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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 238 • July 2018



Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Issue 239 August 2018

Sharing half a century of experience Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Kent Mobility’s passionate MD reveals how the industry has evolved over the decades and his thoughts on modern mobility retail MORE ABOUT…



Kirton Healthcare

Kent Mobility


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…from the editor As the mobility and independent living sector continues to see fiercer competition, retailers and manufacturers alike are working hard to strike the right balance between remaining competitive whilst at the same time, providing excellent customer service.

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he balance is a difficult one to strike, with manufacturers under pressure from increasing competition and bricks & mortar retailers trying to offer high levels of customer care and service in an increasingly price sensitive market. It is not a new phenomenon but one that is compounded by the rise of the internet in an industry where meeting specific consumer needs and providing expert assessments & comprehensive after care are more and more pivotal. How do manufacturers maintain sales to invest in more innovation and remain competitive without exerting undue pressure on their retailers? How do retailers continue to offer the best products for a user’s needs in a pricedriven environment? These are some of the concerns raised and highlighted in this month’s Retailer Spotlight by Kent Mobility’s John Payne, discussing how he has seen the market shift over almost half a century and what challenges his shop and the retail market face. The market challenges are also ones not lost on the BHTA’s new DirectorGeneral, who in her first exclusive interview in the industry, talked openly about the problems confronting retail members in particular and the BHTA’s role in helping alleviate them. In our special ‘More About…’ feature, THIIS also discovered how one manufacturer is achieving growing market share and trying to drive innovation and better service through strategic acquisitions and careful integration.

Calvin Barnett 01933 278086

Advertising Sales Manager Gareth Liddiatt 01933 278086

Calvin Barnett Editor

Sub-editor Sarah Sarsby


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.

You can find THIIS on Twitter at: wwwthiiscouk | 3


36 Shining the spotlight on one of Kent’s most established retailers

Features 6 Latest distribution deals 26 It’s a new dawn, it’s a new Trade Days 34 Bucking the retail trend of downsizing

Regulars 16

Round Up


New to the team


Retailer spotlight


More about…


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Training Diary

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44 DHG’s Consolidation driving differentiation

20 Celebrating dealers

54 The OT’s Perspective

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new seating line developed by James Leckey Design’s USA partner Ki Mobility is to be distributed exclusively by Gerald Simonds Healthcare who will be solely responsible for the sale and distribution of Axiom cushions in the UK and Ireland. The range also being directly available Leckey as an option for its configured Ki Mobility wheelchairs. Doug Robinson, Managing Director of Gerald Simonds Healthcare, commented: “The Axiom cushion range sits perfectly within our product

portfolio and we are delighted to have signed this agreement.” Focusing on using pre-contoured shapes, quality materials and an advanced cover design to achieve directed loading and reduce surface tension, the Axiom range of cushions incorporates materials in the foam and fluid components which are lightweight and non-temperature sensitive according to Ki Mobility.

BRINGING MOTIVATION TO THE US MARKET Providing wheelchairs to those in developing countries that meet their individual needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Bristol-based charity Motivation has signed a distribution deal to bring its Multisport wheelchairs to the US. The deal will see US healthcare equipment provider Numotion be the exclusive dealer of the entrylevel, court-based wheelchair designed to be durable enough to be used across a wide range of sports including basketball, tennis and rugby. Numotion will supply two models, the Multisport and Multisport Junior, online via its e-commerce store, providing discounts for orders of 10 or more. Motivation operates social enterprise Motivation Direct Ltd, which sells the charity’s mobility products and reinvests profits back into the charity. In 2016, trading from the social enterprise accounted for 50 percent of the charity’s £4.8 million turnover, achieving an impressive £271,000 net profit.

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CARBON BLACK SEARCHES FOR INVESTORS AND RETAILERS Traditionally, when a business or individual would look for capital investment, it would involve asking a small number of people for a large sum of money, such as a private equity firm or bank. Wheelchair manufacturer Carbon Black System however has taken a different approach and turned to the power of crowdfunding.


iming to reach a target of £340,000 for 13.13 percent equity, Carbon Black System aims to use the funds to bring its new aims to bring its new carbon fibre wheelchair model to the UK, the US and Germany by Autumn 2018. The company first appeared on the market in 2012 with its almost fully carbon fibre wheelchair, leading many in the industry to praise the chairs visual design and quality. Due to the high-spec nature of the chair, however, the price point was ‘out of reach for the majority of wheelchair users’ financially says the company. Over the following years, the company investigated how to reduce the price of the chair and in May 2018, launched the Carbon Black II at a starting price of £3,995. “We changed the moulding process involved in the production, resulting in fewer components and greatly reducing the number of hours needed to assemble the product,” explained Paul Strudwick, Marketing and Sales Director of Carbon Black Systems. Additionally, the company moved elements of the production process to China, citing the region as a more cost-effective location to produce carbon fibre. “The decision to look to China was not just about money, it really comes

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down to quality as well,” said Paul. “The new manufacturing process (EPS) creates a solution with greater product integrity, as well as reduced engineering vulnerability.” On the hunt for “premium” retailers As well as looking for investment, Carbon Black System is also keen to hear from premium mobility companies in the UK. Discussing the kind of retailer Carbon Black System are keen to work with, Paul said: “We are looking to partner with retailers that work with a premium product portfolio and have

an established history in the sector.” In particular, Paul confirmed that the company is looking for dealers in the Midlands, London, the South East and the South West. Highlighting the potential of the new product, Paul said: “Carbon Black really is a premium brand and can offer dealers good volume and earnings potential. “In return, we will give retailers that work with us our full support in terms of product training, manufacturer warranty, brand marketing, support at shows & exhibitions, as well as a bespoke demonstration pack at cost.”

EXCLUSIVE RETAIL AGREEMENT FOR PYXIS In June, the company secured a retail partnership with Edinburgh-based retailer Pyxis to sell the model throughout Scotland and Northern England, as well as committing to sales targets to ensure exclusive reseller rights in the territory. Discussing the retail agreement, Mark Tuckwood, Managing Director of Pyxis, told THIIS: “At Pyxis, we focus on the top end of the market and Carbon Black’s new model very much complements the select range of premium products that we focus on.” Pyxis has confirmed the Carbon Black II will be available at its Edinburgh shop and also online.

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MEET‌ MANDIE LAVIN DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE BHTA In early June, the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) appointed Mandie Lavin to lead the organisation as it looks to tackle the challenges facing the world of healthcare and speak with a bigger voice in the industry. In her first interview since joining the Association, Mandie candidly shared her vision for the BHTA, the importance of the retail market and the challenges facing the industry as a whole. Having been with the BHTA for just over a month, how are you settling into the new role? It is a marvellous role and a great opportunity to be involved in an area that makes such an impact on people’s lives. Having joined, I was struck by the diversity of the membership, consisting of everything from independent mobility retailers to large, multinational manufacturers. Trying to learn and understand all of these different companies, the products and services they sell and the markets they operate in is an exciting challenge and one that I am thoroughly enjoying! It also became apparent to me quickly that so many of our members and professionals in the industry are utterly committed to the customers they serve. Having such an engaged and passionate membership is exactly what is needed to help drive the Association forward. What is it that drew you to the healthcare industry? Whilst the trade side of the industry is new to me, I have worked within the healthcare sector

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for a significant proportion of my career and I have been heavily involved in regulatory and professional associations including nursing, pharmacy and law from the 90s. Early on in my career, I trained as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital before providing frontline care across various surgical specialisms. I moved into NHS management soon afterwards, leading a team of nurse practitioners at the Brook General Hospital seeing around 75,000 new patients a year, through its Accident and Emergency Department. I went on to study law, trained as a barrister and later re-joined the NHS as one of the first risk and litigation managers in the country for Peterborough Hospitals NHS Trust. This eventually led to a regional risk and litigation position, examining trends across 19 Trusts and purchasing authorities and collating the information to see what we could learn to help bring about change, enhancing patient safety and clinical standards on the frontline of the NHS. As an Association, safety and standards are central to our Code of Practice. We have the opportunity to investigate if there are any lessons there that we can learn from customer complaints that can be fed back to our membership as practical steps to prevent issues from arising in the first place, helping to avoid costly arbitration.

What attracted you to the BHTA? With a struggling health and social care system, delayed hospital discharges, an ageing population and greater awareness around the growing needs of the population, the BHTA and its members play a pivotal role in delivering the vital equipment needed to help the most vulnerable people and improve quality of lives. When I looked into the work our

their activities have on society as a whole to really raise the profile of the industry. Would you say there is more scope for companies in the industry to make the public more aware of what they are doing? Certainly, these products and services can lead to life-changing improvements for people and

“Now is the time to really get the message to the public about the great work being undertaken by our members and the positive impact their activities have on society” MANDIE LAVIN

members do to break down barriers and boundaries to help people live independently, I knew this is something I want to be part of and hope I have something to contribute. When you first joined the Association, you stated it was time for the BHTA to help tackle industry challenges; are these the challenges you were referring to? To a degree. The wider issues I identified are the need for the quick and efficient provision of necessary equipment that is crucial to help people retain their independence and lessen the strain on the NHS and local authorities. I think, however, there is a real need to raise public awareness and shift the perception of the industry which presents a whole range of different challenges. In my short time with the Association, I have discovered the great lengths members go to design, develop or provide people with products that make such profound differences to their lives and I think this presents a strong public interest element to the work our members do. Now is the time to really get the message to the public about the great work being undertaken by our members and the positive impact

members are often leading the way in terms of engineering expertise and technological innovation, so they deserve more recognition. The BHTA Annual Awards provide a showcase for some of these, as well as a great networking opportunity. There are practical case studies of members solving some very complex problems that have a powerful impact when presented to politicians as well as the public. One of my first observations after

these issues, but I think it is important to clarify what the BHTA is not. We are not a body that sets or enforces regulations and we are not a quality assurance agency that checks individual products to ensure they meet specifications; however, we do work closely with organisations that do this, such as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It is our job to ensure our members have the tools and support they need to do the best job possible. This means that at the heart of the BHTA is its Code of Practice and our members’ commitment to it. In addition, the Association is a means of safeguarding often vulnerable, elderly and frail client groups and providing consumers with a badge of trust so they know that the company they are working with operates in an ethical way. We offer support in a number of areas, such as compliance or with our “Get Wise” leaflets, work with partner organisations to negotiate member discounts, and help facilitate business through networking events and opportunities. In addition, the BHTA represents the views of trade around Government and other influential stakeholders, including multinational charities and patient groups.

“The reality is our retailers are facing unique challenges and I’ll be the first to say that as an Association, we have more work to do in this area” MANDIE LAVIN

joining the Association was the amount of marvellous and important work being carried out by members, as well as by the BHTA. Now there is a need to get ourselves out there and known about. What is the BHTA’s role in helping address these issues? There are a number of activities that the BHTA is involved in to help tackle

What are the challenges facing the BHTA? A key challenge for the Association is similar to that facing the industry and that is raising awareness and reinforcing the significance of the Code of Practice and the BHTA amongst the wider public. One of the trickiest yet vital aspects of any trade association is balancing the wants and needs of all of its | 11

EXCLUSIVE are also planning a number of new initiatives in the short and long-term to convey to healthcare professionals and the public the importance of working with BHTA-member companies.

equipment is not provided. It is early days but this is something we are going to be looking at as a priority and one of my first goals is to go out, meet retailers and speak with them directly to gain a clearer picture of exactly what it is that they would like to see from the BHTA.

Why is raising public awareness such a challenge for the industry as a whole? It is an area that the entire Association is working hard to tackle but raising awareness of and changing perceptions surrounding mobility and independent living is no small feat due to the very nature of the products. The products often represent a difficult yet inevitable point in everyone’s lives where they need more assistance to remain independent. This is often something people do not want to think about until they have no other option, which makes raising awareness of the members, their products and the Association a complex task. Various sections of the BHTA are working on national and local initiatives and campaigns and whilst it is something that we know will require constant and consistent effort, it is something we know can achieve.

Why should mobility retailers consider becoming a member of the BHTA? With the mounting pressures that retailers are facing in the industry, it is important that people are able to come together to express their worries and concerns with their peers to help share best practice and help bring about change.

You stated the “BHTA needs to speak up loudly” when you first joined the Association; what does it need to speak loudly about? We win respect and we change the thinking of government and others by arguing our case effectively. Firstly, we say that our businesses greatly improve the lives of their

Mandie with R ​ ichard Cook, Regional Manager of NRS Healthcare and Sue Isherwood​at the BHTA Golf event​

members to ensure fair representation across the board. This becomes even more complex due to the diverse nature of the membership of the BHTA. With almost 500 members across a variety of different sectors, ensuring each section of the BHTA is represented equally but having their differing needs met, is an area we are focusing on getting right. In regards to BHTA mobility retailers, many have expressed feeling under considerable pressure in the current retail landscape. What is the BHTA doing to help support retailers? The reality is our retailers are facing unique challenges and I’ll be the first to say that as an Association, we have more work to do in this area. The way consumers are searching for and purchasing products is evolving, the high streets are facing considerable pressure against online and customer expectations are very much changing. I think we have a very important role in emphasising why it is crucial to ensure face-to-face interactions are taking place and correct assessments are completed because we know the disastrous effects and complications that can arise when the right

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“We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to some very difficult challenges facing society” MANDIE LAVIN

A combined voice is louder than a lone one. As well as improved signposting and practical support to help companies with the day-to-day running of their businesses, we

customers who can buy with confidence from BHTA members because they are governed by an ethical Code of Practice. Secondly, we explain that buying appropriate equipment generally



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EXCLUSIVE prevents more costly treatment in future – for example by reducing hospital admissions. And finally, we show that supporting British businesses creates the wealth, jobs and tax base that everyone knows we need. What will be some of the key areas the Association will be focusing on in the short term? After seeing the engagement, passion and commitment to the Association and the industry as a whole from the members, I think we are uniquely positioned to rise to all of these

Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain; developing a toolkit for smaller pharmacies offering useful advice, guidance and support around compliance, best business practice, marketing and more. I think something similar would be a real benefit to our BHTA membership. Lastly, there is tremendous scope for further collaboration with key organisations to help amplify our reach. As an Association, we are involved in numerous projects with parties such as the Civil Aviation Authority, Disabled Living Foundation and the MHRA. Continuing to

“One of my first goals is to go out, meet retailers and speak with them directly to gain a clearer picture of exactly what it is that they would like to see from the BHTA”

excellent, however, it is clear that for us to continue championing the industry, the members and the products and services, the Association needs to looking towards and pre-empting the future. We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to some very difficult challenges facing society and it is important that we are embracing new technologies, forging a new relationship with the public and expanding the breadth of our activities. Additionally, we are investing to ensure the BHTA has the necessary digital infrastructure to really ensure we are responding to the needs of our members and consumers in a digitally-led world. I want the BHTA staying ahead of the curve so we are able to help our members respond to new challenges quickly and effectively.


challenges. There are certainly some early priorities and perhaps the most crucial is opening up different lines of communication with our membership to ensure that we are listening and responding to their needs. We have identified that there is a big job to do around marketing and communications because the stronger the BHTA’s brand, the more beneficial it is to our membership. At the moment, we are reviewing all the different channels available to us and how these can be best used to raise public awareness of the Association and its members. This means doing more to get our “Get Wise” buying guides into as many hands as possible and expanding this thought leadership work into other areas. In particular, I am very keen to help provide practical support and resources to our membership to help with common, sometimes complex, areas such as GDPR. From my time in the world of pharmacy, I was part of a project where the National Pharmacy Association worked with the Royal

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work closely with these types of organisations is an essential aspect of our strategy. As well as collaborating with research groups, regulatory and professional bodies and charities in our industry, there is also an opportunity to work in partnership with other trade associations where common issues exist across other industries. There are common themes around trade with other associations facing challenges which may align with ours, so working out when those campaigns should be united will also be a central priority as the Association moves forward. We have a range of practitioners who are crucial to the work of our members, occupational therapists, orthotists and prosthetists as well as nurses, clinicians and other health and social care professionals, getting those relationships right will help advance our work and that of our members. What is your vision for the BHTA? The work the BHTA has done for the last 101 years have been truly

Mandie Lavin wants to hear from you! I want to hear from everyone, members and non-members alike to understand their thoughts about the BHTA, the industry and what their challenges and needs are. Sharing these problems and concerns is the first step towards collaboratively tackling them and making the industry a better place for businesses and consumers and changing lives for the better. I am here, I want this Association to be the best it can possibly be for its members and I am ready to hear what it is that companies would like to see more of and less of, so please send your thoughts directly to me at It is a privilege to be your new Director-General and if you would like to help me deliver for the membership, industry and the public, please do get in touch.


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Strong dollar helps Acorn’s turnover grow


aving enjoyed considerable export success, Yorkshire-based Acorn Stairlifts’ annual turnover has topped the £200 million mark for the first time. With two manufacturing facilities in the UK based in West Yorkshire and Scotland producing more than 70,000 stairlifts per year, the majority of Acorn’s sales come from overseas, with non-UK sales accounting for over 70 percent of its revenue. The company’s financial statement for the year ended September 30th, 2017, revealed Acorn made £211.8 million in the 12-month period – up by 19.5 percent on the £177.2 million it made the previous year. The results gave the expanding stairlift company a record profit after tax of more than £17.1 million, up from £16.6 million in 2016. A particularly strong market for the company was the

USA, where it remains the stairlift market leader. According to the company’s finance director Joanne Richardson, the strength of the US Dollar played a role in the company’s higher turnover. With its head offices and factory at Steeton, near Keighley, Acorn also installs and services its own stairlifts which are sold primarily to the public through a network of directly-employed engineers.

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The BHTA Award winners from 2017

HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS TO NOMINATE THE UK’S BEST MOBILITY RETAILER Healthcare professionals from across the UK are being called on to nominate the best local retailer of mobility, healthcare and independent living equipment by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA).


he retailer may have well trained staff, an excellent showroom, wide range of products or great service facility. We are looking for retailers that help healthcare professionals do their vital work in the local community,” explained Steve Perry, Marketing and Communications Manager at the BHTA.

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“They can also nominate an individual staff member who the professional may turn to for their knowledge, experience and approach to products and services.” Healthcare professionals that submit a nomination could win the chance to attend the event with a partner or colleague if their nominee is successful, including a champagne

drinks reception and luxury threecourse meal. Hosted by Simon Weston CBE, this year’s BHTA Awards Dinner will be held at the Alton Towers Hotel on Thursday 29th November.

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A delighted Stuart Dunne being crowned first ‘Dealer of the Month’

NEW INITIATIVE AWARDS OUTSTANDING RETAILERS In July, Fish Insurance kick-started its new ‘Dealer of the Month’ award, celebrating retailers that are excelling in the industry and going beyond the call of duty to promote insurance to customers.


he Dealer of the Month accolade is the latest initiative introduced by Fish Insurance, having launched its new Appointed Representative (AR) Scheme to the industry in 2017. The AR Scheme provides a suite of benefits to retailers working with the insurer, including mobility scooter theft protection, high-value scooter insurance, finance opportunities and more, which retailers can then pass on to their customers. With appointed representatives currently able to earn commission from insurance sales they refer or make in store, the Dealer of the Month award is an opportunity for Fish to show their gratitude to dealers that have gone above and beyond according to the insurer. The award will be presented to retailers that have scaled up their insurance sales, effectively promoted

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Fish’s products to customers or impressed Fish with their determination to give customers the best possible offering. “The choice of mobility scooters available in 2018 is staggering. However, the huge range of choices can prove quite daunting and

we work with do to provide a great service to their customers. Dealer of the Month is about celebrating customers having access to the right information and assessment of their needs at these specialist stores.” Cyclone Mobility were the first retailer to be presented with the

“Dealer of the Month is about celebrating customers having access to the right information and assessment of their needs at these specialist stores.” JOHN GARRARD

confusing for new scooter users,” commented John Garrard, Managing Director of Fish Insurance. “We wanted to acknowledge the amazing work the mobility dealers

award, with Fish citing the company’s high level of service to their customers and willingness to recommend the insurer at every relevant opportunity as key factors in the decision.

The Lifestyle & Mobility team scoop up August’s prize

Despite being a fairly new Fish representative, August’s prize went to Essex and Hertfordshirebased Lifestyle & Mobility, with Fish emphasising the company’s “huge number of insurance sales” and commitment to providing a fullyrounded service to customers. “Making a change of insurance provider is a massive decision,” said Darren Macey, Business Development Manager for Lifestyle & Mobility. “We decided to move to Fish and have been so impressed with the support we get from our contact, Mike Holborn, and the rest of the team at Fish. We look forward to a business relationship that runs swimmingly going forward.” With a steady rise in the amount of accidents occurring involving mobility scooters, many have called for more regulation in the area, including the call for mandatory insurance for class 3 mobility vehicles. Discussing the importance of insurance in the industry, John said: “We recognise that safety for both scooter owners and pedestrians is a growing concern. As the number of

mobility scooters increase across the UK, unfortunately, so too does the number of accidents. “We want to thank the mobility retailers we work with for promoting just how important mobility scooter insurance is for protecting not only scooters, but the independence of their users.” Following its Safety Assessment Day, John highlighted the need for more to be done to tackle the issue of scooter safety, suggesting the introduction of a mandatory, standard assessment for those using the vehicles. Each Dealer of the Month winner will be announced in THIIS magazine and also promoted on Fish Insurance’s social media channels, as well as winning a bottle of champagne. More details about this month’s winner can be found on page 25.

JULY WINNER Cyclone Mobility

AUGUST WINNER Lifestyle & Mobility | 21



From left: Marketing Manager Dani Sharp, Business & Clinical Manager Donna McQuire, CEO Neil Smith, NAEP Chair Jean Hutfield & National Sales Manager Sue Dolman

Turning a complex need into an awardwinning product


erida Healthcare picked up the Innovative Product of the Year Award at this year’s NAEP Conference for its new ‘Yorkshire’ hybrid mattress. The mattress was developed after the company was approached by both Moving & Handing and Tissue Viability Services to find a solution for a patient with severe pressure damage. Neil Smith, Herida’s CEO and head of its research and development team, told THIIS that at the time, the company was exploring combining Permobil’s Roho technology with the very high-risk foam benefits from its Avon range of mattresses and felt this could be the solution the patient needed. “After discussing the case with the Lead Tissue Viability Nurse and Moving & Handling expert involved, alongside the teams at both Permobil & Herida, we all felt it was appropriate to drive the project forward and this would be an ideal case study to try and help the patient concerned and importantly her quality of life,” continued Neil. “Thankfully, with appropriate supervision, the results turned out to be a great success.” Following the clinical evaluation, Herida accelerated the final stages to mass production and launched the mattress at NAEP’s 2018 annual conference. Praising all parties involved, Neil says the project helps recognise Yorkshire industry and nursing excellence collaborating to achieve innovation in often technologically and clinically demanding environments.

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Harrogate-based Rise Furniture and Mobility has been named ‘National Retail Business of the Year’ at the ‘Best New Business Awards’ in just under its first year of trading. Started by husband and wife team Carl and Angel Drake, the retailer beat three retailers from different sectors to win the title. Highlighting the importance of being independently recognised by the judges, Carl stated that the shifting retail landscape means size is no longer the overarching factor to success. “With news of well established, high street brands closing stores on a weekly basis, it’s not the size of the company that matters anymore. Customers are looking for in-depth product knowledge and customer service that goes the extra mile from the retailer,” he remarked.

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Excelling in export


ampshire-based Talley Group has won the Export Business of the Year Award at the South Coast Business Awards 2018. The award was presented to the manufacturer of pressure relieving mattresses for its outstanding contribution to the Hampshire/

UK economy through the export of products and services. Exporting to close to 50 countries, Talley’s overall exports represent a third of the company’s sales, with Australia, Saudi Arabia and Finland being the company’s largest markets. Examining the degree of innovation

in the sales and marketing strategy employed by the entrants, the judges also reviewed the contribution of exporting to the business’ overall expansion.

ELEVATING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION In late June, lift specialist Higher Elevation lifted the trophy for outstanding customer service at the Maidstone Business Awards. The supplier, installer and maintainer of stairlifts, hoists, wheelchair access lifts and home lifts maintains a 9.9 out of 10 rating on and says it entered the awards to showcase the good work its team complete daily. Amy Hadlow, Business & Marketing

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Executive at Higher Elevation, told THIIS: “It was very important to us to be awarded the Customer Service award as it truly is at the heart of our company and all the staff here. “For all businesses within our industry, customer service should be recognised as one of the most important aspects of a company.” The company was also announced as runners-up for the Small Business award.

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trade days

Trade Days is returning in 2018 with a raft of new highlights

IT’S A NEW DAWN, IT’S A NEW TRADE DAYS This October, the mobility and independent living industry will come together for the UK’s largest gathering of trade-only professionals at the NEC for Trade Days. Carmella Coop-Rodia, Event Manager of Trade Days, highlights why it is the must-attend event in the calendar for retailers.


iscussing building on last year’s show, Carmela said: “2017 was a really, really good show; we listened to our exhibitors and partners and put together eight new live event areas that were really well received. “You could definitely feel a buzz and excitement in the air which is exactly what we wanted and we’re really building on last year’s success to make 2018 one to remember.” Stressing that 2018 would continue to build on the momentum, Carmela says the team has carried out more research into the wants and needs of visitors and reacted accordingly, with

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renewed and new partnerships. This year’s show will see Sunrise Medical run an exclusive dealer day for the first time at a Trade Days, with other manufacturers hosting their own auction days, selling samples, end of line or discontinued products to dealers keen to bag a bargain. Confirmed exhibitors for 2018’s

show includes Drive, Pride, TGA and Freerider returning to Birmingham, as well as more companies keen to meet mobility retailers and talk business. In addition to meeting exhibitors, visitors on the lookout for new products and innovations will navigate the Innovation and Launch Trail, helping attendees plan their

“We’re really building on last year’s success to make 2018 one to remember.” CARMELA COOP-RODIA

NEW Trade Days is coming! Exclusive launch in next THIIS issue

View the full exhibitor list online at: WWW.TRADEDAYS.CO.UK

15 EXCITING FEATURES: Live auctions

Industry Awards

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Hosted Buyer Programme

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As well as new features, the Product Demo Zone and Voucher Book will also be reappearing

time at the show and clearly identify companies with new products. According to the organisers, there will also be a timetable of brand new product unveilings taking place as well. Commenting on Trade Days, Mike Williams, Managing Director for Ableworld, said: “I go to see new products, new ranges, meet suppliers. I like the idea of a trade-only show and think it helps me find new ranges and new opportunities.” Highlighting that there will be a centralised seminar theatre providing two days of free training, from short courses in areas such as moving and handling through to GDPR compliance, Carmela pointed out that this year’s event will have everything needed to assist business leaders in

scooters from Pride at £3,000 each, a Quickie Q100 Powerchair from Sunrise Medical at £2,750, as well as the new Lithilite car boot scooter form Motion Healthcare costing £1,495. In addition to a fresh new approach to the show, Trade Days has also undergone a branding refresh to signify a new start for the show. “As part of our ongoing updates to Trade Days, we’ve refreshed the exhibition’s image to breathe new life into a show that’s served the mobility and independent living sector for five years now,” noted Carmela. Initially launched in 2014, Trade Days remains the industry’s sole exhibition dedicated to the mobility and independent living trade. Setting itself apart by offering manufacturers, retailers and

“I hope people can see that the show is really heading in an exciting direction.” CARMELA COOP-RODIA

running their business. “The competitions and product giveaways have also had an upgrade,” added Carmela. “Just by visiting, people will automatically be entered for a prize draw to win exclusive product prizes, from cabin cars to scooters; you could be walking away with a fantastic prize just by stepping through the door!” Prizes from Pride and other exhibitors will total more than £20,000 according to the organisers, with giveaways including a cabin car from Scooterpac at £9,820, two Raptor

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distributors space where they could talk business, 2018 will see the return of some of the usual features says the organisers, with Mark Bates again providing VIP guests with a free lunch. New and improved, there will be an Ultra Terrain Demo Zone sponsored by TGA Mobility where there will be grass, sand, gravel and more so visitors can test what equipment can do before they buy and the popular Voucher Book is also due to make a return, offering exclusive show discounts and offers. Simon Paddock, Director from The Helpful Hand, commented: “I go to

Trade Days to look at the different products that are available. It’s a good show and it’s great to be able to talk to the people within the companies on a one-to-one basis.” Calling on the industry to come together, Carmela finished: “Trade Days is the must-attend show if you operate within the industry and I hope people can see that the show is really heading in an exciting direction. “We are really looking forward to the 2018 event and I would also like to say a huge thank you to all our exhibitors and attendees for your continued support.” This year’s show will be taking place on the 7th and 8th of October at the NEC in Birmingham.

2018 features worth frequenting... NEW – Dealer Days Invite-only interactive workshops hosted by manufactures.

NEW – Live Auctions For dealers on the lookout for a great deal.

NEW – Innovation Trail For those on the lookout for anything new.

NEW – Product Launch Platform See what new products are turning heads at the show.

Interactive Product Demo Zone An opportunity to really put products through their paces Voucher booklet.

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The Quickie Salsa Q100R, the first in the new Q-series

A WORD FROM AN EXHIBITOR... Ryan Hirst, Head of Sales and Marketing at Sunrise Medical What is Sunrise going to be doing at this year’s Trade Days? “In terms of new chairs, we’re launching our new Q series range of powerchairs, including a Q200, a Q300, a Q500 and a Q700. They’ll all follow a new, sleeker and more modern design. We’ve also enhanced a lot of the options on there as well: we’re upgrading battery sizes, controls and seating as well as adding some new clinical features.” Why should visitors come and visit you at the show? “If they want to see what we’ve been referring to as “the next evolution in powerchairs,” then Trade Days will

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be the place to find out more. The powerchairs offer great upselling and down-selling opportunities because of the way the options stack up on each chair. “For dealers, it is a great chance to see lots of new products that will change the way they can facilitate their customers.” Why do you think Trade Days is important? “I think Trade Days is a great way to reach out to people that we’re not dealing with. For those that have seen our products, it’s about reinforcing them and their benefits. “From our side, there’s a more

conscious effort to market to a wider client base. We’re so busy launching new products – which is what we’re great at – and I think we’ve realised that we need to lean on others to help us get such a fantastic message out there.”

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new to the team

Bengt Thorsson

James, Sarah, Stephen and Anna. Credit: Kate Bywater, DM Imaging

Simple Stuff Works expands management team in search of global growth


imple Stuff Works has bolstered its management team with the addition of James Hellewell as operations manager and Stephen Kirkpatrick as business development manager. Entering the industry in 2005 with Jenx, James spent four years as a product advisor before moving into a senior management role at the company. Being involved with international & domestic sales, product & brand development and working with organisations such as the BHTA whilst completing an MBA, James moved to Speedplastics in January 2014 before being appointed managing director of recently acquired Qbitus Products. According to the company, James will support Simple Stuff Works from a regulatory compliance standpoint as it works towards ISO standards and the new EU Regulations for medical devices. Having spent thirteen years in the industry, Stephen started at Leckey in a customer services role before supporting the company in a London-based sales role, later rising to regional and divisional management levels. He will now help Simple Stuff Works develop its export markets as the company looks overseas for growth, whilst also developing and managing a UK advisor team.

Do you have a new team member? Why not let the industry know? Just send us a short news item and photo. 32 |

PERMOBIL CEO TO STEP DOWN AS SUCCESSOR ANNOUNCED Following nine years as Permobil’s CEO, Jon Sintorn is to step down from the position at the end of August. His successor, Bength Thorsson, will take over the role as of the 1st September 2018. Jon led Permobil as it grew from a niche industry company into a global player in power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, seating and positioning solutions, expanding its presence across Europe, the US and Asia. A key element of the company’s expansion was through acquisition, taking on a raft of products to build its offer and market presence. Key acquisitions included the ROHO Group in March 2015, Max Mobility in December 2017 and most recently Ottobock’s OBSS and NUTEC custom seating business lines in North America in January 2018. Jon’s successor, Bengt Thorsson, joins the organisation from Dometic where he is currently President of EMEA. According to the organisation, Jon and Bengt will work in parallel during a transition period before Bengt takes over as CEO on September 1st 2018.



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Ableworld’s largest store in Llandudno, Wales

BUCKING THE RETAIL TREND OF DOWNSIZING With a strategy of expanding its sales space during a time when many retailers are downsizing, Ableworld, the largest mobility retailer in the UK, has opened its largest store yet in Llandudno. Mike Williams, Ableworld’s Managing Director, discusses the strategy behind expanding the stores’ floor space, as well as the reasons behind the first store closure in its portfolio. The largest store yet… The retailer has launched a new 6,000 sq. ft. shop based in Llandudno, offering consumers in north Wales the opportunity to browse its extensive range of mobility aids and equipment in-store. Discussing the new store, Mike Williams, Managing Director of Ableworld, said: “The lease of our present store in Llandudno expires in

September 2019 with no guarantee of a new lease, so we have been looking for a new store in the area. “When we found this site next door to the main coach park in the town, it seemed to good an opportunity to turn down.” Confirming that the doors have been opened for trading, Mike says there is more work to be carried out on the new retail premises as

the company looks to add some experiential elements to the space. “As of yet we haven’t fully launched it as we are waiting for planning permission on a planned café / meeting area, along with working on a ‘customer test track’.” The addition of a café and meeting space reflects a growing general trend in the bricks and mortar sector of retail to offer the consumer more than


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just a shopping experience, providing in-store experiences that consumers can engage with. The notion of ‘experiential retail’ is being hailed as a way for bricks and mortar stores to compete against online retailers, offering consumers an experience that they are unable to enjoy online. A strategy of extending sales space In addition to the moving the Llandudno store to a larger location, Mike highlighted that more store expansions are taking place across Ableworld’s retail network as the

The company says at present, it has well over double the amount of instore ranges and sales area to that of its nearest competition, emphasising that it has virtually 100,000 sq. ft of sales space in its retail store portfolio. The first store closure in 18 years Alongside the launch of larger stores, Mike confirmed the end of Ableworld Inverness, closing its doors in June following issues with the store’s glass roof falling in and the franchise’s owner experiencing difficulties managing the store abroad. Commenting on the closure, Mike said: “In our 18-year history, we

“Too many businesses in our industry and others pull the plug and leave their customers and suppliers high and dry, which is something that we will not do.” MIKE WILLIAMS

company looks to differentiate itself from competitors, both in terms of products on offer and the service it offers. “In the last year, we have been concentrating on our present portfolio by enlarging the sales spaces in both Newport & Crewe by taking over neighbours’ spaces as they’ve moved out and we are also targeting four other stores to either enlarge or relocate,” he explained. “Our model is different to most of our opposition, where we strongly believe we should offer complete mobility ranges (well over 1000 instore lines) along with the service and not to be just a box mover in the larger items.”


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have never closed a store apart from re-location so it is sad that after the roof over the glass entrance literally ‘exploded’, leaving a very dangerous situation with the other panels, Jack, the owner of the franchise, decided to call it a day.” Following the announcement of the closure, Mike vowed to guarantee that all commitments to suppliers and customers will be fulfilled. “Although saddened by the situation, Ableworld will ensure that all suppliers of stock to the company will not lose out & either Highland Mobility (Ableworld Inverness) will settle all accounts or Ableworld UK will satisfy all the suppliers,” he confirmed. “Also, no customer will lose out

on their present deposits or product delivery of orders. Ableworld will be setting up support networks for past customers of products & writing to customers explaining the situation.” Commenting on the importance of correctly closing a store by supporting stakeholders, Mike finished: “Too many businesses in our industry and others pull the plug and leave their customers and suppliers high and dry, which is something that we will not do.”

Record sales month bucks struggling bricks and mortar trend In June, Ableworld posted record sales, with over 50 percent of its network enjoying the best ever month. Confirming that the record sales figures were seen across both its companyowned and franchise stores, the company’s strategy of increasing the floor space of its existing store network bucks the trend of many largescale retailers in other sectors downsizing their physical footprint.

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retailer spotlight

The Kent Mobility team at its Tonbridge head office

KENT MOBILITY: OVER HALF A CENTURY COMMITTED TO A FUNDAMENTAL BELIEF With industry experience spanning over 50 years, it would be no understatement to say Kent Mobility’s Managing Director John Payne knows the trade like the back of his hand. Never short on industry stories and opinions, THIIS talked to the venerable mobility expert to discover how the industry has changed over the years, the shifting nature of manufacturer and retailer relationships and the potential impact of personalised wheelchair budgets. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY? I started in this industry having been involved in the motor trade back in the late 60s and early 70s. My old boss owned a car garage and in addition to working on cars, we also worked

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on the old Ministry trikes for disabled drivers. Mini Morris 1000s were given out in those days and I got into the market by repairing these machines building foot steered cars for thalidomide customers.

Eventually, there was a sort of upheaval from the disabled community as they wanted better pieces of equipment so the government ended the trikes. We had around 400 trikes on our client list which we were servicing and

mobility allowances where introduced instead so over time we moved into the private market and started selling scooters and wheelchairs. I moved from the workshop and was on the road meeting customers in the late 70s and early 80s, covering Southend right down to Portsmouth. The company I started with back in the early 70s was able to convert any vehicle for someone with a disability to use and our boss was always too happy to take on a project. His answer to anything was, “yes, we can do it and we’ll worry about how to do it after.” THAT WILLINGNESS TO TAKE ON ANY PROJECT SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT ENVIRONMENT TO START OFF IN THE INDUSTRY. HOW DID KENT MOBILITY COME TO BE? My old boss passed away and his son-in-law didn’t want to take the business on as he was just interested in the car garage and the business was sold. We didn’t believe in the vision of the new owners, so my wife and I, who had also worked for that company, started Kent Mobility around about 1990. She had been a rep focusing on rehab equipment on the roads, so we decided to run the business following our old boss’ ethics, treating people how you would like to be treated yourself. That was really the foundation of Kent Mobility and those ethics have stuck with us throughout the years. WOULD YOU SAY THAT FOUNDATION HAS BEEN KEY TO KENT MOBILITY’S LONGEVITY? The business has grown over the years because we have stuck to that same idea introduced by our old boss, that being if it is safe to do, we’ll have a go at doing anything for our customers’ want and need. We have been involved in a number of unique projects, for example working in conjunction with Invacare & Kuschall to get a customer to the base camp of Mt Everest and even sending out bespoke equipment to

South Africa and Mauritius. We’ll take on anything as long as we can do it safely and again, I just feel like we should never say no unless of course, it is unsafe. HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE YOU HAVE HAD TO REFUSE A REQUEST? I did refuse a chair that a chap wanted to do a bungee jump in once. HAVING BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY FOR SO MANY YEARS, WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST NOTABLE CHANGES OVER THE YEARS AS A RETAILER? In my opinion, the honesty has altered an awful lot over the years. In the past, it seemed manufacturers would have a dealership that they supported 100 percent and would give us an area where they wouldn’t put another dealer in it. That really seems to have changed now. Today, it seems some major manufacturers are putting a lot more emphasis on the number of boxes shifted. The environment definitely feels different to how it did before and as a

John Payne and co-director Sharon King driving Kent Mobility forward

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE EFFECT OF THIS HAS BEEN ON RETAILERS? In what I would call the respectable side of the retail market, referring to companies that have been operating ethically in the market for years, we have had a bit of a bad deal from some of the manufacturers out there.

“I think this year will see an awful lot of companies exit the market because there is just too much competing on price” JOHN PAYNE

dealer, sometimes it feels like as long as we buy a box, some manufacturers are not too concerned about what happens once that box is sold. We have manufacturers with sales reps in the region who are under pressure to hit their sales targets, so this is either passed on to the retailers they work with or they open accounts with more retailers in the same area to increase their sales. So, there is a lot of short-term thinking in regards to building strong relationships between retailers and manufacturers I would say.

I get the impression that as long as someone open’s up to their chequebook, some manufacturers will be all too happy to open them up an account. We have even had a fish and chip shop on the Isle of Sheppey selling scooters! At the end of the day, these products are pieces of medical equipment, so it is important that they are sold by reputable dealers, however, bricks and mortar stores really are struggling at the moment and an awful lot more support is needed. | 37

retailer spotlight WITH THE RISE OF INTERNET-SELLING AND THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH RUNNING PHYSICAL STORES, ESPECIALLY IN THIS INDUSTRY WHERE ASSESSMENTS PLAY SUCH A KEY ROLE, WHAT CAN BRICKS AND MORTAR STORES DO TO STAY RELEVANT AND COMPETE? The internet has certainly seen a rise but we’ve noticed that over the past few months, there seems to be a slight trend towards customers turning away from the internet and coming in to see us. This is especially true for the bespoke items. They want to sit and talk with someone face-to-face, particularly when it comes to the bigger ticket items. I think it boils down to offering the best customer service possible as a bricks and mortar retailer but our ability to offer that is often hampered by manufacturers. WHAT ISSUES HAVE YOU FOUND WORKING WITH SOME MANUFACTURERS? The service from some is absolutely appalling when it comes to spares and backup support. Quality of a product when it arrives with us also seems to cause problems. More people in the trade I meet and talk to seem to be suffering the same problems. IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WOULD YOU SAY THIS IS MORE INDICATIVE OF THE LARGER OR SMALLER MANUFACTURERS? The larger manufacturers have probably given us the most amount of issues, although certainly not all of them; some really do give support above and beyond. A lot of the retailers I know are starting to look at smaller companies that are bespoke and give a good backup service. I work with a company in Italy for example and we ordered a manual, specialised chair for a customer. When the chair arrived and the

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The retailer says a willingness to solve any customer want & need remains its core principle

customer came in, we realised we had made a mistake on the brakes – they were too long and he could not swing the leg rest away. He was sat in the office when I contacted the Italian company with the problem and they came back with an apology, stating they were partially to blame as they had not warned us and explained that we would need different brakes to fix it. They said they would send out the new brakes as an emergency for us that day and that we should receive them by two o’clock latest the following day. They were in the office by 12’o’clock. That is what I would call truly excellent service. On the flipside, I have had another chair that I cannot do anything with for over a month because parts do not fit properly and it has taken three weeks to get an answer from the manufacturers, who informed me it would take a further two weeks to get the parts to me. WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THESE TYPES OF DELAYS ON YOUR BUSINESS?

That last example was a £4,500 chair that the customer wanted, so when it arrives and isn’t right, they are asking us why it doesn’t work? It reflects badly on us and our reputation. Customers are not interested in excuses and nor should they have to be. In my opinion, the big manufacturers are driven largely by what the NHS is purchasing, which is usually down to price, resulting in a poorer quality product. This stands at odds regarding what we are trying to achieve in retail, which is a product that we can deliver to a customer and ideally not have to hear from them again because it is working so well until they need it serviced in a year’s time. WOULD YOU SAY THIS FOCUS ON THE NHS HAS DRIVEN DOWN PRODUCT QUALITY? We used to have an NHS range and a retail range in the past but now we haven’t. Now, we have an NHS retail range, built to meet the NHS cost needs and then put out on the private market for three times the price. My personal view is that we will

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retailer spotlight not get a decent product built in this country until we change the NHS procurement process. DO YOU THINK THE INTRODUCTION OF PERSONAL WHEELCHAIR BUDGETS WILL HELP? Hopefully, but it remains to be seen. Wheelchair Services up and down the country have been struggling to meet the needs of users and in the SouthEast, Wheelchair Services have been picked up by contractors. I’ve found that whereas we used to do around 30 wheelchairs through the voucher scheme, it has dropped to practically nothing since the external contractors have taken it on. Simultaneously, we have heard stories that the time taken to repair issues and the customer service provided by many of these organisations can be lacking. It will be interesting to see how the new system is rolled out and if it improves the process of receiving wheelchairs for users. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE EFFECT COULD BE ON THE MARKET IF MORE CUSTOMERS BEGAN USING THE WHEELCHAIR BUDGETS WITH PRIVATE RETAILERS? If it does work and people have their own payments, I believe it would give manufacturers a real push to prioritise

The retailer invested heavily to ensure the way it retails evolves with changing consumer expectations

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MANUFACTURERS DO TO SUPPORT BRICKS AND MORTAR RETAILERS? First and foremost, manufacturers need to send out the spares in a prompt manner, allowing us to deliver the customer service which is often our competitive advantage in the market. A lot of the smaller manufacturers understand this but it seems that over the last 10 years, the really good smaller manufacturers, especially the British manufacturers, get swallowed up through acquisition and lose some of that service element that made them great. Ideally, what I would like to see is a company manufacturing powerchairs

“Today, it seems some major manufacturers are putting a lot more emphasis on the number of boxes shifted.” JOHN PAYNE

the service they provide because the retail market cannot afford to put up with bad service and long delays. It would also give more motivation in the market to innovate and improve the quality of products on offer. The theory behind the new system sounds good, however, in my experience, there is usually a big difference between how something should work and how it does work.

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in the UK. The scooter market bubble has burst and everyone is selling a scooter but we are lacking a great British powerchair manufacturer. IS THE LEVEL OF SERVICE AND SUPPORT BEING OFFERED KEY TO HOW KENT MOBILITY CHOOSES WHICH MANUFACTURERS TO WORK WITH?

Undoubtedly. When I worked in the motor trade, we could place a vehicle off road (VOR) order and be guaranteed that the part would be supplied in 24 hours. Ironically, many suppliers in the mobility industry seem to struggle with this, even though a mobility vehicle off the road means someone could well be immobile. As a retailer, we have even had cases where we contacted the original equipment manufacturers in Taiwan to order parts for repairs because it is quicker than working through a supplier in the UK. IN TERMS OF SELECTING PRODUCTS TO STOCK, HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH PRODUCTS TO TAKE ON? The first consideration is whether the product is better than the products we currently stock or does it fill a hole in our current range? I like to have the products examined by the workshop team to get their opinion. Our engineers are exceptional and can usually spot if a product is worth us selling or will lead to more headaches later down the road. We then consider the service elements; what support is provided and are we able to get the parts in if it does go faulty. Lastly, we look at what money we can make from the product as a sellable item and if the product is saturated in the local area.

SO, QUALITY IS YOUR MAIN CONSIDERATION? Honestly, we do not need any more unreliable products taking up too much time and effort to put right for customers and it reflects poorly on our reputation as a quality, knowledgeable retailer to supply products that are undependable. GIVEN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT POTENTIAL ISSUES DO YOU SEE FACING THE INDUSTRY IN THE FUTURE? Cycle front ends for wheelchairs are an interesting one that I think could lead to problems, simply because there is a lack of clarification regarding just where they sit in the law. Are they a mobility scooter? Powered wheelchair? Trike? Many can go over the eight-miles per hour legal limit for a class three scooter and it seems to be one of those areas where it will not get any major attention until a serious accident happens.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE RETAIL MARKET EVOLVING OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS? I think this year will see an awful lot of companies exit the market because there is just too much competing on price, with retailers selling at too low

repair, servicing and support that accompanies these types of products. My prediction is the industry will experience two or three bumpy years of people purchasing some of the more expensive products online and realising the customer service is not

“We will see a lot of online businesses get into the market with the aim of making quick cash but not sticking around to offer the repair, servicing and support.” JOHN PAYNE

margins to operate a sustainable, well-serviced mobility company. Just like the double-glazing rush, I believe we will see a lot of online businesses get into the market with the aim of making quick cash but not sticking around to offer the

there before returning to bricks and mortar stores. To a degree we have already started to see that. In regards to the Personal Wheelchair Budgets, we have yet to see any customers come to our store

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retailer spotlight yet with a budget so we’ll be watching closely to see how the new system is implemented and if more wheelchair services are contracted out by the NHS. WITH THE RETAIL LANDSCAPE CHANGING SO MUCH IN THE MOBILITY MARKET, HOW WILL KENT MOBILITY LOOK TO COMPETE IN THE YEARS TO COME? The answer for us is to focus on niche products, however, that is not easy. If a company is going to focus on bespoke ranges, they need to do it extremely well. This strategy has helped us avoid having to accept sales quotas from reps and the pressure to shift boxes.

In this industry, where the needs of each individual customer are different, dictating to a retailer how many units they need to sell is the wrong approach. We have finished updating the showroom space and now we are looking at expanding into other areas, including developing our own assessment centre strictly for powerchairs. We have the knowledge and experience in-house and it is something that I think is lacking in Kent and Sussex. There are some really interesting things in the pipeline and as the market continues to develop, it is likely we will specialise more and more in bespoke products.

John underlined the need for manufacturers to build longterm relationships with retailers

Refreshing the retail experience With style playing as much a role as function in the modern world of mobility retail, retailers have had to ensure their stores reflect the changing concerns of their customers, with a great focus on lifestyle. Kent Mobility is no different and at the beginning of 2018, the store underwent a complete refurbishment, updating the décor and look of the retail space. Undergoing such a largescale revamp however came at considerable risk for the Kent-based mobility specialist, explained John. “The girls in the office for months kept moaning about the shop, saying it was not the way to sell things because the store previously looked a little bit like a cave, filled with products,” he said. “So, we decided to take a real risk and shut the showroom for four months to completely gut the store

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With increased retail sales, the store’s revamp was a gamble that paid off

and develop from the ground up!” Investing a considerable amount of time and money, Kent Mobility was stripped back to an empty shell, before installing air conditioning and a new heating system. The closure was a gamble claimed John, but one that paid dividends following the store’s relaunch, with positive feedback from customers and a significant increase in the store’s sales.

“The new space is light, airy and we quadrupled turnover overnight when we opened. “This was my co-director convincing me that this was the right way for the business to go and it was 100 percent the right move. “This year we are building a purpose-built assessment centre which will begin in a few weeks and we hope to have that up and running before Christmas.”

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KIRTON HEALTHCARE – CONSOLIDATION DRIVING DIFFERENTIATION In recent years, the number of mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry and particularly in the world of mobility, independent living and pressure care have been on the rise. Acquisitions, however, can be a tricky business and a process that, if managed poorly, can lead to some disastrous consequences for companies. Following its acquisition of Kirton Healthcare, THIIS caught up with Rhys Donovan, Group Marketing Manager of Direct Healthcare Group (DHG), to discover how the Group’s strategic approach to acquisition is driving innovation in the specialist seating market and understand the importance behind managing the transition process following an acquisition effectively. 44 |

INVESTMENT IN IMPROVEMENTS In recent years, the number of mergers and acquisitions in the industry has been on the rise, as organisations look to pool resources and expand product portfolios in search of market share. By their nature, however, acquisitions can prove to be a particularly turbulent time for companies, potentially leading to production disruptions and staff turnover. One organisation that understands the importance of this period following an acquisition is DHG, who have invested in several key areas following their purchase of Kirton Healthcare in 2017.

WHY KIRTON HEALTHCARE? The decision to acquire the specialist seating manufacturer was part of the Group’s overall strategic goal to drive innovation in the industry, says Rhys. “Overall, the DHG vision is aimed at improving healthcare through movement, leading to increased independence and providing solutions to preventable problems,” he explained. “Each acquisition has been made to help further that vision, with DHS being a pressure care specialist in mattresses, cushions and overlays, which has a natural synergy to the work Kirton does in specialist seating.”

“I think the specialist seating market, in particular, is one that needs some innovation injected into it.” RHYS DONOVAN

Keeping skilled staff after the acquisition was key for DHG

Rhys Donovan

“From the very start we wanted to be able to make four key promises to our customer; we would communicate to them within 24 hours upon initial contact, we would book an assessment within no more than three days, we would generate a quote within 24 hours of this assessment and we would deliver their chair within seven working days of their order,” Rhys opened. DHG hoped these promises would lead to Kirton’s customers receiving a greater level of service than they were experiencing before the acquisition. “To help deliver these promises, we invested in tools for the clinical sales specialists by developing an app that allows them to quickly generate a customer quote following an assessment,” he continued. “We also significantly improved the number of nationwide engineers providing our white glove service in the UK, increasing them from just three to 28. Perhaps most importantly, we invested heavily in our production facilities to significantly decrease the lead time across the Kirton product range.”

According to Rhys, a key consideration behind the acquisition of Kirton was not only to expand the Group’s offering but also to bring invaluable expertise and knowledge into the organisation to help create new products. This idea was also one of the key factors behind DHG’s decision to acquire Qbitus in May 2018. “By bringing together our learnings and expertise in the areas of pressure care and hybrid technology, we knew we could deliver something special within the specialist seating sphere,” said Rhys. “Now we have acquired Qbitus as well and are really looking at how we can bring those bespoke cushions into the Kirton range. It is really about bringing all these individual specialisms together to create unique solutions that can better people’s lives.” THE NEED TO INTEGRATE Key to the Group’s strategic vision is integration noted Rhys, combining the resources of individual companies to help improve efficiencies and enhance research and product development. | 45

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Both Kirton and DHS now share the same production space

It is integration however that can often be the hardest element of an acquisition to manage, where an acquired company with its own ways of operating has to change and adapt to the methods of a new company. For Kirton, the integration meant not only a change of processes but also a change of location. “When we acquired Kirton in 2017, the company continued to operate for a time from its factory in Haverhill in Suffolk before we took the decision to amalgamate what were then three separate companies - DHS, Kirton and Nightingale - into one, large trading company to become DHG,” said Rhys. “As part of that integration process, the decision was made, mostly for efficiency purposes, to move the factory down to Caerphilly where our DHS factory is. The company removed walls and redesigned the floor space at its South Wales manufacturing facility, leading to the creation of 100,000 square feet of factory space where all DHS and Kirton products are produced. “We began integrating most of the DHS pressure care cushion modules


into the specialist seating range, so it made sense that to aid the integration, we should have the two companies next to each other,” noted Rhys. GETTING THE TRANSITION RIGHT Aware of the amount of change that has taken place at Kirton, with an MBO in 2013, an acquisition in 2017 and change of location in 2018, Rhys commented on the overall success of

were made aware of and Kirton’s lead times have actually dropped since moving to the new facilities.” According to Rhys, the company was working to lead times of between 14 to 21 days on average before the acquisition, however, after becoming part of DHG, leads times have reduced to an average of 10 days. “A lot of this is down to the original Kirton team sticking with the company and working well with colleagues in the DHS side of the business,” he said. “We offered 98 percent of the Kirton staff their jobs in Caerphilly. Naturally, there were members of staff that chose to part ways which is fine and completely understandable, however, fortunately, a lot of the team with decades of experience decided to stay and move with the company.” The retention of knowledgeable and committed members of staff has been one of the key factors in the acquisition’s success says Rhys, as well as bringing in the right people to fill the boots of those who left. “What is important for us is to make sure we manage that process correctly by bringing in the right people who have that relevant industry

“The specialist seating market seems to rely a lot on anecdotal evidence, so we are going to be gathering a lot of substantial, clinical evidence” RHYS DONOVAN

the move and transition. “It is true to say that there has been quite a lot of change for the team at Kirton but overall, the transition and the move has been successful and went smoothly,” he remarked. “There were no major hiccups in terms of disruption to service that we

experience to help drive the company going forward,” he underlined. “We have employed some new faces to the team, however, a lot of these will not be new faces to the industry, as they have a lot of experience with the specialist seating sector or a related field like pressure care.”

April 2016

June 2016

Private-equity MBO of DHS

Nightingale acquired

INTEGRATION FOR INNOVATION With lead times dropping and an experienced team driving the brand forward, the Group says it is now aiming to maximise production efficiencies and deliver differentiators to the market. “The next goal for the company is to try and get those lead times even lower, which is achieved through constant, incremental improvements to our processes,” confirmed Rhys. “Each acquisition helps us further our objective of delivering new innovations to the market and I think the specialist seating market, in particular, is one that needs some innovation injected into it. “There are a lot of me-too products out there so our drive is to have a real differentiator in the market. This means for Kirton, there is going to be a real investment in research and development going forward.” Having retained the majority of Kirton’s R&D capabilities, DHG says it is now well placed to deliver industryleading products to the market. “Retaining that R&D expertise is a big bonus and so vital to being competitive in this industry,” emphasised Rhys. “This, coupled with the R&D expertise we already had at DHS, means that we have the knowledge and investment in-house to really push the industry forward in terms of innovation.” According to Rhys, this collaboration of R&D capability is already paying dividends, with DHG planning to unveil and showcase a new product at 2018’s OT Show in November.

Average Lead Time for Kirton Specialist Seating


Acquisition by DHG








0 Apr 17

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healthcare professionals. “A key differentiator for us is going to be clinical evidence,” mentioned Rhys. “The specialist seating market seems to rely a lot on anecdotal evidence, so we are going to be gathering a lot of substantial, clinical evidence over the next few months.” Pointing out that this initiative is still in its early stages, Rhys says it is an area that the company is willing to invest time and money in developing over the next 12-months. “We will be working with a number of different professionals and

A CLINICAL APPROACH As well as differentiating its product offering, the company is keen to invest in research to help back-up the benefits of its products amongst

Dec 17

Feb 18

Apr 18

Jun 18

researchers in the coming months and we are also in talks with a university,” he finished. “In addition, we will also be working with the Welsh Wound Innovation Centre, who we already have a close relationship with. “The process takes time but it is certainly something that needs to be done to help us really engage with healthcare professionals and provide valuable information that will again, play an important role in our drive for innovation.”

Acquisitions in search of innovations

May 2017

Feb 2018

May 2018

Kirton Healthcare acquired

Karomed’s Transflo brand acquired

Qbitus acquired | 47

more about...


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QUASIM KHAN Clinical Sales Manager, UK 07816 218 325

“I have over 8 years of experience in the pressure care and repositioning market. Having previously worked for a startup company specialising in medical devices for tackling repositioning, I spent five years as a business development manager at Direct Healthcare Services. Upon the acquisition of Kirton, I began to focus on the specialist seating range, becoming the clinical sales manager.”

MIKE KYTE Territory: South East 07836 698 239

“My experience spans over 20 years in the healthcare industry covering paediatric seating, mobility aids, pressure care and working as a fitness instructor for a spinal injury unit. I have been part of the Kirton team since November 2016 as a clinical sales specialist covering the South East region.”

TONY HINKS Territory: South West 07415 355 719

“Working within patient moving and handling, including sit to stand, bed turning and repositioning, has given me an excellent foundation and I have developed a real passion for both helping improve people’s lives and also supporting and educating other professionals I work with. My experience, coupled with my sociable, empathetic and professional attitude, means I thrive on performing seating assessments to a very high standard.”

KEVIN SANDERS Territory: Midlands 07958 292 409

“I have over 20 years’ experience working with adults and children with disabilities in various environments, training as a physiotherapist and specialising in paediatrics at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. Additionally, I am a fully qualified moving & handling trainer and risk assessor and have carried out numerous training sessions in various healthcare settings.”

STEVE WILSON Territory: North West 07377 353 451

“Working specifically as a seating specialist, I have over six years’ industry experience and have worked with dealers who provide a broad spectrum of specialist seating, including Kirton chairs. This experience has enabled me to bring a wealth of experience to Direct Healthcare Group and the Kirton range.”

PATRICIA MATTHEWMAN Territory: North East & Yorkshire 07930 552 020

“I have over eight years’ experience working with adults with disabilities in the healthcare industry, covering areas such as seating, sling assessment as well as hoist training. I am passionate about the specialist seating that DHG provides and having the opportunity to draw upon the team’s knowledge and experience has enabled me to carry out assessments confidently and to a high standard every time.”

GORDON & KENNETH MUNRO – W MUNRO (REHAB) Territory: Scotland 0141 952 2323

Established in 1984, W. Munro (Rehab) is an experienced and highly regarded provider of specialist patient moving and handling equipment to the Scottish healthcare market. As a distributor of Kirton products for over 20 years, W. Munro (Rehab) is now the sole assessor and provider of Kirton specialist seating to Scottish customers.

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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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BETTERLIFE CLOSES SECOND BRICKS & MORTAR STORE THIS YEAR Following the closure of its debut Leeds store in February 2018, Betterlife from LloydsPharmacy has closed down its dedicated Castle Vale retail space in Birmingham.


n 2014, Betterlife from LloydsPharmacy, the mobility and independent aids retail brand from parent company Celesio UK, turned heads when it launched its first, eyecatching store in Leeds. The company quickly expanded its bricks and mortar presence soon afterwards, launching its second store in Birmingham in March 2015 and then the Castle Vale store in October 2015. In early 2018 however, the company

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shut down the Leeds store, followed by the closure of its Castle Vale retail space which has now had all branding removed and a sign advising customers to visit the adjoining LloydsPharmacy store Sarah Jezard, Marketing Director at Betterlife, told THIIS: “The Betterlife store in Castle Vale closed at the end of April this year. Warranties and servicing are dealt with centrally so all our customers in the local area will continue to receive the same level of

service if they have any questions or need a repair. “Whilst many people choose to buy from us online, it’s important to us to maintain an omni-channel presence so that people can touch and feel our products before they buy so our Betterlife products are available through the LloydsPharmacy network.”



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CONTINENCE: ONE OF THE MOST VITAL ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING Stuart Barrow explains what healthcare professionals consider when it comes to continence and toilet use and how this could shape what incontinence products to stock on your shelves and advice you provide to customers… 54 |

Helpful Tips It is worth encouraging those with incontinence needs to purchase a RADAR key. This key will provide access to thousands of toilets for the disabled across the UK. Look up the Bladder and Bowel Foundations, a UK charity providing information and support. They maintain and independent directory of products that will provide a great deal of information on products that could be helpful

Closomat’s Asana toilet


oilet use is something that we ALL have in common, no matter whether we have a disability or not and because we understand it, we know how crucial it is to make sure that the people we help are able to do what they need to do as easily and as hassle-free as possible. Because it is so fundamental, the question of continence and toilet use will be considered by all healthcare professional when assessing someone with a disability, and here are some of the questions that OTs in particular consider (these are the questions I’ll ask my clients): 1. Do you manage your toilet transfers and continence? 2. Do you need assistance to manage transfers? 3. Do you need assistance to manage continence, bowel or bladder? 4. Do you use equipment to assist with your continence or toilet access? This could be a medical aid, a grab rail, a raised

toilet seat to aid transfers or many other products? (N.B. When assessing a person fully clothed, you cannot now usually spot a stoma bag or know that there are issues, thus without asking and then observing vital information about how a person manages themselves can be missed.) 5. If the client identifies continence issues, always ask if they are involved with an incontinence nurse. Sometimes - despite many issues - a client won’t be. This could be because of embarrassment, a poor GP relationship which means the issue is never discussed or they’re simply not aware services and support exist. A sign there is an issue is a client self-funding their continence pads Although toileting is something universal, it is also an area often overlooked by retailers in the industry. WHICH EQUIPMENT AIDS CONTINENCE AND TOILET USE? • Some equipment that’s helpful for those struggling to clean after toileting is a Geberit or Closomat. The washer jets cleanse the bottom with the dryer function drying and keeping the user clean • Absorbent pads • Handheld urinals, with gel

• • •

crystals to crystallise the urine Waterproof bedding Bed wetting alarms Commodes

WHAT TYPES OF INCONTINENCE SHOULD WE BE AWARE OF? • Stress incontinence. Urine leaks at times when your bladder is under pressure. Laughing can cause this • Urge incontinence. A sudden, intense urge to pass urine • Overflow incontinence. This is often referred to as urinary retention, when you’re unable to fully empty your bladder, causing frequent leaking • Total incontinence. The bladder can’t store any urine at all, which causes you to pass urine constantly or have frequent leaking WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO INCONTINENCE? 1. Lifestyle changes, i.e. a reduction in alcohol intake 2. Reduction in weight 3. Reduction in caffeine 4. Pelvic floor exercises taught by a professional (like a physiotherapist) 5. Bladder training (input from continence nurse / specialist required) 6. Medication 7. Surgery 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). | 55

extra mile

GOING THE EXTRA MILE... A RUNAWAY SUCCESS Team members of bathroom solutions specialist Abacus defied the recent summer heatwave and successfully completed the British 10k in London to raise funds for the Young Epilepsy charity. Regional Sales Manager Bob Gibbs, Marketing Manager Andrew Williams and Jon Nock, Director of iDIS Creative Marketing Partnership, helped contribute to a total of over £6,500 raised by running in sweltering conditions. The trio ran to raise funds for Young Epilepsy, a charity tackling epilepsy with children and young people across the UK. Starting at Wellington Arch, the course saw the team pass several famous landmarks including Big Ben and Westminster Abbey before finishing the race in Trafalgar Square.

On your bike


ollowing his successful participation last year, Matthew James, Co-Director of Precision Rehab, is back in training for the annual 54-mile London to Brighton bike ride in September to raise money for Caudwell Children. The charity aims to transform the lives of disabled children in the UK and acts as a safety net for families who are unable to gain the help they need. “I have always enjoyed cycling and can think of no better charity than Caudwell Children to support,” commented Matthew. “I have been working in the mobility industry for over 25 years and during that time I have often been amazed by the work carried out by the team at Caudwell Children to help young people living with a disability.”


Over 15,000 entrants took part Jon finished in 1,743th: 00:50:38 Andy finished in 3,214th: 00:55:50 Bob finished in 3,220th place: 00:55:51

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Over 100 participants from the industry have now signed to take part in Steptember, an annual BHTA event aiming to raise £10,000 for a specific charity by having those taking part walk 10,000 steps each day in September. Raising funds for the Stroke Association, TPG DisableAids, Simple Stuff Works, Safespaces and Companion have all confirmed their involvement in this year’s fundraising. Discussing helping the event raise £3,000 in 2017 for Scope, Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids, commented: “We found it promoted a healthy activity amongst the staff and brought many of them together to support a common cause. “This year even more are joining in and planning collective ways to up their daily step rate.” To sign up for BHTAsteptember, email Sally Edgington at Sally. with a list of the names of the participants.

Age is just a number


ssential Aids’ 80-year-old ‘Quadrosenior’ campaign model Hugh Stephenson has continued to flip the perception of old age on its head by completing a taxing bike ride from London to Brighton. Hugh starred as one of the models in the retailers unique ‘Quadrosenior’ campaign in January 2016, cleverly putting their own spin on the cult classic movie Quadrophenia. The campaign, which garnered centred around an elderly rocker and elderly mod with customised walking frames facing off on Brighton Beach. This is the fourth year in a row that the energetic pensioner has completed the 54-mile ride from Clapham Common to Brighton seafront, having to overcome a number of steep climbs along the journey. Alex Wrenn, Managing Director of Essential Aids, commented: ‘We are really proud of Hugh and look forward to supporting him next year.”

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orking with CECOPS, Medequip, the leading provider of Community Equipment Services to Local Authorities and the NHS across the UK, has achieved corporate accreditation for all its community equipment contracts. The company says it worked closely with the independent, not-for-profit certification and standards body as part of its service strategy. Operating out of 19 specially adapted depots across the country and covering a population of more than 14.5 million people, the company states it wants to lead the way in best practice and ensure the highest quality of service for customers and service-users alike.

Discussing Medequip’s accreditation, Brian Donnelly, CEO of CECOPS, commented: “Their commitment to quality was evident

and they have worked incredibly hard throughout the process.”

£23 million fine to settle tender issues


wedish healthcare manufacturer Getinge has reached an agreement with the Brazilian Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office about a Leniency Agreement mainly related to the manipulation of tender procedures in the country. According to the company, the cases are mostly attributable to the years of 2004 to 2015 and concern Getinge’s Brazilian subsidiaries, Maquet Cardiopulmonary do Brasil Indústria e Comércio Ltda and

58 |

Maquet do Brasil Equipamentos Médicos Ltda. The agreement will see the company pay a fine for close to £23.9 million (MSEK 276) to be paid during the second half of 2018. Highlighting that continuing negotiations with other relevant Brazilian authorities are expected

to be wrapped up in 2018, Getinge says it cannot rule out that any further agreements with authorities may have material impact on its earnings and financial position.


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diary dates 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 www. 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. March 21, 2019 Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry www.kidzexhibitions. 26 & 27 March 2019 Naidex - NEC April 17-18, 2019 Medtrade Spring Las Vegas March 29 – 30 2019 Living Limitless - Sandown Park, Surrey www. May 16, 2019 Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre July 4, 2019 Kidz to Adultz Wales & West - Bristol www.kidzexhibitions. June 26 - 27, 2019 Health+Care – Excel London www.healthpluscare.

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PROMOTION HELPS RETAILERS PLAN AHEAD FOR WINTER Even though the UK has been in the grips of a heatwave for the best part of July, Repose is providing retailers with a special offer to help prepare for the inevitable winter.


he specialist seating company is offering a 10 percent discount when retailers order two floor model chairs from the standard Repose range, excluding the Olympia collection in standard sizes. “Winter may be a distant thought but we all know how quickly it comes around. I hope this latest phase in our retailer support programme will help our UK network as they look to engage with customers in August”, commented Lisa Wardley, Repose’s Managing Director. To take advantage of the offer, retailer should quote reference AUGUST2018 until August 31st when placing an order.

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New model to addresses sliding and tilting concerns


fter listening to retailer and customer feedback, Karma Mobility has released the latest addition to its manual wheelchair portfolio, the VIP2. According to the company, the VIP2 offers an effective combination of tilt-in-space and reclining positions and has undergone design changes to address user concerns. To tackle the risk of sliding when in recline and anxiousness around being in tilt position, the new model has relocated the pivot point of the chair closer to a user’s hip joint. The strategic placement synchronises the motion of the body and the chair, helping to greatly reducing the sensation of sliding when reclining. Focussing on the feeling of anxiousness experienced by some users when going to a tilt point, Karma has also introduced a unique weight shifting system into the wheelchair design. The system allows the centre of gravity to travel between the front and rear wheels whilst tilting says the company, providing a greater feeling of security and enhanced balance.

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recruitment UK Showroom Sales Manager Position UK Showroom Sales UK Showroom Sales Manager Position Manager Position Competitive Basic with Commission and Company Car As a leading independent distributor with over 13and years’Company experience within Competitive Basic with Commission Car the mobility industry as a group, we, at CareCo, pride ourselves on our Competitive Basic with Commission Company Car As a leading independent distributor withproducts, over 13and years’ experience growing reputation for supplying quality value for money within and the mobility industry as a group, we, at CareCo, pride ourselves on our excellent service. As a leading independent distributor with over 13 years’ experience within growing reputation for supplying quality products, value for money and the mobility industry as a group, we, at CareCo, pride ourselves on our excellent service.

growing reputation for supplying quality products, value for money and Your duties will include: excellent service. • Setting saleswill targets Your duties include: •• Maximising and profitability Setting salessales targets Your duties will include: Providing your team a stimulating and supportive environment •• Maximising sales andwith profitability •• Setting sales targets Maintaining and increasing standards ofand customer service Providing your team with a stimulating supportive environment Maximising and profitability Driving teamsales performance •• Maintaining and increasing standards of customer service

•• Providing your team withand a stimulating andofsupportive Driving team performance Controlling the training development your staff environment •• Controlling Maintainingthe andtraining increasing of customer service andstandards development of your staff •Great Driving team performance leadership skills are also a bonus as you’ll need to be

•Great Controlling the and training and ofas your staff need skills aredevelopment also a bonus you’ll tothat be able toleadership inspire motivate lots of people. Other skills able to to inspire motivate will be your and advantage are:lots of people. Other skills that will be to your advantage are:

REHABILITATION PRODUCT SPECIALIST A fantastic opportunity has arisen for an experienced individual with working knowledge of high end and complex Mobility and Rehabilitation equipment to join our expanding team. Predominantly mobile based your duties will include, home visits, working in our retail locations, working with the NHS, attending trade shows, presentations to industry groups etc. The role does require some early starts or late finishes and occasional nights away. If you are flexible in your approach, passionate about our industry, willing to go that extra mile for the end use and a team player, this position could be for you.

leadership also a bonus as you’ll need to be •Great The ability to workskills underare pressure •able The to ability to work under pressure inspire and motivate lots of people. Other skills that • Confidence, drive and enthusiasm •will Confidence, drive and enthusiasm be to your advantage are: • Decision-making ability and a sense of responsibility

Driver’s licence, passport holder, Enhanced DBS required as you may be required to work with children and vulnerable adults.

• Commercial acumen • Commercial acumen • Decision-making ability and a sense of responsibility


•• Decision-making ability a sense of responsibility abilityand to work underand pressure • The Planning organisational skills •• Planning and organisational skills Confidence, drive and enthusiasm

• Planning and organisational skills •ToCommercial acumena covering letter and full CV to Jane Bunting, To apply, apply, please please send send a covering letter and full CV to Jane Bunting, HR Manager Manager at at For For any any further further information information HR

please please call call 01277 236917 To apply, please send a covering letter and full CV to Jane Bunting,

Please email your current CV and salary expectations to: by Monday 6th August 2018.

HR Manager at For any further information please call 01277 236917

Regional Manager MIDLANDS Exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic,

development minded regional manager for our Midlands area to join the great team at AAT

taking our unique and highly relevant range of products to market.

A highly competitive salary and benefits is

offered for the right individual who will probably have a strong existing personal presence in the area and appropriate market experience. Please apply initially by e-mail with CV to

Peter Wingrave, Sales and Marketing Director

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

Our website to familiarise product range… 64 |

trusted recruiter

Product Specialist

Head of Mobility

£25k-£28k plus commission – Scotland

London – £40k negotiable plus bonuses

Having been in business for over 40 years, offering a large range of mobility and medical products to end users, hospitals, care home groups and schools across England & Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Maintaining family run business feel and with continuous growth.

Our client is a London-based specialist mobility supplier. They offer a range of powerchairs and mobility scooters throughout the South East of England. Having been established for 10 years and become a market leader in the industry, an excellent and unique opportunity has arisen for the right person.

An opportunity has arisen for a Product Specialist to promote their range of high-end manual and electric wheelchairs. This will be directly to end users, hospitals, schools, care home groups and clinics. Influencing occupational therapists and physiotherapists along with other key decision makers. You will also be required to carry out some repairs and basic installations of products. The ideal candidate will come from a background within the mobility sector or working with mobility products. Must have at least 5 years sales experience in any industry. £25k- £28k plus commission, 25 days holiday plus bank holidays, VW Transporter, phone, tools and pension. Please submit your CV confidentially to antony@ to discuss further including job reference ‘Thiis476’

Product Specialist Salary £27k plus uncapped commission (£33k OTE) – Midlands, Northampton or Milton Keynes Our client is a leading manufacturer of adjustable beds and recliner chairs with a strong recognisable history of supplying care homes and local authorities as well as the general public. They are currently seeking a product specialist in the Midlands to carry out demonstrations and assessments of their range of products. Including home visits to new and existing customers. Carrying out presentations, looking to grow existing business and generate new business and carry out some minor repairs and adjustments. The ideal candidate will have experience of having worked with mobility products ideally having carried out assessment and demos in the sector. Sales experience is also a plus. Base Salary £27k, £33k OTE uncapped. Mercedes Vito, phone, laptop, 20 days holiday plus bank holidays.

They are now looking to grow their mobility offering by taking on a Head of Mobility to oversee the mobility division, including four field-based assessors, and take the lead for all prescriptive enquiries. You will take ownership of specialist mobility enquiries that are passed on from the customer service team, and offer your expert knowledge to understand the customer’s needs, in turn allocating this to an assessor or OT for assessment. Following the assessment, you will guide the customer through the prescription process, including offering quotations from the office, finally liaising with the manufacturers to produce the equipment. You will also provide after-sales technical support as necessary, assisting the workshop with diagnostics and technical problem-solving. While the role is primarily office-based, there will be the requirement to visit clients when assessments require more technical knowledge, for example when special controls are needed for a powerchair. You will also work closely with the MD to launch new products and services in the mobility field as the company continues to expand. This is a big role for our client and you will be a key player in the business and the face of the mobility division. The ideal candidate will have experience of working with powerchairs, for example from a technical role within Wheelchair Services or from a mobility dealer or manufacturer. You must have excellent communication and customer service skills, as well as a full UK driving licence. A base salary of £40k negotiable plus bonuses, pension, 20 days holiday plus bank holidays rising 1 day for each additional year’s service. For more information please send your CV to Antony@ including reference: Thiis472

Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@ Including job reference 466 to discuss further.

0333 0144 014 | 65


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. September Sunrise Medical - JCM Postural Management Workshop: Specialist Seating – September 4th 2018 Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Sunrise Medical - JCM Technical Training – September 5th 2018 Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Electric Mobility – Servicing / Maintenance & Fault finding for Rascal Mobility Products – September 5th 2018 – Ilminster - FOC including Lunch. Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - September 12th - La Mon Hotel & Country Club, Belfast Pride Mobility - Service Training – September 19th & 20th – Bicester Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - September 26th -Imperial Hotel. Torquay Simple Stuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 26th September 2018 – Imperial Hotel, Torquay – Free of charge

November Simple Stuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 7th November 2018 – The Spa Hotel, Kent – Free of charge

Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - November 7th - The Spa Hotel, Kent Electric Mobility – Servicing / Maintenance & Fault finding for Rascal Mobility Products – November 7th 2018 - Ilminster. FOC including Lunch

Hilton Gateshead, Newcastle Simple Stuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 28th November 2018 – Gateshead Hilton, Newcastle – Free of charge


Jiraffe - Training for Life – Sleeping, Standing and Mobility – 6th November - Sheffield – FOC

Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - December 5th Hilton Hotel Ageas Bowl, Southampton

Jiraffe - Training for Life – Seating and Toileting Course – 13th November Sheffield – FOC

SimpleStuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 5th December 2018 – Hilton Hotel Ageas Bowl, Southampton – Free of charge

Pride Mobility - Service Training – November 21st & 22nd – Bicester Sunrise Medical - JCM Postural Management Workshop: Specialist Seating – November 27th 2018 - Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Sunrise Medical - JCM Technical Training – November 28th 2018 - Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - November 28th -

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

66 |


The new VIP 2 is the updated version of the VIP series of folding tilt in space wheelchairs, building on many years of experience of design and development. As well as 35 degree tilt it now has either fixed or adjustable recline.








It also now comes with an improved headrest design and a deeper seat.


a 35° Tilt-in-Space

a 30° Anti-Sliding Recline

a Foldable and Durable

Tilt-in-space system further enables attendant to tilt the chair up to 35 degrees, allowing user to change to the most comfortable position helping to reduce the potential of developing pressure ulcers.

Sliding has always been one of the greatest concerns for people in a standard reclining chair. The VIP2 solves this problem by locating the reclining pivot point of the chair close to the human hip joint, which synchronizes the motion of the body and the chair.

The VIP 2 is light and folds fitting easily into a car boot. The lateral push-bar strengthens the durability of this foldable chair and makes it easier to push the chair.



Front & rear suspension

The UK’s leading range of mobility products since 1985




Profile for THIIS

THIIS August 2018  

In the August issue of THIIS, Kent Mobility's MD John Payne shares his more than 50 years of industry experience, discussing the current ret...

THIIS August 2018  

In the August issue of THIIS, Kent Mobility's MD John Payne shares his more than 50 years of industry experience, discussing the current ret...

Profile for thiis