reasons often cited as the companies failing to respond to a change in the behaviours, needs and wants of shoppers. Whereas popular restaurant chains such as Jamie’s Italian and Prezzo have had to announce shutting numerous locations across the UK following a period of very rapid growth. Two mobility retailers we have featured in this month’s issue however, Parkgate Mobility and Scotgate Mobility, reveal how their approach to retail has helped them avoid the pitfalls suffered by others. With experience in bricks and clicks, Scotgate Mobility’s owner - who entered the world of bricks and mortar retail following building a successful online company - reveals the need for stores to adapt and enhance the shopping experience for customers and the importance of correct visual merchandising. Already boasting 15 stores in its portfolio and with plans of expanding with another three new stores this year, Parkgate Mobility explains how it has been careful not to overextend its reach and highlights the importance of having the correct systems in place before looking to expand in more locations. If you are attending or exhibiting at Naidex, which is taking place on the 25th and 26th of April, then it would be great to meet up. The THIIS team will be at the show looking to talk and find out about new products, industry topics and more. If you would like to catch up, simply send me an email or give me a call. We look forward to seeing you then.

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

Editor Calvin Barnett 01933 278086

Advertising Enquiries 01933 272437

Front cover image: Credit Lee Hellwing. Copyright 2018, Iliffe Media Publishing Ltd

Calvin Barnett Editor

You can find THIIS on Twitter at: wwwthiiscouk

THIIS is produced by BHTA Engage, 2-4 Meadow Close, Ise Valley Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, NN8 4BH • 01933 278 086 • BHTA Engage Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any way without the written permission of the publisher. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher and although every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate, the publishers take no responsibility for errors or omissions.



26 Parkgate Mobility talk real customer service

Features 8 Second retail outlet for manufacturer Adjustamatic 46 Product Showcase – Seating, furniture and cushions 66 Mobility websites: Room for improvement?

56 Performing in pressure care

Regulars 22

New to the team


Deal On!


Retailer spotlight


More about…


Round Up


Training Diary



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10 Meeting dragons

44 The OT’s Perspective

16 Meet Michelle Mossford

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HIGH VALUE MOBILITY SCOOTER INSURANCE AND FINANCE OPTION FOR RETAILERS Fish Insurance has unveiled its new Appointed Representative (AR) Scheme, designed to give more benefits to the mobility retailers they collaborate with. This suite of benefits includes insurance cover for High Value mobility scooters, as well as the chance for dealers to offer a Finance option to their customers.


ustomers purchasing a mobility scooter with a value over £10,000 may have previously found it difficult to find affordable insurance cover according to the company, however, ARs of Fish Insurance who sell such scooters can now benefit from offering High Value Mobility Scooter Insurance. High Value Mobility Scooter Insurance includes accidental damage, personal liability and theft & vandalism, ensuring customers’ purchases are protected. The policy also includes 24/7 breakdown and emergency cover, as well as replacement scooter hire, to keep customers independent and mobile in the event of a claim. Andy Mellor, Head of Business Partnerships & Operations at Fish Insurance, said: “At Fish Insurance, we understand how important your customers’ mobility is. That’s why we want to ensure they can travel

in confidence, knowing that their mobility scooter is protected. “As part of our new AR Scheme, we want to give you the chance to offer your customers affordable protection for their investment with our High Value Mobility Scooter Insurance policy.” Fish has also launched a Finance solution in partnership with Divido, aimed at enhancing the sales of Fish Insurance’s ARs. With deposits starting at 0 percent, an online application that takes two minutes and a decision given in 30 seconds, the Finance solution can help customers unable to purchase a scooter outright to stay mobile. “The relationship with our ARs is based on helping them to offer the best possible package for their customers,” explained Andy. “The Finance package is designed to make mobility scooter

ownership affordable for a broader range of customers.” For more information on how to become a Fish Insurance AR and get the chance to offer High Value Mobility Scooter Insurance or Fish Finance to customers, amongst other benefits, call the Fish Insurance team on 0333 331 3966.

“The Finance package is designed to make mobility scooter ownership affordable for a broader range of customers.” ANDY MELLOR

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Andy Mellor, Head of Business Partnerships & Operations



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MANUFACTURER DEVELOPS RETAIL OPERATION Following the launch of its first retail store in Denbigh last year, Adjustamatic has expanded its retail operation with the opening of its second retail store.


ocated in Macclesfield, the new retail unit is 3,964 sq. ft and includes 2,250 sq. ft of selling space, showcasing its full range of adjustable beds, riser-recliner chairs, mattresses, bedroom furniture and accessories manufactured at the company’s factory in Denbigh. Discussing the company’s retail approach, Darren Thomas, Adjustamatic’s Head of Retail, said: "Establishing a retail presence has enabled Adjustamatic to develop a wider market, with people of all ages and mobility levels having the opportunity to try out our products and appreciate their general health and lifestyle benefits. "We identified Macclesfield as an ideal location for our latest store in a thriving Cheshire town. This fantastic store will meet the needs of those in Macclesfield and Cheshire that want the well-designed adjustable furniture to sleep, relax and move in greater

Adjustamatic new Macclesfield store

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comfort to help maintain and improve their health.” Open seven days of the week, the company has recruited five members

leading authority on health issues and our partnership has underlined Adjustamatic’s credentials as a manufacturer of high-quality products

“Establishing a retail presence has enabled Adjustamatic to develop a wider market” DARREN THOMAS

of staff locally to work at the store and is running a special offer of £200 off selected products in-store for a limited period to celebrate the launch. "Customers also benefit from the expertise of Dr Miriam Stoppard, our official Health & Mobility Advisor,” added Darren. “Dr Miriam Stoppard is wellknown to millions as a

which improve comfort, health and wellbeing.” Adjustamatic’s Macclesfield store will be open between 9am and 6pm from Monday to Saturday and between 10am and 4pm on Sunday

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Karen Sheppard with Theo Paphitis

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NETWORKING WITH INDUSTRY TITANS At the end of February, Karen Sheppard, Managing Director of People First Mobility, attended an event at the ICC Centre in Birmingham for the weekly Small Business Sunday (#SBS) winners, organised by ex-Dragon's Den star, Theo Paphitis


ased in Lumley Square, Skegness, People First Mobility sells an extensive range of mobility products to customers on the East Coast. The retailer, which prides itself on its customer service, has won over 10 business awards in only five years, including being a winner of #SBS. Small Business Sunday, shortened to the hashtag #SBS on Twitter, was created by Theo Paphitis in October 2010. The entrepreneur is best known for his time on the BBC’s popular Dragons' Den on BBC Two and is also the Chairman of Ryman Stationery, plus Boux Avenue, Robert Dyas and his latest acquisition, London Graphic Centre. The event at the ICC Centre brought together all 2256 #SBS winners since 2010, providing them with the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest across different industries. At the event, experts from companies such as 123reg, HP, Robert Dyas, Square, DHL, Ilaw, Ryman and Western Union were on hand for talks and to provide advice, as well as a special talk from Stephen Cheliotis from Superbrands. Karen told THIIS: "The yearly event that Theo Paphitis arranges for the #sbs winners - of which out of all the entries he has received weekly, the winners equate to just 0.68% - is always a fantastic day.” The day also included a ‘fireside

chat’ with John Roberts, the Founder of AO.Com, as well as Theo Paphitis, with time allocated to ask both business leaders questions. "It is great for me to network with other businesses on the day, and many friendships are made along with lots of advice from how other businesses succeed,” explained Karen.

spending time with the experts oneto-one. " started as a £1 bet in the local pub so proves how far you can go,” continued Karen. "Having the opportunity to receive tips and advice is always invaluable in any business. To have ongoing support from a team of different sponsors of the event also helps me

“For People First Mobility, being an #sbs winner has opened many doors for us and has given us opportunities we may not have had.” KAREN SHEPPARD

"The talk by Theo and getting to chat to him and ask questions and also the guest speakers, which this year was the founder of John Roberts and last year was the founder of JML products and Deborah Meadon, always leaves me star struck but full of motivation and inspiration.” New this year, attendees also had the chance to speed date with marketing and brand experts,

to drive my business forward. "Every year I come away from the day buzzing and full of ideas for the business. For People First Mobility, being an #sbs winner has opened many doors for us and has given us opportunities we may not have had.”

Time to tweet To enter #SBS, businesses must tweet Theo about their company on a Sunday evening. From the submissions, he then chooses six each week that stand out for various reasons and who have excelled in areas of their business. | 11


MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS Former CEO returns following AKW acquisition


KW announced on the 14th of March that it has been acquired by funds managed by PennantPark Investment Advisers. The investment company has partnered with Nick Parsons, the former CEO of AKW. The move will see Nick Parsons, an industry veteran, re-join AKW as CEO and shift the company’s strategy, confirming that several new, complementary products are to be introduced in 2018. “I am excited to be re-joining AKW and to begin a partnership with PennantPark,” commented Nick. “PennantPark’s experience, resources and commitment to the business will enable the AKW’s employees to execute on its long-term strategic plans.”

Since its founding in 1982, AKW has specialised in the design, development and manufacture of products for the assisted living sector, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens. The company now has a global reach, distributing in both continental Europe and the USA. Jose Briones, Partner at PennantPark, said: “We believe AKW has tremendous near and longterm opportunities for growth given its superior product offerings and unparalleled service to its customers.”

PennantPark Investment Advisers is an international investment firm that manages in excess of $2 billion, focusing on making investments in high-quality, middle market businesses in North America, the UK, Western Europe and Australia. According to AKW, its mission will remain unchanged and its headquarters will remain in Braddan, with an additional significant presence in Droitwich Spa.

CCG MERGERS TO TAKE EFFECT FROM APRIL NHS England has confirmed that the conditions for 18 existing Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to merge have been met, with the existing CCGs being dissolved and six new CCGs being formed. Created following the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 and replacing Primary Care Trusts

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on the 1st April 2013, CCGs are clinically-led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commission of health care services for their local area. The mergers come following a history of joint-working between the existing CCGs, with the six new CCGs being Birmingham & Solihull,

Leeds, Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, and East Berkshire & Berkshire West. Following the mergers, there will be a total of 195 CCGs in England.

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RETAILER EXPANDS TO NEIGHBOURING COUNTY AFTER ACQUISITION Oxfordshire-based retailer Recare has expanded into neighbouring county Northamptonshire with the acquisition of a Mi-Life showroom in Kettering. Alongside its current successful showroom in Oxfordshire, the company will seek to develop other service offerings within the new MiLife by Recare showroom in Kettering, with aims of replicating the success enjoyed at its original showroom and clinical facility. Richard Holland-Oakes, Managing Director of Recare, commented: "You should always be looking for different avenues to develop and grow your business. With the introduction of Personal Wheelchair Budgets starting to take effect, alongside tighter NHS

budgets for mobility needs, this is an ideal move for Recare. "Working closely alongside Millbrook Healthcare’s Northamptonshire Wheelchair Service, within the same facility, Mi-Life by Recare and Millbrook will be excellently placed to deliver an innovative model of care and mobility provision to Northamptonshire residents. This includes offering a full range of clinical and technical support while offering the widest possible choice to individuals." The company says it will extend its customer-driven service in both the basic and highly complex mobility needs across the county, where it claims such provision has been lacking in the local area until now.

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MEET… MICHELLE MOSSFORD, SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER OF ABLEWORLD What does your position involve? It is varied. I manage a team of four and we are responsible for the marketing, both offline and online, for all 34 Ableworld stores. Half of those are operated under the franchise model and the other half are company owned. We deal with all the advertising, newspapers, leaflets, social media, radio, TV, the ecommerce website and a lot more. We also run various initiatives to try and give back to the community. One initiative is called Reconnecting Generations, where we are bringing nursery children into nursing homes and help them to interact with music, art, games and all sorts. The sessions have been really successful and both the children and elderly people got a lot of enjoyment out of it. It was fantastic and gives a feeling that we are doing some real good in the world. What is one of your proudest moments working in the industry? It has to be between the Reconnecting Generations work and our Scooter Proficiency programme that we run nationwide for people who are thinking of or have purchased a mobility scooter but do not have the confidence to get on it.

We get a lot of customers, both Ableworld customers and people who have not purchased their equipment from us, coming to the test track to be trained on how to use the equipment in a safe way. It is about making sure people are safe and confident when using our products and it makes me proud to be involved in doing this. We also sponsor a highway code for scooter users which we give out and we also do scooter marking at the event, where the products are marked with a unique code, which we then register. This is all free of charge as well, to make sure mobility equipment is safe and accessible for as many people as possible. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry over the years? Without a doubt it is the rise of online. In the mobility industry, with particular respect to marketing, there has been a shift to online marketing and activity, which has definitely been the biggest change for me. I think we have been a bit slower than other industries to embrace the online world, mostly because of the users, but now it is about reaching the children, siblings and decision makers and they are very much engaged and available online. We find the offline marketing is

About Ableworld... Boasting the most amount of mobility stores across the UK, Ableworld was founded by Mike Williams in 2001. In its 17 years, the company has grown considerably to 34 stores, with a significant proportion of the company’s growth attributable to its successful franchise model. Out of Ableworld’s 34 stores, it is an even split between company-owned stores, principally in the North West of the country and franchise-owned stores operating in the rest of the UK mainland.

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effective with end-users, whereas we find that online marketing works well with influencers and decision makers. What are your interests outside of work? I love to travel and socialising with friends and family. Also, I am passionate about the environment. I am very environmentally conscious and recently I have done away with all disposable cups and single use plastics. I have carried out many beach cleans in a bid to eliminate plastics from the oceans, as well as many litter picks.

Quick-fire questions! Describe yourself in three words Conscientious, funny and kind What’s your favourite song? That’s a tough one, but ‘A Woman’s Work by Maxwell’ is definitely one. And I love, love, love Sam Smith, so anything by him. I saw him at his very first gig in Manchester and he was incredible. If you could have a superpower, what would it be? The power to cure cancer Favourite place in the world I love Italy. I have just come back from Rome, so I would certainly say Italy. I’ve set myself the goal of travelling Italy so I am heading to Venice next.

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good deeds


Repose to the rescue


hen a bespoke seating solution was required for a property being revamped by the BBC’s DIY SOS: The Big Build team, the show’s production team turned to Repose Furniture. Working with the production team, Helena Elcocks, National Sales

Manager at Repose, suggested the best solution was the company’s versatile C-Air, a rise recliner available in a range of sizes with an option of six different back styles. Discussing the donation, Lisa Wardley, Repose’s Managing Director, said: “I would urge anyone who is

RETAILER KEEPS SHOPMOBILITY SERVICE ALIVE IN HEREFORD Following the closure of Hereford Shopmobility at the end March, new retailer Mills Mobility has taken over the Shopmobility’s subscription list and will continue to offer the service at its current rates. Owner Greg Mills says he is keen to keep the service available for local people and has confirmed any existing annual memberships will be replaced with a free lifetime membership with the New scheme. The company says it will be investing heavily over the coming months, replacing the scooters from the old service with a fleet of new scooters and also offering boot scooters to allow access to a greater area. 18 |

contacted by DIY SOS to get involved. “It was a hugely rewarding experience for everyone here at Repose and I am delighted that we were able to help DIY SOS complete their latest project.” The episode featuring Repose will be aired on BBC1 later this year.




We continue to set the standards for our industry by introducing our New Next Day Delivery Service for all orders taken up until 5:00pm* (Mon-Fri). For more information visit the news section of our website.

Telephone: 0845 0600 333 Email: *Only applicable to core retail lines that are in stock at the point of ordering.


good deeds

MOBILITY AIDS FOR THE WORLD’S POOREST CHILDREN Working with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Country Councils and charity PhysioNet, NRS Healthcare has donated a range of children’s mobility aids to help children in some of the world’s poorest countries. NRS staff found a number of useful, older items that were no longer used in their Cambridgeshire warehouse, including seating for disabled children who need postural support, children’s mobility aids and children’s standing frames for physiotherapy. The items were donated to Physio, a charity which ships physiotherapy and mobility equipment to developing countries worldwide. David Lacy, an Occupational Therapist for NRS Healthcare, said: “Around 15 items are included in this initial shipment but we hope that this will be the start of an ongoing project. All the equipment is in fit, working order but is not currently being used.”

Chris Fielding at Newlife with Holly Jenkins at Jiraffe

Collaboration to support disabled children Jiraffe has made Newlife, the charity for disabled children, its first ever Charity of the Year, with the two organisations working in partnership to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Jiraffe staff will take part in a programme of activities throughout 2018 with the aim of raising £5,000 for Newlife, which will be used to develop the next generation of the charity’s Play Therapy Pods. The pods are specialist sensory toys purposely selected by professional play therapists and proven to help children with disabilities develop social, developmental and cognitive behaviours. The Play Therapy Pods will able to be inflated into a tent-like structure in under a minute and include extra visual, audible and tactile features, as well as being easy to pack down into a practical rucksack for transportation to any indoor environment.

A GOOD EGG Ableworld aimed to tackle depression in Care Homes at Easter with its Easter egg appeal, asking the local public to donate an Easter egg to an Ableworld-owned store to be given to residents in local nursing and residential homes across the UK. The company has been engaging in various local community events over the years, with its most recent ‘Elderly Shoebox appeal’ seeing staff, customers and local charities donate shoeboxes full of gifts to Royal Stoke & County Hospital at Christmas.

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new to the team

NEW PRODUCT SPECIALIST TO COVER THE SOUTH EAST Working alongside NHS Wheelchair Services to assess adults & children for specialist seating systems and offer advice on adaptions to provide practical seating solutions, Adam Weir has joined RMS as a new Regional Product Specialist in the South East of the UK. Having spent the previous five years working in the NHS alongside a paediatric physiotherapy team in the community as a physio assistant, Adam provided patient support and supervised treatment programmes in homes, schools, clinics and special needs schools. Adam told THIIS: “Adjusting and maintaining equipment on a daily basis gave me the skills and confidence to move into a new area closely associated with the NHS and the private sector.” Specialising in the modification and development of seating systems and accessories, as well as distributing exclusive products from other European companies, RMS has been operating in the industry for the past four decades. Alan Wombell, Director at RMS, commented: “We are pleased to have Adam join our team as part of the Wheelchair Service Division. Adam’s previous experience, teamed with his enthusiasm, will enable us to continue exceeding our customers’ expectations.” To contact Adam, email or call 07525 990 493

Adam Weir

BHTA APPOINTS INTERIM DIRECTOR-GENERAL Andrew Barker, the former Managing Director of Mangar International and a Director of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), has agreed to act as Interim Director-General. The announcement follows the resignation of the BHTA’s Director General Tracey White, who left the Association to become the CEO of the Institution of Lighting Professionals at the end of March. Andrew was the managing director of Mangar International from 2006 until exiting the company in 2016. Andrew Barker Andrew told THIIS: “I am looking forward to getting to know the team at the BHTA and all the members covering healthcare over the coming weeks, as well as helping to put the BHTA on an even stronger footing for when the new Director-General joins.” The Association says his extensive international exposure, strategic vision and industry experience will be valuable for guiding the BHTA through the transitional period.

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Jenny Carter

TRINITY INDEPENDENT LIVING PROMOTES NEW MD Jennifer Carter has been promoted to Managing Director of Trinity Independent Living, an appointment the company describes as a big step in the industry. With women making up only 13 percent of the entire workforce in construction businesses in mostly support and administration roles, very few women ever make it to senior management in the construction industry, according to the company. A provider of bathrooms, kitchens and home adaptations for older people, those with reduced mobility and wheelchair users, Trinity Independent Living has been active for over 15 years, working with OTs, local authorities and housing associations, as well as private homeowners.

Do you have a new team member? Why not let the industry know? Just send us a short news item and photo.

See the KYMCO family at NAIDEX 2018 Stand No 2170

trade deals

DealON! Looking for a deal? Then this is the place to come. Deal On features the best trade deals you will find this month. Just pick up the phone to take advantage... All offers are valid until April 30th 2018 unless otherwise stated.


Single unit orders available with no minimum order quantity!

John Preston Healthcare is supplying five new products to the trade which can bring new customers to businesses: ATTO / Airwheel H3 / Foldachair D09 / Firefly / Nino Call Aidan McCormack on 028 92 633 798 or email to find out more

Two Free Home Delivery Smartphone Apps (worth £750)* UNIQUS® iRetailer. Stock & barcode management software specially designed for the VAT complexities of mobility retailers. Affordable subscription. No big initial outlay. Fully integrate your quotation, sales, purchasing and stock process on one platform. Cloud based and paperless, iRetailer CRM will help you gain efficiency, save time and increase sales opportunities. See our advertisement in this issue or visit *Requires Windows Smartphone. Order before end of April 2018 to qualify.





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April promotion from Repose Repose Furniture is offering FREE memory foam seating on Rise and Recliners from its Homecare range, including general, domestic or upgraded healthcare fabric when retailers quote APRIL2018 until April 30th. This is a saving of £40 per order and is not applicable to the Healthcare range. Terms & Conditions apply. For more information call 0844 7766001, email or visit

Installer Partner Programme Stiltz Home Lifts are looking to develop their new, exciting Installer Partner Programme. Signing up for both sales and installation will make the Stiltz business far more profitable that a straightforward sale. Full training will be provided. For more information, call/email Trade Sales Director, Gino Farruggio on 07940 437 835 /

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Mobility Technology supplied to the Mobility Trade

Ideal for travelling

ATTO Folding Mobility Scooter This innovative travel scooter folds in a few seconds to size of luggage case, looks tremendous and comes with airline battery approval certificate. NOW AVAILABLE TO THE MOBILITY TRADE: Buy in single units • No commitment fee or MOQ • All stock held in UK • Accessories and Spare inventory held in UK • Good margin available

Nino Self Balance Wheelchair

Foldachair D09 Folding Electric Wheelchair

Airwheel H3 Automatic Folding Electric Wheelchair

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Amazing self balance technology • Lean forward to go and lean back to stop • Futuristic design • Ideal for those who struggle to walk long distances • You can list on your website

Easy to fold and unfold manually • Airline approved batteries • 12.5” rear wheels and range of 15 miles • Joystick controlled

Folds and opens by pushing just one button • Easy to use joystick • 12.5” rear wheels and range of 12 miles

Clips on and off fixed front wheelchair • Reach 12.5mph • Smaller kids frame available • Easy to use and control

NOW AVAILABLE TO THE MOBILITY TRADE: We can deliver demos in your showroom • We pay commission/sales fee • No risk on stock • No complex training requirements for your staff

A family business since 1846

NOW AVAILABLE TO THE MOBILITY TRADE: Buy in single units • No commitment fee or MOQ • All stock held in UK Accessories and Spare inventory held in UK • Good margin available

Call Aidan McCormack on 028 92 633 798 or email

retailer spotlight

Location, location, location. Footfall and outside the door parking are key considerations


CUSTOMER SERVICE IS MORE THAN A TAGLINE In the mobility industry, it is difficult to find any retailer that is not keen to mention their exceptional customer service, however, for multi-award winning Parkgate Mobility’s Tracy Simmons, he is determined to prove that customer service is more than just a throwaway line in their marketing. Now, with three new stores on the way, THIIS caught up with the business manager to find out how infrastructure, analysis and dedication to a core value has led to over two decades of retail growth and customer satisfaction 26 |


aving been trading for twenty years, Parkgate Mobility has established itself as a leading retailer of mobility equipment, Tracy Simmons employing 65 members of staff and operating 15 showrooms, with plans to open another three outlets in 2018. With a central warehouse and distribution centre in Sheffield and branches running up and down the spine of the M1 motorway between Derby and Leeds, the company has a fleet of field-based engineers operating from mobile workshops and a central workshop to help with time consuming repairs. Parkgate Mobility’s Business Manager, Tracy Simmons, discussed how efficiency and infrastructure have been instrumental in the company’s acclaimed customer service, which has seen the Motability accredited dealer awarded with Motability customer service awards every single year that Mobility has presented them. You are adding three new stores to the 15 you current operate in a time when high-street retailers are struggling. How has Parkgate Mobility managed to expand so effectively? We carefully pick the locations of the new stores which has been an important factor to our success when expanding into new areas. We choose locations that have either high footfall or outside the door parking. Good passing trade is essential in generating interest and business. We are also able to open shops very cost effectively. We are able to stock stores very easily and cheaply thanks to our central warehousing structure

and because of mine and Steve’s building experience, there is not a great expense fitting them because we do all the fitting ourselves. What has been your approach to expansion? In the early days, we expanded very quickly because 20 years ago – and particularly in the mobility industry – it was not hard for somebody to open a mobility shop and make money. At that time, everybody believed they were good businessmen because they were turning over profit, however, as the market became tougher, with more competition, the rise of the internet and falling prices and squeezed margins, many struggled to respond. As a business, we took the decision to pause expanding new stores for a while and instead look at how we operate as a company, how we wanted to operate going forward and what infrastructure we needed in place to achieve that. That led to a restructure and heavy investment into a new system which we feel will put us into strong position to continue expanding in the near future. You are now in the middle of implementing a new system, using Assistive Partner’s UNIQUS iRetailer software; how will the software impact how Parkgate Mobility operates? We currently run fleet software alongside an accounts/CRM package and various home brewed databases. To describe the process, when a repair/service enquiry arrives at switchboard, it is filtered correctly to our service centre, with the call being logged by the switchboard on a home designed database, with the service centre booking the job for an engineer. The appointment is sent from the

“If you cannot tell someone they are doing a good job, then you certainly cannot tell them they are not.” TRACY SIMMONS

A new system After reading an article about the retail software promoted as UNIQUS iRetailer in THIIS Magazine last year, Stephen Holland, Owner of Parkgate Mobility, saw an opportunity to potentially save his business time and money. The retailer had outgrown its current software and was in the midst of developing a new database with a local software company that would have put tighter controls on the servicing and repair aspect of its business when Stephen came across UNIQUS iRetailer. “The timing could not have been better,” said Stephen. “When I read about it in THIIS and later talked to Julian Cobbledick, the company director of Assistive Partner, I believed this new platform could provide the framework and information needed to further develop our business”. “We were particularly impressed with the stock control element of the software. Stock levels could be controlled through a standard min/max system and we were told that it could accommodate our central warehousing structure without any problems. “Equally impressive was the fact that the majority of our suppliers’ products, product codes and up to-date pricing could be seamlessly imported, which is important as we were regularly have to manually go through the painful process of updating all of our prices. “This was made worse by the Brexit scaremongering, the successive drop in the value of the pound on the international market and forever increasing and fluctuating pricing. The barcode system that UNIQUS iRetailer supported was also a very attractive feature; at last a software package that would eliminate the human error element of stock control.” | 27

retailer spotlight

By fitting the stores themselves, Parkgate Mobility is able to launch new stores cost-effectively

service centre to the engineer’s iPad, where the engineer confirms receipt of the job which is logged through the fleet software. The engineer proceeds to carry out the work and gives the customer a paper invoice where, on his return to base, the invoice is entered onto the accounts package. UNIQUS promises to take care of each stage of the process with the customer’s history on hand for the engineer, allowing better decision making and improved customer service and it will even send an email receipt to the customer. Having been established for so long in the industry, with multiple outlets, what have been the challenges implementing a whole new infrastructure? We realised from the start that with a company as large and established as ours, it would be a very painful process adopting a new software platform and, in some instances, adopting a completely new way of working. We signed up to iRetailer in June last year and we are still nowhere

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near being fully operational. We have started by implementing the stock control system, as this seemed to be a key strength of the software and an area that we were struggling to keep a grip on.

showrooms and a small number of shops are selling on iRetailer at the moment quite well. iRetailer demands that staff do not take short cuts which may sound obvious but stock must be booked in

“I think a lot of businesses say that they offer great customer service but quite often, it is just a throwaway line. My question is, what does great customer service look like?” TRACY SIMMONS

So far, we have redesigned the layout of our warehouse and showrooms and we have ousted old, out-of-date stock and replaced it with fresh, relevant products, as well as having labelled, priced and overhauled all of our product displays. We have set appropriate min/max reorder levels in all areas and have started to replenish stock through the automatic min/max system. Through UNIQUS, we are starting to deal with special orders, stock movement and stock transfers in a number of

and out religiously, products must be clearly identified and shelves must be clearly marked. Getting shop managers and sales staff to change their working practices is what is proving most difficult, especially in a company where historically we have operated a ‘help yourself’ policy. We have traditionally allowed front line sales staff a lot of leeway with the administration team picking up the pieces, however, iRetailer is turning this on its head and it’s not before time.

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retailer spotlight Has the investment of time and money into the restructure been worthwhile? The journey up to now has been very productive and worthwhile, if not frustrating. Ian is slowly walking us through the implementation and I think it would be fair to say that there has been a considerable number of holdups along the way, particularly where background settings and hardware have required reconfiguration. It has currently come at a considerable cost in terms of licensing, hardware, training and manhours and at the moment, it is too early to say it has been worthwhile but the outlook is promising. Watch this space and we will keep you informed. How important is it for Parkgate Mobility to have the right infrastructure in place? It is absolutely vital. As times have become tighter in the industry, we have had to look at how we can become more efficient in all areas of the business so that we can remain profitable and continue to grow whilst competing against discounters and simultaneously providing the best customer service possible. To do this, we need to make sure we have the right systems, processes and procedures in place to ensure we can monitor our operation and know what is going on at the push of a button. What aspects of the Parkgate Mobility operation do you monitor? Anyone who knows me knows that I like to analyse everything. I have graphs, charts and statistics that cover every aspect of the operation from call handling, engineer effectiveness, marketing strategy, sales success, business efficiencies and customer satisfaction. We measure customer care levels and how customers rate our service, our staff and our products. In terms of marketing, we analyse our spend, what it generates, cost per call, what is effective and what is not. We have over one hundred

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The company has won a Motability customer service award every single year that Mobility has presented them

monitored telephone numbers which tell us who has phoned, about what, where and more. We measure conversion rates from call, to appointment, to sale and beyond. Every lead, termed locally as a golden ticket, is analysed and measured. If we lose a sale we know who, where and why this has happened. Why is it so important to monitor every area of the business so closely? By recording and monitoring every step of the sales process, from that very first initial call all the way through to the end of the job, we can very quickly identify any problems in the operation and work to change it, as well as track the customer’s level of care throughout. For example, if there was a delay getting out to see a customer for a repair, we can examine at what point did the delay occur and look to see what needs to be done to stop that from reoccurring, such as a lack of coverage in the area requiring us to hire another engineer for instance. At the minute, we do this but we are pulling information from a number of different systems and compiling it together which is time-consuming. We are hoping with the new UNIQUS system, we’ll be able follow that path in real-time in one place. We want the ability to see how the

company is performing at the touch of a button but it is not about beating ourselves with a stick. We are not aiming to measure staff just for the sake of measuring them. Monitoring, tracking and measuring helps create transparency so we can praise and review in fairness and having a comprehensive system in place allows for this. If you cannot tell someone they are doing a good job, then you certainly cannot tell them they are not. It makes work easier and fairer for all when everyone knows clearly what the expectations and measurements are. I am proud to say we have a very low turnover of staff so something must be working and I think that honesty with people, both our staff and our customers, really sets us apart from our competitors. What do you feel makes Parkgate Mobility’s approach to customer service different from other retailers? I think a lot of businesses say that they offer great customer service but quite often, it is just a throwaway line. My question is, what does great customer service look like? What does it feel like? What are you doing that nobody else is doing? What state of intent is there in your claim? Companies confuse white glove service and customer service. White

glove service is just the tip of the iceberg but there seems to be a lot of internet-sellers and box shifters out there that boast about offering it but fall very short when it comes to the whole service. Saying that we offer great customer service isn’t enough because words are cheap and customers see through them. For us, customer service is at the heart of the business and we are working hard to put our money where our mouth is. A strapline we are working towards incorporating throughout the business is, ‘if we do not get you mobile in 24 hours, we’ll do the job free of charge.’ The reason we are investing so much money and time into our infrastructure is so that we can confidently make and stand by that claim in the future. Would you say it is this approach that has led to Parkgate Mobility’s decades of success? Definitely. We are set up to ensure our staff and our business meet high

customer standard levels, which in turn, leads to happier customers who return to us and recommend us. We have actually got a customer care team whose only job is to call customers and ask if they are happy with the service provided. They aren’t try to slyly turn it into a sales call but just to make sure our customers are happy and their needs are met. We have a strapline which is ‘treat the customer like you treat your mother’ and that is ingrained in everything we do and every decision we take. We make sure that people have a good experience, which they tell friends and family about because people talk. The opposite is true as well; if people have a bad experience, they really talk, which is why customer care is so important. As a company, we do not really advertise anymore. Now that the yellow pages has finished, we have the website and the catalogue and that is about all. For us, it really is

mostly word of mouth, which relies on our customer service being exceptional. What does the future look like for Parkgate Mobility? A couple of years ago, we started putting into place what we called a retirement plan. That doesn’t mean we’re retiring – I’m no way near retirement yet! – but instead, looking at how we can set up the business in such a way that Parkgate Mobility maintains its high standard, even when we are not there to run it. This is why we are investing so heavily to make sure we have the correct infrastructure and processes in place and I think we are getting to place where Parkgate Mobility will be in a very strong position for the next decades to come.

Accredited Training Courses from Disabled Living Foundation Disabled Living Foundation offer two types of training; for individuals and for organisations. DLF Trusted Assessor Training is a practical hands-on 2-day OCN-accredited training course using equipment. Nationally accredited by the Open College Network, the course provides training for community staff in the assessment, fitting and use of daily living equipment. DLF Training offers a ‘value for money’ programme of CPD-accredited courses aimed at professional healthcare providers and carers, as well as informal carers and others who wish to learn more about interactions with disabled and older people. Both courses are carried out by expert trainers with a wealth of experience. Training can take place at one of our open courses which run regularly at our fully equipped training centre in Wandsworth, London or by arrangement at a location suitable to you.

For more information on the Training or any other DLF Courses, please call 0207 432 8008 or visit



Sumi Wang with Richard Branson

eFOLDi, a new mobility vehicle aiming to disrupt the current mobility scooter market, has ended its crowdfunding campaign having raised £1,146,200 from 773 investors, exceeding its original target by over 200%. The company is now looking for regional dealers to work with across the UK


eveloped by SunTech UK, the company turned to crowdfunding platform CrowdCube with the goal of raising £350,000 for 5% equity of the company. The investment opportunity quickly grabbed investors’ attention however, with the campaign quickly reacheing its initial goal within a matter of days. Speaking with Sumi Wang, Managing Director of eFOLDi, about the decision to turn to Crowdfunding

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rather than other forms of investment, she told THIIS: "We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the campaign and I would definitely

recommend other companies consider it as a viable option for raising investment. "Crowdfunding is great, especially if

“Importantly, we are looking to appoint regional distributors in the next few weeks and I would urge any dealers interested to please get in touch.” SUMI WANG

diary dates What is crowdfunding?


Crowdfunding is a means of raising finance by asking a large number of people to invest a small amount of money each, typically via the internet. Traditionally, financing a business or venture involved asking a small number of people for large sums of money.

you have a good product. It’s much better and startup friendly compared to traditional fundraising, and it’s fun!” Raising £1,146,200 for 14.70% equity, the company substantially beat its opening target by 227%, as well as gaining the services of Ms Carolyn Tobin, who offered to join the company as a pro bono Financial Director. With such a considerable amount of funds invested, Sumi explained what the future holds for the company. "We will adjust our business plan according to the final investment received and we have already started recruiting key personnel and expanding the team,” she said. Using the additional funding, Sumi says the company is now planning to look at kickstarting design work on new products, invest more in sales and marketing across key target markets and produce more stock to significantly reduce waiting times for customers. She added: “Importantly, we are looking to appoint regional distributors in the next few weeks and I would urge any dealers interested to please get in touch at”

What is the eFoldi? Designed for the elderly and those with limited mobility who are unable to walk for long distances, the eFOLDi is a lightweight scooter that can be easily folded into a comfortable chair or portable suitcase. Created to help get people around easily, the company says most customers are people who need a walking aid but do not want the label associated with mobility scooters.

April 25-26, 2018 Naidex – NEC April 26, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Weetwood Hall Conference Centre, Leeds or call Sally on 02921 900402 May 17, 2018 Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre June 11-13, 2018 COT Annual Conference - Belfast Waterfront June 12-13, 2018 NAEP Annual Conference – Kenilworth www. June 13, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge or call Sally on 02921 900402 June 27-28, 2018 Health+Care – Excel London July 5, 2018 Kidz to Adultz Wales & West - Bristol July 11, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli or call Sally on 02921 900402 July 15, 2018 – 27th Disability Awareness Day annual event - Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington July 23-25, 2018 Posture & Mobility Group Conference Manchester Central September 12, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - La Mon Hotel, Belfast or call Sally on 02921 900402 September 26, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Imperial Hotel, Torquay or call Sally on 02921 900402 September 26-29, 2018 Rehacare – Dusseldorf October 7-8, 2018 Trade Days – NEC October 15-17, 2018 Medtrade – Atlanta October 17-18, 2018 The Care & Dementia Show – NEC November 7, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - The Spa Hotel, Kent or call Sally on 02921 900402 November 28, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hilton Hotel, Newcastle or call Sally on 02921 900402 December 5, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hilton Hotel, Southampton or call Sally on 02921 900402 January 28–31, 2019 Arab Health - Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre www.arabhealthonline. com March 21, 2019 Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry | 33

STRIKING STATISTICS ABOUT DISABILITY IN THE UK The Papworth Trust has released a new report – its eighth edition – revealing in-depth, vital facts and figures relating to disability in the UK.

It has been estimated that by 2035, 15.6 million people will be living with hearing loss – the equivalent to 1 in 5 of the UK population


he statistics – useful for manufacturers and retailers alike to better understand the industry that they manufacture and sell products in - are designed to inform, initiate and encourage debate according to the organisation. Rob Hammond, Chair of Trustees at Papworth Trust, said: "Our annual Disability Facts and Figures shows the very difficult challenges that disabled people continue to face. "The clear message from the report is that there is still much work to be done to ensure disabled people have equality, choice and independence in their daily lives.” The full report can be found on the Papworth Trust website.

7% of children in the UK are disabled

1 in 3 disabled people spend money on specialised equipment

There are 13.3 million disabled people living in the UK 34 |

Disabled people’s day-to-day living costs are 25% higher than those of nondisabled people

Disabled people spend an average of £550 a month on costs related to their disability (including buying specialised equipment)

There are more disabled women than men in the UK (23% compared to 19%)

The total spending power of families with at least one disabled person is estimated by the Government to be over £200bn a year

London had the lowest percentage of disabled people at 14%, closely followed by the South East (19%), Yorkshire and Humber (20%) and the East of England (20%)

There are 1.8 million disabled people with unmet housing needs, 580,000 of whom are of working age

1.9 million households in the England (9%) had one or more people with a long-term limiting illness or disability that required adaptations to their home

There are 4.2 million disabled people living in poverty, which makes up 29% of all people living in poverty

The number of people living with sight loss will increase to more than 2.7 million in 2030 and four million in 2050

In 2016, Wales had the highest percentage of disabled people (26%)...

Three quarters of disabled people have left a shop because of poor disability awareness or understanding

Only 17% of disabled people were born with their impairment. The majority of disabled people acquire their disability later in life

The Family Resources Survey reported that in the last three years, mobility was the most prevalent impairment reported

Over a third of disabled people spend additional money on clothing and bedding as a result of their impairment

...the percentage of disabled people living in Scotland was 22% and in Northern Ireland was 21%

Local Authorities with the highest proportions of disabled people with a limiting long-term condition are East Lindsey (26%), Blackpool (25.6%) and Tendring (25.5%) | 35

award season

ACHIEVEMENTS AND TRIUMPHS Inspiring individuals and businesses in the industry


(Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Blatchford’s Technology Director knighted by the Prince of Wales


rofessor Sir Saeed Zahedi, Technical Director at Blatchford, was made a Knight Bachelor of the British Empire in recognition of his achievements in the field of rehabilitation. Knighted by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace for outstanding services to Innovation and Engineering, the award-winning author and presenter of over 125 papers, books and scientific publications, as well as 35 patents, has succeeded in creating life-changing results for thousands of amputees around the world. Professor Sir Saeed Zahedi commented: “The investure day with HRH Prince Charles was a glorious day of celebration. It was an honour and privilege to represent the community of engineering innovation.”

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Solent Mobility has enjoyed multiple award success at the 17th ‘The News Business Excellence Awards’ in Portsmouth, winning both ‘Retailer of the Year’ and ‘Customer Service of the Year’. Also selected for the ‘Team of the Year’ award, the mobility retailer walked away with two of the three categories it was shortlisted in. According to the retailer, the awards are proudly displayed in its South Coast showroom, providing a talking point for customers and acting as a constant reminder of its continued dedication to providing the best sales experience and customer service to all clients. Owned by Shephard Hospital Equipment, the retailer has one of the largest showrooms on the South Coast and sells a wide range of mobility equipment.



Handicare and its direct selling division, Companion Stairlifts, has won the Feefo Gold Service award, an independent seal of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering exceptional customer service. Trusted Service is awarded only to those businesses that use Feefo to collect genuine ratings and reviews and is unique as it is based purely on interactions with verified customers. Handicare met the criteria for collecting at least 50 reviews from verified customers between January 1st 2017 and December 31st 2017, with a Feefo service rating of between 4.5 and 5.0. Handicare works in association with Age UK Trading CIC to offer a range of mobility products targeted at older people including stairlifts and bathing solutions.

Rise Furniture and Mobility, a new mobility retailer based in Harrogate, has had its website nominated for the ‘Best Company Website’ award in the Harrogate Advertiser Business Awards 2018. Opening its doors at the end of September 2017, the company sells an extensive range of mobility equipment, including daily living aids, stairlifts, walking aids, dementia aids, rise and recline chairs, beds and more.

STILL INNOVATING AFTER THREE CENTURIES Salts Healthcare has won the Medilink West Midlands Award for ‘Innovation’ and is now in the national finals to be named one of the most forwardthinking medical and healthcare companies in the UK. Started in 1701, the 300-year-old, family-owned Birmingham company was recognised for the research, design and manufacturer of its latest product range; Confidence Be – an advanced stoma bag with a range of clever features to help people feel comfortable and confident. The award recognised the range’s impact, with the citation reading: ‘Awarded for the development of an innovative technology, design or process that has produced a major improvement in business performance or end-user benefit.’ Salts Healthcare will now compete in the National Medilink Awards in April 2018, where it will compete against seven other regional winners to be crowned 2017 Most Innovative Medical and Healthcare Company.

From left: Robert Salt, Philip Salt, Jesus Alfaro, Kieran Williams, Caroline Cowin, Lee Howard, Iain Powner

Judges for the award selected the finalists based on key aspects of their websites, including high-quality content, good navigation to access the content, attractive visual design relevant to the audience, as well as good functionality & interactivity. Carl Drake, Managing Director of Rise Furniture and Mobility, told THIIS: “We are overwhelmed to be selected as a finalist and it really is quite something as we are a start-up. “We put a lot of effort and work into our website and we do see a lot of interest and engagement with it, so it is working very well. Being nominated for the award is great as it means all our hard work is paying off.” | 37

retailer spotlight

Katy Brown, Managing Director of Scotgate Mobility, in her recently refurbished showroom (Credit: Lee Hellwing. Copyright 2018, Iliffe Media Publishing Ltd)


A SPRING CLEAN FOR SCOTGATE MOBILITY It has been the trend for many retailers to start with bricks and mortar and then develop an online presence, however, for Katy Brown, her entrance into the industry has been the opposite. After running a successful online business that introduced her into the world of mobility, she decided the time was right to move into her own physical retail outlet and opened Scotgate Mobility in early 2017. Katy talked with THIIS about her new venture, an extensive refurbishment project and the importance of merchandising.

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A new store is born After 10 years of running Stamford Mobility, Peter Seamer decided to retire from the industry and sold his store to Katy Brown just over a year ago, who decided to form her own mobility retail store. Nestled in the heart of the picturesque town of Stamford, she runs Scotgate Mobility with her parents, John and Joy Pye, as well as three part-time members of staff. Unlike many who enter the industry however, Katy was first made aware of the mobility market whilst running a business selling large-sized clothing online. “I have had my existing online business since 2009 and in that time, I got to know a lot about my customers,” said Katy. “Some of my customers have mobility problems and were asking me to look for products such as leg raisers and long handled shoe horns to help with dressing. I saw the need to make these products more widely available and sourced a range of mobility products such as dressing aids, reachers and walking sticks. That was really my introduction to the industry.” After doing more research, Katy began to supply her online customers with smaller mobility products online for over three years, before the opportunity arose to open her own shop with her family. “A friend informed me that the owner of the shop was retiring, so it was the perfect chance to actually get some retail space in a location that was already known for selling mobility products,” she added. Leaping at the opportunity, the company now sells an extensive range of mobility products, from

stairlifts and scooters to wheelchairs, daily living aids, rollators and more. A fresh, new start With just over a year of retail experience under her belt, the industry newcomer decided it was time for a refresh and has recently finished undertaking a large-scale refurbishment project, stamping her own style and identity on the shop and changing key aspects of the customer experience. Working with Peterborough-based JD Interior Solutions, the shop has undergone a complete refit, with changes including removing pine match boarding that covered the walls; replacing old, fluorescent tube lighting with brighter spotlights; changing an awkward, metal twin slot shelving system described as ‘hospital beige’ with modern, flexible repositionable wooden shelving and slatwall fittings; and swapping a worn, dark grey cord carpet with oak laminate and honey coloured sisal

“Retail can be like theatre, especially in a small town where people like to know what is going on, so we wanted to create a bit of drama.” KATY BROWN

entrance matting. Discussing the changes, Katy highlighted how each change made was to enhance the shopping experience and the needs of her customers, with the refit providing an additional 15 percent more floor space, as well as creating a far more open, spacious feel to the store. “I am glad we took our time before

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doing the refit. Had we done it at the beginning of opening the store, we may have made some poor decisions,” she said. “Instead, learning more about the local market conditions and the way we want to take the business forward was a better way to approach the refit.” “For example, previously there was a black entrance mat, however, I learned that people with dementia can find black carpets quite disorientating, as though they are stepping into a black hole, so we consciously decided to change it. “Additionally, there was a massive counter which the shop keeper would be able to stand behind and look suitably professional. It did help me on a few occasions when I needed a confidence boost but it’s definitely not the message I want to give. Peter used to say ‘You can’t have too big a counter’ but in my view, it is an outdated concept and more often than not, I would stand to the side

of it to give information, removing the barrier between me and the customer.” Katy decided to install a new, smaller shop counter, featuring a lower shelf for wheelchair and scooter users. “We also have flat, level access for visitors with wheelchairs, scooters or walking frames and we are right next

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Unique contoured backrest 15/01/2018 10:24 | 39

retailer spotlight

Out with the old and in with the new. The refurbishment has brought the showroom in line with modern shoppers’ expectations

to the Scotgate car park with its free disabled parking spaces, making the store completely accessible for our customers.” Turning a negative into a positive Undertaking such a major refit however, meant Scotgate Mobility’s Managing Director had to make a difficult choice about closing the doors to the store for two weeks. “It was very scary having to close

Determined to make the best out of the situation, she decided to use the store’s closure as a means to raise awareness and build interest amongst local residents by using some clever marketing. “I had some posters made up saying ‘Keep calm, we are only closed for refurbishment – reopening Monday 26th February’, which I think people appreciated. It is worth making friends with your local printer as it

“It was very scary having to close for two weeks; I didn’t want anybody to think we had closed for good!” KATY BROWN

for two weeks; I didn’t want anybody to think we had closed for good!” stressed Katy. “There was quite a bit to be done, including rewiring, taking out walls, taking out plumbing and more. It couldn’t be done in a day so closing the store over an extended period was one of the most difficult decisions but ultimately, something we had to do.”

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really doesn’t cost much to produce a few posters for your windows,” she suggested. “We covered the rest of the windows with white paper, just leaving a few gaps for people to peep in. Retail can be like theatre, especially in a small town where people like to know what is going on, so we wanted to create a bit of drama. Then we

had an advert booking in the local paper saying ‘Coming Soon – Exciting Refurbished Shop Reopening - New Layout – New Products – Same Great Service’. The week we reopened, we also secured some editorial and photos of the new layout in the paper as well.” Maximising the amount of coverage possible from the refurbishment in the local press, Katy also kept customers in the loop online via a blog on the company’s website and regular photos of the work being carried out on Facebook, increasing engagement and enabling customers to feel involved. Katy said: “I took quite a few photos during the fit-out but it was quite difficult to see what was going on due to all the dust sheets, ladders, tools, empty mugs, general detritus that gathers in the project. It was nice to chart our progress on Facebook but it wasn’t really coming across that well. So, when I came in on Sunday morning, wow, the difference was

incredible. Suddenly we had this light, bright, airy space to show off.” The grand reopening Following two weeks of closure, Katy and her parents worked non-stop to ensure the store reopened on the 26th of February, as she recounted the final day before reopening. “In any shop fit-out, you have to balance being closed against loss of turnover, so we couldn’t afford to stay closed any longer. We just had to roll our sleeves up and get it all done on the Sunday,” said Katy. “The fitters were extremely professional and had cleared out all their rubbish and mess and tools, plus had a good go at the cleaning but there was still a lot of dust and quite a bit of plaster stuck on the window panes. “It took three of us the whole day to clean, bring down products from the third floor and set up a series of displays. Now we have clearly defined space for each section of product to make it clearer and more browsable

for customers.” The work seems to have paid off, with residents praising the refurbishment and taking a renewed interest in their local mobility shop. “Passersbys and well-wishers evidently liked the look of the shop as we got a lot of cheery waves and thumbs up on the Sunday prior to opening,” she said. “A couple of early comments have been ‘it doesn’t look like the same shop’ and ‘there’s space for everything so it doesn’t look as cluttered.’ “There is more to do – adding graphics and plenty more slatwall fittings to maximise the display space, but for the moment, I just like the contrast between the old and the new so I’m pausing for now.” The importance of visual merchandising Weighing up the costs and benefits of closing the store, Katy decided that sacrificing two weeks of sales was necessary to create an enhanced

retail experience for her customers going forward. A major element of the refurbishment was to create more space and capability to display products in a more attractive, retailfriendly way that would engage her customers. JD interior Solutions made some bespoke display items for the shop, including window display boxes, a dresser unit and a ‘book case’ unit in slate grey with an oak trim and white slatwall backs. “The idea is to give complete flexibility with repositionable wooden shelving or slatwall fittings. The Dresser unit has a heavy-duty worktop so that heavier items such as wheelchairs can be set on the top at eye level and the window boxes are deep enough to take a rollator or scooter,” said Katy. Making sure the shop has interesting, visually attractive displays that show the products in their best light was one area that Katy paid particular attention to. “Having attractive displays is

The ups and downs of the industry As a new retailer in the industry, Katy shared some of her thoughts about the joys and challenges faced in her first year as a mobility retailer. “What I have enjoyed most would have to be the face-to-face aspect of retail. My background has been mail-order and online, so often dealings with customers would be via email or on the phone, without getting the chance to have that interaction that you do in a retail space. “It has been fantastic getting to know my customers. It is really rewarding and there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve helped somebody solve their problem.” One of the key elements for Katy was the support of those around her, especially working with her parents. “I have worked together with

my parents in business before so we are used to working with each other and it was only natural when I wanted to expand that I would rely on their help. I know that I can rely on them and we all work well together, each bringing different things to the company,” she said. “The beauty of a family business is that we all pitch in with our ideas without having to worry about job security!” It was with this support that Katy was able to tackle some of the more difficult aspects of starting a new retail business in the mobility industry. One of the challenges she found was just how much there is to learn about the sector. Katy explained: “It is a very broad industry, so there is a lot to learn. There are so many different aspects to it and such a varied amount of different needs out there, not just related to mobility

but including low-vision, lowhearing and so much more. It means there is a vast amount to educate myself on.” For the new retailer however, the most challenging aspect of running a new mobility shop has been discovering the right suppliers to work with. “I would say it has been a challenge getting to know the suppliers over the last year and learning which ones can be relied upon,” observed Katy. “Building those relationships and getting to know how different suppliers work takes time. We want to have successful, close relationships with the suppliers we work with because it is good for us and them. Learning who we work well with has been interesting and certainly something that takes up the most amount of time I’ve found.” | 41

retailer spotlight something that really is quite universal in retail, regardless of the industry,” emphasised Katy. “Nicely designed shelving and lighting will give customers the opportunity to see products clearly laid out and browse the different sections, such as bathroom products, kitchen aids, low vision aids, walking sticks and rollators. “The design and functionality of the products are essential of course but displaying the products to create a more rewarding experience for the customer than say, an online photo, is vital. We are at a new beginning for retail, one where customer experience is key. My customers have said they want to shop local and support local businesses so we have to give them a great experience which includes being able to hold, touch and feel the product, as well as to offer good advice and a personal service,” added Katy. For smaller, independent retailers, an eye-catching retail window display is one of the most powerful tools for grabbing customers’ attention and standing out on the high street, a fact not lost on Katy. “The window boxes were something I insisted upon, as I found the previous window units too narrow to be useful. Although they eat into the floorspace, our shop windows are absolutely key to pulling people in,” she said. “I looked at all sorts of window displays in London as part of my research and some shops were not afraid to have a really deep, threedimensional window display and I think this art has been somewhat lost.” Unique, compelling shop window displays can differentiate smaller companies from their competitors, highlighting a business’ unique personality and helping to draw in more foot traffic from interested passerbys. “My windows are normally busy! I have used the window as a frame to be filled, for example using lots of graphics and a big pyramid shelving unit. Having completed the refit though, I made a conscious decision to place a limited number of hero

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Scotgate Mobility’s Christmas shop window. Visually engaging shop fronts grab attention and reveal a shop’s identity

products in the windows and keep everything clean and open for the first couple of weeks to encourage people to look in beyond the display to see what is happening inside,” continued Katy. “We do have good feedback about our shop window and this is something that I am so keen on

solutions that are available for them before it gets to the point where they actually need the solutions is important.” An admirable goal and one Katy is all too aware will not be easy, with people often not keen to face the realisation that they may not be as mobile as they once were.

“We do have good feedback about our shop window and this is something that I am so keen on getting right. If you are not careful, it can be so uninspiring and dull.” KATY BROWN

getting right. If you are not careful, it can be so uninspiring and dull. Making sure ours looks good and is inviting is something very important to me.” The future for Scotgate Mobility With the refurbishment finished and over a year of successful trading complete, Katy is now looking towards the future for her fledgling retail business. “The plan really is to grow,” she told THIIS. “We need to offer more solutions and really try to get people to consider their mobility a little bit earlier in life. Reaching people who may be restricted in their life and informing them that they really do not need to be. “Making people aware of the

“We just want to let people know we are here and waving the flag. Awareness is always going to be key thing for us and I am sure it is no different for any other retailer, especially in the mobility industry,” she finished.

New shelving and display units helps showcase products in their best light

OT perspective


ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? What retailers need-to-know about providing furniture for people with disabilities and those that require homecare…


s an Occupational Therapist, issues around seating and furniture arise daily. Whether I’m recommending seating or suggesting the right furniture for a client who needs considerable homecare, there’s no magic wand or quick solution – serious consideration needs to go into it. And the more that OTs and retailers know about the needs of their customers, the more likely they are to provide the right solution. First things first, here are some straightforward questions to ask any prospective customer: • What difficulties (if any) are you having with your existing furniture? • Is it too high, too low or too hard? • Are you finding transfers difficult? • Do you suffer from pressure sores? • Is your medical condition different or worst, making your current furniture no longer appropriate? Asking those questions is a great place to start, and following on from that, here are a few troubleshooting tips that might help you provide a solution.

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Is it too high? • What sort of legs or castors does it have? • Legs or castors may be able to be removed to lower the furniture to make it easier to transfer on and off. • For beds, bed levers or steps could be considered. Is it too low? Raising a chair or bed can make it more comfortable and can also help in preventing falls. Once you’ve realised you need to raise it, the next thing to consider is how much you need to raise it by: Step 1. Measure the distance from the floor to the back of the knee when the person is wearing the shoes they would normally wear around the home. Step 2. For chairs measure the height from the floor to the top of the seat when it is depressed as if someone were sitting in the chair. For beds measure the height from the floor to the top of the mattress when depressed as though someone were sitting on the edge of the bed. Step 3. Deduct the leg measurement from the height measurement and the difference will tell you how much you need to raise or lower the item of furniture.

Is it too hard? Consider a cushion, BUT remember: cushions are for comfort, not to prop a person up on a settee or chair. If a pressure risk is identified, consult a District Nurse or GP for advice before provision. Are transfers difficult? Once again, raising or lowering can help to reduce the difficulty of transfers. Are pressure sores a problem? If a pressure sore, reddened area or pain is mentioned, take the details and ask them if you can refer them to their GP / District Nurse to assess the pressure area. Do not sell the customer equipment until a medical professional has seen them. Has there been a change of medical condition? Is your customer medically stable? The customer may have recently undergone surgery, which is why they are having transfer problems. Ask questions and if in doubt, refer to a GP as raising a hip to high after a recent hip operation could result in a hip dislocation. Helping Hand company do a hip care kit which may be of benefit whilst recovery is still underway.

Need some further training? If you’d like to enhance your understanding and ability in this area, I can highly recommend training from three different operators: Langham Langham do a fantastic course. It is COT certified and covers the following: • Health and safety issues associated with raising furniture • Technical information about raise heights • Raisers most suitable for different furniture To book onto this course, email to book onto the 30-minute seminar at your nearest OTAC. Disabled Living Foundation (DLFs) Trusted Assessor Training DLF’s Trusted Assessor Training is accredited at Level II by the Open College Network and provides training for community staff in the assessment, use and fitting of basic daily living equipment, equipping staff to confidently: • Implement the assessment process and understand the importance of safety and risk in

the community Prescribe and fit specified equipment such as raised toilet seats • Assess for and prescribe specified minor adaptations e.g. place and mark up for rails • Know what safety issues to consider when checking equipment • Know when to refer to OT services To book onto this course, visit •

Careflex – What A Difference A Chair Makes Careflex training, delivered at all OTAC events, highlights the vital role seating can play a very important part in

alleviating problems. The training covers: • The very real dangers of sitting for long periods in asymmetrical and unsupported positions • What causes pressure ulcers, why they need to be avoided, and how seating can reduce and eliminate them • How certain seating stances can impair breathing and speaking ability • How to conduct a proper assessment and select the right chair to meet a person’s needs. To book onto this course (at OTAC events) call Julieanne Fewings on (01626) 831 843 or email her at

Stuart Barrow of Promoting Independence is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and a recognised expert in the field of home adaptations. His experience is sought by manufacturers and service providers looking for an expert opinion. Stuart also runs the Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference (OTAC). | 45

product showcase




ith a lifetime warranty on the frame, carers and users can rely on the HydroTilt, according to CareFlex. The accommodating, all-round chair for posture, pressure and comfort management features an effective design which is simple to use. Standard features include CareFlex WaterCell Technology pressure relief, a unique flip-up footplate and a leg rest with 25 degrees negative angle to facilitate standing. Clinical Evaluation studies have shown the HydroTilt and CareFlex WaterCell Technology to be both effective and comfortable, with Senior OT Badby Park commenting that “the HydroTilt is an extremely robust, long lasting chair. Even after years of use, I have had these chairs pressure mapped with HD patients and have had The company is now in search of oldest HydroTilt still out there doing extremely positive results.� its job and is requesting that readers who know of a HydroTilt over 10 years old contact either THIIS Magazine or CareFlex directly.

A SERENADE TO RELIEVE PRESSURE The Serenade Gel cushion from Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare contains silicone gel, reducing pressure and providing comfort. The cushion provides optimum stability for the patient and incorporates a support strap to ensure the cushion stays in situ. In addition, this support surface comes with a two-year warranty, user weight of 160kg / 25st, welded seams and an anti-microbial coated cover. A larger size is available, designed to cater for the heavier individual offering a user weight of 318kg / 50st. 46 |

product showcase

STYLISH COMMODE BLENDS WITHIN THE HOME According to the Gordon Ellis & Co, the Walton Commode offers a first for customers; a furniture commode with height adjustable legs that allows users to set it for their ideal height. Available in a choice of colours, the Walton Commode is made from easy to clean plastic and aluminium and features an arm rest on each side to provide support when rising, as well as a completely concealed commode area. Holding the high capacity, sevenlitre Burton Pan with an easy ‘lock and lift’ lid to prevent spills, the commode area can be completely removed for cleaning or to convert back to an ordinary chair if a commode is no longer needed. The pan also includes an additional handle on the back to make emptying it easier. For more information, contact

Seating System to deliver outstanding posture management Designed to deliver enhanced pelvic control - the keystone of posture Blatchford’s Nimbus Modular Seating System utilises three key components to support the pelvis; a multi-adjustable posterior pelvic support or cradle, an adjustable seat wedge providing anterior support to the femurs and ischial tuberocities, and an optional pelvic harness. Together these components support the pelvis in three plains, promoting optimal posture and reducing postural effort. Created with maximum flexibility in mind, the seating system uses only one chassis and three seat/back options, enabling the Nimbus to adjust to suit hip widths from 16cm to 44cm. Each seat size boasts 11cm of width adjustment and 13cm of depth adjustments, allowing it to grow with its user overtime. Nimbus features all options required for excellent posture management, including a dynamic back support version. 48 |


Manufacturers of bespoke rise and recline chairs and handcrafted adjustable beds for the mobility and healthcare market

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Designed to deliver lasting comfort With its supportive seating positioning system and deep waterfall cushions providing enhanced seating comfort, the new Ambassador Cosi Chair from Electric Mobility is different from any other riser reclining chair, according to the company. The chair’s unique design enables almost any individual to achieve maximum comfort, whether seated,

rising or reclining. With 12 fabrics available in stock for next day delivery and an option of a matching two or three-seater sofa available on ‘made to order’, users can choose from three sizes; small, medium and large. Featuring Seminar Dual-motor Tiltin-Space Mechanism with Variable Angle Lift (VAL), the Ambassador

GLIDE & LOCK FOR CHAIR WITHOUT HANDLES Aimed at individuals that struggle to sit back far enough in chairs and wheelchairs or prone to slipping down, Hospital Direct’s Glide & Locks are a range of comfortable, hard-wearing products that help people to sit back properly in chairs or wheelchairs without sliding back down. The product glides users to the back of the chair/wheelchair and then secures them in position and

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can be used independently or with assistance by one or two carers, depending upon need. Hospital Direct, which has been supplying to the NHS and care establishments for over 20 years, confirmed that Lock & Glides are used by people at home, general wards, renal units, OTs, social services and community nursing.

has a waterfall back design, a hybrid pocket sprung seat base, pleated wings and arm covers & antimacassar, as well as four lockable castors, as standard. Tested to meet FIRA regulations, the chair comes with a five-year guarantee and a 25-stone weight limit.

SENSORY WRAP SUITABLE FOR VARIETY OF CHAIRS Offering plenty of deep pressure feedback aiding concentration, the portable Sensoryline Sensory Wrap from Sensorykraft is a deep-pressure therapy aid that can be placed on a variety of seats, armchairs and sofas. Once the Sensoryline Wrap has been placed into a chair of choice, the user sits back and envelopes the wrap around their shoulders and positions the side flaps over the his or her thighs. When used in schools, the Sensoryline Wrap can provide a retreat for children during a busy day and when placed in seating areas of psychiatric departments, day-care facilities and hospital waiting rooms, the Wraps can deliver a calming space in communal areas. Made from wipe-clean polyester, the internal weights are made from formed medical-grade silicone and are designed to contour the body. The weight gives the effect of an embrace and someone pressing down gently on the shoulders – both effective and comfortable for the wearer. The price is £599.00 + VAT

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Pressure and posture preferences provided by Porter


he Boston Porter is the latest addition to Repose’s healthcare seating range, featuring new wing handles for ease of portering when the chair is occupied and the backrest is reclined, as well as a new double comfort lateral back cushion for luxurious support and comfort. With a choice of either an electric or manual model, the chair comes with standard features that include Tilt in Space, independent backrest recline and leg elevation, along with height and angle adjustable footplate aimed at maximising postural management. The company says the chair is ideally suited to being part of a client’s 24-hour pressure care management programme and additionally, a range of interchangeable pressure management back and seat cushion options ensure correct comfort and posture choices can be made.

SPRINGING INTO PRESSURE CARE ACTION With prevention of pressure ulcers becoming increasingly critical and the care industry recognising that prevention is more cost effective than cure, the Airospring range represents a breakthrough in pressure care, according to Polymorit. The company says multiple layers of patented XD spacer fabric inside the Pressure Relief Optimised (PRO) cushions createsperformance superior to both specialist memory foam and pressure relieving gel. The Airospring PRO cushions comply with BS6807 Crib 5 regulations, incorporating a Fire Resistant internal layer to make them suitable for use in care establishments. 100 percent washable, including the core, the cushions’ light weight also make them easier to handle. 52 |


Comfort in mind with MiChair Handmade from its Midlands factory, the MiChair range rise and recline chairs from Furmanac uses the latest mechanisms which operate safely and smoothly at the touch of a button. The chairs feature fibre filled backed cushions and a chaise reclining footrest, as well as a five-year manufacturer’s guarantee on all chairs from the Silver collection.


Used widely by Community Equipment Services and available as a self-funding option, the Accora Configura Lite is a single motor tilt-in-space chair featuring a distinct lift, rest and recline action which will also rise and tilt users to their feet. Appropriate for users with moderate postural requirements and who are at medium risk of pressure damage, the backrest can be easily adjusted to allow for maximum support & comfort and additionally, includes the option of having a pressure reducing overlay. The tilt-in-space mechanism can also help improve posture and support for the head & back, as well as helping with pressure ulcer management by spreading the pressure and increasing blood flow.

Aiming to provide exceptional stability and postural support for improved comfort and sitting tolerance, Etac R82’s Star Cushions are a leading choice in pressure ulcer prevention. Part of this proven range, the StarLock has patented Cell Locking Technology to provide bespoke and adaptable support and reduce tissue deformation. Air flow can be locked between specific cells, thus combining appropriate stability with high pressure redistribution. The cushion effectively envelopes the body structure and creates a stable sitting position, delivering an individual and precise correction of pelvic asymmetries. It also boasts impressive pressure redistribution qualities, including category IV ulcers, as well as the Cell Locking Technology enabling pressure free zones. With 5cm, 7.5cm ,10cm and 13cm height options available, the StarLock can be used as a one compartment cushion. | 53

product showcase

New member of the M-Brand Wilmslow family

Z PRESSURE REDUCING CUSHIONS DESIGNED FOR RISE RECLINERS The cost-effective, pressure reducing Ultra-Cline cushions by Ultimate Healthcare have been specifically developed to be used on rise recliner chairs, providing added comfort and postural support to existing chair cushions. The two-way stretch, waterproof and vapour permeable cover assists infection control and the visco elastic foam delivers user comfort. Featuring a securing strap system to prevent the cushion from slipping, the lightweight Ultra-Cline reduces the risk of pressure ulceration due to forward sliding. The cushions are supplied as part of a three-piece set to include a lumbar, seat and leg cushion or individually. To find out more, contact sales@

54 |

-Tec Mobility has introduced the latest product of its M-Brand Wilmslow range of dual motor riser recliner chairs, the Wilmslow Deluxe. The company says the chair comes finished in a luxurious and comfortable fabric, a quality wooden frame and full waterfall back with wings, whilst the independently adjustable backrest and leg rest offer advanced comfort and support. Using OKIN controlled motors and remote pads for all of its riser recliner chairs, the Deluxe comes with a four-buttoned remote pad that controls the position of the recliner Emergency battery back-up is also a standard with the range of riser recliners, according to Z-Tec.

, R E I Z Z U B , R E G G I B


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The company has seen considerable success, particularly abroad, in just over two years


HERIDA HEALTHCARE: PRESSURE PERFORMANCE The first few years in business for any new company are widely accepted to be the toughest, with the commonly held belief that almost half of all businesses fail during the first year. This has not been the case for Herida Healthcare however, with the pressure care manufacturer achieving impressive growth globally in only its second year of trading.


ased in Leeds, Herida Healthcare was set up by entrepreneurs Neil Smith and John Kay and started trading as a new start-up a fraction over two years ago. In that time Herida and its sister company - Herida Healthcare Manufacturing - have worked closely with industry professionals and various locally supporting bodies, helping the company to achieve the foundations required to progress into becoming a player in the global pressure care market.

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From strength to strength In just a short span of time, Herida Healthcare have made a big impact, launching a range of clinically proven products, generating millions in sales revenue with a highly impressive 31 percent EBITDA performance, as well as creating a number of new job opportunities.

Discussing the achievements of the company, Managing Director Neil Smith told THIIS: “When entering an already saturated market, like that of pressure area care, it is always difficult to penetrate through. Particularly when there are some very good businesses and well-established brands available to customers today.

“I seem to be excited every time I come into work” NEIL SMITH

“However, recruiting an exceptionally talented group of people, working very hard at our UK manufacturing strategy and, of course, remaining close with industry key opinion leaders, has been key to our success.” Power to the people For Neil, dedicated and hardworking staff is what he believes sets Herida Healthcare apart in the industry and is a fundamental USP. “I seem to be excited every time I come into work,” he continued. “When I see such talent and the enthusiasm that success itself creates, it is better than anything we could acquire or implement strategically. The team within the Herida Healthcare Group of companies are some of the most professional individuals that I have had the pleasure of working with during my career. “We have recruited a new Financial Controller and Marketing Manager in the last few months, which is key to supporting our rapid growth and existing, gifted management team.” Investing in British manufacturing One particular source of pride for the company is its British manufacturing facilities, with Herida Healthcare heavily investing funds received from various support programmes and grants into its manufacturing capabilities. Manufacturing a range of specialised mattress and cushions, Herida’s products are designed to help manage the pressure, shear and friction forces which can cause pressure ulcers for patients who remain immobile or bed-bound for any length of time. In just over 24 months, the company has launched 26 standard products, along with an array of specialist or made to measure products that customers are likely to require at some stage, according to the company, whilst all high or very high-risk products have been clinically evaluated and have supporting papers written by expert Clinicians within the Tissue Viability field. John Kay, Operations Director of

Herida Healthcare, explained: “The board, supported financially by our Principal Investor and programmes linked to Leeds Council and European funding, such as Local Enterprise Partnership, AD-Venture, Digital Enterprise and the Manufacturing Growth Programme have all been instrumental in taking the business forward so quickly. “These parties have approved capital investment in 2017/2018 of around £300,000, primarily towards leading edge manufacturing

emphasised Neil. “With the uncertainty of Brexit, the visualisation of our manufacturing process provides comfort to everyone that Herida can deal with all circumstances that a breakaway from the EU creates. This allows ongoing confidence that we have controlled manufacturing and quality control, right here at home.” A lean operating machine Central to Herida Healthcare’s success has been its operational

“Our lead times on standard stocks are 98%+ three to five working days, which has been achieved by a multiskilled, well-trained workforce” JOHN KAY

machinery and IT infrastructure.” Funding has been used to finance specialised ‘bar tracking equipment’ used to attach handles onto the mattresses, a state of the art decontamination unit for cleaning mattress and cushion covers, and a complete IT install with the ability to barcode and scan items; a key requirement for suppliers to the NHS. Keen to highlight its operations and production capability, the company has also produced a new corporate video, encouraging its existing and prospective customers to learn more about the company. “Our recent video demonstrates with complete transparency our proud, British manufacturing facilities”

efficiency which John explains has been carefully designed and well implemented, resulting in the pressure care specialist’s rapid growth. “By adopting lean management processes that do not disrupt our impressive key performance indicators so as not to affect our customer service, we are enjoying impressive profitability,” noted John. “Our lead times on standard stocks are 98%+ three to five working days, which has been achieved by a multiskilled, well-trained workforce who have been very keen to learn and implement their services.” The organisation also pays particular attention to a commitment to quality management processes,

Neil Smith, Sue Dolman and John Kay | 57

more about... via its ISO 9001 (2015) and ISO 14001 (2015) accreditation, with John confirming that the goal in 2018 is to achieve the ISO 13485 medical directive standards. “Equally, raw material suppliers form the remaining part of our operational successes and we would like to go on the record and thank them for their ongoing support,” added John. Overseas opportunities For Herida Healthcare, the largest growth has been enjoyed exporting to countries across the globe, where the company invested time and effort to expand its reach in a short time. “Our loyal distribution partners are fully committed to the rapidly growing Herida brand and as such, themselves are also enjoying fantastic success in their respective markets,” said Neil. “Our Export market has been instrumental to our strategic focus and I’m delighted to tell you that this now represents around one third of

Proud of its British manufacturing facilities, Herida apportions its growth to its dedicated staff

our turnover. I’m really looking forward to 2018 and beyond. It’s such a privilege to lead an exceptional team.” Neil finished by confirming that Herida Healthcare will also be launching a new website and exciting

product range in Q2 of 2018, as the company looks to continue pushing ahead with its ambitious growth goals in year three.

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new to the team


Lindsey Townsend retires after 16 dedicated years

Changes at the top of CareFlex


indsey Townsend has retired as Managing Director of CareFlex after 16 years of successful service. Jon Riglar, the company’s Operations Director, has taken over the running of the business. “I joined CareFlex in 2002 as Operations Manager,” said Lindsey. “Back then, we were a much smaller team in a much smaller building. As our business grew, we recognised the need to move to a new custom-built facility and in 2009, we moved to Templer House, doubling our production and office space. “Although I have seen many changes over the last 16 years, many of the challenges facing the healthcare market remain the same. The need for specialist seating is growing year on year but funding is always going to be an issue. Lindsey added: “I wish Jon and everyone at CareFlex continued success for the future.” Jon Riglar joined CareFlex in October 2013 as Operations Manager and was promoted to the Board as Operations Director in April 2017. Prior to joining the company, he was as a senior manager in a paediatric seating company. Commenting on the appointment, Jon said: “I feel very privileged and excited to be appointed to the role of Managing Director of CareFlex. “I am passionate about the development of our products, services and our people, all of which will strengthen our capability and commitment to meeting the needs of clinicians, clients and our partners.”

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On the 1st March, bespoke specialist seating manufacturer Primacare welcomed Adam Clerehugh to their ranks. Having been in the healthcare industry for the last 12 years with the most recent three years spent with a specialist seating manufacturer - Adam will be supporting dealers, specialists and customers in the North of the UK. “I am excited to join a fastmoving company whose clear aim is to improve the quality and range of specialist seating. I have been amazed at the range of chairs Primacare make, which when combined with their flexible manufacturing capability help to find the perfect seating solution,” commented Adam. David Tomlin, Managing Director of Primacare, told THIIS: “We are delighted that Adam has joined us. He is passionate about seating and will be out there helping our customers specify the right chair.” Adam can be contacted on 07791 286675 or via email at

Adam Clerehugh

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Hot off the press Ableworld, the largest UK mobility retailer, is launching its own free of charge customer magazine titled ‘Independence’ to help engage and inform customers. The quarterly magazine will provide readers with a variety of articles, news and views that will be of interest to its customers. “Unlike many company newsletters and magazines, ‘Independence’ is about our customers and potential customers; not ourselves,” explained Michelle Mossford, Marketing Manager at Ableworld. “The majority of the content is aimed at providing interesting and useful reading for the thousands of people who already shop with us and all those who visit our website and stores for the first time.” The retailer said it will also be looking to support its suppliers too. “We are keen to work with our suppliers to give them and their products exposure in the magazine. In the first issue, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of our suppliers and running a competition in conjunction with another,” added Michelle. The first issue will be available in all 34 Ableworld stores across the UK from April, as well as online. The company has also confirmed it is keen to hear from organisations, charities and companies that have services and products that readers would find interesting and useful. To get in contact, email

MOBILITY SHOP RISES FROM THE ASHES After the closure of all Store is located at Unit 10, Woodland Centre, Willenhall, WV12 5ND Simplyhealth retail operations last November, a former Care & Mobility shop in Willenhall has been replaced with a new mobility retailer. Opened by David Foote, Willenhall & Wolverhampton Mobility & Stairlifts opened on the 14th February 2018 and recruited Ann Marston, the former manager of the Care & Mobility store. The original Care & Mobility store had been in business for 12 years before closing its doors following Simplyhealth’s announcement to end all its retail operations across the UK. Ann says she will be happy to help customers with information and guidance regarding any warranty issues that may arise with equipment purchased from the old company. The store is located at Unit 10, Woodland Centre, Wood Lane, Shortheath, Willenhall, WV12 5ND

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RETAILERS ENCOURAGED TO GET HANDS-ON TGA Mobility is encouraging all existing and potential TGA dealers to gain first-hand experience into the mobility scooters they sell by visiting the Mobility Test Track at this year’s Naidex. With assessment-led provision continuing to be a priority within the mobility industry, the company has highlighted the importance for trade dealers to have a clear understanding and knowledge of products and features. Daniel Stone, TGA Managing Director, said: “By visiting Naidex, dealers will be able to understand our products more fully, so selling and appropriate product recommendation is easier.” Located opposite TGA’s stand 9240, the Mobility Test Track will offer the opportunity to put TGA scooters through their paces around a varied course designed to replicate situations that scooter and powerchair users can face. With a selection of exclusive trade offers and added-value incentives available for dealers who complete the course, the TGA Trade Team will be available throughout the show to drive side-by-side with retailers on the track. Naidex will take place on the 25th and 26th April at the NEC in Birmingham.

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STILTZ MAKES TOP 10 IN EXPORT RANKINGS AGAIN Stiltz Lifts has been ranked as one of Britain’s fastest growing SME exporters for the second consecutive year in the fourth annual Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100. The report ranks small and medium-sized (SME) enterprises with the fastest-growing international sales over the past two. Listed as 10th in this year’s table, the domestic lift manufacturer was also the highest-ranked business in the Midlands region for the second year in a row. In 2016, Stiltz was ranked as seventh overall. Strong international sales helped the company increase exports by 161% per year to £6.2million in 2017, recording total sales of £12.5m for the year. Mike Lord, Chairman of Stiltz Lifts,

said: “We’ve worked very hard to reinvent the domestic lift market with our unique range of Stiltz home lifts and our total sales highlight the growing global need for our products which are helping improve people’s lives every day.” With approved distributors

across the globe, Stiltz Lifts has experienced rapid growth since it was founded in 2010 and launched two new products to the market in 2017; the Stiltz Duo+ and Stiltz Trio+ Home Lift. | 63


Making an impression on the airways Angus Long, Founder of homecare marketing consultancy Impression Marketing, is to co-host the ‘Doc Anand’ radio show on Spice FM and is inviting THIIS readers in the North East to feature as guests. Airing every Wednesday between 12pm - 1pm, Doc Anand is a retired GP who now presents a number of radio shows. “The Doc is also a keen advocate of homecare and health issues are

regularly discussed on his shows,” Angus told THIIS. “The great thing about working with the Doc is the unpredictability of the direction the show can go. While we have a reasonable idea what we want to do, there is no real structure and as such, we tend to just take things as they go and debate topical subjects with a wide remit.” Angus also explained that the show will provide an opportunity for

individuals from industry to make guest appearances and reach the show’s audience. “We will be inviting, too, selected guests from the business community to give them the opportunity to talk about who they are and naturally get the chance to promote any products, offers or services they have,” added Angus.

A SPRING SEATING OFFER FOR RETAILERS Continuing its retailer support programme running throughout the year, Repose Furniture is offering free memory foam seating on rise and recliners from its homecare range, including general, domestic or upgraded healthcare fabric. The offer represents a saving of £40 per order and is not applicable to the Healthcare range. “Our retailers play a vital role within our business model and I hope our monthly promotions, alongside our other retailer support material and the ongoing projects we are working on with our resident Occupational Therapist Kate Sheehan, are combining to help them win new business”, commented Managing Director Lisa Wardley. Retailers can take advantage of the offer, available up until April 30th, by quoting APRIL2018 on orders. 64 |

SOUTH WEST RETAILER REACHES IMPRESSIVE MILESTONE HMS Mobility Solutions is celebrating a successful decade in business after a stroke and a diagnosis of Antiphospholipid Syndrome (Hughes Syndrome) inspired Garry Hellings to establish the company in 2008. A former Ottobock Mobility Business Manager, Garry was on a business flight to Northern Ireland when he suffered a stroke at just 45 years old, leading to his diagnosis of Hughes Syndrome. It was at this point he decided to utilise his product knowledge and experience and start HMS Mobility Solutions. A family-run operation, both Garry’s eldest daughter Kirstie and

his wife Sarah help run the mobility company, which offers a wide range of mobility products. A statement released by the company said: “We look forward to being of service to our customers, old and new, as we move into our eleventh year of business. We thank all our customers for helping to make our business the success that it is!” HMS Mobility Solutions has been operating in the South West over the last decade and was the first mobility business in the region to become members of the Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Buy with Confidence Scheme in 2013.

TVM Cheltenham comes of age TVM Cheltenham has celebrated 18 years in business as MD Kevin O’Leary plans for future growth via public and private sector projects. The Bristol-based independent mobility solutions provider launched from humble beginnings in 2000 when Kevin started out as a one-man band. Kevin said: “Growing a business is like a rollercoaster. We’ve experienced our share of highs and lows. However, with a consistent focus on positive client engagement, we’ve won through our challenges. The success we’ve achieved is linked to our personal service which has led to greater customer satisfaction, which in turn has built customer loyalty.” Committed to supporting growth in the local economy, the company now employs five local people, enabling its engineers to meet a prompt response time to any equipment, maintenance or repair situation. “We have new plans for growth in the pipeline throughout 2018 and beyond. These include team

development and growth via projects in the public and private sector. We are proud of our team and their dedication to the company. Together,

we will continue to improve the lives of our clients, with our unique, personal touch.”

Finance Director Catherine O’Leary and Managing Director Kevin O’Leary | 65

marketing advice


Accord Marketing’s John Corellis


With customers increasingly turning to the internet before all else for their information, research and shopping, a website should be a company’s hardest-working, most powerful sales and marketing tool. John Correlis, Senior Account Manager at Accord Marketing, provides some expert tips on how mobility businesses can start making the most out of their online presence

nce complicated and expensive, technology is now simple to use and very affordable - highlighting the need for brands to have a clear understanding of how their content is being consumed across multiple devices. It’s all about targeted messaging, trackable performance and connected response - and it all starts with your website. In a recent white paper published by Accord (which surveyed mobility users aged 55 and over), a third of respondents reported using the internet as their first port of call when

66 |

researching mobility products. This was by far the most popular source of inspiration, confirming that this diverse group is both digitally adept and has the time (and patience!) to explore merchandise, offers and service guarantees online. Hence, in today’s digital landscape, it is imperative that mobility websites are visually-appealing, easy to navigate and functional. Maximising conversions The simplest way to increase any site’s conversion rate is by improving site navigation and making the

“purchase journey” as seamless as possible. Remember that many potential customers have probably found your website via a search engine or a referral page, meaning that they have already made several clicks to get to this point. By the time they reach your site, therefore, navigation must be quick and effortless. If you make your visitors sift through multiple, unnecessary pages, they will get frustrated and simply exit your site. It is important to bear in mind that this is an audience with an


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marketing advice insatiable appetite for information but they want benefits over features, information over entertainment and no frills over complexity. Informed improvements Luckily, there are many tools at your disposal to investigate how users are engaging with your site. Web usability studies, for example, use cursor-tracking technology to create heatmaps of web pages, allowing you to pinpoint which features are being interacted with and - more importantly - which aren’t. By analysing user frustrations, you can reposition important information, adjust text sizing and review your colour palette in order to make the overall purchase process run smoother. Continuous development The ever-evolving online landscape means that if you’re not keeping

up-to-date with your audience, you’re going to lose them to the competition. The most important to thing to remember is that website improvement is an ongoing process. One website redesign will not guarantee increased conversions if you do not regularly test and adapt your site, based on emerging engagement data. Therefore, it’s imperative that you take a flexible and evolutionary approach to website design. If you're looking to improve your online performance, Accord will put in the time to understand your

business, research ideas and then deliver a custom approach that gives you fantastic results in the shortest possible time. There’s no guesswork - a structured approach will ensure work remains focused and concentrates on ongoing improvements to your ROI. Accord is an integrated marketing agency specialising in the mature market. To find out more, contact John on 020 7395 9632 or john.

No second chance at a first impression First impressions mean everything in business and website design is the key to exploiting this. It’s your first chance to reach out and grab your audience, to push the meaning and purpose of your brand and to create a tone & personality.

1/3 reported turning to the internet as a first port of call

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The answer is YES!

Now, what was the question?

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Training Matters...

Half Day Closing – our website is Open All Hours • • • •

Consultative Selling Customer Styles Awareness Coaching Process Skills Half-Day Closing

Training Diary If you are providing training for the trade, then simply send us the details of the course, the date, any costs, the venue and the contact for booking places and we’ll include it in the Diary. Email with any details you have. April 2018

May 2018

Electric Mobility – Servicing / Maintenance & Fault finding for Rascal Mobility Products – April 11th 2018 - Ilminster. FOC including Lunch.

Sunrise Medical - JCM Postural Management Workshop: Specialist Seating – May 1st 2018 - Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill

Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Tuesday 10th – Wednesday 11th April 2018 - Liss, Hampshire

Sunrise Medical - JCM Technical Training – May 2nd 2018 - Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Jiraffe - Jiraffe, Training for Life – Seating and Toileting Course – 16th May Sheffield - FOC

June 2018 Careflex- What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - June 13th Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge

Jiraffe - Jiraffe, Training for Life: Technical Users Course – 18th April 2018 – Sheffield - £100 (+VAT) per person

Simple Stuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 13th June 2018 – Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge

Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Wednesday 28th – Thursday 29th March 2018 – Tyne and Wear, County Durham

Pride Mobility - Service Training – June 20th & 21st – Bicester

July 2018

Pride Mobility - Service Training – April 25th & 26th – Bicester

Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - July 11th -Stradley Park Hotel, Llanelli

Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - April 26th Weetwood Hall Hotel, Leeds

Simple Stuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 11th July 2018 – Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli – Free of charge

Simple Stuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 26th April 2018 – Weetwood Hall Hotel, Leeds – FOC

Contacts for bookings or email marketing@electricmobility.

Balshaw – 01925 240064 – j.balshaw@

JCM – Contact Martyn Davis on

Jiraffe – call +44 (0)114 285 3376 or email

Pride Mobility – sales@pride-mobility. or contact: 01869 324600

Careflex – Call Julieanne Fewings on 01626 831 843 or email julieanne.

Electric Mobility – Call 01460 258158

Disability Trading Company - John

Simple Stuff Works - Contact Simone McCarthy at Trainingadmin@ or call 01827 307870

Benmor Medical – Contact Katie Rowsell – 0333 800 9000 – katie. Invacare – Call Joan James on 01656 776283 or email

70 |


UK Sales Representative – South MK Battery is one of the world’s largest specialty VRLA battery suppliers focused on delivering high-quality products along with unmatched customer support. MK Battery, with distribution centers throughout the world, is a subsidiary of a multibillion dollar battery manufacturer. We have an opening in our sales department for an experienced B2B professional that is motivated to succeed, creative and can work with limited supervision. The position will require travel throughout the southern area of the UK and you should be located in that area. SPECIFIC DUTIES INCLUDE BUT NOT LIMITED TO: Visiting customers and prospects to support and grow sales in the territory Fielding daily phone calls from existing customer base Quoting new business opportunities Attending assigned trade shows in territory Daily communication with customer service group in Kettering, UK office Working closely with product category managers within company to grow business THE IDEAL CANDIDATE MUST POSSESS THE FOLLOWING SKILLS: Minimum 5 years direct B2B sales experience Previous battery sales experience is preferred but not essential

Check the ‘Jobs On Offer’ section of the website for more opportunities Take a look at the recently added positions Regional Product Specialist Contracts/Bid Writer Manager Operations Manager Area Sales Manager Product Specialists

Strong written and verbal people skills Verifiable employment history We offer competitive salary and bonus with complete company benefits including medical, and company car. Please email CV and covering letter to

British Healthcare Trades Association

Better health, better care, better value The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) is the oldest and largest trade association in the UK representing the healthcare and assistive technology industry. With member sections covering mobility, stoma and continence, seating and positioning, beds and patient support surfaces, prosthetics and orthotics, augmentative communication devices, children’s equipment, hearing care, first aid medical supplies and independent living products, you can be reassured as a healthcare professional you are dealing with the right people in your healthcare field.

All BHTA members sign up to our Code of Practice, overseen by the Trading Standards Institute. If you are a BHTA member or a healthcare professional the code ensures high levels of customer care and making sure we put our costumers first to provide products that meets their needs. British Healthcare Trades Association Suite 4.6 · 4th Floor · The Loom · 14 Gowers Walk London · E1 8PY T 020 7702 2141 · E

Sunrise Medical is a world leader in the development, design and manufacture of high quality mobility solutions that improve people’s lives. We currently have a number of exciting opportunities including... CLINICAL TRAINER Midlands with UK coverage Role – to develop and deliver the Sunrise Medical clinical education programme across the UK You will deliver training to our internal sales / product managers as well as customers within the NHS / Social Services sector. Candidates will be suitably qualified Occupational Therapists or Physiotherapists who have a passion for improving people’s lives. Ideally you will be based within commuting distance to the Head Office in Dudley but there will be extensive UK travel and regular nights away from home.

AREA SALES MANAGER South East UK Retail Role – to be fully responsible for the profitable development of the South East region which covers Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey plus some parts of Middlesex This consultative sales role involves generating business through a dealer network that needs to be developed, encouraged and enlarged - the role will involve the demonstration and sales of a range of manual and powered

wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Candidates will have a proven track record within business-to-business sales of a technical product; clearly some experience of sales through a dealer network would be a distinct advantage but is in no way a prerequisite. We would also welcome applications from more junior graduate level (business / marketing / science) candidates with limited sales experience looking for their second step on the career ladder.

NHS SALES MANAGER UK coverage Role – to be fully responsible for the UK turnover and lead the NHS Sales Team in the UK and Ireland As the NHS National Sales Manager, you will work closely with the Commercial Operations Director developing and implementing the UK Sales strategy whilst managing, coaching and developing the team to be successful within their individual territories. Candidates will have a proven track record of managing a remote sales team and have businessto-business sales knowledge of a technical product. Experience of the NHS would be a distinct advantage but is in no way a prerequisite. Ideally you will be based within commuting distance to the Head Office in Dudley but there will be extensive UK travel and regular nights away from home.

All roles offer competitive salary and benefits packages plus training and career progression. To apply or for more information please contact our retained consultant Gary Simpson, Managing Director, Simpson Recruitment. 01283 713832 / 07968 732744

trusted recruiter

Business Development Manager Yorkshire and the North East £25k-£30k plus commission The client

The candidate

Our client is a manufacturer and seller of Pressure care products into care homes and the NHS. Due to growth, they are currently seeking a Business Development Manager to cover Yorskhire - down as far as Nottinghamshire and up to Newcastle.

The ideal candidate will have experience of having sold into care home groups.

The job In brief, you will be responsible for growing the business for the territory by qualifying leads and researching to generate new leads. Carrying out product demonstrations and arranging client visits. This will also involve attending conferences and meetings.

Package Salary of £25- 30k plus commission 10%-20% of salary. Company car, phone, laptop, 20days holiday - up to 25 days after each year of service. ​To apply Confidentially send a copy of your CV to including job reference 467 to discuss further.


WE CAN HELP Trusted Recruiter are the only recruiters to specialise in Assistive Technology and Healthcare. We have unrivalled access to industry experienced candidates for roles including but not limited to Sales, Service, Operations, Manufacturing and Design.

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For further details please call: 0845 630 3436 Karma Mobility Ltd Unit 6 Target Park, Redditch, Worcestershire B98 8YN T: 0845 630 3436 E:

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Profile for THIIS

Thiis April 2018  

Spring is here and so is the new issue of THIIS, featuring the latest news, jobs and products. In THIIS month's issue, Scotgate Mobility dis...

Thiis April 2018  

Spring is here and so is the new issue of THIIS, featuring the latest news, jobs and products. In THIIS month's issue, Scotgate Mobility dis...

Profile for thiis