Stairlift firm stays upbeat on back of growing European sales
‘Brexit’ or not, it’s business as usual for fast-growing UK company Acorn Stairlifts which saw its turnover from mainland Europe hit a record £20.5 million last year.
That figure was up by a massive 37.5% on the previous year, reflecting rapid and consistent growth in Acorn’s European markets. With its plan’s for European expansion undiminished by last month’s EU Referendum result, the West Yorkshire company is currently pressing ahead with the opening of a new office in France.
In 2014/15, two-thirds of Acorn Stairlifts’ record sales of almost £150 million came from outside the UK, with almost 15% of that revenue generated in mainland Europe. The company has wholly-owned subsidiaries operating in Germany, Belgium, Italy, Ireland and France, where the new office is being opened in Villneuve d’Ascq, near Lille.
It will allow Acorn to focus much more on direct-to-consumer sales across France, where it has previously relied on leads generated through a network of distributors. Selling direct to its customers has helped Acorn become the world’s biggest company concerned solely with the manufacture, sale and installation of stairlifts for both straight and curved staircases.
More than 60,000 stairlifts per year are manufactured at Acorn’s three UK factories and exported to 82 countries worldwide, including the USA where it is the market leader. Its ambitious plans for continued European expansion have initially been boosted by ‘Brexit’, since the resultant fall in the value of sterling against the Euro is making British-made goods more competitive on the Continent.
Dave Belmont, Acorn Stairlifts company secretary, said: “As a business we’re not taking any political view on last month’s EU Referendum result. We remain confident that it won’t damage our strategy for continued expansion in Europe, of which the new French office is just the latest step.”
With local recruitment currently under way, the office will market Acorn Stairlifts direct to consumers across France and handle all sales inquiries, home survey appointments, installations and aftercare. Acorn’s success is built on its high quality British-built products and its unbeatable speed of installation. In most cases its stairlifts can be installed within a few days of an initial inquiry, even for more complex curved or return staircases. Where the need is urgent, next day installation is offered.
This is achieved through a fleet of fully-equipped installer vans which are effectively mobile warehouses and workshops. They allow Acorn’s experienced installation engineers to build a bespoke stairlift in a customer’s home from components carried on their van, using the company’s pioneering FastTrack® system.
The site for Acorn’s new French base has been carefully chosen, close to Calais for cross-Channel distribution and situated in one of Northern France’s main economic hotspots. Located between Lille and Roubaix, Villeneuve d’Ascq is at the crossroads of the principal highways to Paris and the rest of France.
The new operation will be managed by Jacques Konings, who said: “This is a very exciting time for Acorn Stairlifts in France. The quality of Acorn’s products and customer service are unrivalled and we are experiencing growing demand from the French public, which the new office will both meet and multiply.
“Whatever happens with ‘Brexit’ I cannot believe it will undermine the basic rule of supply and demand, and the demand for Acorn Stairlifts is already here in France and growing fast.”
Photo: One of Acorn’s French installers, Florian Vaure, with his FastTrack® installation van.