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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 256 • January 2020

THIIS Issue 256 January 2020


Investing in the future Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

New faces, new products and a new facility to open up new opportunities for one West Yorkshire company





Also inside:


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…from the editor

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

As we enter a new decade with a new government, it is certain that 2020 will prove to an eventful 12 months in the mobility, assistive technology and independent living sector. Bravely hazarding their best guesses for what the new year might have in store for players in the industry, this issue’s 2020 Vision feature sees a number of trade professionals provide their educated opinions about what changes, challenges and opportunities may present themselves this year.


Calvin Barnett 01933 278086


eflecting on 2019, one area that seems to be gathering pace is the growth in mergers and acquisitions, as larger suppliers consolidate to take advantage of synergies, along with more private equity firms keen to become involved in a market that only seems to be growing. In terms of retail, the split between lifestyle-oriented retailers who are working towards national ambitions and specialist companies that are distinguishing themselves in the complex-end of the market seems to be widening.


Joe Fahy 07384 258 372

Whilst 2020 will likely see the continuation of both of these trends, the market is still wide open for new entrants to make their mark by embracing new technology, new innovations and new ways of meeting the needs of customers. It is an exciting time for the mobility industry and I can wholeheartedly say that I feel privileged to be able to keep readers informed about all the latest happenings as I come into my fourth year as editor of THIIS Magazine. To all in the industry, I wish you all the best for the year ahead!​

Sub-editor Sarah Sarsby

Calvin Barnett Editor

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

@wwwthiiscouk | 3


32 Rising like a phoenix from the ashes

Features 14 The end of Co-op Mobility 16 How to create a great product 50 Buyers’ guide to wheelchairs


20 Gearing up for growth

18 THIIS time last year 20 More about 28 Trade talk 30 Mergers & acquisitions

36 2020 Vision

32 Retailer spotlight 44 Retailers’ Products of the Month 64 Let’s get it clear 4 |

08 Spare lift bits

62 Forward Motion


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SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF SPARE BITS FOR STAIR LIFTS For many a mobility company, one of the biggest bugbears is getting hold of spare parts. Be it for an urgent repair or finding a bit for an older model no longer in production, quickly getting access to the right parts can prove difficult for retailers keen to keep their customers mobile. Having spent time on both the retail and supply-side of the industry, both requesting and sending out spares, Phil Rice, Managing Director of Anglia Stairlifts, decided to address the problem with a new venture aimed exclusively at the trade. Speaking with the experienced industry veteran, he told THIIS more about his new offering, IS STAIRLIFTBITS A NEW COMPANY OR A NEW B2B ARM OF ANGLIA STAIRLIFTS? “Stairliftbits is a new arm of Anglia Stairlift which only deals with other stairlift/homelift businesses only because we do not believe it would be safe to sell the products to the public. “This is due to the complex nature of some part replacements. It is yet another one of the great businesses under the Anglia Stairlifts umbrella which carries the same ethos of quality service at a fair price.” WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION BEHIND THE NEW VENTURE? “After being in the retail side of the industry for a few years, having spent many years in manufacturing, I have noticed that a major issue was finding parts for stairlifts. “In particular, finding parts for older models of lifts was difficult and when they were available, the prices were usually high. “I have found that manufacturers and other part suppliers charge a premium on stairlift parts, and unfortunately, this high cost usually has to be passed onto the customer. Worst still, these are usually the most

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vulnerable who cannot afford to be given a bill for hundreds of pounds. “The motivation was therefore to supply parts at a fair & affordable price for the trade so that those within the industry can access them instead of paying higher prices which gets passed onto the end-user. “Therefore, here at Stairliftbits, we offer a price match guarantee so we

can be the only place you need to go for all your parts. HOW IS STAIRLIFTSBITS DIFFERENT TO OTHERS OFFERING THE SERVICE IN THE MARKET? “There are a few other suppliers around but I have found, like manufacturers, that their prices are

The trade-only website contains thousands of spare parts for stair and home lifts

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also too high. Another issue that I found is that there are often expensive shipping costs involved for spares, which is why Stairliftbits offers a free postage option for any item sold. “I have also found that most of the time when getting parts there is not much support available, so we make sure that we have a direct line available to provide any help required as well as a guaranteed response to any queries within 24 hours. Because of our experienced selection of engineers, we can always answer any question which is thrown our way.” HOW DOES STAIRLIFTBITS. CO.UK WORK? “Stairliftbits is an online B2B platform that any member of the industry can access. “To view our extensive stock of spares, all they need to do is simply complete a quick two-minute registration form on the website. We also have a full live stock level system so any signed-up member will be able to see the price and if the item is in stock easily and clearly.” IS THERE A MINIMUM ORDER VALUE OR ARE ALL DELIVERIES FREE? “Yes, all our products come with the option for free delivery, whether the person is ordering a single fuse or a full motor and gearbox.” “ARE THERE OTHER DELIVERY OPTIONS AVAILABLE IF PARTS ARE REQUIRED QUICKER? “We know how important it is for a quick turnaround to make sure that mobility companies can keep their customers are happy and able to use their home freely so we offer multiple options for delivery to accommodate this. “Firstly, we offer a free secondclass delivery service which will get a member their products within two to three working days. Secondly, we offer next day delivery for a small fee which, if the product is ordered before 5pm on a weekday, we can ensure that members will receive it the next day. “We also offer a Click & Collect

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Phil Rice promises the new service will remove the headaches of getting hold of spares

option for a mobility provider who needs the part immediately - this can be as quick as 60 seconds after ordering. We will do everything we can to ensure our customers get their parts as soon as possible.” WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR RETAILERS TO BE ABLE TO QUICKLY GET ACCESS TO SPARES? “With the experience I have in the industry, I know first-hand the importance of getting parts as soon as possible. I also know how hard it is for an engineer and a business to have to let a vulnerable person know that they are going to be left without a lift, especially when the rely on this equipment. “It is why we will do everything we can to get these vital parts delivered as quickly as possible so that those in need are not left without. “We also know how important it is to get parts when companies have council contracts, as these are usually performance related and sometimes require you to get parts fast. This is where our fast service is perfect and combined with our great value means that we will be a one-stop shop for all lift parts. HOW DID YOU COME TO ACQUIRE THOUSANDS OF SPARES? “We have amassed a huge selection

of parts over many years and this has been done through many means, such as removing the parts from lifts we have removed. “All our parts are checked, reconditioned and fully cleaned before sending off to make sure that your parts are ready for install. We store all of our parts in our warehouse which is carefully managed and controlled by a live inventory control system.” IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL THE TRADE? “We would like to invite any member of the trade to sign up as a member and would love to hear from them and work hand-in-hand to ensure we can be your number one option for stairlift/ homelift parts. “We would also like to let members know that if you cannot find a part, they need then they simply need to get in touch and we will do our best to get them one within 24 hours.”

To celebrate the launch of the new B2B service, customers that use the promotional code LAUNCH20 before the end of February can also receive an additional 10 percent off everything on the online platform.

The Heartbeat of your

GEL Mobility Over One Million Batteries Sold in the UK!

Tel: 01536 203030 Website: Email:

Ask about our other ranges

new to the market

WHAT’S NEW ON THE MARKET SHARE NEW PRODUCTS Do you have a new product that you want to tell the trade about? Simply send details over to Calvin Barnett at for a chance to have THIIS share your new product with the trade!

Small but mighty


aking its presence felt in the compact mid-wheel drive powerchair market, Quantum Rehab has unveiled its new Edge 3 ‘Stretto’ model, promising it will be a gamechanger in the UK market. The complex powerchair specialist first revealed the more compact version of its popular Edge 3 at Naidex 2019 before inviting dealers to its official launch in November. The Stretto boasts the same features that helped the larger Edge 3 model distinguish itself, including its 4.5mph iLevel technology, patented Extra Stability innovation, upgraded Smooth Ride Suspension and Interactive Assist capability. The compact 52cm (20.5”) wheelbase of the Stretto creates a much narrower footprint to enable users to navigate tighter spaces easier whilst still allowing users to conveniently reach new heights with iLevel. Also including 62amp batteries for greater range and various wheel size options, the new model opens up all of the Edge 3’s impressive features to adults looking for a compact powerchair, along with the paediatric market which requires all of the benefits of the Edge 3 but without the size.

PEGASUS FLIES INTO THE MARKET Focusing its efforts into its own range of rollators after recently splitting with Rollz, Topro has released the Pegasus carbon fibre rollator. The walking aid weighs 6.2kg (6.6kg with the shopping bag) and features a patent-pending brake, Ergo Grip handle, shock-absorbing wheels and partially integrated brake pulls. The rollator also includes a new bag which the company says provides the user with an unrestricted view of the pavement thanks to its positioning, together with reflectors to improve user safety. The Pegasus boasts a seven-year warranty, except on parts that are subject to natural wear and damage to the frame.

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The Edge 3 Stretto features a narrow width for outstanding maneuverability and SRS (Smooth Ride Suspension), making it the perfect indoor and outdoor chair. The Stretto is available with 12.5” or 14” drive wheels and optional 12” of iLevel power adjustable seat height.

new to the market

Smallest fully integrated unit on the market?


stor-Bannerman has launched its new Aquba unit, calling the new height adjustable basin range one of the most wheelchair accessible solutions available and claiming to be the smallest completely integrated currently on the market. Made of a Corian style material that is smooth to the touch, the Aquba’s unique shape at the front makes access to the basin and the taps easier, whilst an indented shelf at the rear helps to position soaps and other accessories that move with the basin. Available in 450mm, 600mm, 750mm and 900mm basin widths, the low-profile concealed plumbing offers full under basin wheelchair access

whilst integrated load bearing handles provide added support to enable the user to manoeuvre around the basin. The wash basin unit also has integrated controls with two custom memory recall positions, allowing the height to be altered at the touch of a button to the pre-set positions,

or to any height within the range by pressing the up/down buttons.

POWERING THE TRANSITION TO LITHIUM Tewkesbury-based Battery Megastore has introduced the TN Power range of lithium batteries to the mobility market, which it says weigh around half that of its leadacid counterparts. Claiming its “100AH TN Power Lithium battery is the most affordable in Europe,” Giles Briggs, Director of Battery Megastore, says the economic lithium option will help to accelerate the transition from lead-acid batteries in the market. “While the traditional lead-acid will always have its place, they’ve been bogged down by two main issues: their weight and their vulnerability to sulfation when not taken care of extremely well,” he explained. According to the Battery

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Megastore, its new lithium products promise an extensive life cycle rating when compared to its leadacid counterparts, with the battery specialist highlighting that the TN Power lithium range will not sulfate over time. The new range comes in 12ah, 24ah, 33ah, 54ah 84ah, 100ah and 110ah.

For all enquiries, contact charlie@ or call 01684298800


Another e-commerce proposition exits the mobility sector

2019 saw a number of mobility retail propositions backed by large corporate companies with deep pockets come to an end. In the spring, Lloyds Pharmacy’s Betterlife effectively ceased all retail operations and in the summer, the Ability Matters Group shut the majority of its mobility retail stores. Another potentially heavy hitter in the market that decided to exit was Co-operative Mobility, despite recently undergoing a rebrand and vowing to become a major player in the sector.


he numerous exits bear the hallmarks of departures that have come before when mobility retail was not the core activity of a business, such as Simplyhealth’s Unlimited Company proposition in 2018 or Halford’s experiment with mobility aids a decade ago. Each exit has its own story and motivations, however, speaking to the Co-operative, it was striking to hear how similar its decision to close its mobility offering was to that of Betterlife’s. Launched back in 2009 by the Southern Cooperative, Co-operative Mobility (known then as Co-operative Independent Living) was set up to operate alongside and complement the Co-op’s 200 convenience stores and 50 funeral homes. Having diversified into new areas over its 146-year history and not short on funds to throw behind the venture, with Southern Co-operative recording sales of £431.2m for the year ended January 2018, the entrance of the household name into the sector grabbed the attentions of many in the trade. With an e-commerce-led strategy, the online-seller offered a wide range of mobility aids, daily living aids and

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moving & handling products, however, in spite of its well-known brand name, the proposition failed to make waves. In 2017, Southern Co-operative rebranded it Co-operative Mobility with Mark Smith, Chief Executive of Southern Co-operative, declaring that he had big plans to expand its e-commerce activity and become a dominant player in the market. Less than 24 months on however, Southern Co-operative decided to completely shut shop. Discussing what motivated the decision, a spokesperson at Southern Co-operative told THIIS: “When we originally launched the online mobility concept, it provided a strategic fit between our convenience store and funeral businesses, utilising our retail and service experience and expertise. However, the way people purchase Aids to Daily Living has changed significantly and the online mobility space has grown rapidly.” The reasoning mirrors that of Betterlife’s statement released earlier in the year, citing difficulties remaining competitive in an increasingly price squeezed online market where margins are often paper-thin. Sharing his thoughts on onlineled mobility retailers, Alastair Gibbs,

Managing Director of long-running retailer TPG DisableAids, commented in April 2019: “Online business invariably has very little else to offer other than a keen price, but there always seems to be someone who is prepared to go a little lower just to close the deal.” Emphasising just how small the mobility retail operation was in relation to the rest of its business activities, Co-op Mobility’s spokesperson continued: “Co-op Mobility represented less than one percent of our total business turnover. “This decision has allowed us to take a step back to re-appraise how co-operative values and principles can best be applied to benefit consumers in this market. It has also enabled us to focus on our core businesses activities of retail, end-of-life services and franchise.” The departure of numerous larger organisations that have attempted to turn their hand at retail in the mobility sector suggests that a well-known brand name and substantial funding may not be enough, reinforcing the importance of getting the retail proposition right in order to achieve sustainable success.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE A GREAT PRODUCT? For many in the industry, designing and creating a product to call their own has likely crossed many minds, however, the journey of turning an idea into a physical, tangible item that people want to buy and use is fraught with complexities and challenges. For Susan Bevan, Head of Product Development at NRS Healthcare, it is a road she has travelled many times when developing some of the company’s award-winning products. Speaking with the experienced product designer, she shared her insights into the process of product development, as well as how NRS Healthcare navigates the inevitable challenges that come with bringing new products to market.


ne of the largest Integrated Community Equipment Service providers in the UK, NRS Healthcare supplies thousands of pieces of mobility and equipment widely across the UK, alongside its thriving product sales division. Beyond the distribution of products however, the organisation also uses its expertise to design and develop new ranges.

One of these own-brand products is the NRS Easyfit Plus+ Bed Rail, which recently featured as one of THIIS Magazine’s ‘Products of the Year’ in our last issue – a proud achievement for the New Product Development team at NRS Healthcare who designed and developed the product in-house from start to finish. Since joining NRS Healthcare in 2015, Susan, who heads up the

Susan Bevan, Head of Product Development

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Nottingham-based development team, has been involved in a number of products, working with her team of design engineers to bring new mobility and independent living aids to endusers. WHERE TO START… For those that have ever flirted with the idea of creating their own product, the first and often most difficult step is deciding what product to actually develop. As Susan explained, finding gaps in the market for potential product development, or deciding which existing products can be improved, is always the first step in the design process. “When identifying gaps in the market, we often start by using feedback from our in-house Clinical Team before carrying out in-depth market research. Rather excitingly at the moment, we’re looking into a new partnership with a UK University conducting ground-breaking research

into mobility products!” she said. “Whether we’re looking to develop an all-new product or redesign an existing one to improve performance/ aesthetics or reduce manufacturing costs, our intention is always to provide the best possible product to the customer at the best possible price.” THE NEED FOR QUALITY One of the most important areas when it comes to product development is quality, particularly when it comes to mobility and independent living aids which are being used by some of the most vulnerable in society. As the company creating a product, it means the full weight of responsibility for the quality and safety of the equipment rests squarely on that business’ shoulders – a fact not lost on Sue. Discussing what processes the company puts in place to ensure quality, Susan highlighted that managing the quality of the products which are developed in-house is of utmost importance to her and her team of design engineers. “Our prototypes are fully evaluated by our safety, design and clinical teams to ensure they meet the design brief and perform as required. We perform a risk analysis on all products we develop to identify potential safety

The company’s own-brand bed rail was identified as leading product in the industry for 2019

“We’re looking into a new partnership with a UK University conducting ground-breaking research into mobility products.” SUSAN BEVAN

issues and prepare detailed safety specifications to make certain our safety requirements are understood by the factories, ensuring they are fully compliant with relevant legislation and are safe to use,” she detailed. “Once the product design process is complete, and we have manufactured pre-production samples, these are tested by third-party laboratories to ensure compliance with relevant standards.”

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD No stranger to traversing the difficulties involved in developing a new product, Susan emphasised that, first and foremost, safety and quality should always come first – even if that means the sometimes-costly exercise of redesigning the product. “We have sometimes experienced difficulties with manufacturing complexity to ensure consistent

quality at an affordable price,” she admitted. “This has sometimes required redesigning a product to make it simpler to manufacture. It can be challenging to go back to the drawing board sometimes, but in my eyes, this is always necessary if it means the product we develop will be manufactured consistently and therefore deliver on quality for our customers.” Those interested to see more of the products designed by the NRS in-house New Product Development Team, such as the NRS Easyfit Plus+ Bed Rail, NRS Combi-Grabber and Seahorse Plus Toileting & Shower Chair, can find out more information on the NRS Healthcare website. | 17

THIIS TIME LAST YEAR What got the industry talking in January 2019?

Herida enters moving & handling

Having made a name for itself in the pressure care arena, Herida Healthcare confirmed its entrance to the moving & handling sector with its range of pressure reducing slings. Herida’s Neil Smith told THIIS that the company was responding to the growing demand for slings, emphasising that its British manufacturing capabilities enabled it to effectively diversify into the sector.

Primacare revives AJ Way range After the shock announcement that AJ Way had ceased trading, Primacare declared in January that it was keeping the defunct company’s product range alive. David Tomlin, MD of Primacare, told THIIS that the company had purchased the design rights to AJ Way’s products, including the Wendover and the Tate.

NRS Healthcare turnover exceeds £165 million NRS Healthcare’s annual report for the financial year reported an annual turnover of £165,183,000, up 2.8 percent on the previous year. Achieving a profit of £5 million, the financial success was largely attributed to the winning and extension of key ICES and wheelchair services contracts.

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Winn-winn acquisition

The best in class THIIS revealed the winners of the 2018 BHTA annual awards to kick start 2019. 13 awards were bestowed on the night, with notable winners including TGA Mobility (Independent Living Design Award), Disabled Care & Mobility (Retailer of the Year), Fish Insurance (Most Effective Marketing Award), TPG DisableAids (Team of the Year) and Island Mobility’s Gillian Green (Individual of the Year).

French medical devices supplier Winncare Group acquired Welsh lifting and bathing device manufacturer Mangar Health, with Winncare looking to gaining fast track access to Mangar’s established UK customer base of care providers, local authorities and emergency services. The move also expanded Mangar’s potential to enhance its operations in European markets.

more about...


GEARING UP FOR GROWTH With continuous year-on-year growth, a sleek new production facility, new products to bring to the market and new faces in the senior management team, it would be no understatement to say that Herida Healthcare has been busy over the past three and a half years. Attending the launch of its new factory in Leeds, THIIS discovered what the ambitious Yorkshire organisation has in store for the industry.


or many businesses, the first few years are often “make or break”, with many new companies struggling to overcome those initial hurdles of winning over customers, scaling production, as well as that allimportant issue of managing working capital. For many, the challenge can prove too much, with some estimates predicting 60 percent of new

Herida’s new 30,000 sq ft production facility will act as the launchpad for its next stage of development

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businesses fail within their three years, and 20 percent close their doors within just 12 months. One success story in the industry that has managed to avoid becoming another statistic however is Herida Healthcare, the West Yorkshire-based manufacturer of pressure care and moving & handling products. Launched by entrepreneurs Neil

Smith and John Kay, the company only started trading in 2016 but in a short space of time has managed to diversify its product offering, grow its manufacturing capabilities and establish a loyal customer base. Its foam and dynamic mattresses, along with its slings and moving and handling range, are sold to community equipment stores, NHS trusts and

John Bentley, MD of Herida, with BHTA Director General Andrew Stevenson at the launch of the new facility

long-term care homes through an exclusive dealer network across the UK, alongside a burgeoning export business. Never one to rest on its laurels, the ambitious company is now gearing up to scale-up, with its sights set on becoming one of the leading suppliers in the hypercompetitive pressure care and moving & handling sectors. In the last six months, the Leeds manufacturer has been busy laying strong foundations on which to build upon, including a change in management structure and the opening of a new manufacturing facility. NEW HOME Having steadily seen a rise in orders over the past three years, Herida Healthcare took the difficult and costly decision to move its factory to a new 30,000 sq ft unit, twice the size of its former home. Over the space of weeks, the company moved its entire production line five miles to a new space in Leeds, employing an extra six employees – bringing its headcount to 42 – to ensure it could keep up with rising demand. During a tour of the site with Herida’s meticulous Operations Director John Kay, he explained how

the move had been carefully planned to minimise disruption, moving over key pieces of equipment, such as its industrial Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) precision foam cutting machine, in such a way as to reduce downtime. In addition to overcoming the obvious manufacturing challenges that a large-scale manufacturing relocation throws up, Herida also managed to successfully retain its workforce, something the senior management team were particularly mindful of. The need to train and retain Getting the opportunity to learn about the various processes involved in the creation of its pressure care mattresses and slings, it was surprising to see just the large degree of human skill involved in the production process. From the precise cutting of fabrics & foams to the intricate stitching required for slings, the level of individual expertise and training required to create many of its products reinforced just how important the individual members of the Herida workforce are to the company’s growth. With some areas of production being reliant on skilled individuals however, it does raise the question

of bottlenecks. Aware of this, Herida Healthcare has invested in training its staff across multiple areas of the manufacturing process, ensuring a degree of flexibility and capacity to keep production running smoothly. “Our multi-trained workforce is vital to our manufacturing success,” pointed out Neil Smith, Chairman of Herida Healthcare. “One of the risks for any manufacturing company like ours, which relies on the skills of people, is being able to maintain that skills base, particularly nowadays where textiles is not so readily taught in school and those that do come through in that area are predominately focused on the fashion side of the textiles market. “By training our staff to work across multiple areas of the business, it means we have that extra buffer, whilst also developing, upskilling and empowering our employees.” Keen to keep hold of its valued team, the management made sure all staff were involved in the relocation from the start, bringing them along on the journey. “When we first found the building, we brought the staff up so they could see it before we refurbished and refitted it. When they saw it completed, they were really excited and loved the new space,” explained | 21

more about... commented: “Herida Healthcare is a fantastic success story that shows that the public and private sectors really can work hand in hand to bring prosperity and jobs, and boost the local economy.”

Key to the company’s success is its highly skilled, multi-trained workforce

Ops Director John Kay. “That was vital. From their point of view, moving the facility would mean their lives would change, particularly as some of the team walked to the previous facility and others took the bus.” Making the transition to the new site as smooth as possible, John explained that the company mapped out bus routes for various members of staff who were unsure about how to get to the new site, as well as providing a pool car for staff to use. “We really do have a great team and we have invested in training our staff so they are highly skilled and really enthusiastic, so we have tried to do all we can to ensure we retained our staff,” he added. A testament to investment Over the course of the tour, wandering through the spacious and modern production space, the investment made into its manufacturing capabilities to ensure it can match its aspirations was apparent. Cutting, fabrication, sewing, screen printing, welding, assembling, barcoding, testing and packaging all of its products in-house, the substantial amounts spent on capital expenditure were absolutely necessary as it looks to the future, explained Neil, enabling Herida to be highly responsive, closely control quality, and determine its own destiny. “It’s no secret now that we probably invested almost a quarter of a million pounds working capital to start the business, however we’ll track a

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million-pound EBITDA this year. The key is continuously investing in that structure,” asserted Neil. “Where people make the mistake is not understanding that a business is a living, breathing entity and you have to keep feeding it to get it to thrive and grow.” A helping hand As the phrase goes, “no man is an island,” and the same can be said for a business, particularly in the beginning when capital is often the dominant factor between success and failure. With establishing a manufacturing business requiring significant funding to pay for expensive machinery, Herida turned to a number of public sector organisations keen to help the fledgeling business find success. “Hundreds of thousands of capital expenditure investment in machinery can’t be done unless you find investment so the grants and support we received at the early stages from organisations including Local Enterprise Partnership, AdVenture, Digital Enterprise and the Manufacturing Growth Programme were critical,” reflected Neil. “The grants have helped us buy equipment and become more efficient in the manufacturing process which is often the difference between a business thriving or not surviving at all.” Sarah Carling, Programme Manager for Ad:Venture, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire,

NEW PRODUCTS With a facility double the size, Herida has now set its sights on filling it with more products. Having entered the market with its pressure care mattresses in 2016 before expanding into the moving and handling sector with its slings range in 2018, the company is continuing to expand its portfolio. One of the most exciting additions to its portfolio is its new mobile hoist range. Speaking with John Bentley, Managing Director of Herida Healthcare, he commented: “We believe that having the combination of the UK manufactured slings, in combination with our high-quality hoists, we’ll be able to achieve a synergistic effect between the two together, enabling us to accelerate sales in our moving and handling range.” A competitive area of the moving and handling industry with wellestablished models already in the market, the mobile hoist arena is one that Neil Smith is well versed in. Discussing how Herida will make its mark on the sector, he emphasised that Herida’s new mobile hoist’s versatility, lifting capabilities and manoeuvrability will enable it to carve out its place in the market. “The mobile hoist is a generic market but if we are delivering everything that the market needs – reliability, longevity, competitiveness and meeting all clinical needs – then we should be able to enjoy the same success we have found in the other areas we operate in,” stated Neil. “Even though we are in a mature sector, I still believe there is value to be added and that’s not about providing the cheapest product but rather focusing on product lifecycle, speed of delivery and aftersales support. “As a manufacturer, we have that

more about... speed of response which is vital as when people need these products, they usually need them immediately.” Alongside complementing its sling offering, the mobile hoist range also opens up a residual stream for Herida’s dealers, pointed out Neil. “It also creates a service business for our customers,” he said. “Dealers can go in to care settings and make a point of being trained by Herida in order to promote the maintenance proposition.” Confirming that the new hoist will be available from January, there are also hints of more products joining Herida’s growing roster, including stand aids and shower chairs. NEW FACES Coinciding with the relocation and exciting new hoist range, the company has also welcomed two highly experienced and talented members to the senior management team. Former Managing Director and now Chairman Neil Smith has passed over the reins to John Bentley, who joins the company having held senior positions in high-profile corporate healthcare organisations, particularly in the wound care sector. In addition, David Emmerson, formerly of Johnson & Johnson, has joined Herida as the organisation’s Head of Operations as the company prepares to ramp up its output. “My role will be to help the company reach the next stage in its development through organic growth while Neil focuses on growing the business through the strategic acquisition activity, or attracting further investment partners in order to enhance our growth and product portfolio,” explained John Bentley. “I’ve been in the medical devices industry for the majority of my career. Firstly, with Smith & Nephew for almost 10 years, rising through the ranks in sales before joining Molnlycke Healthcare, a substantial company that was involved in a number of product acquisitions, handling some very big brands. “When I joined Molnlycke in the UK, we were turning over £16 million

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and when I left in 2011, we were turning over £150 million. A lot of it was a result of organic development, particularly on the wound care side, and then acquisition integration on surgical products.” Familiar to playing an integral role in a manufacturer that is ready to pursue growth through both organic growth acquisitions, John has also spent time on the distribution side of the coin as well. “I’ve worked for two large

manufacturers in my career, and most recently, a distribution business called UDG Healthcare, a FTSE250 largely involved pharmaceutical services and also in medical devices, which is the business I managed,” continued John. “As a consequence of that, there was a lot of dealings with manufacturers as a distributor and I think part of my challenge is reversing that out and appointing distributors as a manufacturer.”



Joining the Herida portfolio of products is the new H-180, boasting an ergonomic design, high boom and an “industry low floor lifting position at 43cm,” according to Neil Smith, Chairman of Herida. Featuring impressive lifting capabilities, coupled with ease of manoeuvrability, even under maximum load, the new hoist aims to prevent injury to carers. Developed for the care home and residential setting, as well as for acute applications, the H-180 is the first in a new range of hoists from the Leeds manufacturer. “This is really exciting, as Herida and Leeds will be responsible for outputting what I think is a real contender in the market, providing a value offering to customers with an attractive, British-made price point,” commented Neil.

Any chair…


Any colour…

Any size…

The answer is…



visit us online at or call 01685 845900 | 25

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The company is set to ramp up production and introduce new products in 2020

NEW MARKETS With its new facility, new products and new faces, the foundations have been set for Herida to pursue further growth, with a considerable focus on increasing its exporting activity. “As it stands, our international distribution business is over 23 percent of our turnover and mostly based in Australasia,” noted John. “When we look to Europe, which is on our doorstep, we have had a very light touch, only really dealing with Poland, the Czech Republic, Malta and a few others. There is tremendous opportunity to grow our revenue and distribution there.” To that end, the Leeds manufacturer attended German trade show Medica in November in search of new export opportunities and raising its profile amongst an international audience of distributors. According to John, what the company found was an appetite for its British-made ranges on the continent. “Off the back of Medica, we have already started to receive orders from France and have identified key target markets where our products would be a good fit,” he commented.

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“In particular, the Nordic and the Benelux regions, as well as Germany, where there is a demand for highquality products.” Continuing to invest, John confirmed that Herida will take on a dedicated export manager to resource this growing side of the business, whilst also emphasising the opportunities that are open to the manufacturer closer to home. “In relation to the UK, we are planning to ramp up our commercial capabilities by investing in our sales resource, including bringing on board two new people,” maintained John. “That will expand our sales team to four, giving us national coverage in England, with the exception of the South West. The drive will be getting out there, spreading the word and doing more business with more customers. “We are dealing with some extremely large community equipment stores currently but out of the approximately 120+ community loan stores in the country, we are dealing with arguably 10 percent of those in some shape or form, so there is a big opportunity there.”

With attractive routes for further growth open both domestically and globally to Herida, an experienced MD at the helm, an energetic chairman pursuing growth and a precise operations’ team ensuring seamless production, the company looks well placed to take the next leap in its development. “Herida really is at a crossing pointing now and we have substantially invested to ensure we can take that next step,” finished John. “We are a profitable organisation and I think we are well placed for the future. Now the focus is on sustainable growth with our trade partners, offering a wider portfolio to the market and making our mark in the industry.”

More about… Herida’s M&A strategy. To find out more about Herida acquisition ambitions, turn to page 28 to discover more.


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trade talk


Q&A WITH NEIL SMITH, CHAIRMAN OF HERIDA HEALTHCARE MOVING IN TO THE ROLE OF CHAIRMAN, WHAT WILL YOUR INVOLVEMENT BE WITH HERIDA GOING FORWARDS – RETIRING TO THE MALDIVES OR MONACO? There are certainly no plans of retiring to the sun and sea just yet! With John Bentley taking over as MD, my role as chairman will be to focus on our M&A strategy. We do have an acquisitions budget and we are looking at synergistic companies, as well as considering other opportunities in healthcare. John’s role will be to see the continued growth of Herida’s business organically, whilst I will drive growth through our acquisition strategy. WHAT DOES THE IDEAL COMPANY TO ACQUIRE LOOK LIKE IN YOUR MIND? People who make similar or complementary products to ourselves and have market share would be two big ticks. Now that we have our fantastic showpiece facility, we need to fill it full to the rafters so we need more revenue coming through, in order to create more jobs while producing very similar products. So, if there was another Herida out there or another moving and handling profile to add on to the business, then that would fit into our M&A piece quite nicely. Really, if it adds value and complements our business, then we are very interested in talking to people. ARE THERE ANY MARKETS YOU ARE SPECIFICALLY TARGETING? Not to give too much away, I am actually in talks currently with companies that are not just in the UK. 28 |

DO YOU HAVE A TIMEFRAME IN MIND FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO ACQUIRE YOUR FIRST COMPANY? We are genuinely not in a rush, so we can afford to wait until the right company comes along. We have the funds ready to go and we do not have any debt, so if the right company came along next week, we would be interested or if takes longer, then that would also be fine. We are not rushing into this; we are taking a longer-term approach to ensure that when we do make the decision, it is the right fit at the right time. DOES IT HELP NOT BEING BEHOLDEN TO A PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM TO ALLOW YOU TO MANAGE THE M&A STRATEGY IN A SUSTAINABLE WAY? It is an interesting question, particularly as there are many examples of companies in the industry that have gone down the private equity and venture capital route. It is a well-trodden path and can work very well indeed, considering some of the larger, high-profile acquisitions that have taken place in the sector which have occurred in the last five years. There are some success stories but equally, there are examples which haven’t quite worked out as well. We have to be careful not to follow those mistakes and being in control of our own destiny certainly helps. ACQUISITIONS CAN THROW UP THEIR OWN ISSUES, IN TERMS OF MARRYING UP THE CULTURES, OPERATIONS AND MINDSETS OF TWO DIFFERENT COMPANIES. HOW WILL YOU ENSURE A SMOOTH TRANSITION AND INTEGRATION? It’s a good point but I think, when we

speak to acquisition targets, there is a reason we are speaking with them and it is because we respect them, we understand their position in the market and we recognise the great job they have done within it. For us, it is about ensuring that the company and all those involved understand that the acquisition is not simply to bolt it on, take assets and shut it down but actually to capitalise and enhance what has made them successful, along with taking the employees and management teams forward. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO LET POTENTIAL COMPANIES OUT THERE KNOW AS HERIDA PREPARES TO EMBARK ON ITS M&A STRATEGY? I think it is important to restate that we are extremely loyal to our distribution partners, as well as highlighting that the representation of our turnover is 23 to 25 percent in export and we have a large community equipment profile. We also have a small dealer profile who we are very loyal to and it is something that lies in the heart of how we have always operated, which is, we do not go fishing in our dealers’ and distributors’ ponds. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO LET DEALERS KNOW, PARTICULARLY THOSE LOOKING TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN MOVING AND HANDLING OR PRESSURE CARE? For dealers, I want to let them know that we are a friend, we can work with them and we can give them a competitive advantage, bolstered by marketing support and indeed, the speed of our manufacturing profile.



Photo: Messe Düsseldorf, Constanze Tillmann



ollowing the end of last year’s Rehacare, the event’s organiser Messe Düsseldorf has released details of visitor demographics. From a total 38,587 visitors, 26 percent (10,033) were international delegates, with 80 percent of travelling from Europe. In total, visitors from more than 81 countries attended

the show, with Messe Düsseldorf confirming that from the total number of visitors, 61 percent were trade delegates. The next Rehacare will take place from 23 to 26 September 2020, with Messe Düsseldorf predicting more than 50,000 visitors.

Top five European countries attending the show: 1. Netherlands 2. Italy 3. Belgium 4. United Kingdom 5. France

Product categories with most visitor interest: • Daily living aids (55 percent) • Wheelchairs & powered mobility vehicles (44 percent) • Mobility aids & walking aids (44 percent)

Top five non-European countries attending the show: 1. South Korea 2. Japan 3. Israel 4. USA 5. China

Product categories with least visitor interest: • Exoskeletons (15 percent) • Ambient assisted living (15 percent) • Clothing & protective gear (14 percent) • Food, kitchen furnishing & supplies (13 percent)

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children has revealed more than 300,000 disabled children in the UK are still affected by blanket bans imposed by local authorities on provision of disability equipment. According to research, the most prevalent use of a blanket ban today is the refusal of councils to fund specialist car seats, with more than 50 percent of local councils allegedly blocking the provision. In addition, Newlife confirmed that it identified blanket bans on walking frames, specialised buggies, arm supports and high-sided safety beds as well. Arguing that the rigid policies are contrary to the rights of disabled children outlined in the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (1970) and Children’s Act (1989), the charity warned that blanket bans could be challengeable in law. The findings come after 12 months of campaigning by the national charity, having first exposed in 2018 that 83 percent of councils in England were initially refusing to provide specialist car seats, potentially affecting 568,826 disabled children. One year on, the charity says 302,223 children are still at risk. Alongside raising awareness of the blanket bans, Newlife also highlighted that there is no national legal maximum waiting time for children’s equipment, with many areas failing to meet their own practice guideline or emergency equipment response. | 29


MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND INVESTMENTS Direct Healthcare Group swaps hands in secondary buyout


ess than four years after its private equity backed management buyout in April 2016, Direct Healthcare Group (DHG) has secured €150 million further investment following a secondary buyout by European healthcare specialist investor ArchiMed. Founded in 2009, DHG design and manufacture pressure care, plus-size patient care and specialist seating solutions, as well as operating a nationwide bariatric equipment rental service. Since its MBO in 2016, the group has more than doubled its turnover from £10.2million to £25million which has largely been driven by a successful M&A strategy. Following the success, ArchiMed acquired the company from private equity firm NorthEdge Capital. According to DHG, its base within the UK will remain stable under the existing management team, however, under ArchiMed’s ownership, the firm will continue to target strategic acquisitions. Currently working with care providers in over 20 countries globally, Graham Ewart, Chief Executive Officer of Direct Healthcare Group,

From left: DHG’s Graham Ewart with ArchiMed’s Florian Demleitner & Antoine Faguer

highlighted that a particular focus will be on expanding its European presence. “ArchiMed will be able to provide a gateway to this [European] market, and we look forward to replicating our success in recent years and developing a strong partnership with the team in the coming months,” he

commented. Antoine Faguer, Partner at ArchiMed, said: “Our common focus with management for the next phase of development will be on internationalising DHG’s footprint and expanding its product range, especially through further acquisitions.”


JUNE 2016

MAY 2017

FEB 2018

MAY 2018

DEC 2018

DEC 2019

Private equity backed MBO of DHS

Nightingale acquired

Kirton Healthcare acquired

Transflo brand acquired

Qbitus acquired

Poshchair Medical acquired

Secondary buyout of DHG

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NAIDEX SWAPS HANDS AGAIN Naidex is now the property of London events firm Roar Techmedia following the acquisition of Bristol-based Prysm Group. The acquisition has boosted Roar Techmedia’s portfolio in the healthcare, environmental and marketing technology sectors and required the London events firm to secure substantial investment from private equity company Apiary Capital to fund the acquisition. It is the fourth time in nine years that Naidex has been the property of new owners. Originally an EMAP Connect event, Naidex was one of a number of events to become an i2i property when EMAP Connect split off from EMAP to become i2i, its own company back in 2012. In 2016, Prysm Media acquired Naidex from i2i, changing the format of the event, including reducing the number of days Naidex was held from three to two, as well as introducing new branding, a new website and new show features. Naidex will take place on the 17th and 18th March, 2020 at the NEC in Birmingham.

FRESH NEW START FOR Z-TEC MOBILITY Having successfully run Z-Tec for many years as the mobility distribution arm of Murrays Pharmacy, Ian Reekie has now become Z-Tec’s Managing Director after purchasing the company. Speaking with Ian, he told THIIS that the community pharmacy group started looking for buyers after deciding to concentrate its attention on its core pharmacy business. “Having been running Z-Tec for a number of years, the opportunity to take it on and develop the company seemed too good to pass up,” he told THIIS. “I partnered with a local businessman and went in with an offer which was accepted, so now it is full steam ahead and we have some really exciting things in the pipeline.” Now officially becoming Z-Tec Mobility Ltd, the MD emphasised that it is a fresh beginning for the

West Midlands-based supplier, underpinned by its industry experience. “We have done a TUPE transfer with all the staff, bringing them across and retaining all the expertise and knowledge as we look to move ahead with some of our plans,” continued Ian. “It really is a case of a new start for Z-Tec but built on solid foundations of dealer support and service, developing on the existing business to enhance our offer to our customers.” Stating that the only changes existing customers will see will be to the bank account details and letterhead, Ian confirmed it will be adding new products to its portfolio in the middle of the year, alongside rolling out a new website in January. The sale will complete on the 2nd of January 2020.

A ROUND UP OF THE MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS THAT TURNED HEADS IN 2019 Feb 2019 Borrum Healthcare Group acquired Gerald Simonds

Mar 2019 Graphite Capital acquired NRS Healthcare

April 2019 Snowdrop Independent Living completes MBO

May 2019 Oakley Healthcare acquired Sandpiper Shoes brand

June 2019 Prism Medical UK acquired Assured Healthcare (Scotland)

June 2019 Savaria acquired Silvalea Group

June 2019 RKS acquired Manchester Mobility

July 2019 Prism Medical UK acquired Care-ability Healthcare

July 2019 Millbrook acquired by Cairngorm Capital Partners

Sept 2019 Medequip acquired County Careline Services

Oct 2019 iLECSYS Group acquired Relaxa Bath Lift

Dec 2019 Renault Group acquired stake in Nino Robotics

Dec 2019 Direct Healthcare Group acquired by ArchiMed | 31

retailer spotlight

A painful journey resulted in a proud moment for Veronica Downing (left) as the Rt Hon ThÊrèse Coffey cut the ribbon


RISING FROM THE ASHES In December 2017, a devasting fire ravaged an iconic 15th Century thatched barn belonging to mobility retailer Veronica Downing, Director of Suffolkbased Rehability and occupational therapy practice Veronica Downing Associates. Located next to the family home, the barn served as the base of its OT business, where Veronica had spent endless hours developing the company. For many, the harrowing experience of watching as flames consumed such an important part of their life would be too much, however, for Veronica, she was determined to turn the disaster on its head, lovingly restoring the facility into something special for customers in the region. 32 |

A BURNING DESIRE TO PERSEVERE With the fire destroying a significant proportion of the Grade II listed building, with 27 fire engines from Suffolk and two crews from Norfolk tackling the blaze at its most fearsome intensity, the barn required substantial restoration work to return it to its former glory. Reflecting on that time when the flames burned brightest and hottest, Veronica told THIIS: “The worst part was watching the barn burn and seeing my enterprise and place of work being destroyed, not just by flames but by the effect of quantities of blackened water and ash and charred timbers.” Determined to ensure that the tragedy would not define the building

incorporate the most modern housing adaptations, including a contemporary homelift. The end result? An eye-catching merger between the beauty of the past and the potential of the future, where people can discover how they can remain independent in their own homes for longer. The decision to create the new ILC is a fitting one, with Veronica explaining she was keen to turn the barn into a space that could demonstrate to people that disability or advancing years need not necessitate moving out of the family home, just as the company had not let the fire stop them. “One could have thrown the towel in, but we haven’t and I have used the rebuild as an opportunity revamp

“The worst part was watching the barn burn and seeing my enterprise and place of work being destroyed” VERONICA DOWNING

however, Veronica decided to turn the devastated barn into a modern independent living centre (ILCs), creating an assistive technology and adaptations show-home with the latest independent living solutions. First came the difficult process of carefully and sympathetically restoring the listed-barn, rediscovering and rebuilding the scorched charm and features of the period property so soon after the shock of losing it. “The barn had to be stripped out and one end re-built,” described Veronica. “The clearing up and aftermath before rebuilding seemed to take forever and we lived for over a year with a vast scaffolding erection next door to our home. I did have very vivid fire dreams some weeks after the event.” Considerately restoring the barn with the mellow timberwork of the original 15th-century property blended with new oak joinery throughout, Veronica used the opportunity to

and update the OT services we provide,” she stated. “We want to show the possibilities that enable people to continue living in their own home as they get older or after an accident or disability,” she said.

“Faced with the choice, most people with limited mobility or care needs would much prefer to stay in the home they know. With the range of smart equipment now available, home adaptation is often simple, and it’s almost always a far less costly option.” A SHOW-HOME TO SHOW-OFF Illustrating the wealth of equipment now available on the market to make access and independent living easier, the new ILC displays the products as they would appear in a normal residential setting, rather than in a shop or clinical setting – something Veronica, an OT of 40 years, was keen to avoid. “Generally, it is difficult for people to envisage adaptations to their homes, even from photographs and video clips. Being able to physically see and operate adaptive equipment and try alternative ways of doing things in a real home setting makes a big difference to people accepting and deciding on a major change to their homes,” explained Veronica. “Being able to use a bath with powered seat or a through-floor home lift or try out a height-adjustable profiling bed at the same time as consulting with the OT means that a wide range of issues can be raised, from personal independence and care-giving to issues of installation,

The lovingly restored barn now stands as a testament to independent living | 33

retailer spotlight

The new facility showcases solutions as they appear in an actual living environment

particularly in an old building. “We have lots of old properties in Suffolk and a high elderly demographic, so these issues are important.” With a working kitchen designed for wheelchair access and a cottage-style bedroom with a height-adjustable profiling bed, the show-home also includes an adjoining bathroom featuring the latest assisted bathing system with integrated seat transfer and leg-lift facility, along with an accessible shower and washer-dryer toilet. RISING LIKE A PHOENIX Officially opened in November 2019 by the Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey, then-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the cutting of ribbon marked the end of a trying period for Veronica, however, also proved symbolic for the Royal College of Occupational Therapy member. “The re-launch has been an extremely rewarding moment; a celebration of the phoenix rising from the ashes – as all occupational therapists know. The phoenix is the Royal College of Occupational

Therapists emblem,” she emphasised. “There is a ‘wow’ factor walking into the barn – all our visitors have remarked on it and visiting OTs have said that Rehability’s approach offers so much more than statutory services can provide. At our opening, we had suppliers, installers, users and potential users all speaking very positively about the show home style of the centre.” A UNIQUE FEATURE TO THE REHABILITY OFFERING Located a short distance from Rehability’s retail shop in nearby Halesworth, the new ILC not only provides a valuable space for Veronica’s occupational practice to introduce and assess clients for the latest adaptations but also effectively complements its retail activities. Providing an attractive and comfortable environment for customers to get hands-on with products, away from a retail environment, the show home helps add a new and distinctive element to Rehability’s retail offer. In addition, utilising the synergies between the two businesses,

New 25 stone weight limit on the Zest Plus ■ Range of up to 18 miles ■ New user weight of up to 25 stone ■ Simple to take apart, liftable components ■ Excellent levels of stability and manoeuvrability

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Rehability offers professional assessments carried out by a qualified occupational therapist at the ILC to its retail customers, with customers benefitting from the healthcare professional’s expertise. As Veronica notes, it is one of the factors that helps the mobility retailer distinguish itself in the busy East Anglia region. “Rehability offers a different service to other retailers and suppliers, who frequently want to sell a product first, rather than meet the needs of the customer,” she stressed. “Having a qualified OT on-hand provides assurance to both the customer and our retail staff who are trained but not qualified. The OT perspective provides a holistic view

Rehability’s Independent Living Centre: Bridge Farm, Chediston

of people’s needs; from their disability or loss of mobility to their lifestyle and personal preferences. There is no hard-sell. “A value-added service from all our staff, including our technicians, means that customers get much more than just a product when they purchase from Rehability, make a

Having the OT-led expertise not only enables end-users to feel more secure in their purchases and the advice given, but it also helps the company to engage with other occupational therapists – a relatively tight-knit community which some retailers in the industry struggle to engage with.

“We are looking forward to an increased footfall and an improved understanding about what occupational therapy offers local people” VERONICA DOWNING

general enquiry or need help with an existing product. Having occupational therapy expertise available as part of our service means that customers and clients are better informed to make their choices and decisions to enable them to live longer in their own homes and independently and safely.”

A BRIGHT FUTURE With a positive reception from the local community, Veronica says she is hopeful that the ILC will also help promote the importance of occupational therapy to others less au fait about the value of expert OT-led guidance.

“We believe that it is a real asset for North East Suffolk and that it will show how simple it is, with a bit of thought and ingenuity, to transform the lives of those who are struggling at home,” finished Veronica. “We are looking forward to an increased footfall and an improved understanding of what occupational therapy offers to enable local people to live an improved quality of life for longer. “Our website is being updated to reflect this and we know that word of mouth from satisfied customers is the best way of growing our business both professionally and as specialist retailers in the high street.” Despite the unfortunate circumstances that led to the creation of the ILC, which saw Veronica’s original barn burn bright during those tumultuous hours in December 2017, it seems the future for Rehability will burn brighter.

The new facility adds another string to the Rehability retail bow

Simple to take apart

Call to find out more

0800 804 4344 or email QUOTE: THS20 | 35

2020VISION It is the beginning of a new year in the mobility industry and with Brexit still looming, new Medical Device Regulations in the pipeline, a new government promising big changes and a continuing shift in buyer behaviour, it is certain the trade faces new changes, challenges and opportunities. In these wildly uncertain times, trying to predict what will happen next week, let alone in the next 12 months, is difficult enough, however, five retail leaders and nine industry experts from different mobility and assistive tech sectors give their thoughts on what 2020 may hold for the market.



e’ve noticed that our customers are worried about Brexit. People have said they’re concerned about the rising cost of living, so have been putting off their purchases and only buying mobility products when absolutely necessary. Going into 2020, I think the mobility sector might see tougher trading until there is more political certainty. In terms of competition and buyer behaviour, I think the middle ground of



n interesting one, needing the information two days before the election! However, the business we are in will expand rapidly whatever happens but so will the competition! Let’s look at the positive side and hope we don’t have another hung

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the market is being squeezed: retailers will need to be either led by price or led by providing the best customer experience possible and I would expect companies that continue to be mediocre on both will not do so well. There will always be demand in the mobility market for companies who are offering high value, high quality items with an exceptional customer service, and I think customer expectation for a unique and superior purchasing experience will increase

Parliament along with a relatively “clean break” from the shackles of the E.U. hopefully the £ will reverse as the country’s confidence grows. Some retailers will unfortunately fail as others get larger and some will amalgamate as has happened in other industries – ending up with three, possibly four nationwide retailers. Smaller companies that survive will concentrate on the “specialist” side of the business. More mobility retailers will be “out of town” either in retail parks or

N TOM POWELL DIRECTOR OF MIDDLETONS next year. Brands catering for this will do well in 2020. I think that 2020 will be the year of the lightweight mobility scooter. The industry will focus on innovating products that are easier to use, handle and transport.

secondary positions towards the retail parks, selling much lighter and improved products over time. The internet will always be there and grow with the smaller aids, although retailers hopefully will realise the larger product, needing to be assessed, are not ethical to sell online along with not being viable. One thing is for sure though, the retail sector will carry on growing rapidly.



hat does 2020 hold for the retail sector, good question, if we only we had a crystal

ball. Looking back 2019 was a lot better trading year than 2018, which was to be expected with revamping our retail shop and building the assessment centre. Looking forward, we all have a lot of unknowns: Brexit, if it happens, I am not sure how it will affect us and also who will be in government (by the time THIIS mag is published we will know).


hope everyone has had a fantastic Christmas and enjoyed time with family and friends alike. Who really knows what’s round the next corner or what’s going happen in 2020? As business owners, we make decisions to influence changes within our businesses to benefit consumers and this sits as a high priority in our business strategy. I see this is also starting to be applied more and more by manufacturers and there is much more of a focus on our consumers



ike many, we have been waiting for the Brexit date to be confirmed and I feel that this has been steering the industry in the direction of ambiguity. For 2020, we will widen our product provisions and knowledge to develop Recare as a rehabilitation company, replacing the well-known term of ‘dealer’.

The new MDR requirements which come into force in May 2020, will affect importers and distributors. As dealers, we need to be on a level playing field on prices with the NHS contractors when the PWB are rolled out - if this happens, it should be a busy year. What we can offer in the retail sector is speed of assessments, coupled with quick delivery and repairs. I also think we as the retail sector don’t blow our own trumpet enough that we can offer to our customers a range of products with expert advice to give the customer what their requirements are. But saying this, we need good back up from our suppliers with an

than ever before, which is fantastic news as they deserve the very best. Competition is also stronger than ever and in recent times, there have being many store closures. At the same time, there are also many of the more developed businesses striving to open more stores – ourselves included. I know this is good for the industry as from a competitive perspective, it drives us to be constantly striving for excellence and this, as in any industry, brings greater benefits to all consumers. This is what I’m doing,

Catering to the higher end of the rehabilitation industry is very timeconsuming, however, clients want to purchase the products that maximise their capabilities and mobility. These products are provided in such a specialist sector that they are unable to access these services online. Our plan for 2020 will be to do much of the same as 2019, which saw us grow by at least 30 percent on the previous, but with more of a direction into product provision focus. I also think Personal Wheelchair

excellent aftersales service - over the past year, there hast been a steady decline in the speed that some importers/manufacturers supply spares accurately and quickly. It seems to me once the box is sold to us, the aftersales service is put on the back burner and in my view, this has been very short sighted. I wonder if other dealers are having the same problems? But it’s not all doom and gloom, the dealers that can keep their eye on the ball and adapt will succeed.

DANIEL GRIFFITHS MANAGING DIRECTOR OF EASY LIVING MOBILITY driving our business forward every day and as I write this in December 2019, part of me cannot wait get started on all the exciting plans myself and my team have set out for 2020. We wish everyone a “Happy New Year” and hopefully a prosperous one for all!

Budgets will come more into play, offering clients a choice to purchase the products that are most suitable for their needs, as opposed to what the NHS is authorised to supply. By providing this freedom, it ensures clients receive the best private purchase service rather than dealing with a contracted integrated NHS provider without enabling complete market choice. | 37

2020 vision





he toilet: it’s something we ALL need, regardless of our mobility, but is often overlooked as a revenue stream. The basics- grab rails, seats, commode frames- are covered, but what about the actual fixture itself? What about diversifying into selling wash & dry toilets themselves? The % margin is less than many conventional product lines, but the £ contribution to the bottom line is strong. The product itself does not

require any stockholding commitment, the manufacturer, if reputable, will carry out all the ‘hard work’ in terms of site survey, installation etc. Manufacturers are evolving the offering, reflecting the trend towards independent living aids that do not look institutional. Latest designs are stylish and aspirational. Have one on a video loop in the shop window, on display, or a working model in the showroom, and I guarantee you will have a tool to engage the customer.

ROBIN TUFFLEY MARKETING MANAGER FOR CLOSOMAT Once engaged, that’s half the battle towards converting the sale. Depending on the manufacturer, the opportunity goes beyond the initial product sale. As the customer’s needs change with time, accessories can be added, giving continuing opportunity for sales, profit and added value.



ne of the main changes we expect to see as we go into 2020 is the market continuing to mirror the rest of the retail sector by shifting towards online trading. Competition is increasing across the whole mobility sector, and we don’t

expect this to change. As more and more companies move online, consumers will be further driven by price. It’s now the responsibility of retailers to make their product really stand out in a crowded market, providing great benefits at great value. The other big shift we’re expecting to see is changes in regulation. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are currently undertaking a review



ncertainty surrounding Brexit is set to continue with no quick resolution in sight, whichever party holds power. With market conditions likely to remain difficult, businesses that will prosper are those which command loyalty, provide great customer service, offer a quality product and have a discernible point of difference. The footwear market experienced a tough 2019 with many brands regularly on promotion as they fought for turnover. The high street

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has been especially difficult but the more established online and home shopping companies have not been immune from tough trading. Expect further closures of businesses and shops, with existing brands knocking on the door of mobility stores as they seek new wholesale opportunities outside typical shoe shop channels. There remains great opportunity. Ensure your product has a clear focus and is not merely an alternative to many others. Make sure it is available

of the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. As a company that tailors its insurance policies to reflect the needs of people with disabilities and pre-existing medical conditions, Fish Insurance welcomes this activity. We’re looking forward to continuing to develop fit-for-purpose products at competitive prices to ensure we can carry on protecting this oftenvulnerable customer base.

ANDREW PEIRCE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF COSYFEET when wanted. Present it attractively and clearly communicate its benefits for the consumer. Understand your customer; make purchasing and returns simple and pleasurable. Businesses doing this effectively can thrive in 2020 and be well placed when better economic conditions return.


• • • •

Total weight 27.3kg with battery Remote control Ready in seconds! Maximum user weight 21 stones Speed dial control Up to 9 miles range✝ Reliable and dependable Take it virtually anywhere Available on the Motability Scheme

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ompetition in the UK stairlift market is fierce but we expect to see continued growth in both the market and our market share in 2020. Customers’ expectations will continue to rise in relation to products and services, regardless of whether dealers are working with local authorities or selling direct, so it will be essential for manufacturers to work with trade partners to safeguard both their reputation and the reputation of the equipment.



or Motion Healthcare, the next 12 months brings four more innovative products and our continued growth, which I think reflects the rest of the industry. I think it’s the smaller, more innovative suppliers that are continuing to eat into the larger suppliers’ market share

Working closely with dealers and helping to support their business will be extremely important in 2020 as competition increases, so finding new ways to collaborate with trade partners will be vital, particularly in regards to product development. Using partners’ market knowledge and expertise to help direct R&D investment will bring new innovations and help manufacturers distinguish themselves in the crowded marketplace. Our 1100 stairlift is evidence of this, having been


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developed and tailored around the feedback and field trials run with our retail partners. Loyalty initiatives will also continue to be a great way to provide enhanced support and we are confident our Dealer Programme and Companion’s Accredited Partner scheme will continue to grow in popularity.

POWERED MOBILITY MARKET as they struggle to provide really innovative products and seem to be concentrating more on the standard products that provide them with the volume they are used to. The larger retailers seem to be growing more and more and I think this is also helping some of the smaller retailers in the same locations as it seems to be bringing more customers into the area who are looking for mobility products.

HOMELIFT MARKET he contemporary homelift sector will continue to grow at a healthy rate despite challenging economic conditions and ongoing Brexit uncertainty. This expansion will be driven by consumers seeking attractive solutions that deliver safety, value and future proofing. Traditional through-floor lifts and stairlifts could well become less appealing as more people demand products which complement, rather than detract from, their home’s styling while at the same time, enhancing their well-being. When faced with alternatives such as


costly building conversions, relocation or even residential care, more consumers will choose a trustworthy homelift for continued upstairs access. Traditional through-floor-lift manufacturers may introduce product developments in 2020 and beyond, however our progressive homelift R&D programme will continue to define the sector’s thought leadership. Equally, our assessment-led services will be furthered to meet the ever-increasing expectations of customers and to support healthcare professionals.

Suppliers like us that are able to provide smaller retailers with innovative products but at a cost price so they can remain competitive and retain good margin against similar products that larger retailers are selling will become increasingly important going forward. It is another reason why I think Motion and other smaller suppliers will continue to grow.

GINO FARRUGGIO TRADE SALES DIRECTOR FOR STILTZ HOMELIFTS From a trade perspective, regionalised opportunities for dealers are equally as buoyant. Stiltz Premier Partners and Affiliate Partners have the opportunity to leverage our national brand strength with a view to maximising growth and enhancing their reputation. We believe true customer-centric support will be the only way to ensure product appropriateness.

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s we enter 2020, I think the wheelchair market will continue to evolve and as it develops customers will consider not just the price of a product but also put more consideration into factors such as design and build quality and the

WHEELCHAIR MARKET overall look of the product. In 2020. Karma Mobility will be starting a number of environmentally friendly initiatives. This is a topic which close to everyone’s hearts and we look forward to announcing more details in the first quarter of 2020. Providing durable and long-lasting wheelchairs will be particularly important in 2020, especially as keeping good quality wheelchairs



ike most areas of the mobility market, the moving and handling sector has become a fiercely competitive place and being a nimble operator is essential to long-term prosperity. Price compression appears to have reached a relative base level. Consequentially, premium features and innovations will continue to make way in favour of more cost-effective solutions that satisfy core handling requirements.

It’s likely we’ll see further acquisitions by larger organisations as a vehicle to quickly grow sales and access new markets. With such an extensive and comparable product choice in this segment, organic growth can prove a real challenge to achieve, especially given the aforementioned price points. I expect training provision to be a key area of growth and prominence as it continues to be a valuable tool in driving competence and compliance. Single-handed care will also become

in service for as long as possible is one way the industry can help the environment, as well as providing retailers & end-users peace of mind. We have been in business for 20 years and have a large number of wheelchairs in the market now, yet sales of spares are still only a small fraction of our total sales. I think the figures speak volumes about the products’ reliability.

CURTIS JORDAN UK MARKETING MANAGER OF JOERNS HEALTHCARE a more prevalent approach, given it enables organisational efficiencies outside of product procurement. I’d like to wish everybody well for the new year - I’m sure 2020 will be an interesting year, regardless of what it brings!



he power add-on market is the fastest growing market in our sector which is why at Triride, we provide a specialist focus for addon power products. In 2019, we have already seen a growing demand for our products across a wide range of end-users with varying physical requirements. There is

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a much more accepting approach to using a power add-on vs a powered wheelchair among those who don’t have specialist seating requirements. Personal Wheelchair Budgets roll out may have an impact here but we will need to see how open to alternative products the CCGs and Wheelchair Services will be. With growing user numbers, there will need to be new innovations in function and performance to keep up

with end-user requirements. Triride is constantly evolving the product application with its end-user testers to improve function and all manufacturers will need to follow suit. Where there is demand, also there will be competition. Next year for sure, there will be more additions to this sector from different manufacturers those with a quality functioning product and end-user focus I think will be the winners here.


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pick of the month

WHAT PRODUCTS ARE RETAILERS IN THE INDUSTRY RAVING ABOUT? Wondering which products are grabbing retailers’ attention? Each month, retailers in the mobility industry highlight one product that has stood out for them and why…

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Elaine Ferguson, Mobility Services Manager of Fortuna Mobility

Pick of the month: Fortuna Specialist Orthopaedic Supports Range: Activity Gloves

Our centre has a wide range of products but some of the smallest can make a huge difference when it comes to giving comfort and pain relief. “The Fortuna Activity Gloves do both of the above, and are very popular with our customers to use in their day to day lives – especially if they suffer with joint pain and swelling from arthritis, cold hands from circulation problems,

or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. They are made from a blend of high quality cotton and spandex, which provides both warmth and mild compression. “I particularly love the black non-slip silicone dots which enhance gripping of objects and look great! Meanwhile the open finger design leaves fingertips free for everyday activities like using a phone, holding a pen, or picking up tiny delicate objects. They also extend up the wrist to help keep joints in that area warm. “The gloves are available in three sizes, so it’s easy for our customers to find the best fit, and they can be

washed in warm water and left to dry. We’re continually receiving positive feedback. They’re cheap, convenient to use, and even our staff wear them around the building and when they are out and about delivering mobility equipment!

Darren Macey, Business Development Manager for Lifestyle & Mobility

Pick of the month: Breeze S4 from TGA Mobility

Over the last 30 years, the TGA Breeze has always been the ultimate mobility scooter on the market for comfort, style & ride quality. It’s also been crowned as one of the most popular mobility scooters on the Motability Scheme. “Just over a month ago, TGA introduced its latest and upgraded model, the Breeze S4. “WOW, we are so impressed! They have sharpened up the lines on the body work and added a front lockable box, which has really modernised the front end. “The best thing about the new Breeze is you can go a lot further, with our customers now able to choose to upgrade the batteries to 100amp which is great for those customers that use the TGA breeze as a replacement car. “All these changes haven’t changed the breeze’s legendary comfortable ride as well and let’s not forget the TGA Breeze still comes with an endless accessories range, such as solid canopy and sides, twist grip and foot pedal operation. | 45

pick of the month

Ceri Dixon, Marketing Manager of Ableworld

Pick of the month: The Hydrant from Hydrate for Health

Our first product of the new year is the Hydrant. This product is designed to help prevent dehydration. It’s great for people with restricted movement as it solves the problem of reaching, lifting and holding drinks. “The bottle features a flexi-grip handle which can be attached to a bed, wheelchair, bag – users can hang it or hook it anywhere nearby. “It features a clip to allow the straw to be clipped to an item of clothing, in order to keep it close. You then use the long straw to remain hydrated, hands free. The mouthpiece contains

a bite valve to ensure the user controls the flow of fluid and ensures there isn’t any spillages. “The clearly measured 1 litre bottle gives carers the ability to monitor fluid intake and to help prevent dehydration. “We like this product as it is a great example of allowing people to remain independent. It allows people to stay hydrated and drink whenever they want to, without the need to call for help.

Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

Pick of the month: Ferrule from Sunrise Medical

For this month I am picking a strategic low value item and putting it in the context of a marketing product. This is not unique or original - we have been doing it for years. “We give away, free of charge, rubber walking stick ferrules. “The goodwill factor that it generates is immense. Our customers feel special and they know they have had a bargain because they did not pay a penny. “Now consider how much we all pay in advertising to generate a new

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lead. It is without doubt a significant amount of money, and it is often done with no certainty that leads are even going to materialise. We might think little of spending £100 to £200 on a display advert in the local press. That same amount of money would buy over 500 ferrules. “For each one given away you gain a customer ambassador who will tell everyone they meet what marvellous chaps you are, and certainly the place to visit for all their mobility requirements. “The only stipulation we make is that the customers must come to the showroom to get the ferrules and we will fit them whilst they browse the products. It ensures the correct size is

fitted and gives you the opportunity to explain that as a caring company we are keen to ensure the stick or crutch is safe for them to use, especially as pavements are often wet at this time of year.

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pick of the month

Karen Sheppard, Managing Director of People First Mobility

Pick of the month: Gel Ball Exercisers from Able2

As we start the year 2020 after the Christmas period when people are being less active, along with the cold weather making symptoms such as arthritis worse, these are a good range of rehabilitation products could be beneficial on the shop floor. “The Gel Ball Exercisers are a resistance training aid for strengthening, conditioning, and rehabilitating hands, fingers, and forearm muscles. These training balls are soft to touch and return back to their original shape after being squeezed and manipulated. Perfect for personal or professional use, use at home, clinics, rehabs, physical and occupational therapy offices, and on the road. “Customers can choose a set of five balls with different resistance levels in order to visually witness their strength increasing as they move to the next resistance level. The set of five is excellent for professional use and multiconstructed of TPR material, a non-stick formula can be wiped clean when necessary whilst being comfortable to grip. “This design is excellent for patients of all ages and fits comfortably within the palm of most users’ hands. These are available from a few different suppliers, Able2 and Performance health being just two of them.

Scott Smith, Sales and Marketing Manager for Style Mobility

Pick of the month: WHILL Model C from TGA Mobility

This month’s choice for product of the month is the TGA Whill Model C! The future of transportable power chairs is here! Not only is it simple to dismantle and re-assemble, but it is also one of the most comfortable chairs on the market. Powered wheelchair users generally spend much more time in their seats than the average scooter user so comfort and reliability are essential in the decisionmaking of customers - the Whill Model C offers both in abundance. “The front wheels are the unique onm-iwheel system that allows for a very tight turning radius. The technology that comes equipped as standard on this fantastic machine is definitely market leading, my favourite feature being that the chair can be remotely controlled using an iPhone, meaning that the user can bring the chair to them if needed or an attendant, friend or family can control the chair if required. “The choice of 6 colours gives the customer the chance to really make it their own and look stylish at the same time as being comfortable and knowing that they are in good hands on their chair! 48 |

Toilet Buddy After it’s successful launch at the OT Show The Osprey Group are proud to introduce the Toilet Buddy.

• Can be used over most standard toilets • Compatible with wash/ dry toilets including the Geberit and Geberit Mera • Raises the user into the traditional perching position • Adjustable feet for use on uneven floors • Complete with a removable sleeve • 130kg safe working load

If you would like a demonstration or more information then please call 01257 425 623 or email our team at

buyers’ guide


MANUAL WHEELCHAIRS Each month, discover key products from a different segment of the mobility market to consider stocking on shelves and offering to customers.

Excel G-Logic from Van Os Medical


pecifically selected by Motability Operations to represent the manual wheelchair sector on the recognised Motability scheme, the Excel G-Logic is a modern, unique and durable lightweight aluminium wheelchair. Available in 16-inch, 18-inch or 20inch seat widths and either Transit or Self-propel, the Excel G-Logic is an inclusive and modern new take on the old G-Lite Pro.

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With four frame colours to choose from, including Trail Black, and four upholstery colours, the Excel G-Logic offers end-users more the freedom to customise their chair with a possibility of up to 16 variations. Cleverly designed cushions featuring Velcro strips enable the user to add or remove cushions with ease, allowing more opportunity to customise, whilst standard features include half-folding backrest, puncture proof tyres, height

adjustable armrests, swing-away and quick release legrests with attendant brakes for both Transit and Self-propel models. The G-Logic is also now crash tested to the latest standard of ISO 7176 EN 12183, something which the company says is unique for a chair in this class.

K2 from Trekinetic


nspired by Formula 1, the Trekinetic K2 was designed to push the limits of what a wheelchair can do. The three-wheel design allows it to cope with pretty much any terrain and the carbon fibre seat makes it incredibly lightweight and easy to transport. The K2 includes a nitrogen shock absorber/tilt in space mechanism and a Varicam system which allows you to change the camber of the wheels for maximum versatility.

MOTION COMPOSITES APEX CARBON FROM GERALD SIMONDS The Apex Carbon from Motion Composites represents a revolution in rigid chair design as a fully adjustable, ultra-lightweight rigid wheelchair. The Apex transport starting weight is just 4.2kg without wheels and a fully configured Apex with wheels weighs 7.5kg. The Apex cantilever design is not just light, but fully adjustable. Inspired by modern design and aesthetics, the head-turning lines on the APEX prove that form should follow function.

ICON 35 FROM REHASENSE The ICON 35 is the lightest wheelchair in the Rehasense ICON range, weighing only 8.2kg. Boasting a stylish and modern design, the wheelchair comes with a range of features, such as a built-in carry handle and an ergonomic seat and back to give the user maximum comfort while in the chair. | 51

buyers’ guide

Excel G-Explorer from Van Os Medical Enabling end-users to explore all things outdoor, the Excel G-Explorer features quick release pneumatic 24-inch mountain bike tyres designed for all terrain, wide puncture proof all black front castor wheels, swing-away quick release legrests, half folding backrest, height adjustable push handles and armrests, as well as a helpful quick release fold in one mechanism, all as standard. Designed to be ready for any adventure, the chair is available in two finishes, Silver or scratch resistant Trail Black, with it described as the definition of robust style.

S-ERGO 115 AND 125 FROM KARMA MOBILITY The S-Ergo 115 Tall and S-Ergo 125 Tall feature a maximum seat depth of 19 inches, making both models ideal for taller users. Both models are available as a transit or self-propel model and are made from lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminium weighing just 8kg and 9kg respectively when dissembled with the wheels and footplates removed, making them two of the company’s lightest crash-tested wheelchairs. The 115 Tall and 125 Tall incorporate the patented S-Ergo seat system which promotes pressure relief by spreading the user’s weight over a wider area and increases stabilisation, as well as reducing sliding. Increased levels of strength and durability are provided by the frame which consists of oval tubed double cross braces. “Additional standard features on the S-Ergo 115 Tall and S-Ergo 125 Tall include slowing brakes, quick release wheels, swing away footrests and detachable upholstery for ease of cleaning.” 52 |

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buyers’ guide

VIP2 from Karma Mobility Offering a combination of tilt-in-space and reclining positions to ensure users can achieve optimum levels of pressure relief, positioning and comfort, the VIP2 has a 35-degree tilt and comes with either a backrest with fixed recline positions or an adjustable reclining back of 30 degrees. For the recline angle of the fixed backrest, it can adjust from -5 degrees to 15 degrees. In addition, the chair comes with an adjustable headrest with a greater range of options in terms of position, a deeper seat for taller users and a tension adjustable backrest. To address concerns relating to sliding, the VIP2 has located its pivot points of the chair close to the user’s hip joint, synchronising with the

motion of the body and the chair to reduce the sensation of sliding. Also tackling the feeling of anxiousness some users have when going to the tilt position, the chair uses a unique weight shifting system which allows the centre of gravity to travel between the front and rear

wheels while tilting, providing steadier balance and greater feeling of security. The foldable design of the VIP2 also ensures it can be easily transported in the boot of most standard family sized cars.

Ethos from Ki Mobility Described as an ultra-lightweight high performance dual-frame wheelchair, the Ethos features patent pending vibration damping technology, ISO Tech. The wheelchair design and ISO Tech work together to create an incredibly smooth and comfortable ride experience, says Ki Mobility, whilst protecting the body from the onslaught of high frequency vibration generally experienced in a standard wheelchair design. With Ethos, users can independently adjust the caster wheels relative to the seat frame, which means not having to sacrifice performance for stability.

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buyers’ guide



escribed as boasting a stylish modern aesthetic, the Phantom Wheelchair is available in both Transit and Self Propel and designed for either occasional or frequent use, both indoors and outdoors. Consisting of a lightweight aluminium frame, the wheelchair includes an ergonomic handle for swing in & out footrests and a push button for smooth angle adjustable arm rests, alongside easily removable two-tone padded upholstery. The Phantom Wheelchair also has a half-fold mechanism for easy storage

and transportation, user friendly long-reach brakes for additional safety, stepper tubes to facilitate kerb climbing and all-round puncture proof solid tyres. With a maximum user weight of 21 stone, the chair also includes heel straps as standard; adjustable, padded full length armrests; tool-free adjustable footrest; and quick release 24-inch Self Propel wheels (available on the Self Propel model).

TRAVELITE TRANSPORT CHAIR FROM DRIVE DEVILBISS HEALTHCARE Specifically developed for easy storage and transportation, the TraveLite Transport Chair folds to a compact size and includes a travel bag with wheels, making it ideal for shopping trips, days out and holidays. Features include a lightweight aluminium frame in gunmetal grey, flip up padded desk arms to facilitate easy side transfers, stepper tubes to help safely mount kerbs, as well as parking brakes. Folding to approximately 1/3 the size of a typical folded wheelchair says Drive DeVilbiss, the TraveLite also uses multiple cross braces for added strength & stability, alongside eight-inch solid puncture proof tyres for durability and low maintenance.

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KI MOBILITY TAKES CONTROL OF UK OPERATIONS Ki Mobility, the manufacturer of lightweight manual wheelchairs headquartered in Wisconsin, USA, will take over support for its product sales and customer support in the UK from the 1st January.


riginally distributed by Northern Ireland-based James Leckey Design, Ki Mobility will now look to hire a sales team and customer service representative based in the UK to support customers. Primarily a designer and manufacturer of aids for children, Leckey also distributes adult mobility equipment, with the Lisburn headquartered mobility company selling 98 percent of its goods outside of Northern Ireland. According to Leckey, the decision has been taken to allow it to focus on its own range of products. “We are appreciative of all the work the team at James Leckey Design has done over the past several years. They’re a wonderful company and continue to be good friends and partners of ours,” said Doug Munsey, President of Ki Mobility. “We’re looking forward to providing the same great customer service, training and service tools to our UK dealers and clinicians as we provide to those in the US and Canada.”

AN URGENT BED APPEAL As part of its ongoing Phoenix Project, delivering lifechanging healthcare equipment to some of the world’s most impoverished people, Warrington Disability Partnership is appealing to the industry for vitally needed hospital beds. The project, which is collaboration between the North West charity and St Mark Universal Care, Project sees the organisations co-ordinate the national collection of equipment to be refurbished, containerised and transported to people in dire straits from countries such as Syria and Sudan. Dave Thompson MBE, Founder and Chief Executive of Warrington Disability Partnership, told THIIS: “We are desperate for hospital beds to send to people in need in Romania and Syria. “Hoists and wheelchairs are also needed but hospital beds really are the number one priority at the moment.” Highlighting that it will accept equipment in any condition, the charity says it has the ability to put all donations to use via the use of its decontamination facilities and a repair centre. For those wishing to donate, contact Dave on 01925 240064 or email DaveThompson@ www.disability

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Recare invests to keep up with growth


xpanding its logistical, storage and adaptation capabilities, Recare has purchased a new workshop facility opposite its main showroom and clinic. The company, founded in 2008 by Richard Holland-Oakes, says the investment is to meet growing demand, having expanded its retail operations to Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire, alongside taking on the exclusive distribution of product ranges, such as the Benoit Systems power add-on range. Richard Holland-Oakes, CEO and Co-Founder of Recare, commented:

“Just like the clinic and showroom developments, we felt that our workshops should be the equivalent of our commendable service and, ultimately, have the most advanced capabilities in one place against our competitors in the industry (much like the expectation of a BMW workshop). “It enables any equipment required to be on hand and available with easy

access to make our ever-adventurous specialist adaptations to overcome boundaries for clients, maximising the potential of the supplied chairs and being able to support and maintain this complex and expensive equipment.”

STROKE SURVIVORS SUFFERING IN SILENCE Fear of another stroke, concern relating to going out alone, worry over loss of independence and hesitation to share worries with others is affecting the recovery and lives of over one million stroke survivors suggests new research from the Stroke Association. With around 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK, according to the Stroke Association’s State of the Nation report, it is believed that stroke strikes an individual in the UK every five minutes. In a study of over 1,000 stroke survivors, an overwhelming 89 percent of respondents said they live in fear of suffering another stroke, whilst 79 percent emphasised being scared to go out alone. The findings revealed that stroke

survivors’ recoveries are under threat from fear itself, with 79 percent of respondents stating that the fears associated with another stroke left them afraid for their recovery. The research also highlighted that a number of stroke survivors were also carrying the burden of fear in silence, with one in five choosing to keep their worries to themselves. 37 percent of respondents did not want to worry anyone else; 27 percent were too afraid and 26 percent did not want to sound stupid to other by raising their fears. “These stats are truly shocking. I am heartbroken to hear that stroke survivors felt they couldn’t speak to those closest to them about their biggest worries and fears,” commented Juliet Bouverie, Chief

Executive of the Stroke Association. “When you live in isolation, too afraid to leave the house and are unable to ask for help, your motivation can disappear, and can leave you in a very bad place emotionally – feeling like a prisoner in your own home.” | 59




aving raised almost £1 million through crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in May 2018, eFOLDi has launched a new campaign to raise a further £350,000 to help the mobility start-up pursue its next stage of development. The manufacturer will use the additional funds to bring its new eFOLDi Lite folding magnesium frame scooter to the market, alongside ramping up production of its eFOLDi MK 1.5 model. In addition, eFOLDi says it will invest the funds in marketing to enable it to gain more traction in the UK, particularly through more television advertising. The company is planning to build on a profitable year of trading, which saw it achieve a £2.27m revenue and a net profit £413,000 in FY19. If it reaches a significant amount of investment, eFOLDi’s CEO Sumi Wang also confirmed it will enter the lucrative US market in April 2020, establishing a potential headquarters with a warehouse in or near the state of Florida.

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The company is continuing to focus on bringing new innovations to dealers in the sector

Being a new challenger in a market dominated by larger companies can seem like an unscalable mountain, where reaching the dizzying heights of the competition can feel insurmountable. For up-and-coming mobility supplier Motion Healthcare however, the last three and a half years have seen it gain a foothold in the sector and forge its own path to becoming an established and reputable player in the sector. Now the company has bolstered its ranks, taking on an industry veteran to enhance its coverage, ahead of a raft of exciting new products coming this year.


till a relative newcomer to the market, having entered the industry in 2016, Motion Healthcare has quickly made a name for itself with its powered mobility products, with a strong focus on being ahead of the curve by bringing constantly introducing innovations that embrace new technology and preempt emerging consumer trends. Aiming to be fast, adaptive and nimble, it is a strategy that has served the young supplier well, establishing a stable customer base for scooter and powerchair models like its eDrive, eFlexx, Lithilite and Foldalite. Now as the mobility sector enters a new decade, Motion Healthcare has firmly set its sights on more growth

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and has welcomed industry expert Dave Pennington-Shaw to the team, becoming the Business Development Manager in the North of England. Having been instrumental in laying the early foundations for what would become one of the world’s largest mobility suppliers, it is fair to say Dave knows his way around the industry, with experience on both the supply and retail sides of the fence. “I’m certainly no stranger to the industry,” Dave told THIIS. “I was with Medicare for about five years just prior to the company being taken over by Drive and between a team of three of us, we grew Medicare and built a solid foundation by making long-lasting relationships

Dave PenningtonShaw brings his extensive experience to the up and coming mobility supplier

with mobility retailers and introducing new products.” During his time with Medicare, Dave and his colleagues were the ones to introduce the well-known Mercury range of scooters - the first scooters to be sold by the company. “At the time, Medicare did not offer any scooters as the focus was on wheelchairs, walkers and daily living aids, so we saw the opportunity to gain a foothold in what was still quite a young market,” continued Dave. “We did a memorable unveiling of the Mercury range and many in the industry may still remember our light-hearted launch where we invited dealers to the Medicare HQ in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, where

we rode in wearing biggles scarfs and dressed like the dam busters!” Leaving Medicare just before the acquisition, Dave’s 25+ years in the industry have seen him work in a variety of roles, including as national sales manager, sales director and even heading up hearing aid giant Amplifon’s mobility division, where he was responsible for five retail shops and 28 employees. “The experience has given me a real understanding of some of the pressures facing mobility retailers out there and what they need from us in terms of support,” he added. Yearning for that same excitement and sense of reward he enjoyed when growing and developing Medicare in those earlier years, Dave’s interest was piqued when he came across Motion Healthcare’s job advert in THIIS Magazine. After getting in touch with the company and finding out more about its culture, goals and aspirations, Dave says he was eager to add his experience into the ambitious young mobility company. “I didn’t want to join a company to do the ‘same-old, same-old’, being handed 60 plus accounts and maintaining what was already there. I wanted the opportunity to get in at the ground floor to help build and develop something special in the market again,” he told THIIS. “After speaking with Tim and learning more about Motion’s plans and ambitions, I knew I had to get involved. Everything that the company stands for, helping trade customers with fantastic support and innovative products so they can, in turn, help the end-users, really chimes with what motivates me. “The most exciting aspect for me however is taking a small company and helping it reach that next stage of growth. It’s something I have experience in and, after speaking with Tim and the team, I see that same opportunity at Motion for it to become a real force in the industry.” In his new role, Dave will be focused on growing and developing the north of the country, however, he stressed that this growth will be in line with Motion’s core retail support strategy and values. “We are not looking for just a load of new dealers in areas. Instead, we are looking for trade partners and supporting those companies that

are already on board with Motion. We want to be in it together with the companies that we work with and who choose to work with us,” he explained. “Our model is to support companies that share our values and are prepared to work with us, so we will not be supplying to every single mobility shop in every town. We will focus on a limited number of retail partners, providing them with innovative products and attractive margins.” Aiming to reward loyalty with loyalty, Dave added that Motion is looking for retail partners that focus on prioritising the needs of their customers and are willing to take on innovative products, rather than box shifting for the sake of volume. Discussing the new appointment, Tim Mills, Head of Business at Motion Healthcare, commented: “Dave is a fantastic addition to the Motion Healthcare team and joins us at an exciting time. With an influx of new products en route that we know will be popular, the time is right to bring in more resource in to help us to continue our growth and I really couldn’t think of anyone better than Dave to come on board. His extensive experience in the industry will prove invaluable and his motivation to do the best by our customers is completely in sync with the way we work as a company.” NEW PRODUCTS INBOUND Going into more detail about some of the new products coming to the market, Tim confirmed that Motion will be launching four new products ready for the spring. “We have the new Alumina, a new take on our current Lithilite scooter. It’s our new, aluminium boot scooter that dissembles into incredibly light pieces, with the heaviest part weighing no more than 10kg. In addition, it has a 30-mile range which we know will prove popular as we enter the warmer

Want to find out more? To find out more about the company’s plans or new products, email enquiries@ or call 0800 011 6922 or to contact Dave Pennington-Shaw, email or call 07593135283

months,” he explained. “We also have the new Elev8 portable mobility hoist, which weighs under 10kg and plugs into a users’ scooter to electronically raise it to the level of the car boot, so users do not have to strain themselves lifting a scooter.” Having primarily focused on the powered mobility segment of the market, Tim also highlighted how the budding supplier is diversifying into new ranges of aids. “We have our new Foldacrutch, which is our first set of folding crutches on the market. Lastly, there will be the Aerolite, which will be a one piece, folding powered wheelchair that will be under 20kg in total,” he finished. “We are aiming to have all four in stock and available to purchase by the end of February. With Dave joining us and four new products in the pipeline, I’m confident 2020 will prove a phenomenal year for Motion and, more importantly, our customers.

Recruiting was poetry in Motion Keen to reach the best industry professionals in the North, Motion Healthcare decided to advertise the new business development manager position via THIIS. Speaking with Motion’s Tim Mills, he praised the response he received, enabling him to secure the experienced and highly motived Dave Pennington-Shaw. “The response we received from the recruitment advert we placed was fantastic! We only placed it with THIIS and we had a good selection of really high-quality candidates apply,” he declared. “It was through an advert on THIIS that I found my role with Motion so I was confident that it would reach the right people in the industry.” To find out more about THIIS’ affordable and effective recruitment packages, contact Joe Fahy at Joe. or call 07384258372 | 63

let’s get it clear…

TRUNK CALL: ALIGNING THE UPPER BODY In seating we spend much of our time around the pelvis and its stabilisation. This is important, as the first stage of seating, since the pelvis is what we sit on.


owever, getting the trunk right is equally important, since therein lies our core physiological functions of breathing, digestion, cardiovascular activities, bladder control, etc, on the one hand, and the management of further extremities, on the other – i.e. the arms and head: without the latter being controlled, everyday activities are compromised. To control the trunk, we have posterior supports at the pelvis, and along the spine with a back support. Anteriorly, we have chest and shoulder supports to help keep us from tipping forwards. The area I’d like to cover in more detail in this article is lateral supports. Lateral

support at the pelvis is useful in helping to stabilise the pelvis, but where we can have the most effect is around the thorax, where we have ribs that we can support against, and also use as levers to straighten the spine where it has a scoliosis to be corrected. To manage a scoliosis we should look to find the apex of the curve along the vertebrae. In the thoracic area, each vertebra will have a rib coming off it: from the apex of the curve, find the rib that attaches to it and follow it round to where it ends up laterally. In a normal rib cage this will be somewhat lower down the body than the relevant vertebra. To

Figure 1. Displaced relationship of lateral rib position to its vertebra of attachment in a scoliotic spine. (Source: Wikipedia)

Dr ter Haar has been involved in seating and mobility for over 30 years, including lecturing internationally, and developing international seating standards.

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use a lateral support to correct the curvature, make sure the support is positioned to push along the rib in the direction of the apex vertebra. Thus the lateral pads need to be mounted in a way that allows them to be rotated to exert their forces in the correct direction – for example, the Stealth Full Surface Contact option does this admirably (Figures 1 and 2). If the pad is vertical, it will push the rib in the wrong direction, and make the scoliosis worse. As a further note, if managing a scoliosis, then it is unlikely that the lateral support pads will be at the same height, since the points of control will need to be at different heights on either side of the body.

Figure 2. Rotation of lateral support needed to apply force along the rib towards apex of curvature

‘Let’s Get it Clear’ by Dr Barend ter Haar One in a series of occasional resumés of aspects in the world of posture and mobility where there are common misconception and myths to be addressed to promote better practice. Further items can be found at If you are interested in receiving further information on the topic, please contact

Sales Manager

Technical Product Assessor

East and West Sussex - £25k-£30k + monthly commission

The South - £35k

LOCATION: East & West Sussex – Chichester, Rye and Crawley Our client has been established for over 30 years and has seen significant growth within their business in the patient handling sector. Our client is very proud of the reputation they have earned over the many years in providing high-quality mobility equipment and first-class customer service into the healthcare sector, including care homes and local authorities. The priority for our client is the customers can have independence and comfort on a daily basis. You will be selling and demonstrating a high-quality range of moving & handling equipment into the healthcare industry including local authorities and care home groups. You will be expected to manage your own diary on a daily basis and attend pre-booked appointments, as well as seek new business opportunities. You will also be required to make regular visits to head office two or three times per week. You will have previous experience within the industry in selling and demonstrating moving & handling equipment including hoists, scooters, wheelchairs, beds and bathing. Experience in surveying ceiling track hoists and working with building contractors and architects will be advantageous. You will possess a positive and professional attitude. Motivation and drive to achieve targets and goals is highly important. Your communication skills are key in this role as you will be communicating with healthcare professionals on a daily basis to provide the best equipment for them and the individuals. A full valid UK driving licence is required. Base salary: £25k-£30k (depending on experience) plus a monthly commission structure. Company vehicle provided, all IT provided, private healthcare after one year of service, annual holiday, pension. To apply, please send your CV confidentially to antony@

Clinical Seating Specialist South West – £25k + quarterly commission LOCATION: South West – Bristol, Wiltshire, Bournemouth Our client has been established for over 15 years and has seen significant growth and success with their award-winning products. Our client specialises in pressure care products including mattresses, cushions, and overlays to support mobility and independence within local authorities and hospitals. Our client is extremely passionate in supporting those with complex, long-term conditions and to support the healthcare professional in delivering the best possible care. You will be working alongside an OT professional conducting assessments and demonstrations within local authorities and hospitals to find solutions for individuals to prevent pressure ulcers and ensure they receive a more comfortable and accelerated recovery. You will manage your diary on a daily basis with pre-booked appointments and also communicate with healthcare professionals to meet the needs of the individuals. You will be required to sell products into the healthcare industry. You must have previous experience of selling into the medical device sector and NHS. You will have good product knowledge in pressure care products and be able to confidently sell the features and benefits to healthcare professionals. Experience in conducting seating demonstrations and assessments is also essential within this role. You will also possess a positive and professional attitude and be confident in using your initiative to find the best solution for the customer. Self-motivation and communication is highly important and the drive for success will be highly advantageous. You will hold a clean valid UK driving license. £25,000 (negotiable depending on experience), quarterly commission structure, mobile, van, laptop, iPad, 21 days holiday (bank holidays on top) IMMEDIATE START AVAILABLE. Please send your CV Confidentially to

LOCATION: The South – Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire Our client has been established for over 15 years and is a supplier of high-quality nursing equipment throughout the UK and Ireland. They pride themselves on using market-leading equipment to ensure the customers receive a first-class service and more importantly, unrivalled expert advice. The products our client specialises in are pressure care, moving & handling equipment and nursing beds. Our client provides a service to care homes, hospitals, schools, local authorities and private individuals. You will be supporting all aspects of product assessments such as demonstrations, technical surveys, installations, quotations and aftercare. You will also support promotion activities within NHS hospitals and local authorities. Part of your role will involve ensuring all products are taken through the assessment and training process so it meets the client’s vision and customer service expectation. This role requires the candidate to be physically fit as it will be an active role. You will have experience in pressure care, beds and moving & handling products, and will be confident in completing assessments, installations and demonstrations with these products. You must be organised and be able to manage and plan your diary on a daily basis and have excellent communication skills. You will possess a positive attitude and enthusiasm to succeed. It is preferred you have knowledge within the NHS and community sectors, CES and OT, and also an understanding of long-term care markets. Basic computer skills and any professional qualifications will also be advantageous. You must hold a full clean valid driving licence. Salary: £35,000 plus van, mobile, laptop, printer, 20 days holiday (bank holidays on top), Mon-Fri hours. Please confidentially send your CV to

Product Specialist North, Central England – £28k + commission LOCATION: North Central – Manchester, Leeds, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire Our client a large, highly recognised manufacturer and supplier of mobility and rehabilitation products for both paediatric and adult market. With over 50 years in business and with continuous growth and internal promotions. They are now seeking a Product Specialist or Therapist to carry out assessments and demonstrations of their products across the central part of the North. You will be responsible for working closely with Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists products offered will be their seating and standing aid products mainly to the paediatric market. The ideal candidate will have good experience of having worked with rehab equipment and carried out product demonstrations to therapists in care homes and the NHS. Those from background working in Occupational Therapy, sports therapy, physiotherapy will also be considered. Base Salary of £28k plus commission structure £34k OTE, company van, Home Broadband, pension and Life Insurance scheme. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@trustedrecruiter. to discuss further.

0333 0144 014 | 65


events diary

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

January 22, 2020 – Midlands – OTAC - www. or 02921 900402


February 5, 2020 – Llanelli, Wales – OTAC or 02921 900402

International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP): Hybrid Basic Training – 9th Jan - Aston Court Hotel, Derby £65.00 + VAT

FEBRUARY Electric Mobility – Servicing / Maintenance & Fault finding for Rascal Mobility Products. 12th Feb. Ilminster. FOC includinglunch.

MARCH Jiraffe - Training for Life – One Day Sleeping, Standing and Mobility Course – 4th March – Sheffield - FOC Jiraffe - Training for Life – One Day Seating and Toileting Course – 18th March – Sheffield – FOC

CONTACTS FOR BOOKINGS Jiraffe – call +44 (0)114 285 3376 or email marketing@jiraffe. Electric Mobility - The Marketing Team on 01460 258158 or email:

Mobility Showroom Manager Canterbury

OTE £27k-£30k pa An experienced Mobility Showroom Manager for our New CareCo Showroom opening in Canterbury. We are looking for someone with a strong managerial retail background, and ideally, experience in the mobility industry, to make our new showroom in Canterbury a success and build upon the CareCo (UK) Ltd name. You will be responsible for, and be part of, a customer-focused team, ensuring delivery of sales targets and KPI’s whilst ensuring our exceptional company service standards are maintained. Job Description: •

Managing and motivating the team to achieve sales targets.

Maintaining and improving operations by initiating, coordinating and ensuring compliance to policies and procedures.

Managing showroom stocks, layouts, pricing, and promotions.

Ensuring staff have the product knowledge to sell effectively and enhancing this knowledge as required through effective communication and training.

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Planning day to day operations and reviewing results.

Obtaining, interpreting and acting upon sales information.

Training, coaching and appraising staff.

Promoting the business by liaising and engaging with relevant local bodies

Skills: • • • • • • • • • • •

Leadership Sales driven Commercial awareness Confidence, drive and enthusiasm Good numeracy and IT Initiative Eye for detail Good verbal and written communication skills Customer focused Staff Training People handling

To apply: Send in your CV for the attention of Matthew Smith at

January 27–30, 2020 - Arab Health - Dubai World Trade Centre -

March 3-5, 2020 - Medtrade Spring - Mandalay Bay Convention Centre, Las Vegas - www. March 4, 2020 - Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry - March 17 - 18, 2020 - Naidex – NEC, Birmingham - April 1 – 2, 2020 - Med-Tech Innovation Expo 2020 – NEC, Birmingham – com April 22, 2020 – Leeds – OTAC - or 02921 900402 May 7, 2020 - Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre - www. May 13, 2020 – Exeter – OTAC - or 02921 900402 June 24-25, 2020 – Health+Care – Excel London - July 2, 2020 - Kidz to Adultz Wales & West – Bristol - July 12, 2020 – Disability Awareness Day 2020 - Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington - www. September 23 - 24, 2020 - The Emergency Services Show 2019 - NEC Birmingham - www. September 23 - 26, 2020 – Rehacare – Dusseldorf – October 14 - 15, 2020 – The Care Show – NEC Birmingham - November 2 – 4, 2020 - Posture & Mobility Group Conference - Telford International Centre, Shropshire -







Ultimate comfort and performance with unrivalled style and stability. Combining over 30 years of knowledge and experience, our flagship model Breeze S4 has a true top of the range aura of quality and effortless style.

To enquire about adding the Breeze S4 to your range

Call 0800 804 4344

or email QUOTE: THSA20

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