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Blinds firm on a roll as lockdown fuels demand for home improvements

PUBLISHED: 15:02 08 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:19 08 June 2020

Stuart Dantzic, managing director of Caribbean Blinds, which is hoping to ride out the economic downturn  Picture: JAHED QUDDUS

Stuart Dantzic, managing director of Caribbean Blinds, which is hoping to ride out the economic downturn Picture: JAHED QUDDUS

© Caribbean Blinds 2020

A family-owned blinds manufacturer has overcome the challenges of lockdown after spotting an opportunity to grow the business.

Dhan Nepali machine working at Caribbean Blinds in Sudbury, which is manufacturing apace amid the coronavirus crisis  Picture: JAHED QUDDUSDhan Nepali machine working at Caribbean Blinds in Sudbury, which is manufacturing apace amid the coronavirus crisis Picture: JAHED QUDDUS

Caribbean Blinds, based in Sudbury, has been working flat out after reviving its manufacturing three weeks into the coronavirus lockdown.

After lockdown was announced in March, managing director Stuart Dantzic and brother Brad, the firm’s operations director, paused production and implemented a four-stage process to get the outdoor space business – which has been going for 33 years – back on track.

MORE – Companies in East Anglia future-proof their businesses for life after lockdown

“We needed the time to fully understand the implications of the pandemic for us as a business and how we would implement necessary changes,” explained Stuart.

The office team continued to work from home as it was “essential” front-end operations stayed active and remained in touch with customers, he said.

Samuel Walker working on the factory floor at Caribbean Blinds of Sudbury, which is hoping more interest in home improvements will help it ride out the economic downturn  Picture: JAHED QUDDUSSamuel Walker working on the factory floor at Caribbean Blinds of Sudbury, which is hoping more interest in home improvements will help it ride out the economic downturn Picture: JAHED QUDDUS

“As a business, I felt it was not the time to go silent on clients and completely shut down, which so many other businesses had done,” he said.

What they found was the during the lockdown period, people were focusing much more on their homes and looking at ways to enhance them, he added.

“With people now confined to their homes and holidays cancelled, the pandemic for our sector, represented a long-term opportunity.

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“With the idea that this staycation is the new vacation, we were of the opinion people would want to create their very own holiday at home, and so significantly increased our advertising across all platforms.”

It was a “great opportunity” to generate interest and inspire customers, he said.

The shutdown period also presented a chance to fully review operational processes and carry out risk assessments so that the business was ready to re-open and “run smarter and safer” during the pandemic.

Signs are promising that May and June will be its best to date, and Stuart and Brad are now looking to extend their production facility by almost 40%. They hope to quadruple the size of the company over the next five years.

Notable customers include footballers Sergio Aguero and Michael Carrick, comedian Jimmy Carr and private members’ club The Conduitin Mayfair, which has a roof terrace featuring the company’s shades and awnings. These can also be spotted at major shopping centres such as Westfield.

Sales enquiries during lockdown tripled compared to the same period last year to reach an all-time high with peak website visitor numbers at 750 a day.

Average order values soared by around 10% as clients added options such as lighting and heating in order to make year-round use of their outdoor living space.

The firm is now pushing ahead with its planned 10,000 sq/ft extension to the production facility to keep up with customer demand.

The Caribbean Blinds showroom is due to reopen on Monday, June 15.

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