THIIS TRADE MAGAZINE • ISSUE 267 • DECEMBER 2020
THIIS ISSUE 267 DECEMBER 2020
Also inside... From lemons to lemonade VAT? What a relief! Heavy focus on light products
Retailers’ Choice of the Year 2020 15 mobility retailers reveal their favourite products of the year
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From the editor
Meet the THIIS team...
‘Tis the season to be… …well, Jolly may be a step too far. While lockdown may finally be coming to an end for England in early December, the strict restrictions of the tiers taking its place mean the festive season feels a lot less festive. Let’s not get hung up on that, though, as the industry has a lot to feel upbeat about. The major win is that the mobility, access and assistive technology sectors have formally been recognised as ‘essential.’ Retailers can remain open during lockdowns and be found on the government’s official ‘essential businesses’ list. The inclusion is an acknowledgement by the government of the vital work that all of those who work in the industry do, as well as all the people they help. It may feel like it has come too late in the day to some but, should another lockdown occur, companies in the industry will have a better idea of where they stand. As the year draws to a close, we have some exciting news at THIIS. If you glance to the right-hand side of the page, you will notice a new member of the team has joined us. Liane McIvor is on board as the new editor of THIIS. Having joined us in mid-November, she is now learning the ropes and will gradually take over from me later in 2021. As an experienced and qualified journalist who has worked for some leading trade publications, I am confident that she will be able to take THIIS to the next level and keep our loyal readers informed. That is not to say that I am disappearing, however, as I will remain involved as Editorial Director. Coming up to seven years in the industry now, I appreciate what people told me when I first started: “Once people enter this industry, they never leave!” For many, 2020 will be a year to forget and while news of vaccines gives light at the end of the tunnel, deaths from COVID-19 continue, businesses continue to suffer and the wider impact of the pandemic continues to be felt. It is why I want to personally thank all those in the industry that keep pushing themselves to go above and beyond for their staff, their customers and the sector a whole. Importantly, I want to thank you, our loyal readers, who continue to turn the pages of THIIS Magazine. Also, our contributors who give up their time to share their expertise with others in the industry. And, in particular, I want to thank our advertisers. Without their continued support through the decades and, especially this year, THIIS wouldn’t be possible. It is the reason we can continue to publish and distribute the magazine for free. Their commitment to ensuring the industry still has a free trade publication to call its own after the pandemic is over has been admirable. So, as the industry looks to 2021, it does so in the knowledge that it has managed to overcome the worst that 2020 had to throw at it while continuing to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in society. If that is not something to feel jolly about, I don’t know what is. From the whole team at THIIS Magazine, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe and well.
Calvin Barnett Editor
Editorial Director Calvin Barnett 07741 641702 firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Liane McIvor 07917 784929 email@example.com
Advertising Joe Fahy 07384 258 372 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub-editor Sarah Sarsby email@example.com
THIIS is produced by BHTA Engage Office 404, Tower Bridge Business centre, 46-48 E Smithfield, Whitechapel, London E1W 1AW firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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Retailer’s Choice of the Year Trade talk: Lifestyle and Mobility VAT clarity Retailer Spotlight: Three Counties Mobility Supplier Spotlight: eFOLDi
News, deals and people Retailers’ Buyers Guide The OT’s Perspective Let’s get it clear
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RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE
Apex Medical welcomes Yorkshire retail to partner programme Following the launch of its new partner programme in October, Apex Medical has confirmed that Yorkshire Care Equipment is its first stockist partner in Yorkshire. Aimed directly at the mobility sector, the ‘Apex Partner Programme’ provides retailers across the UK with access to the manufacturer’s communityfocused rotational chair bed range. According to Apex Medical, its Rota-pro range will enable retailers to reach new customer groups, generating a lucrative new revenue stream. Apex has stated that it plans to have a partner in at least one store in every city in the UK. Aside from the stockist partnership, Apex Medical has also established a referral scheme, enabling retailers to pass on leads for eligible Rota-pro customers directly to Apex. Apex Medical will introduce the programme and its product range to retailers next year at the British Healthcare Trade Show, set to take place in Leeds on 3rd February 2021. To find out more about the Apex Partner Programme or referral scheme, call 01905 774695 or email apexpartner@apexmedicalcorp. co.uk
Communicating commitment A new training and standards scheme with a distinctive symbol has launched to help businesses showcase their dedication to supporting consumers with communication difficulties. The free Communication Access UK programme offers organisations the opportunity to become ‘Communication Accessible’ by completing online training and agreeing to adhere to its standards. Once an organisation has fulfilled its commitments, it is added to the Communication Access
national directory, alongside receiving certification and an accreditation. Underpinning the programme is a disability access symbol that retailers can display on their showroom doors and windows, websites and marketing literature to highlight their commitment to customers with communication needs. The initiative has been developed by leading third sector organisations and is being spearheaded by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).
Quantum helps change how powerchair users see the world Quantum Rehab has released an innovative new camera accessory designed to help eliminate difficult-to-navigate blind spots. The Quantum Backup Camera provides powerchair users with a rear viewing angle of 170 degrees and gives users the choice of having it on at all times or turning on when the chair is in reverse. It boasts a 3.5-inch LCD display, a protective case to prevent damage and infrared capabilities to enable it to be used at night. In addition, the Backup Camera can be retrofitted onto existing powerchairs and
benefits from multiple mounting options. Available exclusively on Quantum’s Q-Logic 3 Advanced Drive Control System, the company confirmed the Backup Camera will also be available on its NE/NE+ controllers in the near future.
Furlough extended to March The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – better known as the furlough scheme – has been extended into spring 2021, applying to every nation of the UK. Operating under the same terms as before, the flexible furlough scheme covers 80 per cent of employees’ current salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500. Employers are not required to make contributions to wages for hours not worked but can make up all or a proportion of the remaining 20 per cent, if they wish. Businesses are required, however, to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions. The scheme is set to run until the end of March 2021 but will be reviewed in January to determine if the economic circumstances are improving enough for employers to be asked to increase contributions.
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NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE
Christmas cracker of a campaign promotes local mobility retailers Electric Mobility has launched a creative campaign to help its Rascal dealers encourage consumers to shop local and give loved ones the gift of mobility this festive period. The mobility supplier’s marketing team is offering a free printout and downloadable poster, which retailers can use to entice customers to ‘Shop Local’ in the run up to Christmas. To help share POS posters sectorwide, Electric Mobility is using its advert in THIIS Magazine (yes, this magazine) as its vehicle to get it in the hands of dealers across the UK and further afield. The poster features three consumer favourite products from the Rascal range of transportable mobility scooters and powerchairs. Alongside the images, the messaging invites customers to shop on behalf of their friends or family to consider what benefits the gift of mobility could bring. Rebecca Bateson, Marketing
& Digital Executive at Electric Mobility, commented: "Rather than our usual B2B advert where we call for last orders before the Christmas shutdown, we wanted to turn expectations on their head and offer a complete B2C retail message that would work for our network of dealers across the country." “We want to give this resource for free to our dealers who have tirelessly worked with us throughout the uncertain time of COVID-19 closures, lockdowns & social distancing. We hope this poster works to catch the attention of shoppers & to inspire them to think about how a transportable scooter or powerchair could be a great gift for someone who may have spent a disproportionate time indoors in 2020." Electric Mobility is encouraging Rascal dealers to cut out the poster on the next page and display
it on their showroom windows or in their company vehicles. For a downloadable pdf version of the poster, dealers can email marketing@ electricmobility. co.uk
Electric Mobility’s Rascal Rio
Mobility sector officially recognised as ‘essential’ After sustained lobbying by retailers and the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) to local MPs and government, the mobility retail sector has formally been included in the government’s “essential” business list. The updated guidance groups mobility shops with other ‘essential’ health and medical services, including dental services, opticians, audiology services and osteopaths. “This includes stores providing mobility/disabled support goods and services,” states the guidance. As ‘essential’ businesses, it means mobility retailers are permitted to remain open, even
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if they operate from an outdoor market stall or at a defined concession within a shopping centre. Coming late into the second lockdown, the announcement may come as little comfort for those that chose to close over the period. However, in the event of any subsequent lockdowns, retail leaders can be confident that the mobility sector will likely remain classed as ‘essential’. Commenting on this classification, Simon Festing, CEO of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said: “After continued efforts to have the industry recognised for the vital work it does, the BHTA is delighted that
the UK Government has taken the action to add the mobility and assistive technology sectors to its official ‘essential’ list of businesses. “The addition will provide clarity to retailers, suppliers and installers in the sector, especially in the event of another lockdown. It also acknowledges the important role these sectors play in helping to keep vulnerable people safe and independent during these uncertain times. “We continue encourage all companies in the industry to remain COVID-secure and keep operating safely and ethically – as the sector has done since the initial outbreak in March.”
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NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE
Domestic and European expansion for DHG
Stannah embraces digital Stannah has launched a new online platform, which it says will enable UK customers to arrange buying a new stairlift in less than half an hour from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. The online ordering system will allow customers to submit specific information about their home (the type of staircase and how many turns, for example) then choose from either the Standard or Deluxe Package. Users will also be able to choose from over 30 upholstery options to ensure the device’s fabric, colour and trim complements their home décor – an industry first, claims the company. Once they have finished making their selection, customers can select a timeframe for an appointment with a Stannah expert and place an order with a 10 per cent deposit. Stannah says the process takes around 20 minutes from end to end and makes the process of ordering a stairlift as “seamless as possible.”
Direct Healthcare Group has completed two autumn acquisitions, accelerating its ambitious growth plans following its purchase by investment firm ArchiMed in December 2019. At the end of October, the Direct Healthcare Group completed the acquisition of Finnish pressure care and patient handling manufacturer Carital Group Oy. The Helsinki-based firm manufactures a comprehensive range of pressure area care and patient handling solutions. Swiftly after announcing the European acquisition, DHG confirmed it had also acquired Sunderland-based Lynch Healthcare Group at the start of November. The move sees DHG add the North East manufacturer’s patient handling ranges to its portfolio, alongside widening its service offering in the UK.
They mark the third and fourth purchases of 2020 for DHG, with the purchase of Handicare’s European and Rest of World patient handling & bathroom safety portfolios in April and Swedish rehabilitation aids specialist GATE Rehab Development AB in March. Since April 2016, DHG has now successfully completed nine acquisitions.
DFG funding receives 13.5% boost In his spending review, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has confirmed a significant increase to the Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) budget, from £505m to £573m. The £68m increase represents a 13.5 percent uplift in the money local authorities will have available to deliver essential adaptations to people’s homes. Additionally, the government announced £71m for the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund – used to finance new accessible supported and specialised housing.
Recognised for resilience Jay-Care Stairlift and Mobility has been commended for its adaptability during the pandemic in Forbes Solicitors’ inaugural Reinvention and Resilience Top 50 report. The publication features North West SMEs that have innovated and diversified during the coronavirus pandemic. In the report, Jay-Care Stairlift and
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Mobility was praised for the actions it took during the first lockdown, which enabled it to achieve record sales in June (£100k +) and July (£121k +) and enjoy record profits. Forbes Solicitors’ research pointed to Jay-Care’s work with the NHS, which the Lancashire mobility company had started to increase prior to the COVID-19 disruption. According to the report, the mobility
company approached the NHS offering its usual services but with increased flexibility, including changing working hours to seven days a week for 13 weeks. Jay-Care’s continued provision of emergency call-out and breakdown services to private customers, along with offering free home delivery on all products – regardless of the size of the order – was also highlighted.
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RETAILERSâ€™ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020 Wondering which products have impressed retailers most this year? Business leaders from across the mobility industry highlight one product that has stood out above all others for them in 2020 and whyâ€Ś With so many products in the mobility, assistive tech and independent living market, knowing which solutions stand above the rest can be tricky. Helping to identify which products stole the show in 2020, 15 retailers from across the UK shared with THIIS which products stood out for them as the best in class.
Be it for innovation, best-sellers, consistent quality, supplier support and a host of other reasons, discover which products retail experts highlighted as being the favourites of the year.
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
Amy Hadlow Business Manager at Higher Elevation Elaine Ferguson Mobility Services Manager of Fortuna Mobility
Retailer’s Choice: Troja Neuro from TOPRO “We’re always interested in products that assist with specific conditions so we’re really pleased to display the TOPRO Troja Neuro in our showroom. It’s so popular with customers that I’ve chosen it as my Retailer’s Choice for 2020. “This high-quality rollator is ideal for those living with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s or dementia. The brakes on a Troja Neuro are always activated as a standard function and can only be released when the brake handles are squeezed. If the handles are released, the Troja Neuro will stop immediately, which is great if experiencing a freeze episode or time is needed to stabilise a standing position. The rollator also has deep tread tyres, which make transfers between chair and rollator more secure. “For anyone fearful that a walking aid may ‘run away’ due to a freezing episode or those needing extra support, the Troja Neuro is perfect. Meanwhile, the rollator’s edge guard and tilt function make it easy for the user to negotiate kerbs and thresholds while the small turning circle means it can be used in small rooms like a kitchen and bathroom. “Additionally, it’s lightweight, easy to fold and transport, and comes with a detachable spacious basket. A one-handed use version for those living with the effects of a stroke is available. This is a great solution for more complex conditions where standard rollators are not effective or safe and one that I will continue to recommend.” www.fortunamobility.com
Retailer’s Choice: Flexstep from LiftUp “Higher Elevation’s ‘Choice of the Year’ for 2020 goes to the FlexStep. “This is the perfect solution to conquer split levels for all wheelchair users and walkingimpaired persons in areas with minimal space. The FlexStep has proved to be an elegant combination of a regular staircase and a wheelchair platform lift, giving a perfect two-in-one solution for wheelchair users and stair users! “This space-saving product is easily integrated into its surroundings as the FlexStep can be designed and configurated to each project. With minimal disruption and without changing existing structural elements, the FlexStep is ideal for both commercial and domestic properties, internally or externally. “Higher Elevation is an authorised dealer for this leading product in the South East of England. With only six dealers within the UK, we are proud to be able to promote this innovative solution to our customers. “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas & New Year.” www.higherelevation.co.uk
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
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RETAILER CHOICE OF THE YEAR
Retailer’s Choice: Quickie Nitrum from Sunrise Medical “Lifestyle and Mobility is always looking for exciting new products that push the boundaries and are continually innovating. This is why we have chosen the Quickie Nitrum for our Retailers’ Choice of the Year. “Customers want more control when shopping and we have already seen this in the huge change that the internet has now brought RETAILERS’ us. Quickie has not only CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020 produced a quality product but it has also developed a 3D visualiser. Customers are now able to fully spec up their own chair with all the options, which then produces a life-size image on their devices. “The Quickie Nitrum is the lightest adjustable aluminium chair on the market at just 5.2kg lifting weight. Weight rigidity is combined with the custom fit and fine tuning to offer the most energy efficient chair Quickie has ever produced. “The Nitrum is for users who value efficiency and lightweight design. A revolutionary chair that minimises propulsion effort whilst maximising movement. Sunrise has also developed a unique twist lock bar that helps with loading it in and out of the car. Quickie is also the first to have developed integrated LEDs mounted on both castor arms with three mode options for brightness: High, low and blink.” www.lifestyleandmobility.co.uk
Darren Macey Business Development Manager of Lifestyle and Mobility
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Matt Mohr Managing Director of Kent Mobility
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
Retailer’s Choice: SANGO range from Dietz Power “My product of the year would be the Dietz SANGO powerchair range. They have a solid, well-built feel about them and most customers think they look good, which always helps. “There is a good range of options available for the base including a 38cm seat to pan height and a chassis width of 51cm on the slim line version. All available in a front, mid or rear wheel drive configuration. “The standard seating available comes in a good range of sizes with some supportive options. Also, if standard seating options won’t work, there is no problem in fitting third party seating systems. “In addition to the regular actuator options like tilt, lift, elevating legs and recline, there are some additional actuator options available - a powered flip-up centre footplate if needed and a seat rise option in conjunction with the centre footplate going down flush to the floor for those wishing to stand from the chair. “The special controls from mo-vis can be added which include the very neat attendant scoot control. The UK sales manager for Dietz, Darren Legg, has provided excellent dealer support to us throughout the year, which is very much appreciated.” www.kentmobility.org.uk
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RETAILERSâ€™ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
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RETAILER CHOICE OF THE YEAR
Retailer’s Choice: Dorchester from Pride Mobility
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
George Ruddick Managing Director of Thistle Help
“Due to having an issue with a riser recliner manufacturer, Laura and I decided to look elsewhere for an alternative supplier. Having used our original supplier for over nine years, this was a major decision for us to take. “We decided to contact Gareth, our rep at Pride Mobility, to see if he could offer us an alternative range of riser recliners. Gareth was only too happy to assist us and suggested Pride’s Dorchester, which Sitting Pretty manufactures for them. “The quality and options available have seen our riser recliner sales nearly double in the same period as last year. Our customers sit on other chairs but when they sit on our Dorchester range, you see their face light up as they say it is so comfortable and well priced. “Our account with Pride Mobility has increased tenfold through the number of chairs we have sold and we see no reason why this will not continue in the future. It just goes to show, if you take a leap of faith, it can work out well, both for the retailer and the customers alike.” www.thistlehelp.co.uk RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
Retailer’s Choice: Handicare 1100 from Handicare “Here at TPG DisableAids, we consider ourselves ‘solution providers’ rather than ‘retailers’. “So when a product comes along that ticks many of the boxes to solve the problems and it gets superior support from its supplier, then it will get our vote and, more importantly, our business. “The Handicare 1100 Stairlift is just that product. “In its basic form with no options, it is quiet, compact and easy to install. But added to that are all of the options that make it very flexible. With ‘Zero Intrusion’, ‘Slide Track’, ‘Powered Swivelling Seat’, ‘Powered Footplate’, ‘Manual Hinge’ etc. there are few straight stairs that cannot be overcome with the Handicare 1100. “Behind the scenes, we find that, should there be any issues, we can work with the R&D and Quality Control departments of the company to refine solutions that are both engineering-sound and commercially viable. “It is this two-way exchange of information that gives an edge to any product along with great sales support and a competitive price.” www.tpg-disableaids.co.uk
Alastair Gibbs Managing Director of TPG DisableAids
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In a year when staying indoors has been more important than ever, your commitment and dedication has meant that thousands of people have been given the freedom to stay safe in the homes they love. Weâ€™re proud to stand with you as you continue to make everyday life easier for your customers in 2021.
RETAILER CHOICE OF THE YEAR
Retailer’s Choice of the Year: Apex Alumalite from Pride Mobility “Well what a year it has been for everyone! Most importantly, we hope everyone is keeping safe and taking care of themselves and their loved ones. “Our pick this year stands out as it’s a popular item with our customers and colleagues since being introduced to our range. The Apex Alumalite Boot Scooter from Pride Mobility is our Choice of the Year 2020. “Pride has been extremely supportive throughout 2020 - before and during the lockdown - ensuring stock levels are maintained with regular communication and updates for deliveries and shipments. It has been a great help to our teams and customers during these challenging times. “The Apex Alumalite is a great option for our customers as it offers a solution for people who may not be able to lift the battery pack from other scooters. The lightweight lithium battery pack has amazed many of our customers and is also recommended as airline-friendly. It’s not only the battery pack which
Justina Nurse Managing Director of Stuart Mobility
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
customers love but the scooter also offers a good range, a lightweight aluminium frame, comfortable seat, alloy wheels and three colour options. “Ideal for shopping and family days out, this scooter really has made the difference to many people’s lives in 2020.” www.ableworld.co.uk
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
Retailer’s Choice: Cosi Chair Jubilee from Electric Mobility “The Jubilee dual-motor tilt-in-space rise and recline chair is no newcomer and has been around for quite some time. Made by Electric Mobility, it is their UK Premium Tilt-in-Space Dual-motor chair, designed to maximise support throughout motion with a range of stylish back designs and offering a high leg elevation to provide exceptional postural seating options to suit all individuals. “It is by far our best-selling chair, coming in three sizes, two back styles and lots of fabric choices. It is our ‘go to’ off-the-shelf, quick turnaround chair. But it is not just the chair that is special for us this year, with COVID restrictions in place, the customer service staff at Electric Mobility have been brilliant. With a special shout out to Louise, Em, Laura and Lauren who are always on the end of the phone for us, checking stock and advising of turnaround times in quite difficult circumstances, it has allowed us to keep our customers well informed throughout the pandemic. This has allowed us to keep our delivery times accurate and information bang up-to-date.” www.stuartmobility.co.uk
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Ceri Dixon Marketing Manager of Ableworld
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RETAILER CHOICE OF THE YEAR
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
Lauren Bromfield Director of Classic Mobility
Retailer’s Choice: Brecon Express from Primacare “Our favourite product of 2020 is the Brecon Contract Express by Primacare. “With a range of sizes and crib 5 fabrics as standard, the Brecon Express is suitable for a wide range of clients. The removable seat quilt provides longevity as it can be easily replaced or upgraded to a higher level of pressure relief. It also allows access for ease of cleaning. “Medium-risk pressure-relief foam is standard within the seat quilt, which is also covered in a waterproof VP fabric. “As an express chair, delivery is usually within a few days which is great when the clients need the chair quickly. The order process is simple and we are always impressed with the aftercare from Primacare, with parts arriving quickly when required.” www.classicmobility.org.uk
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
Retailer’s Choice: Veloce from Motion Composites ““Choosing a favoured product in these uncertain times has required an altered approach, with many products launched digitally this year. Recare recently became the UK distributor for the Canadian manufacturer Motion Composites, sharing a mutual passion for innovation to design unique products with cutting-edge style and technology. “Motion Composites Veloce folding carbon fibre wheelchair sets a new standard in this highly competitive area of the sector. Veloce boasts a folding chair, with the comfort, responsiveness, and agility of a rigid wheelchair. “It offers the user the capability for almost infinite adjustments, making it one of the lightest yet most practical models available in the UK today. The completely symmetrical hydroformed cross brace maximises the frame’s stability, saving users considerable energy daily to make every push count. “The Veloce’s Mantis frame fuses a box frame in the back for enhanced rigidity with a cantilever frame in the front for a minimalist look and flexibility. Easy transfers, easy transport and no need to take the footplates off thanks to the award-winning auto-folding footrest. “The Veloce is the most versatile chair with the unique certification to have handbikes and power add-ons for the user, not something readily available with other carbon fibre models.” www.recare.co.uk Annie Holland-Oakes Marketing Manager of Recare
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Take another look at Primacare... RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
For more information on our range go to... www.primacare.co.uk
RETAILER CHOICE OF THE YEAR
Retailer’s Choice: Ergo Lite / Ergo Lite 2 from Karma Mobility
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
“A firm favourite amongst the team and our customers is a product that is arguably one of the most important mobility devices in history, used by millions of people worldwide for centuries: the wheelchair. In particular, the brilliant Karma Ergo Lite / Ergo Lite 2. “Karma’s technological advancements and quality of design have produced an industry-leading compact and portable wheelchair. The ultra-light aluminium frame creates a wheelchair that is not that much heavier than a tri-walker. It makes the Ergo Lite one of the most user-friendly and lightweight wheelchairs on the market while still being extremely robust. “Its many features include antimicrobial fabric, ergonomic hand rims and its magnificent patented seat design, which promotes amazing comfort, pressure relief and well managed posture. “The Ergo Lite has been an ever-present staple within our wheelchair range for years and always delivers value. When doing a needs analysis with a customer who may be limited in their knowledge and are looking for a lightweight, compact, durable and comfortable wheelchair, the Ergo Lite delivers that ‘wow factor’. “From a service and support point of view, the Ergo Lite is robust and seldom lets anyone down but, if required, a quick and efficient supply chain is in place for parts which is efficiently managed by the CS team at Karma.” www.mobilityscotlandltd.co.uk
Billy Finnie Operations Manager of Mobility Scotland
Matt Ward Head of Retail & Marketing for Manage At Home
Retailer’s Choice: Server W Forearm Walker from Rehasense “One of our most popular products in 2020 is the high-quality, lightweight aluminium Server W Forearm Walker.
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“Designed primarily for use indoors on flat surfaces, the Server W is also suitable for outdoor use. It provides excellent upper body support together with soft, comfortable arm rest, which are adjustable for height, depth and angle to match individual requirements. The ergonomic hand grips are also adjustable to suit different hand positions and the lockable brakes are smooth, responsive and easy to operate. “This forearm walker folds down neatly for easy storage and transportation. Also, the lightweight aluminium frame and PU tyres ensure effortless manoeuvrability in small spaces and through narrow doors and passageways. It is supplied with a two-year warranty and a practical removable shopping bag, and is available in either red or grey.”
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
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Offer ends 31st December 2020. While stocks last *Free P&P on orders over ÂŁ70. Backbox shown for illustration purposes only, item supplied may vary.
RETAILER CHOICE OF THE YEAR
Retailer’s Choice: Illusion from One Rehab “Our More Than Mobility choice of the year is the One Rehab Illusion Portable Mobility Scooter – a best-seller this year that both staff and customers like. “Our customers particularly like the weight of this scooter – the lightest mobility scooter around with the heaviest part only weighing 10kg, so it is easy to get in out of the car. “Other features customers like are the fact it easily breaks down into manageable pieces and has a good range – up to 10 miles – with the option for a larger battery upgrade. In addition, it offers front and rear suspension for a smoother ride with a comfortable supportive seat, a powerful LED light and a lightweight lithium battery. The Illusion also comes with the choice of different colours: Purple, blue, grey or red.” www.morethanmobility.com
Marcy Lashbrook Director of More Than Mobility
Retailer’s Choice: Thermoskin Arthritic Gloves from Performance Health “When asked to choose one product, it is always a hard decision but my personal product of the year has to be Thermoskin Arthritic Gloves. They are brilliant gloves for arthritis. “I have used these for about two years now and highly recommend them to my customers. I have tried several other gloves but these are the most comfortable and actually really help. “Thermoskin Arthritic Gloves are specifically designed to relieve pain in the fingers and hand. Thermoskin’s exclusive combination of clinically proven heat therapy and gentle compression work together to bring natural relief from arthritic pain, reduce swelling in the hands and ease sore joints. The open fingertip design allows you to perform daily tasks and the outer layer is textured griptex to provide additional grip. The adjustable wrist closure is also easy to apply and provides a comfy fit as well. “The Thermoskin gloves also utilise a Trioxon lining, which captures and retains body heat and can increase skin temperature by two degrees, accelerating healing and giving natural pain relief. “The gloves come in six sizes and apply light but firm compression to counteract tissue swelling and can be worn while doing daily tasks or overnight to help reduce soreness and swelling of fingers.” www.peoplefirstmobility.co.uk
Karen Sheppard Managing Director of People First Mobility
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Retailer’s Choice: Rosebud reminder clock from Ravencourt “The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people go about their lives on a daily basis. But, for anyone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia reliant upon regular daily contact, family visits and routine, COVID-19 has made life much harder. “This has increased anxiety, distress and even loneliness for some. “The Rosebud reminder clock has been developed to help people with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Around the size of an iPad, the device plugs into any 240v wall sock, doesn’t require wi-fi and has a built-in stand or can be wall-mounted. “It features a large display digital screen that can be programmed to show time, day, date, day or night in digital or analogue format.
“It can also be pre-programmed with up to 20 reminders, from medication or mealtime prompts to reminders to feed a pet or alerts when family or carers are due to visit. “These simple prompts serve to remind and reassure. The Rosebud reminder clock is an invaluable companion for anyone living alone. Each Rosebud can be personalised by uploading family photos and playing video via an SD card or USB drive. “The Rosebud reminder clock brings regularity and reassurance that reduces stress and anxiety for anyone with a chronic memory condition.”
Carl Drake Managing Director of Rise Mobility
RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020
Reminder Clock A simple device to remind people living with memory problems about daily events, and provide prompts to complete daily tasks
www.ravencourtliving.com www.thiis.co.uk / 25
I N C R E A S E
YO U R
M A R G I N
• Maximum carrying capacity 25 stone • Maximum speed 8mph • Range up to 30 miles* • Pneumatic or solid tyres • Road legal • Available in blue, orange and lime green • Full suspension • High back captain seat • LED lights • USB port • approved
ENQUIRIES 0808 102 1032 W W W. M O N A R C H M O B I L I T Y. C O M email@example.com
N E W
A N D
E XC I T I N G
D E S I G N
• Maximum carrying capacity 32 stone • Maximum speed 8mph • Range up to 30 miles* • Pneumatic or solid tyres • Road legal • Available in blue, orange and lime green • Full suspension • High back captain seat • LED lights • USB port • approved
* Range is dependent upon user weight, terrain, incline, temperature and battery conditions.
Trade talk Q&A with Darren Macey, Business Development Manager of Lifestyle and Mobility HOW DID THE ACQUISITION COME ABOUT? “It’s no secret that we’ve been wanting to get into Harlow for years now. We started the process by taking on a huge unit in Terminus Street. We battled through the lease over an eight-month period and it felt like there was just barrier after barrier being thrown in our way including high amounts of asbestos. “During this period, David Davison, the former proprietor of 1st Call Mobility, put Harlow Mobility up for sale. We then approached David, which, can you believe, was almost two years ago now! “After some negotiations we almost had a deal done but for one reason or another, we decided to carry on proceeding with the Terminus Street site as we had already invested so much time and effort into. “We decided to pull out of the Terminus Street site at the last minute after nearly a whole year of going forward with it. When something isn’t right, it’s just not right! At this time, however, David had also taken his business off the market. “In late October, I was talking to Aaron [Sverdloff] on the phone about business. I don’t know why but I said to him: ‘Shall I give David a call to see if he’s interested in selling’. Sure enough, we had a great conversation and set up a meeting… two weeks later the deal was done and we completed the deal on the 2nd November.”
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2020 has been a difficult year for many in the sector. For Lifestyle and Mobility, the last 12 months have been marked by growth. Taking over a new store just weeks before the first lockdown in March, the company decided to go one better and acquire another store just days before the second lockdown. Darren Macey, Business Development Manager for the growing regional retail player, discussed its latest purchase of Harlow Mobility.
Lifestyle and Mobility’s Aaron Sverdloff seals the deal with David Davison
WHY HARLOW MOBILITY? “Harlow Mobility was a great fit for us, as we knew we could add our business model within theirs. Adding our Motability accreditation is going to be great as we know this area hasn’t been tapped into which can only be a positive thing for us.” WITH SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY IN THE INDUSTRY, WHY DID YOU FEEL NOW WAS THE RIGHT TIME TO ACQUIRE HARLOW MOBILITY? “I’m sure a lot of people will think we are absolutely mad, especially as we had the news of another lockdown before we completed. We are super positive people, though. We actually feel this new lockdown will give us the time we need to make some changes. We also came out of the last lockdown feeling super positive and hit record sale figures.”
YOU MENTION YOU WILL MAKE CHANGES TO THE HARLOW STORE – WHAT KIND OF CHANGES DO YOU HAVE IN MIND? “The store is located in a shopping centre so it already fits within our business model nicely. We shall be
“I’m sure a lot of people will think we are absolutely mad, especially as we had the news of another lockdown before we completed.” DARREN MACEY
Wishing all our partners a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year
From everyone at Access BDD
Lifestyle and Mobility will now bring its specialist touch and extended product range to the new site
adding new ranges such as active wheelchairs, complex powerchairs and Motability. “While David has built a really solid brand within Harlow, we shall probably have a relaunch and change the name to the Lifestyle & Mobility brand. This won’t be right away as we are going through a transition process and want the timing to be right in order to make it an effective relaunch.” WHAT DOES THE ACQUISITION MEAN FOR HARLOW MOBILITY’S EXISTING STAFF? “The biggest asset that Harlow Mobility have is its staff. We all know the key to any successful business is its team so we are delighted to have grown our team by four. “Again, we shall use the lockdown as an opportunity to start the training process on our active user wheelchair and powerchair ranges.” HOW DOES THIS ACQUISITION FIT INTO LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY’S WIDER RETAIL AMBITIONS? “This is a perfect location with our other stores in Essex and Hertfordshire. It bridges that gap geographically. The other stores will be able to support Harlow. We always wanted to become stronger in a region and not try to take on too much. “It’s about getting the balance right so we can manage the portfolio and make sure we maintain our high
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standards of customer service and knowledge on specialist products. This, again, is why it was essential that we TUPE’d the staff across in the new Harlow store.” WITH THE TAKEOVER OF HARLOW MOBILITY, WHAT DOES THAT TAKE YOUR STORE PORTFOLIO UP TO NOW? “We now have five stores and the use of an assessment centre, which we use in collaboration with 360 Wheelchairs.” WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY MODEL THAT IS ENABLING IT TO GROW THROUGH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC? “We don’t want to give away all our secrets but at the heart of it is hard work, sheer determination to succeed and the ability to adapt.” DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE ACQUISITION TARGETS ON THE HORIZON OR ARE YOU OPEN TO OFFERS? “We certainly aren’t selling unless someone comes to us with a crazy
offer that we couldn’t refuse! Our goal is to keep growing and we are continuing to reinvest every penny back into the company. We don’t have any more acquisitions planned but, of course, are always looking out for new opportunities.” AS WE ROUND OFF 2020, WHAT DOES THE NEAR FUTURE HOLD FOR LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY? “We are super proud of what we are achieving at the moment and we honestly believe we have the right business model to move forward. We have more exciting plans that we are working on but we don’t want to give too much away just yet. “I can say that one of our plans is to move the Bournemouth store to a larger location. We’ve just moved our Potters Bar Specialist Centre to Welwyn Garden City as well. It’s a much larger site and we are currently fitting it out. “There is more to come in 2021 so, as always, watch this space!” www.lifestyleandmobility.co.uk
More about Harlow Mobility Based in Essex, Harlow Mobility formerly traded as 1st Call Mobility prior to the eight-figure sale of its bariatric division in 2016 to Arjo. After the sale, the remaining 1st Call Mobility showroom changed its name to Harlow Mobility and continued to operate from its shopping centre location until it was acquired by Lifestyle & Mobility in November 2020.
What a relief! VAT clarity In the wake of Black Friday, when companies used the shopping day to promote low prices in a bid to boost sales and turn inventory, now seems like a good time to talk about VAT. For many retailers in the sector, understanding when to sell a product without VAT can be confusing. Unfortunately, that confusion can also lead to companies finding themselves in hot water with HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) if it has been applied incorrectly. Sarah Lepak, Head of Policy and Compliance Sarah Lepak, at the British Head of Policy Healthcare & Compliance at BHTA Trades
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Association (BHTA), shares her expertise to ensure mobility retailers avoid finding themselves on the HRMC’s ‘naughty’ list this Christmas and beyond. WHEN CAN A RETAILER SELL A PRODUCT AS VAT EXEMPT? “There are a number of myths around this topic, so let’s start by dispelling one: It’s not VAT exemption! When you sell a product to a customer without charging VAT, you are providing “VAT relief for disabled persons” - an action also known as zero-rating because what you are doing is applying 0 per cent VAT. “You can only do this when the product is for someone who is disabled or has a long-term condition, and it is for his or her own personal use. “The product also has to be
As the industry enters December, there is nothing like an in-depth look at Value Added Tax (VAT) to get people into the festive spirit. While VAT may well be the last thing on business owners’ minds as they tuck into a mince pie, getting it wrong could result in a visit from the tax man, rather than Santa, this Christmas.
eligible, as it has to be “designed solely for use by disabled persons”. You must never assume that everything you sell qualifies.” WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR ZERORATING PRODUCTS? DOES THE HMRC NEED TO BE INFORMED OR NOTIFIED IN A PARTICULAR WAY REGARDING THESE PURCHASES? “No, you do not have to inform HMRC but your customer must make a declaration which you keep with your VAT records. HMRC will look at the declarations if they carry out an inspection.” DOES A RETAILER HAVE TO PROVIDE PROOF OF AN INDIVIDUAL’S DISABILITY? “No, but you must have their declaration, which requires them to state what their disability or longterm condition is.
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qualify. However, cutlery designed and shaped in a way that makes it unlikely that an able-bodied person would use it will probably be eligible.” WHICH ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES ARE COMMONLY ELIGIBLE TO BE ZERO-RATED? “Wheelchairs are always eligible, as are class 2 pavement scooters and items like rollators (providing, of course, that the person buying has a disability or long-term condition). “Riser-recliner chairs with a lift and tilt function are eligible but recliner chairs without that function are not.” ARE THERE ANY GREY AREAS THAT RETAILERS HAVE TO NAVIGATE? “I mentioned above that when you simply supply a battery to a disabled person, you will need to charge the VAT. In theory, however, if the battery is supplied as part of a wider service of repair and maintenance, it can be zero-rated. You would need to make sure your records show it was supplied in that context or HMRC would expect to see full VAT applied. “Class 3 mobility scooters are normally intended or adapted for use on the road (tipping them into primarily being regarded as a type of vehicle), so in that context they do not qualify for the purpose of VAT relief. However, you can zero-rate
a class 3 mobility scooter that is designed solely for use by disabled persons. Only the manufacturer can confirm the design intent.” WHAT HAPPENS IF A RETAILER IS CAUGHT SELLING A PRODUCT ZERO-RATED WHICH IS FOUND TO BE INELIGIBLE? “If HMRC carries out an inspection and decides you have incorrectly zero-rated, they will issue you with a demand for the VAT and they can go back a number of years. “This can add up to a lot of money.” WHAT IS THE BHTA’S ADVICE TO COMPANIES IF THEY ARE UNSURE IF A PRODUCT CAN BE ZERO-RATED OR NOT? “You should always ask the manufacturer whether the product qualifies for zero-rating: Has it been designed solely for use by disabled persons? HMRC will expect you to be able to show them evidence to support your decision. “The mantra should always be: If you are in any doubt, it is always safer to charge the full VAT.” www.bhta.com https://assets.publishing.service. gov.uk/government/uploads/system/ uploads/attachment_data/file/419380/ Eligibility_Declaration_Disabled_-_ March_2015__2_.pdf
All Celebrity models containing Mammoth Medical Gradeâ„˘ Seating Technology, including settees are HMRC recognised for Zero VAT where appropriate. Terms and conditions apply, for details www.celebrity-furniture.co.uk. *Fabric models only. Includes fixed chairs and settees
Tel: +44(0) 1623 440626
RETAILERS BUYING GUIDE
Buyers’ guide to Bed and mattresses
Each month, discover key products from a different segment of the mobility market to consider offering to customers.
Rota-Pro Standard from APEX Medical
Chester Electric Adjustable Bed from Drive DeVilbiss According to Drive DeVilbiss, the Chester Electric Bed was designed to offer advanced comfort and support through its five-part, fully adjustable Podmatic System. This innovative feature has Grey pods that were developed to provide a ‘firm zone’, strategically placed at the lumber region to offer improved support. Ideal for use with memory foam or latex mattresses, the bed boasts a maximum weight carrying capacity of 18st (per side) and comes with a six-button, multi-position handset.
Designed for those with reduced mobility, the Rota-Pro Standard is a rotational chair bed offered to people who are weight-bearing and able to walk but struggle to transfer from a seated position to standing. Its specially designed pressure-reducing mattress and foot block fits onto the five-part mattress platform, offering an enhanced variation of profiling functions. Available in four versions, the Rota-Pro accommodates petite, average build, shorter bariatric and larger bariatric users. With the added benefit of reprogrammable positions across all models, this bed offers advanced total flexibility and versatility. www.apexmedicalcorp.com
XTECH25 from Sumed
Manufactured by Syst’AM in France, the XTECH25 from Sumed is a unique hybrid mattress offering, which incorporates API (Automatic Patient Immersion) technology. The mattress is multi-zonal with the sensors in the sacral area dictating what happens in other critical areas, such as the heel zone. The mattress has three operating modes - static, alternating, and micro-alternating - and has a whisperquiet pump. It is ideal for patients who cannot sleep lying down, for example those with COPD or heart failure. The product is available to buy or rent from Sumed. www.sumedinternational.com
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Become an Apex Partner today!
This beneficial programme offers a great opportunity for mobility stores Can you answer YES to any of these questions?
Do you want to increase your product portfolio? Do you have customers asking for aids to help them get in and out of bed? Are you looking to increase your revenue? Are you interested in a commission based incentive? Do you want to be a partner with a Global Medical Device company? Then the Apex Partner Programme may well be the answer.
What are the benefits for the customer? • • • • • •
Bed-to-chair function allows unassisted transfer to and from bed Profiles like a conventional profiling bed Bed options from petite to larger users Chair rotation configuration to the left or to the right Battery backup included 3 years manufacturer’s warranty
Contact us today to become a valued partner Tel: 01905 774695 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.apexmedicalcorp.com @ApexMedicalUK
RETAILERS BUYING GUIDE
XSensor Pressure Mapping and Monitoring Technology from Sumed A passionate advocate of using pressure mapping and monitoring as part of the patient assessment process to help avoid pressure ulcers, Sumed has worked with XSENSOR Technology Corporation for almost twenty years. With technology for short periods of assessment, ForeSiteSS with a matress sensor offers a simple to use yet powerful solution, says Sumed. If monitoring of pressure over a long period of time with the ability to capture high resolution data is required, the copmpany also offers ForeSitePT technology. If research and development in mattress design and regualtory support is the objective, the company suggests the XSensor R&D Mattress System may be most appropriate. www.sumedinternational.com
Lomond Floor Bed from Alerta Medical The Alerta Floor Bed provides pioneering user safety and care with a working height ratio of just 9cm from the ground up to 80cm high. This facilitates the most specific and complex care requirements while also reducing impact if the user rolls out of bed. It comes with Trendelenburg one-way tilt function, a maximum safe working load of 200kg, a three-year warranty on the bed frame, as well as a two-year warranty on the motors & electrics. The Lomond is available in oak and walnut wood finishes. www.alertamedical.com
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Signature Low Footboard Profiling Bed from Opera Care Described as a practical and elegant care bed ideal for the home environment, the Signature Low Footboard Bed lowers close to the floor and raises right up to a nursing height to accommodate a wide variety of care needs. The electric height adjustment and profiling mattress platform is controlled by an easy-to-use handset while its robust construction and generous warranty terms mean no hidden costs or hassle of quality complaints once the bed is in use, says the company. Created with style in mind, the unobtrusive design with wood finish options and a choice of wider widths make the Signature Low Footboard Bed a pleasant addition to an enduserâ€™s bedroom. www.opera-care.co.uk
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Area 1 | Andrew Farrell 01274 475 112 / email@example.com Area 2 | Karen Clarke 01274 475 118 / firstname.lastname@example.org Area 3 | Sandra Conlan 01274 475 121 / email@example.com Area 4 | Nial Hutton 01274 475 116 / firstname.lastname@example.org
RETAILERS BUYING GUIDE
Integrity Static Plus Mattress from Sumed Manufactured at its plant in the Peak District, Integrity Static Plus Mattress has been popular since its launch three years ago, says Sumed. It can be used with patients at very high risk up to, and including, grade two pressure damage. The mattress also has reinforced side walls for ease of transfer and the grey castellated foam insert is replaceable to maximise flexibility and save money.
The reinforced side walls are hinged so that it can be used on profiling beds and the insert castellations in the heel zone are designed to offer maximum envelopment. In addition, the mattress comes with a two-year warranty and can be used by patients up to 248kg. www.sumedinternational.com
Richmond Adjustable Bed from Drive DeVilbiss The Richmond features a fivefold adjustable base that adjusts to support the five key areas: Knees, hips, back, neck & head. It can also be easily adjusted to several desired positions to help provide the ability to maximise comfort. Boasting a 42 multi-slatted base, the bed features a strong UK craftsman-built and quality-upholstered divan base. It also includes a low voltage five-button multi-position handset and a comes with a broad range of models and sizes available, including a massage unit and heavy-duty models. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk
Ruby Auto Weight Sensing Replacement Mattress from Alerta Medical The Alerta Ruby Auto Weight Sensing Mattress is an alternating air system for users at very high risk of developing a pressure ulcer. It is built with cell-on-cell air cells and a static base to create an in-use height of 8 inches. In addition, the
pump has the latest auto weight sensing technology to provide continuous self-adjusting interface pressures according to the userâ€™s weight. www.alertamedical.com
Domus 3D â€“ Dynamic Mattress System from APEX Medical Available for patients at medium- to high-risk of pressure injury, the specially designed mattress has a digital pump for precise pressure control, aiming to satisfy pressure ulcers and overall prevention. With key functions such as alternate and continuous lowpressure mode and an 8-inch cell-on-cell design, the Domus 3D ensures that the user doesnâ€™t bottom out in the event of power failure. According to APEX Medical, the ventilated low air loss system reduces heat and moisture build up and has a highly vapour permeable cover with low friction properties to maximise comfort and prevention. www.apexmedicalcorp.com
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RETAILERS BUYING GUIDE
Casa Med Classic FS from Drive DeVilbiss The Casa Med Classic FS offers an attractive design and is available in either Beech, Maple, Oak or Walnut. Described as beautifully finished with enclosed motors and an attractive curved wooden head and foot board, this adjustable bed also includes integral wooden side rails as standard. In addition, the bed benefits from a Dewert motor, handset and controls while a dual motor headrest and knee brake adjustment allows both independent movement, as well as synchronised movement of the head and footrests. Height adjustable between 40 – 80cm, the Casa Med Classic FS also has an eight-button handset and four 10cm braked castors to enable secure positioning. The bed comes available with a metal mesh or wooden slat base. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk
Icon Floor (Ultra Low Floor Bed) from APEX Medical The electronically controlled ultra-low floor bed combines high-quality construction and top-class functionality to assist individuals and prevent injury, according to the company. Offered with partial or fully enclosed head and footboards, the stylish wooden bed benefits from the additional design features of an adjustable backrest and leg-rest. The overall bed height is adjustable from 10cm to 70cm to further aid mobility and comes with a builtin anti-entrapment safety function stopping the bed at 30cms. Th Icon Floor can be put into any position for comfort, interaction or to assist with mobility. Static foam and dynamic mattresses are also available to fit the frame of the bed for additional comfort. www.apexmedicalcorp.com
Signature Comfort Dual Profiling Bed from Opera Care
The Signature Comfort Dual is the ultimate bed for couples when care or additional support is required, says Opera Care. The twin mattress platform means each user has a remote handset and can independently raise and lower their back and leg rests for comfort and support. The whole bed also raises and lowers from an easy access low height right up to a carer’s waist level, should there be nursing requirements. The bed is available with a range of headboard styles and upholstery materials so that dealers’ customer can customise their bed to fit seamlessly with their bedroom interiors. www.opera-care.co.uk
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RETAILERS BUYING GUIDE
Solo Comfort Plus Profiling Bed from Opera Care According to Opera Care, the Solo Comfort Plus Bed is a true premium all-in-one care bed. It can be raised right up to a carer’s waist level, as well as lowered to an ultra-safe floor height. The bed’s ‘In-Bed Seated Position’ function allows the user to adjust the bed into a chair for reading and watching TV while its telescopic split side rails facilitate access for the user and help to prevent falls. All of the advanced functionality is cleverly balanced with elegant, homely design, enabling retailers’ customers to select their own width, headboard style, wood finish and upholstery material. www.opera-care.co.uk
Sensaflo Hybrid Mattress from Alerta Medical The Alerta Sensaflo Hybrid Mattress has a builtin fire evacuation system, allowing the mattress to be quickly moved with the user in position during emergency situations. There are four adaptable foam heel zone cells that can be individually removed and repositioned to create zero pressure under the heel. When used without a pump, the Alerta Sensaflo Hybrid performs as a high spec foam mattress and when used with a pump, it performs the same as an alternating air system. In the centre of the mattress are 10 foamfilled air cells, which the user interfaces with directly, providing a versatile and multi-purpose pressure care system with unique benefits for both the user and care provider. www.alertamedical.com
Shear Comfort natural wool overlays from BES Rehab Helping to improve comfort in bed, Shear Comfort’s natural wool overlays protect the skin and joints and help to relieve pressure. The overlays are also designed to reduce shear and friction, aid pressure ulcer prevention, as well as regulate temperate and wick away moisture. www.besrehab.net
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WORLDâ€™S FIRST 4 IN 1 HYBRID MATTRESS
Alerta Sensaflo Hybrid Mattress A truly versatile and multi-purpose pressure care system with unique benefits for both the user and care provider.
User Weight Capacity
Ergonomically castellated pillow function
When used without a pump the Alerta Sensaflo Hybrid performs as a high specification foam mattress and when used with a pump it performs the same as an alternating air system By inflating the mattress and sealing off with the transport cap you create a balanced-air self-adjusting semi-active mattress
In the centre of the mattress are 10 foam filled air cells which the user interfaces with directly
Four adaptable gel-foam heel zone cells can be individually removed and repositioned to create zero pressure under the heel
Built-in fire evacuation system with straps and handles, allowing the mattress to be quickly moved with the user in position during emergency situations
Distributor Opportunities Contact the Alerta Medical team for attractive trade prices, technical information and marketing support.
+44 (0)3452 088 097 | www.alertamedical.com | email@example.com
With cashflow being a key challenge for any new business, Scott is carefully deciding which products are right for Three Counties Mobility at this early stage in its journey
Three Counties Mobility Turning lemons into lemonade 46 / www.thiis.co.uk
Throughout the pandemic, some people have had their lives turned upside down. For many, it has meant having to re-enter the jobs market due to redundancies. Scott Brooker was one of those individuals. Having entered the mobility industry a year ago, he found himself in need of a new role, following a restructure. Keen to remain in the sector and take his fate into his own hands, Scott decided now was the time start his own mobility shop. THIIS caught up with the new kid on the block to discover his plans and motivations.
SEIZING AN OPPORTUNITY For many, launching a new business is a daunting prospect at the best of times, let alone during the height of an unprecedented pandemic. For former business development manager (BDM) Scott Brooker, however, the time felt right. After a year working in the mobility sector, Scott found himself facing a gloomy employment market in August. As he saw it, he had two options: Fire out CVs and keep his fingers crossed or take matters into his own hands. “It’s a tricky time to start for anyone but I thought, what do I have to lose?” said Scott. “One thing I was sure about was that I wanted to stay in mobility. During my time in the industry, I loved it. Seeing how the retailers I worked with helped their customers really made me consider that it is something that I would like to do. Plus, I always liked the idea of being my own boss. When I was made redundant, I decided now was a good time to just give it a go.” In the village of Castle Camps
in South Cambridgeshire, Scott and his partner decided to set up their first mobility shop, Three Counties Mobility. The strategically placed store is nestled between Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex – hence the name. SETTING UP SHOP From his time as a BDM, Scott was aware just how much the right or wrong location can impact the success of a shop. Opening the store not far from his own home, Scott explained why he believed Castle Camps would give their fledgling business the best chance to survive and thrive. “It is a great location,” he said. “There is not a massive amount of competition around and our nearest competitor is about 11 miles away. That gives us a good amount of breathing room to develop our own local customer base.” Choosing to avoid the busy centre of the village, the couple decided on a converted barn on the outskirts. “Having seen a variety of shops on my travels as a BDM, I learned that
you do not need to be in the centre of town or village to make it work,” contended Scott. “By being a bit further out, it means we have plenty of parking for our customers right outside our front door, as well as loads of retail space that would have cost a lot more on a high street.” The site also boasts two interesting neighbours: A traditional toyshop selling wooden children’s toys and a saddlery business selling riding gear and horse feed. “Even though the location is a bit more rural, we still see passing trade as people come to visit the other businesses. These are the kind of customers that may be interested in what we do as well,” continued Scott. “I’ve been to shops to do demonstrations so I know what it is like trying to get to different stores with powered mobility products and how difficult it can be, particularly if it means parking in a multi-story or a few streets away. It was stressful for me so I imagine its not a great experience for customers either.”
Scott and his partner Hayley Swadling are now embedding their new mobility showroom in the local community
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One of the key challenges for Scott has been finding the right suppliers to work with and who want to work with him
Launching on the 14th September, the new retail outfit is still finding its feet but reported that trade has been promising so far. In its first month and beyond, sales exceeded expectations as local customers became more aware of its existence. “The reception has been great. We’ve had people popping in to welcome us and comment about how nice it is to have a business in the space as it helps the community,” noted Scott. “Even the local businesses are excited. It is the benefit of being situated in a close-knit community.” A PRIVILEGED POSITION Despite lacking experience on the retail side of the market, Scott has had the benefit of visiting almost 100 different shops during his time as a BDM. As a result, he has been exposed to a wide range of different retail approaches, enabling him to apply elements of what he has seen
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and liked to his own business. From the design of the showroom to the products on the shelves, Scott has relied on the experience of his former life to help him navigate the early and uncertain days of starting a new business. “Knowing how to lay out the shop or what products to stock comes with time. Having had the opportunity to see stores that I think work well and a good variety of products has definitely helped, though,” he acknowledged. “It’s given me a starting point to have some idea about what I want to sell and how I want to sell it.” CHOOSING WHAT TO SELL The key to surviving the early years for any new business is effectively managing cashflow and being careful where money is spent. For Scott, deciding which products to invest in was, and remains, a key challenge and one that shapes the
business’ entire strategy. “The big challenge is trying to figure out where we sit in the market and where we want to get to,” he explained. “I’ve really spent time trying to work out if we position ourselves as a general day-to-day mobility shop or do we put ourselves in the specialist bracket. It is essential as it determines what we cover in our product range, how we market ourselves and who we want to reach. “Everyone’s needs are different but trying to cover all bases is almost impossible for a small mobility retailer starting out like ours.” It is a challenge with no easy answer. Fortunately, a clear vision of how he wants to sell his products has helped Scott land on a product portfolio strategy that he is comfortable with. “I can see how easy it would be to fill our showroom to the brim with
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RETAILER SPOTLIGHT products to try to meet everyone’s needs. That would make it look cluttered and it would also mean sitting on a lot of stock – that is the last thing I want. Instead, I want people to come into the shop and it feel comfortable,” he emphasised. “Cramped stores aren’t what customers want and they end up overwhelmed. I think light, airy environments with plenty of space are important, especially given the current pandemic.” How Three Counties Mobility merchandises and displays its products has been a key consideration for Scott, ensuring to give ranges room to breathe and catch customers’ attention. He has also decided to stick with what he knows, selling mobility scooters, travel powerchairs and other lifestyle-orientated ranges. “For the time-being, we are not going to dive too much into the technical and specialist side of the market as we don’t have the level of knowledge needed yet,” said Scott. “But before deciding what products we wanted to focus on, we decided that, first and foremost, we want to be known for offering a service, rather than just products. “I know we need to do something that helps us stand out from what others are offering online and builds up that loyalty with customers.” To take advantage of his physical shop presence, the company is offering a ‘try before you buy’ initiative on items like powerchairs and scooters. “It is difficult for companies that sell just online to match the level of service and convenience can offer,” stated Scott. “Trying to return items, particularly big items such a scooters or chairs, to an internet company can be extremely difficult. So, we want to highlight the service aspect of what we do.” Additionally, Three Counties Mobility is providing aftersales services, including repairs and servicing, with help from a friend who is a qualified engineer. The company is also offering a wheelchair rental option after seeing a demand for wheelchairs available
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to hire on a short-term basis. “Since opening, I’ve already had quite a few calls from end-users and family members who have said that the wheelchair they’ve been provided by the NHS was too heavy. Instead, they wanted something lighter for a short period,” he explained. “Although most of our trade has been to purchase so far, we know people want the option to rent so it will definitely be a part of the business we’ll look to grow.” GETTING HOLD OF PRODUCTS Beyond the difficulty of deciding which products to sell, Scott also highlighted the challenge of actually getting hold of the products to sell. Candidly, he told THIIS that opening accounts with suppliers had been one of his biggest hurdles. “What I struggled with at the beginning was getting some suppliers to work with us,” he highlighted. “Every single supplier I’ve got in the shop now has been fantastic but I was surprised at the response of some.” Scott explained that there were suppliers that declined to open an account with him because of commitments to other nearby areas.
“It is my attitude to most of life and while there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, I can be certain in myself.” SCOTT BROOKER
“I completely get that, having been a BDM. When that has been the case, some have been great and got back to me to let me know,” he continued. “There have been some instances where the response from the suppliers has been nothing short of poor, though. Promises to return phone calls that never come, really slow email responses or just a refusal to come out and see us. Often, the reason given is COVID-19 but it doesn’t reflect well on them and it makes me wary of working with companies like that in the future. “We are all guns blazing and determined to make our business work; I really want to work with
Going off the beaten track In its range of products, Three Counties Mobility has a specialist all-terrain wheelchair which Scott plans to use to help further embed himself in the local community. “One idea we are going to explore is approaching the local Bartlow Three Counties Walk. It is a popular event that takes place each year here,” he explained. “My plan is to offer them an opportunity to give disabled people a chance to take part. I’ve done the walk and can’t remember seeing anyone with mobility needs do it so there is an opening for us to work with them. It’s a win-win – it would get our name out there, gives the walk the chance to become accessible and gives someone the chance to participate who hasn’t been able to before.” As a small and new retailer, Scott knows that to survive, he will need the full support of the local area. Thinking of out-of-the-box ideas to get in front of his desired audiences in a cost-effective way will be key. “We also advertise in the local newspaper, send out flyers, put the signage up on the van and really whatever else we can think of to just let people know that we are here. Getting our name out there is probably one of the biggest challenges as a start-up.”
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The newcomer to the market is focusing on getting its brand out there
suppliers that share that drive and motivation.” Stressing the frustration that delayed or no responses cause, Scott raised the point that the mobility sector is small and built on relationships – something he learned in his previous role. “I understand if they have customers in an area who they want to support but it would still be nice for a rep to visit us and find out what we are about it. What I found from my days as a BDM was that there was no harm in building that relationship because you never know what it could develop into,” he added. “Things like support are important and I take that into consideration when deciding what to sell –it’s not just about the margins.” Pointing to Wilcare and Motion Healthcare in particular, Scott underlined what he was looking for
from suppliers. “Both Wilcare and Motion have been great. I like that their ranges are not in every single mobility shop and they give great support as well,” said Scott. “For example, Tim Mills from Motion took the time to come and visit us. He explained that they are selective with who they work with but they really support those they do work with – that is what I want. “The relationship with a supplier is as important as the margins because you want to know that they’ll be there when you need them.” BORN IN THE WORLD OF COVID-19 COVID-19 has, undoubtably, turned the world of business on its head for suppliers and retailers alike. Furloughs, closures, shielding and delays sourcing products are just a few of the disruptions businesses have experienced.
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For many retailers, it has meant rapidly adapting to the ‘new normal’ – from introducing COVID-secure measures to changing retail models. As a company launched seven months into the pandemic, however, the ‘new normal’ is just Three Counties Mobility’s normal’. Scott has had the advantage of establishing his business around the virus, rather than having to adapt existing operations to it. “We’ve gone overboard on our COVID-secure measures because customers want that peace of mind,” he affirmed. “My mum is quite senior within the council and she has done COVID assessments for all sorts, so she really helped us make sure we were doing everything as comprehensively as we could do. “For us, a big worry would be we open and then someone gets a confirmed case from our shop,
which would force us to shut, so we are taking every precaution possible.” A LABOUR OF LOVE Refusing to let the challenges of starting a new business and the coronavirus uncertainty dampen his enthusiasm, Scott insisted that the journey of starting and running his own business has been thoroughly enjoyable so far. Breaking away from his sales background, the new venture has opened him up to new areas of business, new skills and a new found sense of independence. “It has been great. Sure, there is the pressure that the success or failure rests on my shoulders but I love having the freedom to make decisions,” he maintained. “I had never really been exposed to things like branding or websites before and I’ve found them really interesting. I worked with a friend of a friend to create our brand and I created the website myself, which I’ve found myself really getting into.” Perhaps most important for Scott, however, has been the level of satisfaction and purpose. For the self-confessed coffee geek, even the little things such as making himself a cup in the morning after he has opened up the shop brings a level of gratification. Drawing a comparison to the time he spent in the car sales trade, Scott continued: “What I’ve noticed is that nothing ever feels like a chore because it’s a passion – it’s refreshing. “Working in an area like car sales, you are just a number and it’s all about money. It means you don’t always feel valued. We spend so
much of our time and life at work that it should be something that we find enjoyable and care about. “I’d love to get to the point where I can recruit people as I’d like this business to become a place that is all about looking after its staff and customers.” LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Despite the company still being in the starting leg of its journey, it hasn’t stopped Scott from envisaging where he wants to get the company to, though. “The ambition would be to have three stores within the three counties and I have already got a rough plan in my head of where I would like them,” said the motivated retailer. “Of course, the dream would be to have a big company that somehow manages to keep that personal, service-led approach but we are a long way off that yet. “In the more immediate term, making it through COVID-19 is the focus for now. I am also trying to figure out how we grow as a business. I have had calls from customers for products that we can source but these are requests to see and try them, rather than necessarily buy them. As we have to be careful with our funds, it makes those kinds of requests difficult to service. “We’ll learn quickly what sells and what doesn’t, which will help inform us about the products we need but that process can become expensive so how we manage that going forwards is important.” Speaking with Scott, the determination to make his new business a success is striking. This fearless drive will be essential as he
“Things like support are important and I take that into consideration when deciding what to sell –it’s not just about the margins.” SCOTT BROOKER
looks to overcome the challenges ahead and establish himself in the market. “Trying to find a new role in the mobility sector at the moment is extremely difficult,” he pointed out. “I have friends who have also found themselves redundant from different industries so it just shows that no one is secure at the moment. Rather than relying on others to decide, I felt it was better do something myself. Lots of people have said I am crazy to do it but I think it’s better to forge my own way. It is my attitude to most of life and while there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, I can be certain in myself.” If Three Counties Mobility is able to weather the uncertainty of a pandemic through those first two difficult years, Scott will be well placed to handle anything the future may throw at him. www.threecountiesmobility.co.uk
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eFOLDi A heavy focus on lighter products BREAKING INTO THE MOBILITY RETAIL SCENE The past four years have been busy for eFOLDi’s CEO Sumi Wang, to say the least. Since entering the mobility arena with her father’s unique folding scooter prototype in 2017, she has reached a series of impressive milestones. The mobility start-up has successfully raised millions in investment through crowdfunding, released a popular product onto the market, used television advertising to reach customers, bolstered its management team and secured noteworthy private equity funding. Now, eFOLDi is preparing for the next stage in its journey and is putting the mobility retail trade at the heart of its plans. The company has recently released two new products which it is confident will charm dealers. DEVELOPING ITS DEALER NETWORK The company’s flagship MK1.5 scooter has been a runaway success for eFOLDi, generating millions in sales in its first year. Primarily focusing on a direct-to-consumer model, however, the company has yet to develop an extensive network of retail partners in the UK. It is something Tim Ross, industry veteran and eFOLDi’s new National Sales Manager, plans to change in the weeks and months ahead. “Our focus is on building a network of like-minded partners who see the value in selling quality
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One of the mobility industry’s success stories, eFOLDi has managed to break into the competitive world of mobility manufacturing with its unique MK1.5 folding scooter. Primarily focusing on a B2C model, the company achieved multi-millionpound sales and grabbed the attention of capital venture firm Guinness Asset Management. Buoyed with a fresh £2.5m investment and with a trade expert recently joining its ranks, the company has laid out its ambitions to firmly establish a UK retail network.
National Sales Manager Tim Ross to bring his considerable trade experience to eFOLDi as it looks to develop its retailer network
products that are unique from others on the market,” he explains. “We are already working with some dealers, so we’ll be looking at how we can work closer with them while selectively adding new dealers to our network. We are certainly not looking to open up every single retailer in the UK just to sell them a product or two a year. “This is about working with and supporting quality dealers that want to get behind our products. So, it is important that we work with retailers that see our products as adding value to their range.” Alongside building the UK
“I hope dealers can see that we have acted on that feedback and understand where we are going and want to join us on the journey.” SUMI WANG
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SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT network, Tim adds that the growing company is also looking for export partners. Candidly, Sumi acknowledges that the company has learned an important lesson from the launch of its first product about the importance of satisfying the needs of end-users and retailers. “We decided to sell direct and use television advertising after we received feedback from dealers that our MK1.5 did not always fit in with their product portfolios. It was quite different from the traditional scooters that are in the industry,” she says. “Good and bad, that feedback was invaluable and I’d like to thank all the dealers that shared their thoughts with us. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today with two new products which we have made with feedback from retailers in mind.” MADE FOR THE TRADE The company hopes its new and ultra-lightweight eFOLDi Lite mobility scooter and Powerchair will prove a hit among mobility retailers. “Our two new products are created more as retailer products that fit into a dealer’s showroom,” continues Sumi. Weighing just 15kg, its Lite model is the “world’s lightest, most compact, folding mobility scooter,” claims the company. Capable of folding into the size of a small suitcase, the Lite features a useful handle for users to easily manoeuvre it when folded and has suspension and large wheels making for a comfortable ride, says eFOLDi. At 14kg, the company also asserts its new Powerchair holds the title as the “lightest, most compact power wheelchair in its class.” Boasting a range of 12 miles, the fully airlinecompliant device has the added benefit of an attendant control as standard. According to Tim, the lightness will help the devices stand out in the busy folding powered mobility market. “I’ve been in the industry for a long time and seen a lot of folding
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eFOLDi is confident its new Lite scooter will add a new dimension to dealer’s portfolios
mobility scooters that are just too heavy for some customers to lift into a car boot. The alternative is scooters that have to be disassembled, which can be timeconsuming,” he says. “The lightness of our products will mean there will be customers who will only be able to lift an eFOLDi product and not others in a showroom. It enables dealers to add products to their portfolio that will allow them to meet the needs of more customers.” He also points out that due to the compact design when folded, the devices take up less room in showrooms where space is at a premium. Despite their light weight, however, Sumi – a professional engineer by trade – emphasises that the devices are robust and capable of carrying heavier weights thanks to innovative engineering. Impressively, the Lite scooter can carry eight times its own weight, with a carry capacity of 120kg, while the Powerchair can carry almost nine times its own weight at 135kg. “We have been able to reduce the weight thanks to our clever, patented design,” she says. “Because of our unique mechanics, the way our products fold is different to how others in this industry fold
– which typically fold in a scissortype motion. Our design means that the products can carry more weight while also being lighter.” MAKING B2C AND B2B WORK Arguably, the main question for many dealers is how the company will make its B2C and B2B operations work together. “We want dealers to see our marketing and TV adverts as complementary and something they can benefit significantly from,” says Sumi. “Our TV advertising is not only raising awareness of the MK1.5 but also of mobility and eFOLDi generally. It will encourage customers to go to their local mobility shop and ask if they sell an
“This is about working with and supporting quality dealers that want to get behind our products.” TIM ROSS
The eFOLDi Lite folding mobility scooter
eFOLDi, rather than asking if they sell a mobility scooter. We’ve already seen this happen a lot.” Sumi adds that having the B2C arm selling the MK1.5 is key to paying for the advertising to promote eFOLDi as a brand. Alongside its dealers enjoying the afterglow of its marketing efforts, Tim suggests its B2C heritage also helps the company to offer greater support to its dealer network. “Having our B2C arm means the company has had to invest in internal resource to handle technical issues and provide customer service directly to end-users,” he says. “It means we have great technical capacity in-house that is able to help any dealers with queries or any support they need. We really see this as going beyond just offering new products; it is about forming a partnership and providing excellent dealer support, customer service, aftersales support and product training.” GEARING UP FOR THE TRADE Over the past two years of selling directly to consumers, eFOLDi has learned some difficult and valuable lessons along the way. As Sumi emphasises, the company is in a much better position to meet the needs of trade partners. “Last year, we generated multi-
million sales but we ran low on stock. As it was the first year, we didn’t have previous sales projections to know how many units we would need and we were surprised by just how popular it was,” she concedes. “Our customers were great and very understanding but we know that can’t happen for our trade customers so, during lockdown, we moved into a bigger facility. Now we can hold a significant amount more stock than we could before. It means we are well placed to handle fluctuations and delays caused
by the pandemic and ensure we can meet the needs of our trade customers.” Fortunately for the company, Tim’s three decades in the industry means he has an expert understanding of what dealers want and need. Over recent weeks, he has been busy ramping up retail support across the board, ensuring eFOLDi can provide quick access to spare parts and stock, extensive product training, technical support and trade-focused point of sale material. With two new products designed for the retail market, a new storage facility, big financial backing to invest in infrastructure and R&D, alongside the injection of Tim’s trade experience, eFOLDi looks well positioned to make this next engagement with the mobility trade a success. “I would like to thank all the dealers that have helped us get to where we are today. Those that supported the MK1.5 and those that told us what we needed to do to better engage with the retail market,” finishes Sumi. “I hope dealers can see that we have acted on that feedback and understand where we are going and want to join us on the journey. Please get in touch with us and we would love to see how we can work together.” www.efoldi.com
The eFOLDi Powerchair
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THE OT’S PERSPECTIVE
The OT’s Perspective OTs are gold dust for retailers right now By Stuart Barrow I’ve been a student of marketing for a number of years now. And I’ve learned there is a number one rule of marketing before you get started creating any assets or deciding on the media you’re going to use to share your message.
needs and wants are. So, you should be working with an OT. Agreed? Good. Now, the question becomes: How do you work with an OT? Here are two pieces of advice on making the best of that arrangement:
Know your audience. And not in a trivial way either. Knowing your audience deeply and understanding their thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires is the difference between marketing that speaks and marketing that shouts from the rooftops. And it’s not just important in marketing, it’s also crucial for the step before it: Product creation. As a retailer, manufacturer or supplier, your job is to serve your audience with solutions that really do make their life better. If you don’t truly know them, however, you’ve got very little chance in creating those solutions.
1. Don’t rely on one employed clinician It’s very easy to say: “Yep, we’ve got an OT we speak to” and assume you’ve ticked the box. But that employed clinician might specialise in only one specific area and they might not always be available to help. By working with a practice, rather than one clinician, you can ensure a broad range of experience and availability when you need it.
THE QUESTION IS: HOW DO YOU GET TO KNOW THEM? Yes, you can go some way to achieving this with surveys, events and meet & greets but if you really want to understand the collective needs and desires of your audience, you need to find people who work with them day in, day out. And in your case, those people are occupational therapists. They work with your target market on a daily basis and have a more indepth knowledge than anyone else on the planet about what the critical mass of your prospective customers’
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2. Outsource, don’t employ Look, there’s nothing wrong with employing an OT to help you develop the right products and messaging. But don’t rely solely on that. Again, an OT that’s not ‘in the field’ will not be as useful as an OT who’s on the front line, talking to clients on a daily basis, and – again – you want to ensure you’ve got a wide range of experience, which is hard to achieve with just one OT. OKAY, SO YOU’VE PARTNERED WITH AN OT PRACTICE, WHAT NEXT? Once your partnership is set up, you need to start maximising it – here’s
Occupational Therapist Stuart Barrow explains why retailers and manufacturers should be looking to occupational therapists in 2021 and beyond. just some of what an OT can help you with: Assess accessibility and appropriateness of websites, literature and social media content Because your trusted partner knows what makes your target customer tick, they can run through all of your outward facing communication with a fine toothcomb and make sure it lands, resonates and doesn’t offend. Accessing statutory services and agencies Many OT practices have great relationships with other services and agencies that serve your target market and can help to put you in touch, recommend your products and give you a route to market. Help develop new products OTs understand the needs of their clients better than anyone - even the clients! As a result, they can play a key role in product development.
“It’s very easy to say: “Yep, we’ve got an OT we speak to” and assume you’ve ticked the box.” STUART BARROW
Stuart Barrow of Promoting Independence is a member of the British Association of Occupational Therapists panel and a recognised contributor in the field of home adaptations. He also runs the popular Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference
Help marketing those products If we go back to the start and the golden rule of marketing, then it’s clear just how valuable OTs are to your marketing engine. They’re the ones that understand the key benefits of what you deliver and how they actually improve the lives of your clients. So, you should
be leaning on them to ensure you create marketing messages that really impact the people you want to benefit from your products. Right, that’s about it from me – if you haven’t already, please, please partner with an OT practice. It’ll improve your products, your
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LET’S GET IT CLEAR
What makes a good cushion? 5. Pressure Care For the clinician, as well as for the client, tissue integrity around the buttocks may well come first when selecting the attributes of a cushion. This article covers strategies for getting forces away from the sharper bony parts of the pelvis i.e. the ischial tuberosities (ITs) – what we might call ‘pressure management’. Pressure is considered to be a ‘bad’ thing since it is accompanied by shear and the two combined lead to cell damage and reduced blood flow. (Part 6 covers other influences than pressure alone on tissue integrity, such as shear forces and microclimate.) On the other hand, some pressure is a ‘good’ thing since without it, we would not stay in our seats. It’s just where the pressure is that’s critical. The ITs present quite rough and pointy bits of bone covered with relatively small amounts of flesh
Dr ter Haar has been involved in seating and mobility for over 30 years, including lecturing internationally and developing international seating and decontamination standards.
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and people were not really designed to sit on these – by sitting on these, we are putting those thin tissues under high risk of damage from the pressures exerted on those tissues from the ITs. So, what can we do about this? Pressure is force over area (P=F/A). The force comes from the pull of gravity on our body mass and the equal and opposite reaction from
This is the fifth article in a series which aims to start getting people thinking more about what goes into a cushion that makes it ‘good’ for one person, but maybe not for another. In the first article, we identified the three key elements around which a cushion can be assessed – functionality, posture management, and tissue integrity. In the third and fourth articles, we addressed the benefits of a neutral pelvis and stability for posture management and contouring to optimise positioning. This article addresses the core issue of pressure management and distribution.
However, immersion on its own will not be enough (see Fig. 1)1. To get the cushion to interact with a larger area of the skin, the cushion materials need to allow the cushion to come into full contact with the skin to envelop it. Only then will you have the larger surface area over which to dissipate the forces and thereby reduce the pressure.
Figure 1. Immersion does not necessarily equate with envelopment
the surface we are sitting on. So the wider the area that we can spread that force, the less the maximum pressure over that area. Even better is if we can find less vulnerable areas of the body to redirect those forces towards. We will be covering aspects of cushion design that can assist with this redirection, but first let us look at what we can do under the ITs through the choice of suitable materials. IMMERSION AND ENVELOPMENT If we want to increase the area of the cushion that is in contact with the skin, we need to immerse the buttocks further into the cushion.
PRESSURE REDISTRIBUTION Where and how can we unload pressures away from the ITs? Within the cushion, this can be under the trochanters, under the thighs, and/or under the gluteal muscles. Away from the cushion, the person’s body mass can also be spread into the back support, arm supports, foot supports, and indeed head supports. A pressure mapping system is the ideal tool to check the optimal height of the foot supports to redistribute pressure evenly along the thighs. Let’s start with the greater trochanters, which are the bony protuberances at the top of our thigh
bones, the femurs, roughly opposite where the hip joint is situated (Fig. 2). As the pelvis’ ITs sinks into the cushion (if the cushion is thick enough), eventually the sides of the cushion will come into contact with the trochanters, thereby bringing extra areas into play for spreading the forces. Different densities of materials under the trochanters (firmer) as compared with the ITs (softer) may facilitate this process. For most of us, the amount of immersion needed will be 30-40 mm. Note that too much redistribution of the forces towards the hip joint can damage the hip joint and lead
Trochanter Ischial Tuberosity
Trochanter Figure 2. The anatomical
hial Tuberosity relationship
30 - 40 mm
between the ischial tuberosities and the trochanters
to hip dysplasia, so don’t leave the buttocks hanging off the trochanters over a large hole. You can have too much of a good thing! To enable manufacturers to test the degree to which their cushions disperse the forces away from the ITs towards envelopment of the buttocks and offloading onto the trochanters, a wooden indenter device with implanted pressure sensors has been designed2 (Fig. 3).
The solution is to have the seat plate horizontal, and therefore the pelvis neutral, but place a wedge under the cushion at the anterior part of the plate, thereby both elevating the knees and allowing pressure redistribution away from under the pelvis to below the thighs – to tissues more suited to carrying the pressures (Fig 4: 3). This wedge is best if placed inside the cushion cover. Lowering the foot supports may achieve the same effect but, for most chairs, this will result in the foot supports being too low for safe wheeling around. Figure 3. Indenter with implanted pressure sensors – red positions replicate the position for the ITs and the blue positions for the trochanters.
at aspects of cushion design to aid in the positioning of the pelvis. In that article, we introduced a means towards both encouraging a neutral pelvis while simultaneously offloading the forces along the thighs:
30 - 40Figure mm 4 Pressure redistribution under the thighs3
Key 1. Flat seat base under ischials 2. Pre-ischial ridge 3. Ramping wedge under thighs 4. PSIS block 5. Ischial tuberosity 6. PSIS
WHERE ELSE? Many of us have more tissue than we feel we need around our buttocks. As we discussed in Part 4 of this series, if we can spread the support of the body more widely over this area, we are taking the forces into tissues well away from inadequately covered bony prominences. Using a pressure mapping system which shows gradients as well as pressures can also show clearly the potentially damaging forces around areas which are normally out of sight to the naked eye – the sacrum (Fig. 5). Where the maximum pressures occur are not where the largest rates of change occur and the greater the rate of pressure change, the greater likelihood of damaging shear strain – a topic we will come back to again in Part 6. To what extent does your Figure 5. Pressure map showing left: pressures, with highest pressures under the ITs, and right: the gradients from the same map, showing greatest gradients are occurring around the sacral/coccyx area
Rate of Change (Gradient)
THIGH OFFLOADING In part 3 of this series, we looked
www.thiis.co.uk / 61
LET’S GET IT CLEAR cushion provide contouring around this area (one area of contouring that, incidentally, will not have an adverse effect on transfers)? All ways round, there’s a lot we can do to take the pressures off the bony prominences of the ITs, sacrum, and coccyx.
Cushion Pressure Management Check/Score as per a cushion’s ability to meet the user’s needs Immersion Envelopment Trochanteral off-loading Thigh off-loading Gluteal (posterior) support Figure 1 is taken from BHTA’s What Lies Beneath foam mattress specification report which can be accessed through: https://www.bhta. com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/ BHTA-1.pdf
ADDING PERIPHERAL SUPPORT TO A CUSHION Adding, for example, a VariliteTM Contoured Positioning Wave Base (CPB) under a cushion, such as a RohoTM cushion, can provide additional offloading support laterally and posteriorly.
ISO 16840-12 Wheelchair Seating – Part 12: Envelopment and immersion characterization of seat cushions using a dual semispherical indenter
BS 8625:2019 Selection, placement, and fixation of flexible postural support devices in seating – Specification
‘Let’s Get it Clear’ by Dr Barend ter Haar One in a series of occasional résumés of aspects in the world of posture and mobility where there are common misconceptions, and myths to be addressed, to help promote better practice. Further items can be found at www. beshealthcare.net. If you are interested in receiving further information on the topic, please contact barend@ beshealthcare.net
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