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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 233 • February 2018



Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Issue 234 March 2018

Reinventing the wheel-chair Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Trekinetic talks industry trade shows ahead of a new product launch MORE ABOUT…




Disability Trading Company

AAC and sensory

Partner Programmes 3 options designed for your business

The Stiltz 10-point Referral Partner Guarantee Our entry-level partner programme option will deliver: 1. Minimum £1000 commission – guaranteed! 2. An opportunity to refer a unique and exciting product range 3. Same day customer call back to make appointment to visit 4. Maximum visit lead time is 48 hours from receiving your lead* 5. Market leading expertise in Homelifts 6. Specialist sales consultants guarantee unrivalled conversion 7. We will keep you in the loop every step of the way 8. Referrals treated with same respect as you treat your customers 9. Prompt and efficient commission payments 10. Sell just 5 Stiltz Homelifts, and receive a Generous Loyalty Bonus *Unless delay is requested by customer

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

Top tier Premier Partners promote and market Stiltz Homelifts to new and existing customers and also carry out installations. Comprehensive marcoms support will be provided as well as full technical and product training.

To discuss how the programme can work for you, email or call Gino on 07940 437835


…from the editor In a unique industry where the products produced and sold are so integral to a customer’s quality of life, the need to conduct business ethically becomes even more prevalent.


o, when the scandal broke regarding Motability Operations - the company that operates the lease scheme for charity Motability – having remunerated its CEO a substantial £1.7 million for running a scheme criticised for having an unfair advantage in the market due to its exclusive access to DLA or PIP payments at source, questions regarding ethics were again raised inside and outside the industry. In this issue, Dave Thomson MBE, Founder of the charity Warrington Disability Partnership, examines how the Charity’s social enterprise and retail arm, the Disability Trading Company, operates within the industry with a focus on morals and values at its heart. Trekinetic’s Managing Director, Mike Spindle, discusses the company’s new, ultra-lightweight powerchair entering the market, a greater focus on dealers and his thoughts on exhibiting at trade shows in the industry. Next month’s Product Showcase will feature products from Seating, Furniture and Cushions. If you have a product that you would like to tell the trade about, get in touch at

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

Editor Calvin Barnett 01933 278086

Advertising Enquiries 01933 272437

Calvin Barnett Editor

You can find THIIS on Twitter at: wwwthiiscouk

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



24 Charity’s retail arm goes from strength to strength

Features 6 Does the NHS stop innovation? 12 Is bigger always better? 54 Product Showcase – AAC and sensory 48 Ramping up activity

Regulars 10

Deal On!


New to the team


Retailer spotlight


Round Up


More about…




Training Diary

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32 Mergers and acquisitions

34 The OT’s Perspective

16 Meet Charlotte Gillan


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

Delivery in 7 - 10 days* For furniture offering comfort, independence and a higher standard of care, contact;

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IS THE COST OF SELLING TO THE NHS THE BIGGEST BARRIER TO INNOVATION? According to a recent business survey compiled by the Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), four out of five MedTech companies have seen the costs of serving the NHS increase over the past year.


he research found that 85 percent of companies experienced increasing costs as a result of measures including the eProcurement strategy, credentialing and added regulatory fees, as the Health Service continues to prioritise price over quality. Identifying that the single greatest challenge for companies was actually selling to the NHS, the Association is calling for the NHS to rethink its procurement policies. Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive Officer of the ABHI, commented: “The current procurement environment is hostile to companies when it focusses purely on the lowest cost. “Failure to purchase on the basis of quality and value to the system is not beneficial to the patient, nor does it provide efficiency. Quality is critical to providing safe and effective care, whilst delivering long-term savings to the NHS.”

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The research also revealed that uncertainty around Brexit has meant over one-third of companies have delayed investment decisions as well, limiting potential innovation. “The messages from our members are clear. We must get Brexit right to ensure patients have prompt access to the best products,” added Peter. Having grown at a rate of nine percent in recent years, the medical technology industry is now estimated to be worth over £17 billion to the UK economy, with companies in the sector predicting European exports to rise in 2018.

ABHI says these figures highlight the need to manage Brexit correctly to ensure the European trading potential and growth is not jeopardised. The Association’s members are calling on law markets to adopt the European-wide regulatory model to minimise product supply disruption and have also stressed the importance of the seamless, crossborder movement of goods to protect the health of both EU and UK citizens.

“Failure to purchase on the basis of quality and value to the system is not beneficial to the patient, nor does it provide efficiency.” PETER ELLINGWORTH

t design c a p m o c odern Motor y c n · Super m e i c fi i-Ef yres t H c i t W a 0 0 m 6 u l at pne fl n · Powerfu u r ™ ’ n arbox ry ‘RunO e a g n l o a i i t t u n l e o · Rev Differ p i l S d e t i p’ ™ Lim atteries B h A 0 5 · ‘Max Gri ge from n a r e l i m · Up to 27



ager for a n a M r le a De er: our Area ce an ord la Contact y p o t r O . ation now demonstr 252614 0 0 8 y t 0 i l : i ll b o Ca m c i s@electr e l a s : il a m E

From left: Steff Jackson, Gary Hornsby-Shawe, Gordon Hulbert, David Jordan

DIVERSIFICATION KEY TO GROWTH Expanding into bathroom and wetroom adaptations, Yorkshire Care Equipment’s Gordon Hulbert discusses how the company is branching out to achieve ambitious growth.


he Harrogate-based retailer has installed a full demonstration bathroom and wetroom right into the front window of its showroom, showcasing to customers what the company can do. Aiming to provide clients with an alternative to moving to a new house, Yorkshire Care’s demo bathroom and wetroom features a toilet, basin, bath and a level access shower. The company is offering free, noobligation home assessments for adaptations where a Yorkshire Care trained assessor will visit a customer’s house and discuss their options from the colour schemes and tiling, through to the type of boiler and water flow. “Making bathroom and wetroom adaptations part of Yorkshire Care’s services is a natural progression for us. And because we have such an understanding of mobility and access challenges, we can think not just of

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the finished aesthetic, but also the functionality for the actual individual.” said Gordon Hulbert, the company’s bathroom and wetroom specialist. Yorkshire Care has two plumbers on its installation team who will be working on all aspects of the adaptation process and also signed a distribution agreement with a leading bathroom equipment manufacturer to use their components to complete bathroom and wetroom fit-outs. Discussing the portfolio expansion, Gordon told THIIS: “The diversification of our products and services is all

part of our plans for big growth. Our latest business developments are just the next steps for us to achieve this growth. “We’ve seen downturn in sales of smaller items but for larger items, people want the assurance that they get everything they need. Understandably, people want to try out larger investments, which is something our assessors can help with.”

“We’ve seen downturn in sales of smaller items but for larger items, people want the assurance that they get everything they need.” GORDON HULBERT



SAME BOX MORE POWER! Full Range of Haze GEL Batteries also available Easystart Ltd. Tel: 01536 203030 Website: Email:

trade deals

DealON! Looking for a deal? Then this is the place to come. Deal On features the best trade deals you will find this month. Just pick up the phone to take advantage... All offers are valid until March 31st 2018 unless otherwise stated.


Single unit orders available with no minimum order quantity!

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

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





Free Haze smart charger...


...with your first order of four or more batteries (18Ah and bigger)



Please call Easystart on 01536 203030 or


email for more information

March retailer special offer from Repose Repose Furniture is offering a free upgrade to pocket sprung seating between March 1st and March 31st. This promotion is worth £30 per unit ordered and is available on all seating from the company’s standard homecare range. To qualify, retailers need to quote MAR18 when placing their order. For more information, call 0844 7766001, email or visit

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

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IS BIGGER ALWAYS BETTER? Susie Hall, Marketing Manager at CareFlex, examines the need for Trusts, care homes and other healthcare providers to give local business an opportunity. By Susie Hall


he move towards turnkey solutions from big companies and corporations can come unstuck, as witnessed by the situation by Carillion, and there is a move in our industry towards bigger and bigger organisations which offer a ‘one stop shop’. It is true, large Trusts and care home groups need easy supply channels and economies of scale, but is all equipment fit for purpose and what sort of after sales service is provided? When it comes to Specialist Seating, the devil is in the detail Most important is a full assessment of the individual’s unique requirement. Subtle tweaks to the ‘prescription’ of the chair may make all the difference. A chair set up incorrectly, or for someone else, could do more harm than good. Simply selecting a chair offered on the preferred suppliers list does not necessarily give a user an optimal solution. Specialist equipment is no good

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if it is not right for the individual or, if it goes wrong, no one in the organisation knows how to repair it and a representative from the manufacturer is nowhere to be seen. Talk to case managers - how much specialist equipment gets abandoned in cupboards and garages daily? Everything from crutches and cushions to high spec wheelchairs, beds and chairs. We all know carers are run off their feet. They need training and support and this can best be offered at a local level. In fact, local business can very often offer better value for money and provide excellent after sales service that ultimately lowers costs. Simon Wardle-Millar of Osteopoise in Bingham, Nottingham, is one of our distributors and he said: “It’s time to shift expectations, not boxes!” CareFlex has sold via expert distributors for over 20 years and these partners provide an experienced and regional service. There was a point made on Radio

4’s Today programme in the wake of Carillion, that local businesses deserve a chance. Surely that is true? When you buy locally, your contact is with a local person with a vested interest in maintaining goodwill. You can go and knock on their door if something goes wrong. Very often, they are family businesses, with new generations eager to carry on the business. The solution should be a green and sustainable approach, with local employment, a reduced carbon footprint and good, reliable aftersales service. We work with our partners so they can be relied upon to offer high-quality service and ensure they are supported by CareFlex so together, we are accountable to our clients.

LOVE LIFE “We trust Companion to treat our customers in the same way that we treat our customers - and to me that is the most important thing.” Steve Companion Accredited Partner



0800 620 0826


Fish Insurance’s MD, John Garrard

This year’s Naidex will see Fish Insurance hosting its own Mobility Scooter Safety Assessment Track, giving visitors and trade professionals the opportunity to test their skills and ability on a 64 sq. metres track.


vailable on the 25th and 26th April, the show will also see Fish Insurance’s expert team on hand at stand 5266 to answer insurance queries, alongside partners TPG Disabled Aids and Kymco Healthcare providing advice on scooter ownership. John Garrard, Fish Insurance’s Managing Director, spoke about the decision to create the assessment track for the show. He said: “As the leading providers of mobility scooter insurance, we see it as incumbent on us to help our customers wherever we can while also ensuring the safety of others too. “Visitors to our specially designed track will be advised and guided by specialist assessors from TPG Disabled Aids on their abilities and how they can minimise any potential risk.” John added: “As an insurer we must always look to innovate, and we see the Fish Assessment Track as a great way of giving not just customers but our partners a thorough understanding of scooter ownership. Ultimately, we’d like to see a standard assessment introduced that we can adhere to. This would make scooter ownership much more safe and enjoyable, while reducing the number of incidents that could occur.” This was a view supported by retailer Alastair Gibbs of TPG Disabled Aids. “We’re partnering with Fish

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Insurance to drive home the message of responsible mobility scooter ownership and the moral obligation sellers undertake when supplying these important products to their customers. “We firmly believe mobility scooter users should be adequately trained in not only the machine control elements, but also wider awareness of other people and hazards in their areas. With suitable training and appropriate insurance, we hope to raise the standard of responsible scooter ownership and allow users to benefit from the obvious advantages of staying independently mobile.” Visitors to the assessment track can bring their own scooter or will be able to use equipment supplied by Kymco Healthcare. Nick Peel, Kymco Healthcare’s National Sales Manager, added: “As a company, we are always keen to see that our customers are safe and benefit greatly from mobility scooter

ownership. We’re proud to partner with Fish Insurance and TPG to help raise the benchmark in responsible scooter ownership.” The Fish Mobility Scooter Safety Assessment Track can be located at stand 5250. Additionally, anyone who takes the assessment will be entered into a draw to win a three-year Mobility Scooter Insurance and Breakdown policy, as well as a unique Fish goodie bag.

On the rise Recent statistics from the Department of Transport have shown that the number of mobility scooter accidents is gradually increasing. In 2016 there were 260 incidents while in 2015 it was 222 and 2014, 209 incidents reported.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see a standard assessment introduced that we can adhere to. This would make scooter ownership much more safe and enjoyable, while reducing the number of incidents that could occur.” JOHN GARRARD


MEET… CHARLOTTE GILLAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CLASSIC CANES What does your position involve? Everything involved in the running of a small business, from choosing and designing the new products to looking after the marketing, promotion and sales of the company. Of course, I am lucky to have talented other people to help me, including our financial controller, office manager, warehouse manager and undeniably my parents. What do you enjoy most about your job and working in the industry? The variety is certainly one of the most enjoyable elements. Exporting to over 40 countries means we meet a lot of different and fascinating people, from all sorts of cultures all around the world. All these people have very different requirements, which is why we have ended up with more than 700 walking sticks in our range. What are one of your proudest moments working in the industry? Last year was our 35th anniversary, which I think is a great achievement for a small and very specialist business. Also, in 2017, we were very honoured to produce a new range with the National Gallery in London. It gave us the opportunity to put some of their

most famous works of art, such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, on to our walking sticks and is proving very successful. For me, it is always a proud moment when we are at a trade show and someone walks onto our stand and already knows all about who we are and what we do. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry over the years? When we started, there were very few mobility shops and that has changed a lot for us. The traditional shops that we used to supply, such as tobacconists and gentlemen’s outfitters, are now more of a rarity, whereas the mobility sector has grown to be a significant sector of our customer base. It was very much the case that these mobility shops came to us, rather than us seeking them. Initially we assumed, wrongly, that they would only be interested in very basic walking sticks for their market and indeed, there are some for whom a rock-bottom price is almost the only important attribute for a product. However, there are others who can sell on the basis of quality, style and design, and these have turned out to

Who are Classic Canes? Established in 1982 by Ben and Diana Porter, Classic Canes is a family business specialising in the production and wholesale of walking sticks to the retail trade. The Somerset-based company’s walking sticks, folding canes, seat sticks and umbrellas are stocked by retailers in more than 40 countries around the world. Today, it is a second-generation family business, with Ben and Diana’s daughter, Charlotte Gillan, leading the company as the Managing Director.

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be a very good group of customers for Classic Canes. The other thing that has changed a lot for us is the rise in the popularity for women’s walking sticks. When we started 36 years ago, there were no women’s walking sticks; ladies had to have a man’s stick cut down to size instead. We have done a lot of work over the decades to create smaller, prettier, more feminine walking sticks which has helped our business a great deal. What one innovation would you like to see appear in the market? I think all employers think that robots look like a great idea at times! Robot employees to help our retailers keep their walking stick displays looking tip-top could be of benefit to all. We find the biggest impediments to retail sales are poor display and low stock levels. These wonderful, tireless merchandising-bots would always notice when the walking stick display stands needed tidying and cleaning and they would never forget to reorder when more stock was needed. Bring them on! What are your interests outside of work? Dogs, horses, fashion, reading and gardening. This is why I have to work so hard. We spend a lot of time outdoors here in Somerset and gain a lot of our inspiration from the English countryside. It is a great environment for coming up with patterns, designs and colours for new products. It gives us the chance to take some time away from the business, whilst at the same time coming up with ideas that

Style, luxury and performance! The beautiful “Midi XLS Champagne Edition” Order yours now, contact your local Area Manager Mini Comfort letting your customers take their pick!

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South West – Martin Garrett 07850 501634

South East – Keir French 07515 282647

North – Brian McCarry 07714 739763


we wouldn’t have whilst sat at a desk. This helps us maintain our very British look, which is hugely important as we export a lot and our British heritage and style is one of the most unique selling points abroad. There is a perception around the world that Britain stands for great quality, style and tradition, which are all things we strive for and something our overseas customers expect. If you had to do any other job in the world, what would it be? I used to write fashion and lifestyle features articles as a freelancer and would love to edit an important fashion magazine like Vogue. Unfortunately, they recently took on a new editor so I’ve missed my chance! I believe there could be a market out there for very fashionable, lifestyle magazine aimed at the older customer

Quick-fire questions! Describe yourself in three words... Determined, stylish and kind-hearted What’s your favourite song? I couldn’t restrict myself to one favourite song. I love opera and recently saw a great production of Tosca. I’ve been humming Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore ever since. If you could have a superpower, what would it be? I would love to read people’s minds Favourite place in the world It has to be Somerset. We have everything: beaches, moorland, countryside, beautiful villages and, of course, all those cider farms. It is a fabulous place to live and work. because it is very difficult to find anything like that. We find that a lot of our stockists struggle to find suitable lifestyle publications in which to advertise in

order to reach the more affluent, older consumer. So there could be space out there for Granny Vogue.

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uary, Throughout the month of Febr took two companies in the industry bid to to the television airways in a and reach key target demographics wers. raise brand awareness to vie

Ableworld takes to the television in Stockport


ert on the bleworld aired its first television adv area of ort ckp Sto the in 14th February 2018 ter Sale Win its g otin prom , ster che Greater Man at its local Stockport store. ng Manager at Michelle Mossford, Senior Marketi with the advert, sed plea ly Ableworld, said “We are real marketing our take to ld wor Able which has allowed have been fully activity to a whole new level. We pany and digital supported by a TV production com advert for Sky TV.” first our ting marketing agency in crea ide an opportunity prov will ert adv the Ableworld says light the care, to reach more customers and high by the retailer. red advice and value for money offe with 34 stores UK the in iler The largest mobility reta to expand ed tinu con has ld wor across the UK, Able since its launch in 2001.

Stiltz raises the bar for viewers otional campaign Stiltz Lifts launched its first TV prom l in February. nne cha on a local London television promote its and ss rene awa d Aiming to raise bran , the six-minute slot new range of home lifts in London dquarters and aired was filmed at its Kingswinford hea rs. Yea on a show called The Golden Stiltz Trio+ home Covering the installation of a new nsion, the show lift into a modern home office exte of staff & customers featured interviews with members art Barrow, Stu from and also saw a contribution highlighted the who e, ctiv spe Per writer of THIIS’ OT’s dence. importance of maintaining indepen th since it was grow d rapi d nce erie exp has Lifts Stiltz export success. e rabl side founded in 2010, enjoying con commented: , Lord e Mik ve, cuti Stiltz Lifts’ Chief Exe ket this type of home “We are the first company to mar been other floor to lift product worldwide. There has e years but we have som floor lift products available for n it to a new level.” take and lace reinvented the marketp

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new to the team

Area Sales Manager to bring extra support for Northern dealers Kieran Baines has joined TGA Mobility as the new Area Sales Manager in the North of England, aiming to bring extra support to TGA’s network of mobility scooter dealers. Aged 29, the Bolton-born Kieran says he will leverage his extensive retail sales and business development experience to provide exceptional trade service. He commented: “The area I cover is very familiar to me so understanding local needs and market trends should come naturally as I continue to learn.” Joining TGA from outside the mobility industry, the company hopes Kieran will bring a fresh and different Kieran Baines approach to delivering support to its trade network. Kieran is available to contact on 07990 527448 or email Kieran.baines@

FORMER SIDHIL & MEDEQUIP DIRECTOR JOINS SIMPLYMED SimplyMed has enlisted the exclusive services of Joe Cavanagh, joining in a consultative sales role as the company looks to strengthen its position in the marketplace. Well known in the industry, Joe worked extensively within large companies in the sector over numerous years, including holding senior positions at Smith & Nephew, Homecraft, Sidhil and Medequip, as well as being actively involved in the BHTA. In 2004, Joe formed JFC Consultants and has voluntarily been involved in a number of organisations to give back to the industry. Owned by Trevor Lynch & Peter Winstanley, SimplyMed is based in Wigan, Lancashire, and is primarily known for walking aids and a selected range of ADL equipment.

DIRECTORGENERAL MOVES ON TO NEW INSTITUTION The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has started the search for a new DirectorGeneral as fomer DG Tracey White moves on to her new role as the CEO of the Institution of Lighting Professionals. Originally joining the BHTA in 2012 as Commercial Director, Tracey became the Association’s Director-General in March 2015, following on from Ray Hodgkinson MBE who is now the BHTA’s Director of Public Affairs. The Association is now seeking an exceptional candidate to take over the reins of its group of businesses, as well as driving the Association forward as it continues to represent the interest of its members to key stakeholders, both inside and outside the industry.

Tracey White

Do you have a new team member? Why not let the industry know? From left: Joe Cavanagh with BHTA Chairman Alastair Maxwell

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Just send us a short news item and photo.

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retailer spotlight

WARRINGTON DISABILITY PARTNERSHIP AND ITS RETAIL ARM, THE DISABILITY TRADING COMPANY When Dave Thompson MBE DL broke his neck during a game of American Football in 1989, his world changed and he was introduced into the world of disability and mobility. Founding the Warrington Information Group for the Disabled in 1991, he would go on to provide disabled people locally Dave Thompson MBE DL and globally with life-changing access to information, advice, guidance and products. Dave discussed with THIIS his introduction to the industry, his approach to ethical retail through the Disability Trading Company and his thoughts for the future. Can you tell us a bit more about your background; what inspired you to get involved in the mobility industry? Prior to my accident, I had been a partner in a retail and wholesale business. Following the accident however, I went to a Social Services Day Centre for young disabled people. I lost the business I was running and had to hand it over to my business partner. I decided however, that flower arranging and basket weaving was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so whilst going to the day centre, I signed up at college to do a Diploma in Social Work. My introduction to the world of disability and mobility in July 1989 wasn’t a particularly pleasant one. The first wheelchair I was provided from the NHS was a real heavy-duty, cumbersome, Everest & Jennings one arm drive wheelchair and I had to wait

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Warrington Golden Square Mobility and Independent Living Store

two and half years for adaptations to be made to my home. From there, I went on to purchase my first wheelchair. It was a Quickie wheelchair and the interesting thing was how it was sold to me. The guy who came out to see me brought with him a model that was completely wrong for my needs.

At 6ft 7”, I am a big buy, but the salesman brought a child’s size chair! I was confronted by the salesman saying ‘do you want a chair like this?’ and I was thinking I do, but I would have liked to try it. He insisted on a cheque for £1,600 before placing the order, and I waited nearly six months before it was delivered in a box, with

Warrington Centre for Independent Living Showroom

no set up, no handover. Of course, nowadays, that kind of situation would never happen, so it really shows how the industry has developed. What was the inspiration behind the Warrington Disability Partnership? With the internet, it has become very easy to get hold of information today but back in the late eighties and early nineties, the climate was very different and finding information was a lot more difficult. Back then, there weren’t any mobility retailers operating in the area I lived in. Occasionally, one would pop into the day centre and bring in new products to show us, or, if the Wheelchair Services or Home Loan Department had somebody working there with an interest in new equipment, then that was the only way to find out about new equipment. I found the services provided were really quite poor back then. In 1991, we had an opportunity to set up a small group at the Dallam Day Centre. There were three of us; Eric Shaw, Alan James and me. We became the Warrington Information Group for the Disabled. It started off purely from an information, advice and guidance point of view as we developed a database of accessible pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, doctors’ surgeries and other services which people could use. The staff in the day centre thought it was just a little project that we were doing that would give us a

little therapy. Never would they had guessed that we were building the foundations of what we are today; the Warrington Disability Partnership. I also worked in the NHS from 1995 till 2015, finishing my career as an Associate Director, throughout which time I continued to chair the Charity and only stood down after I retired from the NHS and successfully

invited me to Brussels to present the paper. From this came 47 invitations to visit hospitals and social services around Europe, including Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Finland and more, looking at rehabilitation facilities and discovering some of the best equipment in the world; especially from Scandinavia.

“Growing the market in an ethical way, I think is the real challenge. Developing the market in way that is fair and affordable to the end-users has to be our priority.” DAVE THOMPSON MBE DL

applied for the post as Chief Executive of Warrington Disability Partnership and Disability Trading Company. How did the Warrington Disability Partnership develop over the years? In its infancy, we started off just offering a telephone helpline and face to face meetings at the Day Centre, before gradually moving over into the world of access. My Dad was a builder so I had been reading building plans from the age of nine-years-old. We started advising on designs inside and outside the town. As part of my social work course I wrote a paper on Information as a Key to Independent Living. The paper ended up in the hands of the Department of Health in 1991, who

That is when I came across a project in Northern Jutland, Denmark, which was what we would call today a Centre for Independent Living. I came back and that was the model of what I wanted to build in Warrington. We changed our name in 1992 to the Warrington Disability Information Services and we just grew from there. Over the years, we continued to develop more services, including our Shopmobility and the Disability Sports Forum and in 2003, we combined them together to form the Warrington Disability Partnership. Today we employ nearly 50 paid staff, 230 volunteers and deliver 27 services to over 2000 disabled individuals each week. We are proud to say that 85 percent of our staff at the Charity and over 90 percent of | 25

retailer spotlight our volunteers are disabled people, from amputees to people with spinal injuries and hearing impairment. The growth of the Charity has been very organic and it is something that I was doing in my business before the accident; growing at a sustainable rate. Everything we have done and everything we continue to do today is very methodically thought out and the case that we fill the gaps where health and social care leave them. We work closely with health and social care in developing new services. Can you tell me more about your social enterprise, the Disability Trading Company? We first launched the Disability Trading Company back in 2011 and really, it came about from hearing a speech about the Transforming Community Services model which I had come across whilst chairing a NAEP conference. I came back inspired, and soon found backing from our board of trustees and health and social care leaders who saw the benefits of us launching a social enterprise; one which would ultimately benefit their clients and patients, as well as helping to sustain the charity. I suppose we were helped by media stories about disabled people being charged astronomical prices or sold

Empathetic, experienced staff key to success says Dave

style watchdog of the mobility and independent living equipment sector. In the early days when our Centre for Independent Living was simply a showroom, we often found visitors only needed a bath board or something of that nature, costing £18 - £20. But as we weren’t able to sell them the equipment, we had to give them a list of local retailers, which meant them spending more money to travel to buy one. It felt wrong that people, especially some on tight budgets, were having

“Our turnover is proof that we are a charity run along the same lines as a small business. This year, across our combined activities, we will turnover around £1.4million!” DAVE THOMPSON MBE DL

the wrong equipment. It was not so much from the local suppliers but mainly from one or two of the national companies who had no connectivity to local communities. Fortunately, with the help of the British Health Trades Association, the industry has really started to clamp down on that kind of behaviour, although I do think more could be done by the BHTA to promote themselves as the ABTA

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to spend more finding out and picking up what aid they needed than what the aid itself was actually worth. I put to the Board and the Trustees the idea of developing an ethical, values-based trading company that would be owned and operated by the Charity. Once agreed, we spent about seven months modelling it and then sat down with our health and social care funders who loved it. From there, Disability Trading Company started

and we have never looked back. How has the Disabled Trading Company grown over the past seven years? The first retail space we set up was at the Centre of Independent Living in Warrington and from there, it started to grow, before eventually opening up a showroom in the large, local, Golden Square shopping centre in 2011. Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Health loved the model and wanted us to work with a local charity in Liverpool to develop something similar. The Council however, could not find another charity with the skills and experience, so invited us to run their Disabled Living Centre in the Lifehouse on Brunswick Dock Liverpool back in 2012, which has become our third Mobility & Independent Living Store. Additionally, we had a small mobility workshop and service centre at our Centre for Independent Living, which we used to maintain our own equipment as the Charity had a fleet of over 300 wheelchairs that would be loaned out, as well as 80 pieces of equipment in our Shopmobility service During the £1.4 million refurbishment of the Centre in 2008, we doubly extended the workshop and service centre, providing us with the opportunity to take on more work, including warranty and maintenance

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retailer spotlight contracts, including local Shopmobility services, private industry and the local hospitals. We feel “community engagement” has played a major factor in aiding our development. Last year we attended 155 local and regional events and meetings, promoting our services at every opportunity to around 220,000 people. Our Disability Awareness Day, which we have been running for 26 years, now attracts over 24,000 visitors from across the UK. What is it that makes the Disabled Trading Company different to other retailers? All in all, the whole retail arm of the charity is a bit like the British Heart Foundation or one of the other big, national charities, which has its retail arm and invests all profits back into the charity. The Disability Trading Company is wholly owned by the Warrington

person in need. There have been quite a few times that I have witnessed our staff talk somebody out of buying a bit of equipment because it isn’t really what they need. A perfect example is about 18 months ago when one of our staff was helping a woman with motor neuron disease. She wanted an electric wheelchair but Wheelchair Services would not provide her one because they did not feel she was competent to drive it. So, that prompted our member of staff doing the assessment to say he did not want to sell it to her because he did not think she would get the full benefit from purchasing it. In the end, we offerred to loan her one, but only after she and her family were happy she was able to use it safely. We offered to bring her to the Centre to do full training and essentially, we did everything we could for her, short of selling her the chair. Sadly, she died three weeks

“The Disability Trading Company is built on the ethos of information, advice and guidance. Sales really comes fourth.” DAVE THOMPSON MBE DL

Disability Partnership, so it has no shareholders and none of our staff work on a commission basis. Rather, they are all on a good, basic salary, which means they can remain completely impartial and do not have to turn each individual who walks through the door into a sale waiting to be converted. We operate on set profit margin, with no gimmicks, just straightforward good prices, backed up by great customer service. What do you feel is the benefit of being a social enterprise for your customers? Again, just like the Charity, the Disability Trading Company is built on the ethos of information, advice and guidance. Sales really comes fourth. It is warming to be able to witness our staff trying to do the best by the

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later. Now, what could have happened if she went to a retailer whose staff were driven by commission; would she have been sold the chair? How important is it for the organisation to employ a high number of people with disabilities? Having a high number of disabled people work in the Charity and the Disabled Trading Company is one of the key reasons we are so successful. If you were to walk into our Liverpool store today, we have three members of staff in there; one is full-time wheelchair user as a result of a spinal injury, one has arthritis and the other is my son, who has a long-term health condition, and has lived through my disability and life experiences for the last 28-years. People who visit the stores and use

our services often say that they felt far more at ease knowing the advice and information they were receiving was from someone who could understand where they were coming from. It is the best form of peer support I can think of. I remember having similar feelings back in 1989, when often I would feel very alone, feeling I was the only person with the type of condition that I had. I wasn’t aware of other people around me and was not aware of what I could do. Our staff are very good at helping people to understand what they can do by empathising with their feelings and needs and provide advice based off some of their own life experiences. I think it is these two things, empathy and experience, that really are the most important elements when it comes to helping people and, in the Charity and in the showrooms, that is what we are able to offer people. What challenges have you found running the Disabled Trading Company? One of the things I really found when we first started the company, and even still find to a degree today, is that some suppliers do not take us seriously because the Disabled Trading Company is run by a charity. I find this is especially the case by some of the professionals, not all of them, because we are certainly winning people round, however some of them think we were just playing at this; similarly, to how people thought we were just playing when we first set up the Charity. Our turnover is proof that we are a charity run along the same lines as a small business. This year, across our combined activities, we will turnover around £1.4million! What do you do with the profits made from the Disabled Trading Company? All profits are channelled back into the Charity, which helps to subsidise some of the other services Warrington Disability Partnership offers. The Charity owns a narrowboat for

example, which last year gave 1400 disabled people the opportunity to have a fantastic day out of the canal. That is an experience many wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for our retail activity which subsides the running costs. There are also two holiday homes in North Wales that are also subsidised by Disabled Trading Company’s work, giving disabled people affordable, accessible holiday homes to use. What products does the social enterprise sell? Everything from your tap turner and knife, fork & spoon, up to the bespoke specialist seating models, profiling beds, stairlifts, scooters and everything else you can think of that an independent living and mobility shop would sell. One of our staff is currently finishing off an occupational therapy course and we have two staff who are trusted

assessors. The team regularly attend training courses run by our suppliers and we joined the BHTA last year because we wanted to up our game, in terms of knowledge and credibility. Currently, we are undergoing Motability accreditation and we are looking at establishing our own, affordable finance offer for customers as well. In those situations where we might not have the skill in-house, we work closely with partner organisations. There are three kitchen companies we work quite closely with, as well as through-floor-lifts partners, and toilet and bathing specialists. Are you seeing any emerging trends that are growing in popularity in the retail market? The area we are finding the most amount of opportunity for growth is the refurbishment market, with high quality second-hand goods.

We have a triage model in place, where a piece of equipment will come in and we will look at it and determine if it is able to be recycled, to be sold again in the UK. If yes, then it put through the workshop, who will undertake a complete refurbishment. Some of the equipment we get in has only be used a handful of times and is like-new almost. If it can’t be refurbished to be resold here, then it may be able to be refurbished to be put through our Phoenix scheme or stripped for scrap recycling. Can you tell us more about the Phoenix recycling scheme? The Phoenix project is quite unique, as it looks at equipment that may not be suitable to be resold in this country but could be usable in other countries. We work in partnership with the St Mark Universal Copts Care and other international organisations to ship these aids to places like

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The charity doubled its workshop and service operations in 2008, opening the door for more opportunities

Egypt, Thailand and Syria, providing invaluable equipment to some of the world’s most in-need people. We recently received video images of people using the equipment we donated, seeing the difference it has made, particularly the children, it is really moving. Giving people the gift of mobility and independence – some for the first time in their lives – provides a great incentive to our team. What does it take to be a successful charity? For survival, a lot of charities have to adopt a business model and I think it is possible to adopt a business model but without having to be merciless. At the heart of our model is morals and values. We have constantly diversified to offer more services but always kept at the heart, the same values that we started the Charity with, information, advice and guidance. We’ve organically grown over the years and a lot of that is a result of our willingness to welcome and take on opportunities when they arise. To be honest, if we didn’t, it is very unlikely we would be having this interview today. Now we offer 27 services and if we were to try and rely on running this Charity on just public funding and donations, it would be impossible. That is why it is important that we get the retail side right. Success for any charity or business relies heavily on having a great team

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and great leaders. I am lucky to have had my son Gavin leading our commercial services for the past six years. He uses his retail experience, developed from working for several national companies, to develop our team and our retail services. What do you see as being the biggest challenges facing the industry in the coming years? With every challenge comes opportunity and so, looking at the challenges that are facing health and social care, I think they offer opportunities to the retail side of the industry to help provide solutions for these challenges. The primary challenge we have as an industry is to keep it honest and to make sure that we do not get into a situation where running a Home Loan Store or Wheelchair Service are treated as opportunity to turn it into a huge profit-making business. We have to remember, we are dealing with very vulnerable people, who for no fault of their own find themselves reliant on mobility and independent living services. We have had times when a rep has come through the door and suggested that they cannot let us sell their product at our retail pricing structure. In those situations, we are happy not to sell it, and to find another supplier who is happy with our model. Growing the market in an ethical way, I think is the real challenge.

Developing the market in way that is fair and affordable to the end-users has to be our priority. What does the future hold for both Disabled Trading Company and Warrington Disability Partnership? For us, we know who we are, we know where we are and we know what we want to do. We don’t get involved in price match wars and we don’t offer large discounts for part exchanges by advertising inflated prices; we simply offer a fair deal. The future growth will be very carefully and methodically managed and will remain organic; we will not overgrow. We have two new members of staff in one of our services today and when they are fully up-to-speed, we will then move onto the next opportunity. Expansion is definitely on the horizon. We have two more definite service developments and two more possible in the pipeline, with plans for one to be up and running by Easter. This will only happen once we happy with the staff and their level of skill and expertise. For us, it always starts with information, advice and guidance and everything is built on top of that. www.disability www.disabilitytrading

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MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS Permobil expands custom seating business in North America


urther expanding its offering in the Seating and Positioning area, Permobil has acquired Ottobock’s OBSS and NUTEC custom seating business assets in the United States and Canada. The acquisition will expand Permobil’s offering in the North American markets and to complement the move, has recently established a dedicated and clinically-focused commercial team in the U.S. to support customers with seating and positioning needs. Tom Borcherding, President of Permobil Seating and Positioning, commented: “Ottobock’s OBSS and NUTEC custom seating products complement our existing portfolio of premium seating and positioning solutions and provide Permobil with the opportunity to serve a broader range of customers in North America.” The acquisition is the third Permobil has made in the seating and positioning market in recent years, having acquired the Montana-based Comfort Company in 2017 and Illinois-based The ROHO Group in 2015.

DARTEX ACQUISITION PRESENTS FUTURE GROWTH OPPORTUNITY Dartex, specialists in transfer coating and transfer laminating used in pressure care, rehabilitation and mobility products, has been acquired by Trelleborg Coated Systems, part of global Swedish engineering group Trelleborg AB. Dartex Holdings, trading as Dartex Coatings Ltd in the UK and as Dartex Coatings Inc. in the U.S, has manufacturing facilities on both sides of the Atlantic and has confirmed it remains committed to manufacturing and investment in both countries. David Ripley, Managing Director of Dartex Coatings, stated that the Dartex management team will continue to run the business and see the change of ownership as an opportunity to further consolidate its market position, as well as apply its lamination and coating to other Trelleborg products. Headquartered in Trelleborg, Sweden, Trelleborg AB is a global engineering group employing approximately 23,000 people, with yearly revenues of 31 billion SEK billion [EUR 3.23 billion, USD 3.60 billion]. The Group is comprised of five business areas; Trelleborg Coated Systems, Trelleborg Industrial Solutions, Trelleborg Offshore & Construction, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions and Trelleborg Wheel Systems.

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DIRECT HEALTHCARE GROUP MAKES THIRD ACQUISITION IN THREE YEARS Direct Healthcare Group (DHG) has acquired the Transflo Cushion brand from Karomed, seeing the company assume all manufacture and sales of the product. A manufacturer of pressure care solutions, DHG has enjoyed a sustained period of growth and completed a number of acquisitions over the last three years, acquiring Nightingale Professional Bariatric Care in 2016 and Kirton Healthcare in 2017. Graham Ewart, CEO of Direct Healthcare Group, said: “By increasing our product offering, we ensure that we are providing innovative, market-leading pressure care management that makes a real difference to our healthcare professionals and the patients they provide care for.” Already well established in the UK following more than 30 successful years in the market, DHG says it will take advantage of its global network to bring the Transflo Cushion range to Europe and Asia-Pacific for the first time. www.directhealthcare

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WHAT THE HECK IS AAC?! Stuart Barrow looks at how Augmentative and Alternative Communication can change lives for the better and how to interact with customers who may have communication difficulties First things first, what is AAC? AAC is an umbrella term used to describe communication methods that aid communication when problems arise with ordinary speech. Working in the industry, there is a good chance that you may come across a client whose speech is difficult for you to understand. Equally, you may not be entirely sure whether or not they can understand what you’re saying. There are multiple possibilities as to why this is the case – language, speech or communication difficulties due to conditions such as strokes, Motor Neuron Disease (MND), learning disabilities or brain injuries.

What types of AAC are there? No-tech communication or ‘unaided communication’ Examples of this type of AAC include body language, gestures, pointing, eye pointing, facial expressions, vocalisations and signing Low-tech or ‘aided’ communication systems (often referred to as not battery or electric operated) Examples include pen and paper to write messages or draw, alphabet and word boards, communication charts or books with pictures, photos, symbols and particular objects used to stand for what the person needs to understand or say

Communication difficulties that are as a result of not sharing a client’s first language or as a result of deafness are not included under AAC interpreters and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People can help in these cases

High-tech communication systems (these need power from a battery or mains and most of them speak and/or produce text) They range from simple buttons or pages that speak when touched to very sophisticated electronic systems. Some high-tech communication systems are based on familiar equipment such as mobile devices, tablets and laptops, whilst others use equipment specially designed to support communication. These are also sometimes referred to as “aided” Things to bear in mind when using AAC: • Conversations take longer. If an appointment has been booked, double the appointment time or split the appointment into two appointments • Deal with one question at a time, waiting before any

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answer before initiating further conversation Eye contact is key - facial expressions and our lips aid communication Speak directly to the client, even if they are with someone Don’t try and guess. If you didn’t understand, ask again If all other methods of communication have failed and the need means the appointment cannot be rescheduled, then consider asking someone close to the client to interpret Avoid jargon Try pictures or props

What about clients with little to no speech? • Stick to questions with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers • If your client can’t indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’, then find another way

for them to communicate it and agree it with them i.e. blinking or nodding If the person can write, they may be able to use a pen and paper to communicate If the person can spell but is physically unable to write, then you could use an ‘alphabet chart’. Write the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper and ask the patient to spell out what they are saying by pointing to the letters. If the patient cannot point to

I hope this helps – any more questions, just email me at stuart@

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

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the letters on the alphabet board, you can point to letters in sequence, asking him/her to indicate when you reach the desired letter – you can use a pad to keep track If the patient has a communication aid, encourage them to use it

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Unique contoured backrest 15/01/2018 10:24 | 35


PRECISION REHAB LOOKS TO APPOINT SELECT DEALERS Having agreed to be the exclusive supplier of the UPnRIDE powered standing-wheelchairs for the UK and Ireland, Precision Rehab are looking to appoint a limited number of authorised dealers. The UPnRIDE is an innovative powered stand-wheelchair that allows wheelchair users to be fully mobile in both standing and sitting positions in practically any urban environment. Precision Rehab will supply the UPnRIDE wheelchairs on a direct sales basis throughout the UK & Ireland, appointing a select number of dealers to ensure a high standard of assessment, sales process and aftersales care, including service & repair coverage. Matthew James founded Precision Rehab because of a lack of specialist powered wheelchairs in the marketplace. The company has been supplying Paravan, a German-based manufacturer of powered wheelchairs, in the UK & Ireland for over two years. The UPnRIDE will be launched in the UK at Naidex on the 25th and 26th April 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham.

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Net sales dip in 2017 as transformation continues


nvacare Corporation released its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2017, with Matthew E. Monaghan, Chairman, President and CEO, stating it “was a tremendous year of progress in our transformation across the company.” The global manufacturer and distributor of mobility, homecare and long-term care medical products, reported net sales decreased 7.7 percent to $966.5 million compared to $1.04 billion in 2016. Despite the rise in net loss, Matthew highlighted that progress had been made towards restoring long-term earnings potential as the company continued to execute a multi-year strategic transformation in North America. Citing a number of factors, including significant investment in restructuring activities leading to approximately $23.4 million in cost savings and the launch of more than 10 new products, Matthew said the company had good momentum to build upon in 2018. In Europe, mobility and seating product sales were up in the fourth quarter of 2017, however, the CEO cautioned that the region will undergo the same transformation process as applied to North America. A key phase of this process in Europe is the transfer of Küschall wheelchair production from Switzerland and Sweden to France by the end of the third quarter in 2018. Matthew commented: “This transfer is another step forward in Phase Two of our transformation, which leverages our existing global infrastructure to reduce costs and further increase efficiencies.”

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Mobility retailer prepares to make generous donation


outh Derbyshire-based Stuart Mobility is offering to donate a specialist piece of equipment to a deserving group, organisation or charity in the hopes of making a real difference to people’s lives. The Willington retailer appealed for individuals to nominate an organisation who could benefit from a specialist Repose rise and recline chair. Justina, who set up Stuart Mobility with her husband Stuart nearly three years ago, said: ““We would love to find someone who would really benefit from one of our chairs and make a difference. We are keen to find a group, charity or organisation in the local area who we could support each year and are appealing for people to send in their suggestions of who they would like to see the benefit.” The couple started the store to

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help create more transparency in the industry and now wants to be able to use their business to help others. “When we started, there was a lot of concern about rogue traders pressure selling and inflating prices. The equipment we sell makes people’s lives easier and we wanted to make sure that people could access quality goods at a reasonable price,” added Justina. Supplying rise and recline chairs, as well as other healthcare aids, Stuart Mobility hopes the specialist furniture will help a local hospice, care home or group to make their life easier and support individuals in living more independent lives. Stuart Mobility will announce the recipient later in the month.

Following continued industry speculation, a comment posted by Kevin G. StraffordPrice, Director of MediTek, has suggested the company may no longer be trading. Responding to a query regarding an order by a distributor, Stafford-Price said: “I regret to say MediTek ceased trading on January 31st at 4pm. All the staff received redundancy, notice and monthly pay. Some staff been with me for 20 years. Sad and stressful time. I would like to thank the creditors who worked hard to help the company get through and customers who were loyal to the bitter end.” A source close to the company however, disputed the claim that all staff had received payments, suggesting some were still waiting to be paid. With authorised dealers across the UK and an international distribution network, Meditek manufactured a wide range of stairlifts from its purpose-built showroom/assessment centre in Newton Aycliffe. There had been growing speculation in the industry that company had been facing financial difficulties in recent years. THIIS contacted Kevin for more information regarding the announcement and is awaiting further comment.




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TREKINETIC: CHANGING THE NOTION OF WHEELCHAIR MOTION Coming from the exciting and fast-paced world of Formula One, Mike Spindle, Managing Director of Trekinetic, aimed to change the idea of how wheelchairs were configured when he brought his engineering design expertise to the mobility industry, way back in 2006. Since then, the company has worked day in, day out, manufacturing its innovative wheelchairs. As Trekinetic prepares to launch the Mk II version of bestselling, ultralight GTE powerchair, Mike discussed inspirations, industry exhibitions and future ambitions. 40 |

Mike says exhibitions need to be flexible in the mobility industry

What inspired you to become involved in the mobility industry? Many people become involved in the mobility industry because of a personal mobility issue or a connection to somebody with one, however, for me it was originally only about the engineering. Originally, our company were toolmakers to the motor industry and later, as that declined in the UK, we worked in Formula One companies. Because we had sophisticated

cool looking teenager in a not-so-cool looking wheelchair. Immediately, as someone who has always been involved in motion, it seemed to me that two things were wrong with the chair. Firstly, it was the wrong way around, with the big wheels at the back rather than the front. Secondly, it was on a framework chassis, which most contemporary vehicles are not. That was in 2000. We spent the next six years developing our first wheelchair, the Trekinetic K-2, using the knowledge we had working in the motor & Formula One industry and applying it to the mobility industry. How did you approach designing a wheelchair for the first time? Purposely we did not look at other wheelchairs on the market. I wanted us to approach the very concept of a wheelchair with a fresh pair of eyes, as if one had never been created before. Complete innovation. That was one of the best decisions we ever made in my mind, as we didn’t become influenced by prior art. What changes did you make to the initial design that were influenced from your motor experience? The majority of vehicles are designed using something called a Monocoque chassis, which means there is no framework foundation or chassis, as you might find with a vintage car. Instead, one part is made really strong, such as the body shell, then

“The demise of the Mobility Roadshow has left a gap that I definitely think could be filled.” MIKE SPINDLE

CNC machinery, we could produce complex 3D components. Formula One was fun but as a business model, it is not ideal as it is always very busy from Friday afternoon to Sunday but often quiet during the rest of the week. Instead, we started to think about using all our expertise to produce our own product and it was by chance I came across a

everything else is attached to that, getting rid of the additional framework chassis. Our early prototypes were based on an aluminium racing car seats, that we bolted all the rest of the components to. Eventually, it turned into a carbon fibre chair, which is naturally warm and can be moulded into an approximation of the human

Mike Spindle

form. This was when we really tapped into our racing experience. By having it moulded to a person’s natural shape, it meant it did not require a large number of cushions. For most wheelchairs, the point between the back and the posterior is usually a right-angle shape, however, the human body is curved in that area. By making the seat curved, which is easily done with carbon fibre, we created a seat that approximates the human shape, changing the whole pressure loading for the end-user and making it more comfortable. Fortunately, thanks to our background, we had the knowledge and tools to create our own optimised parts, rather than having to rely on catalogue pieces. Why did you feel the design of wheelchairs were the wrong way around? When a user propels a rear-drive chair, they are pushing mostly downwards and potentially pushing themselves out of the seat. The action also causes their head to face downwards rather than straight-ahead. When you push on a front-wheel drive wheelchair, you instead push between the wheels’ horizontal sector and the back of the seat. This system has been proven about 30 percent more efficient and so much so, the | 41

more about... International Olympic Committee banned a racing version of our chair from competing in the London 2012 Olympics as being an unfair advantage! Did you find there were any drawbacks designing a wheelchair this way? We quickly found out that there was a good reason why front-wheeled propulsion is not widely used and when I found it, it was probably one of the worst moments of my professional career. Basically, the chair would not go in a straight line! At the time in 2003, there were five patents that we had applied for, so we were keeping the technology and testing secret. We did some market research with a large group of wheelchair users and discovered that by having three wheels and having the castor at the rear, the chair fishtailed. It looked like game over. Rear propelled chairs with two casters are far more agreeable to just naturally going straight, but with three wheels, they won’t. The whole project stopped for a year until we could fix the issue; eventually, we tried a sprung-loaded, detent on the rear wheel that would click into place only

The GTE Mk II looks to offer retailers more margin

Like all shows, they were looking for an attraction. It was a big gamble for us as well, but we were confident we had a product that could grab visitors’ attention. Some big companies have the marketing budgets to sell products that may not be completely extraordinary and people will still buy them. We knew as a small, fledging

“Dealers traditionally didn’t make as much profit on our chairs as they did on imported chairs, so we are trying to put this right.” MIKE SPINDLE

when it was going straight. To my amazement, it completely solved the problem. We aren’t the first to make a threewheel, front-drive propelled chair but I think we’re the first to make it work.

company, our product had to be exemplary from day one. Fortunately, it was a gamble that paid off and after that first show, we had 13,000 views on our website that weren’t there before.

As a small, UK-manufacturer, how did you get the product out there to the market? We launched the manual K2 at the Mobility Roadshow in 2006. They took a big chance on us because and were keen to have something different for the visitors to see.

What do you find is the most effective channel for your company to reach customers? We work with our dealer network to sell the chairs, but customers generally tend to discover our chairs through word-of-mouth and just coming across it on the streets,

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of which there are about 850 in circulation. Getting our chairs into visitor attractions, at no cost to the venue owners, is our next initiative. You have said you have decided not to exhibit at Naidex this year? Why have Trekinectic taken that decision? We exhibited at Naidex last year and it was a good show, however, after discussions, we made a business decision not to exhibit again this year. I imagine most exhibitors do shows with the expectation that they will see a spike in sales, but with Trekinetic, nearly all our sales come from word of mouth and social media. Weighing up everything, we decided to explore other avenues, although I am sure they will have another good show this year. On reflection though, I am sad for visitors who are expecting to experience Trekinetic there and that Naidex and ourselves didn’t try harder to make that work. Will you do Naidex in the future? We will review all options next year and we wish Naidex and everyone who exhibits great success. The UK mobility industry needs all the help it can get to ensure we can keep meeting people’s needs.

more about... As an exhibitor, what is it you look for from exhibition organisers? It should come as no surprise that as an exhibiting business, the first thing we want from any show we do are visitors that are likely to be interested in our product. At the Mobility Roadshow, we always had a good number of visitors at the stand because we knew that they were there to see mobility vehicles and were undoubtedly going to be interested in our range. Not just getting the visitors but also getting the wider media or celebrities to attend is always very valuable for exhibitors as well. Being able to get national newspapers, the BBC or a celebrity onto stands and getting a couple of minutes on TV, a piece in a news article or a tweet from a popular celeb really helps deliver something that, as exhibitors, we would struggle to achieve outside the exhibition. What do you feel are some of the most important factors for running a successful show in this industry? With the rise of new technologies and channels that allow companies to target their promotions to endusers at good value, I imagine it is a tough time for industry shows and exhibitions. In regards to the mobility industry, there needs to be a willingness to be flexible with companies, especially some of the smaller companies in the industry. One of the things we used to like at the Mobility Roadshow was that they ran something called the ‘Marketplace’, where they would give small stalls to companies that couldn’t afford the kind of stands we could afford. These were the type of companies selling smaller, low-cost aids, such as small plastic pill boxes but were still very relevant to visitors. Customer focused companies like ours also have to be selective and we do a lot of data collection. We don’t invest in anything promotion– wise, that’s unlikely to be cost effective. With shows,

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we look at other exhibitors, because we know that’s exactly what visitors do before making the decision to attend. With mobility shows, most visitors will be in or representing somebody in a wheelchair. They are the cornerstone that makes up the visitor profile. That means the show needs to have as many wheelchair and/or converted vehicle manufactures as possible in my opinion. If it’s a very small percentage, coupled with no weekend day, we know from our own analysis that visitor numbers may likely be low. I understand that organising and running these exhibitions is by no means cheap, however, finding a way to make the shows accessible to smaller, fledging companies and startups is something I think all shows should endeavour to do and I think visitors will thank them for it. Will Trekinectic exhibit any other shows this year? There are a range of shows and other options that we are actively considering investing in. There are the various Kidz-toAdultz shows which we have looked at and we have done Rehacare for a number of years. We are also looking at getting our powerchairs onto Motability and there is a show in Bologna, Italy, who are very keen to have us attend. We also did very well at MS Life in 2016. We have thought about Trade Days as we look to increase our dealer network as well. Do you think there is space for a show to fill the gap left by the Mobility Roadshow, focusing primarily on mobility vehicles and end-users? 100 percent. The demise of the Mobility Roadshow has left

a gap that I definitely think could be filled. For example, there were scores of converted vehicle manufacturer stands at The Mobility Roadshow, but seemingly fewer at Naidex 2018. My thoughts would be that it wouldn’t need to be so large and it could start off small but the challenge would be the same faced by all exhibitors; how do you get the people to come to the show and how do you advertise it to them. From our research, we found it is very hard to reach disabled end-users to get them to attend shows. Can you tell me more about the GTE Mk II The GTE Mk I was our first power chair that was completely unique, as it could fit into virtually any nonconverted car and weighs 36kg fully assembled; a third to that of conventional powerchairs with this level of capability. We’ve been producing the GTE Mk I for around five years now and it’s become our best-selling chair, with some very famous customers, including royalty. The claim to the chair’s fame remains its famous off-road ability and the fact that the front wheels are quick release and the motors are in the wheels. These hub motors are where a lot of the weight is contained, so when

these come off, the chair becomes hand lift-able. When both wheels are off, the foldable, centre tub can fit into most standard cars, meaning people do not need to purchase large, converted vehicles, saving significant costs. Additionally, ultra-low ‘wheels on’ folding is now standard. With this, it means it can be hoisted into a small 4WD without dismantling, making the user experience even more enjoyable. We also now have an integrated second battery storage option, that even helps counter balance the chair. All the improvements are win-win and have culminated in our new Mk II version.

How much does the new powerchair cost? It will be three to four percent more expensive than the GTE Mk I, however, we have also tried to help our dealers and improve the margins for them as well. We know they face the same pressures as we do. About 45 percent of our sales come from customers fundraising and we help provide people with valuable information to help them raise funds and point them in directions of charities and organisations. When will the Mk II be available in the market? The launch is imminent. We have been doing some testing behind the scenes and have a few being used by customers who have been feeding back some fantastic responses, so we will be ready to fully launch the product very soon. What does the future hold for the company? Our turnover grew 19 percent last year and 24 percent the year before that, so we are aiming to reach at least 19 percent again this year. I think what is left for us is to increase our production to meet the demand and really to increase our dealers – especially in the UK.

Dealers traditionally didn’t make as much profit on our chairs as they did on imported chairs, so we are trying to put this right. We also have some great dealers who share our vision and see great success selling our chairs. Our main goal however, is the USA. We have two patents granted for the USA, which is very different to simply having them applied for; it took us 11 years to get them granted. Now we have those, we are planning to see activity grow over there and it would be great to see a trade deal between the UK and USA that made it easy to export our mobility products across the pond. There is still a lot of red tape but it would be great to find a good partner over there and eventually do a show like Medtrade. Ultimately, the sky is limit. We have had success in Europe and frequently customers fly in from as far away as Argentina to pick their chair up, so we know we have something special. I’m convinced that in time, the front wheel drive, Monocoque template pioneered by Trekinetic will be looked back upon as a trendsetter. It might take a few years longer but will be on the menu of what most customers want. Just ask any Trekinetic owner. | 45

new to the team


Ian Byrne with Seamstress, Shirley in Newton Abbot factory

New Operations Manager aims to shorten lead times Ian Byrne has joined CareFlex as the company’s Operations Manager, bringing a wealth of experience in Lean Manufacturing techniques to the specialist seating provider. Joining from Alcoa Howmet Power & Propulsion, Exeter, where he was Manufacturing Manager (Pre-Casting) for five years, Ian was key in implementing continuous improvement projects. Prior to that, he spent 23 years with Invensys, Plymouth. Ian commented that he is looking forward to being able to guide a product through the whole production process, as he looks to shorten lead times and strive for on-time delivery.

With 10 years’ experience in the mobility aids industry, Wilcare has appointed Stephen Stock to the position of Group Business Development Manager. Working alongside National Sales Manager Gavin Wilson, Stephen will look to further develop its network of partner mobility dealerships. Beginning his career in international computer sales, he has returned to the independent living sector after a decade in commercial vehicle sales management. The Welsh-based manufacturer of rise and recline furniture has been operating in the industry for 17 years, launching its stylish accentu8 brand in 2015. Wilcare is now offering a new Partnership programme to enhance the offering currently being provided to its reseller channel.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER RETURNS TO AJ WAY AJ Way has confirmed that Kent Meredith will be returning to the company next month as the company continues its focus on supporting dealers. With over 25 years’ experience in the industry, Kent commented that he is looking forward to selling the AJ Way portfolio again. “AJ Way has returned to be the company I enjoyed working for during my original seven years employment with them, so I am excited to be back,” said Kent.

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RAMPING UP ACTIVITY IN THE MOBILITY INDUSTRY When Medequip, one of the longest serving providers of Community Equipment Services in England, required more than a hundred new ramps for their new van fleet, Ra’alloy was all too ready to rise to the challenge. Now the ramp experts are looking to bring their expertise to more companies in the mobility trade.


stablished in 1988, Ra’alloy was the brainchild of inventor and entrepreneur Graham Corfield, who decided to take the plunge and branch out on his own after having worked in the manufacturing industry for some time. His vision was to supply high-quality ramps to the UK trade. Setting up a small manufacturing plant in Wolverhampton, Graham’s vision became a reality over time, with the company enjoying growth and moving to a significantly larger site in Telford 14 years ago, where it

still manufactures its range of access solutions today. Speaking with Graham, the company’s Managing Director, he explained how the company has grown over the last 29 years. “Our growth has been organic, which has led to gradual change and greater diversity in terms of our capability and proposition,” he explained. “Now we supply both UK wide and overseas, however, we are immensely proud to be able to say that all of our manufacturing is still done in-house and our commitment to customer service has never been stronger.” Folding ramps, cutting costs and saving time From its West Midlands base, Ra’alloy manufactures a range of standard and bespoke ramps, gangways, platforms

and loading systems, from basic design van ramps to container access platform ramps. It is their folding van ramps that the company is particularly keen to inform the industry about however, asserting that manufacturers and retailers can save both money and manpower with their solutions. “We believe our folding van ramps are the most versatile on the market and are especially suitable for the mobility industry,” commented Graham. Hinged and stored upright, Ra’alloy’s folding van ramps are designed to be easy to fold out for just one individual, making it an ideal solution for companies and their operations in the industry, according to the company. Graham said: “Our folding van ramps require a one-person operation and are efficient in terms of both cost and time.

Over 100 ramps supplied for Medequip’s van fleet

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25 & 26












“Furthermore, our folding van ramps can also be detached and used away from the van – when we claim they are versatile, they really are!” Customer satisfaction through customisation Speaking with Graham, he believes one of Ra’alloy’s key strengths over its competitors is the company’s ability to customise the ramps it provides to customers to better meet their needs. “Our products are unique to the UK, in that we both design and manufacture. We pride ourselves in offering bespoke designs, based on customer requirements, so we can manufacture these ramps to any dimensions and specifications,” highlighted Graham. “We are not simply a stockist, so our obligation to the customer is to get them a ramp which works specifically for their operation and vehicle. We know this can be particularly important for the healthcare sector, where

Ra’alloy believes companies in the mobility industry will save time and money with its folding ramps

generally, placing emphasis on their needs and delivering the perfect solutions to enhance real-time operations.” Discussing the project, he commented on the importance of having an efficient operation to meet high-quantity orders. “The challenge with high volume orders for any manufacturer is simply the question of logistics and, in particular, planning and scheduling completion dates. “It was a pretty tight schedule, so we produced and delivered 10 ramps on a weekly basis to make sure that the

“We have seen a steady growth in the healthcare industry over the past three years.” GRAHAM CORFIELD

organisations may have very specific needs and specifications.” Whilst the company does offer standard, ‘off-the-shelf’ alternatives, it is in its ability to customise products to suit the needs of each individual user that the company sets itself apart. The Medequip project It was this commitment to highquality ramp solutions that helped the company secure a contract to manufacture and supply 103 folding van ramps for community loan store provider Medequip and their new van fleet. “We have worked with Medequip for a number of years now and we worked in close collaboration with the Medequip team to produce a very easy-to-use, lightweight ramp that could be operated by one-person to their fleet,” explained Graham. “The project is a strong example of how we work with our customers

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vehicles went out on time and with the required delivery. It was a project we were happy to tackle head on and it is down to the efforts of our dedicated team that we managed to do it.” Rising interest from the healthcare sector According to Graham, the company has been receiving more attention from the healthcare and mobility industry, as Ra’alloy’s reputation continues to grow in the market. “We have seen a steady growth in the healthcare industry over the past three years. This has been mainly down to increased orders from our loyal customer base, word of mouth and positive reviews from our customers’ clients,” confirmed Graham. “We have received amazing feedback regarding our products and services, which encourages the business to prioritise this sector, given the huge opportunities here for us, as

well as great benefits for customers. Graham says the key benefits for customers are the ease of use and the ability for a one-person operation, helping companies meet their KPIs, in terms of time savings and improving overall efficiencies. “We believe that we produce outstanding products and deliver outstanding customer service, which together is the perfect combination for any customer in the industry looking for a ramp solution,” he added. The future Continuing to look to the healthcare industry, Ra’alloy has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming the ‘first choice’ provider of these kind of ramp solutions and is ramping up its activity in the market. “As an independently owned entrepreneurial business, our mantra is to always aim high,” said Graham. “We are investing more into the Ra’alloy brand and business, with recent commitments to trade show activity, the launch of a new website and more media engagement with the likes of THIIS magazine.” The ramp specialists are also keen to build and nurture solid relationships with customers, new and old, in order to strengthen retention levels. “We believe in our products, given their track record and reputation, and as we manage the whole process in-house, we have great faith in our team. We have all the facets required to position Ra’alloy as the ‘first choice’ provider for all ramp solutions within the healthcare sector,” finished Graham. “We are all very excited for what the future holds.” To find out more, contact the Sales team on

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new to the team

New additions bolster Etac teams across the Group The Etac Group, developer of ergonomic products that assist people living restricted mobility, has welcomed three new members to customer services, paediatrics, transfer & hygiene teams across the Group. The Etac Group develops a wide portfolio of brands, including Etac (bathing and toileting, aids for daily living and wheelchairs), R82 (paediatrics), Immedia (manual transfer), Molift (hoists and slings), Star (pressure care) and Convaid (paediatrics). With 13 years’ experience in the care sector, Steven Mather has joined the Transfer and Hygiene team as an Area Sales Manager, covering the North East and East Midlands. Emma Seymour has joined the Etac team as a Customer Services Advisor, bringing her 14 years of Customer Service experience to the role. Joining R82 as a Product Advisor for paediatric products covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, Havering, Essex, Barking and Dagenham, Peter Loakman has been in the industry for 28 years, having worked at Smirthwaite as a Product Advisor and then Sales Manager for the past nine years.

Steven Mather

Emma Seymour

Peter Loakman

NEW SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR JOINS LOOPWHEELS With over two decades Marketing and Sales experience, Ian Abbott has been appointed as Loopwheels’ new Sales and Marketing Director. Gemma, the company’s Co-Founder, said: “We envisage that Ian will work with dealers, distributors and healthcare professionals to develop a better way to explain and evidence the breakthrough work that we are developing. In turn, this will enable Sam and me to develop the technology faster and work more closely with scientists, engineers and academics to make sure this work can benefit more and more people, in the UK and further afield.” To contact Ian, email or call +44 7545198715 Ian Abbott

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Carolyn Tobin

EFOLDI WELCOMES A NEW FINANCIAL DIRECTOR ONBOARD During eFOLDi’s crowdfunding period over January and February, where the fledging company significantly exceeded its funding ambitions by over £300k, the company also acquired the expertise of Ms Carolyn Tobin. Joining as a pro bono Financial Director, the Chartered Accountant and former McKinsey Management Consultant has more than 25 years’ experience working with businesses on increasing profitability, driving international growth and managing company finances. Sumi Wang, Managing Director of eFOLDi, commented: “We want to be ambitious with our extra funding but we want to be prudent too; that’s what makes Carolyn’s generous offer of expertise so timely. We’re now even more confident of using our investors’ money wisely.”

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


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AAC AND SENSORY Lightwriter SL50 offers natural communication


bilia’s new Lightwriter SL50 has been designed to be the best dedicated text-to-speech device for literate users who are unable to communicate effectively through speech. With a Lightwriter, a user can participate in social interactions while at work or during leisure time, even in noisy, sunny outdoor or poorly lit environments. Every part of the Lightwriter SL50 has been designed specifically for purpose according to the company. From the dual screens and loud clear speakers, to the user interface and word prediction - everything is focused on delivering an individual’s speech as effectively as possible. Abilia says the new device offers clear, fast effective communication at the press of a button without compromises and distractions.

TALKING TECHNOLOGY The Allora is a keyboard and switch accessible, text to speech, communication device designed to meet the needs of people that are literate, have little or no speech and whose motor skills require a device that can adapt to change but maintain access for the user over time. One user of the device commented that it had provided the person with a voice for the time in their life. Unique to the Allora is its detachable second partner display, which can be used in various ways to enhance the quality of a conversation. For example, place a second display in the kitchen & an Allora user may request a cup of tea from their seat in the lounge. The Allora supports SMS texting, allowing users to contact friends & family and allows users to be understood loud and clear with a choice of voices. To find out more about the Allora, contact 01476 512881

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DOING BUSINESS AROUND THE WORLD JUST GOT EASIER... Global Healthcare Trader (GHT) is designed for companies looking to find distributors around the world. A simple search facility enables companies looking to import new products the ability to find businesses looking to sell into their own country in just a couple of clicks. If your company is looking to build business around the world, then it could well be the easiest, quickest and simplest way to do it.



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The silver lining In 2018, new Pivotell Advance and Mk3/11 dispensers will incorporate BioCote, a premium silver ion technology that is introduced during the plastics manufacturing stage. According to the company, the coating will provide the ultimate protection against harmful microbes such as bacteria, mould and even some viruses, for the lifetime of the dispenser. BioCote technology makes the dispenser inherently more hygienic and addresses cross contamination. The devices are now easier to keep hygienically clean for patients, their family and visiting carers, plus pharmacists and staff who are all regularly handling the device. The new dispensers have demonstrated reductions of over 99.9 percent and set the bar even higher for the medication management market. BioCote’s technology significantly decreases microbes including E.coli and MRSA in just 15 minutes, with reductions of up to 99.5% achieved in 2 hours. Pivotell has confirmed it will be launching this at no extra cost for our customers, providing an added benefit for vulnerable adults who may need additional support in managing their medication.

British Healthcare Trades Association

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

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



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Mobility exporter’s manufacturing facility burned down Heartway Medical Products, a Taiwanese manufacturer and exporter of mobility products, saw its manufacturing facility burn down during a major fire in Taichung Industrial Park, Taiwan. The blaze resulted in the 3,000 sq. metre manufacturing plant being completely burnt down, although fortunately all 22 workers in the facility escaped. The company specialises in the manufacture and exporting of manual wheelchairs, powerchairs and mobility scooters and supply companies including TGA Mobility and Pride Mobility. A report of the fire stated the plastic used in the creation of the mobility aids resulted in large amounts of black smoke being emitted, with the smell of burning plastic extending as far as a kilometre from the fire, as well as explosions. Commenting on the potential impact of the fire on supply, Daniel Stone, TGA’s Managing Director, told THIIS: “We hold significant stock as a contingency and there is also product currently in transit which further strengthens TGA’s position, hence we do not expect any Heartway product availability issues in the short term. “From its 15-year relationship with Heartway, TGA has complete confidence that this trusted manufacturer will be fully operational soon through its robust recovery process which is already well underway.” A source at Pride Mobility also confirmed that the company is not facing any immediate supply shortages, but it is yet unknown when Heartway will be fully operational again.

Ayrshire-based Exel Mobility has moved to large new premises with a spacious showroom, workshop and demonstration area, which the company says will enable it to stay ahead of its competitors. The new showroom stocks an extensive range of mobility equipment, including mobility scooters, wheelchairs, rise and recline chairs, rollators, walking aids and more, as well as featuring a safe demonstration area for end-users to try aids before purchasing With free parking for customers, the central Scottish location aims to attract customers from further afield, as well as being conveniently situated five minutes from Crosshouse Hospital.

The new store is located at 11 Gatehead Road, Crosshouse, Kilmarnock

NEXT DAY DELIVERY FOR DEALERS Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare has introduced a next day delivery service for all products ordered before 5pm, Monday to Friday, covering all core retail lines in stock at the point of ordering. Close links with distribution partners and investment in stockholding means the company can now provide the enhanced delivery option, designed to enable retail outlets to provide a faster service to their customers. With no additional cost for the improved service, the company says it is constantly looking to improve service levels across the board and is setting the standards for the industry.

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with every rollat or, a pair of SMM201 medium crutches which would norm ally be sold at £8.00 trade

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For all your mobility aids please contact one of our sales team on 01942 243999 or email us at

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eFOLDI PROVES TO BE HOT INVESTMENT eFOLDi, the electric personal vehicle developed by SunTech UK, has turned to crowdfunding platform CrowdCube to raise funds and has seen considerable success. Aiming to reach a target of £350k for 5 percent equity, eFOLDi has smashed its goal, reaching over £660k from more than 520 investors in under a month of the investment opportunity being live to the public. eFOLDi is a new mobility vehicle which aims to disrupt the current mobility scooter market. Sumi Wang, Managing Director of SunTech UK, told THIIS that crowdfunding was new to the mobility industry and hoped her success would encourage others to explore it as an option. The initial £350k target was the minimum required for mass production, explained Sumi, with £120k to be used for the production of 200 units,

£150k for sales and marketing in the UK and California, US, and £80k for development of the eFOLDi Mk II. With the additional funds received from investors, Sumi indicated it will be used to help the company reach more global markets, looking at Florida, Nevada and Hawaii in the USA, as well as Asian and Middle

Eastern markets. She also hinted that more products, designs and ideas could also be on the way, saying the company has also generated design ideas for other products that meet the needs of less mobile people.

Social business aims to keep minds active globally Active Minds, a UK-based specialist in activity products for people living with dementia, has received valuable funding by SI² Fund to help the company achieve social impact at scale. Founded in 2008, Active Minds is a social business that creates positive, evidence-based activity products that help people living with dementia, reducing depression, isolation and boredom whilst improving communications. Ben Atkinson-Willes, Founder of Active Minds, commented: “We are relying on SI² Fund’s exceptional track-record in business management and the social impact sector to accelerate our international growth, strengthen our operations and grow a long-term, profitable social business.” A European social impact investment fund, SI² Fund focusses specifically on helping social businesses scale their social impact on the long-term. Pieter Oostlander, Fund Manager of SI² Fund, said: “We will assist the company in implementing the SROI (Social Return on Investment) framework to enable them to truly understand, measure and manage the social impact of their business.” 60 |

Ben Atkinson-Willes, Founder of Active Minds

diary dates

Onwards and upwards for Platinum Stairlifts Stairlift manufacturer Platinum Stairlifts has received investment from private equity firm NorthEdge Capital which the company will use to further its global growth ambitions. Based in Keighley, West Yorkshire, Platinum Stairlifts manufactures a full suite of stairlift products, achieving strong growth in recent years with revenue increasing by over 20 percent year-on-year since 2012. The company employs over 100 staff and distributes to more than 40 countries worldwide, including France, Germany, the Netherlands and USA, through its network of authorised dealers. Investing in businesses and management teams from regional powerhouses capable of achieving global success, NorthEdge Captial typically invest between £5 million to £45 million in each business it invests in. Tim Frear, Founder of Platinum Stairlifts, confirmed that the backing will allow the stairlift manufacturer to continue to invest in new product development, enhance its proposition for distributors and further strengthen its presence across international markets, scaling up its operational platform in the process.

March 15 2018 Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry April 25-26 2018 Naidex - NEC April 26 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Weetwood Hall Conference Centre, Leeds or call Sally on 02921 900402 May 17 2018 Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre June 11- 13 2018 COT Annual Conference - Belfast Waterfront June 12-13 2018 NAEP Annual Conference – Kenilworth www. June 13 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge or call Sally on 02921 900402 June 27-28 2018 Health+Care – Excel London www. 5th July 2018 Kidz to Adultz Wales & West - Bristol July 11 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli or call Sally on 02921 900402 15th July 2018 – 27th Disability Awareness Day annual event - Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington July 23-25 Posture & Mobility Group Conference Manchester Central September 12 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - La Mon Hotel, Belfast or call Sally on 02921 900402 September 26 2018 – OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Imperial Hotel, Torquay or call Sally on 02921 900402 September 26-29 2018 Rehacare – Dusseldorf October 7-8 2018 Trade Days – NEC October 15-17, 2018 Medtrade – Atlanta October 17-18 2018 The Care & Dementia Show – NEC November 7 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - The Spa Hotel, Kent or call Sally on 02921 900402 November 28 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hilton Hotel, Newcastle or call Sally on 02921 900402 December 5 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hilton Hotel, Southampton or call Sally on 02921 900402 | 61


THE INFLUENCE OF INSTALLERS Nine of out ten consumers’ installation choices are based on their installers’ recommendations, according to a new survey from wet room solutions provider AKW.


arried out with wet room installers across the UK [1], the survey also revealed the changing nature of installers purchasing behaviour, with more installers going online to purchase their wet room supplies. The survey found that although 67 percent of installers do not order any of their products online, a growing minority, 24 percent, now buy more than half their wet room formers & trays online, having them delivered to the site or place of work. James Dadd, Marketing Director at AKW, commented: “This research demonstrates the level of trust that consumers have in installers’ recommendations and shows how purchasing patterns are shifting.” Dodd confirmed that the findings also reinforce the importance of installers choosing manufacturers to work with that deliver high-quality product training, online support and customer service. Recently investing in a new installer training van, AKW says it looks to continue to build relationships, offer ongoing support and promote its product range to installers.

[1]Research carried out by Fusion Insight & Strategy Ltd, Research conducted using a CATI (Computer-assisted telephone interviewing) survey between 31th January and 10th February 2017 with 105 wet room installers, UK-wide

SPECIAL SPECIALIST SEATING OFFER FOR RETAILERS In the latest phase of its 2018 retailer support programme, Repose Furniture is offering a free upgrade to pocket sprung seating between March 1st and March 31st. Worth £30 per unit ordered and available on all seating from the company’s standard homecare range, retailers need to quote to MAR18 when placing their orders to qualify. By adding the pocket sprung cushion, users are guaranteed greater levels of comfort due to the individual, high-tensile steel coil springs in individual pockets, providing consistent support throughout the life of the chair and ensuring the seat cushion maintains a lasting shape. The pocket sprung cushions are not available on chairs with seat widths over 22” or seat heights below 16”

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Adaptable and versatile healthcare seating Delivering care and comfort from hospitals to homes Our Portering and Riser Recline chairs come with: • Bespoke options • A choice of pressure management cushions • Postural management back styles • A range of specialist fabrics & colours

For more information call us or visit our website: Tel: 01384 567401 REPOSE THIIS MEDICAL 210x145mm.indd 1

22/02/2018 15:09

When you want to look for a new supplier...


Area Sales Manager Care & Independence is a British company that designs, manufactures, sells and services a range of equipment that improves the daily living and mobility of individuals. Our key products include slings, hoists, stairlifts and bathing chairs. Currently we are seeking an Area Sales Manager to join the company to promote and sell our products to existing clients as well as create business opportunities with a new customer base. The area covered would be South and Central Wales, including Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcester. We are looking for an individual with stairlift experience and a broader understanding of the industry, although candidates with other healthcare sales background or previous experience as an OT, will be considered. The starting salary is £28k p/a with 1% commission on all sales exceeding £30k per month. To apply for this role, please forward your CV and cover letter to

Business Development Manager Invacare is a world leading provider of mobility and homecare equipment and due to growth, we are now seeking a Business Development Manager to join our Safe Patient Handling team to cover the UK Eastern Region. Invacare’s approach to Safe Patient Handling is about understanding and working with Occupational Therapists and Healthcare Professionals to support their experiences within Community, Residential and the Acute care sector. Our Business Development Managers are dedicated to providing support and assistance of the highest quality to Healthcare professionals and the successful candidate will manage a sales area where they will be responsible for building our brand, increasing our market presence, establishing long term account relationships, and developing a great customer experience. To be successful in the role candidates must possess a thorough understanding of the NHS and dealer markets. Previous experience of the manual handling, home care and bed market would also be a distinct advantage. Key responsibilities will include finding and bringing new business leads to fruition as well as managing and developing existing accounts whilst providing great customer support at all times. Hence candidates must be able to demonstrate how to deliver first class customer sales service, be comfortable presenting to small or large groups of medical professionals, have a proven sales record, be dynamic, energetic and ultimately, hungry for success. In addition, other prerequisites for the role include possessing a good technical awareness, strong IT and organisational skills together with first class attention and the ability to analyse information in order to achieve budgets and targets. Within Invacare our vision is to design and deliver the best value in medical products that promote recovery and active lifestyles for people requiring home and other non-acute healthcare. “Yes, you can®” conveys our promise to support consumers, providers and healthcare professionals in accomplishing what is important to them. If you feel you can match up to this specification, please send a covering letter and an up-to-date CV to the HR department at: Invacare Limited, Pencoed Technology Park, Pencoed, Bridgend, CF35 5AQ or e-mail

Check the ‘Jobs On Offer’ section of the website for more opportunities Take a look at the recently added positions Regional Product Specialist Contracts/Bid Writer Manager Operations Manager Area Sales Manager Product Specialists 64 |

trusted recruiter

Business Development Manager North of England - £35k plus commission Our client has been established for over 50 years. They specialise in the supply of a range of mobility and medical products across the UK and Ireland. Due to growth, they are now seeking a Business Development Manager to cover the North. You will be responsible for growing their range of products in the North of the country, including Cheshire, Manchester, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and Durham, up as far as Scotland. This will be both B2B/B2C and end-users. The product range includes wheelchairs - both powered and manual - mobility scooters and a range of wheelchair accessories. You must have at least 2 years’ experience of having sold wheelchairs and good technical understanding of wheelchairs. Must have field-based sales experience. Base Salary of £35k plus commission to be negotiated. Van, phone, tablet, pension, healthcare, 20 days holiday plus bank holidays. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to including job reference 462 in order to discuss further.

Product Specialist – 6-month maternity cover Berkshire, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset - £25k-£35k 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 continued growth and internal promotions. They are now seeking a Product Specialist or Therapist on an initial maternity cover contract for 6 months, with the potential of longer-term opportunity if proven to be successful although this is not guaranteed. You will be responsible for working closely with Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists to carry out assessments and demonstrations of their seating and standing aid products.

having worked with seating and standing aids or another rehab equipment. Occupational Therapy, sports therapy, physiotherapy candidates will be highly considered. Those from a mobility background is also of interest. This is an immediate start opportunity as maternity cover is required asap. Must have full UK Driving Licence. Salary being offered is between £25k-£35k plus commission structure, company van, pro rota holiday. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@ including job reference 463 in order to discuss further.

The ideal candidate will come from a background of

Area Sales Manager South East - £35k (negotiable) plus commission Surrey, Sussex, London, Hampshire, Kent, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire Our client is a leading design and manufacturer of daily living and pressure care products, with over 120 employees and selling products in over 20 countries. They are now seeking an Area Sales Manager covering the South East which includes Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, London, Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire and Norfolk to promote and sell their range of pressure care, pressure cushions and wheelchair seating products to the NHS and care home groups. This is dealing with around 80% of existing clients and 20% new business and will entail around three client visits per day. Our client is looking for individuals ideally having either wheelchair seating, pressure care or pressure cushion

experience and having sold into the NHS. Although candidates from other relevant healthcare sales backgrounds will be considered in particular those with Wheelchair or seating experience. This is growing part of the business and will be viewed as an excellent opportunity to progress as may eventually come with man management and training responsibilities. Base Salary £35k (Negotiable for the right person) plus commission. Company car, phone, laptop, Nest Auto Enrolment pension scheme, 23 days holiday plus bank holidays. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@ including job reference 465 to discuss further.

0333 0144 014 | 65


Training Matters...

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

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

Training Diary If you are providing training for the trade, then simply send us the details of the course, the date, any costs, the venue and the contact for booking places and we’ll include it in the Diary. Email with any details you have. March 2018 Jiraffe - Essential Jiraffe Equipment Information and Training Session – 13th & 14th March 2018 – Dundee – FOC Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Wednesday 14th – Thursday 15th March 2018 - Liss, Hampshire

Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Wednesday 28th – Thursday 29th March 2018 – Tyne and Wear, County Durham Pride Mobility - Service Training – April 25th & 26th – Bicester Careflex - What A Difference A Chair

Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Wednesday 28th – Thursday 29th March 2018 - Market Harborough, Leicestershire

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

May 2018 Sunrise Medical - JCM Postural Management Workshop: Specialist Seating – May 1st 2018 - Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Sunrise Medical - JCM Technical Training – May 2nd 2018 - Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill

April 2018

Jiraffe - Jiraffe, Training for Life – Seating and Toileting Course – 16th May - Sheffield - FOC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contacts for bookings or email marketing@electricmobility.

Balshaw – 01925 240064 – j.balshaw@

JCM – Contact Rachel Davis on

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

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

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

Electric Mobility – Call 01460 258158

Disability Trading Company - John

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

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

66 |



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

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