Tuesday, 26 April 2011

BBC2 Britain's Next Big Thing Theo Paphitis

Tonight’s BBC2 Britain’s Next Big Thing Theo Paphitis focussed mainly on the Habitat buying open day. Habitat was Founded in 1964 by Sir Terence Conran and has grown into the retail giant of today, albeit it has traded at a loss for the past five years.

Heading up the buying team was Jonathon Crawley – Director with control of a £180 million budget. Also vetting the new products and ideas was Theo Williams  - Creative Director. We saw presentations from:-

  • Stuart with his “Wingman” – Male intimate wipe! “Get Fresh – Get Lucky” revised to the more appropriate “Fresh & Fearless”.
  • Birgitt Lydum – showed her Pram Sun Shield which she is having manufactured in Sri Lanka. She’s actually bought 1500 of her  “Baby Beamers”  without an single order! The pressures on!
  • Laura Wellington – Designer of the Hula Lamp made from off-cuts of Perspex – only ever sold nine lamps so far but got through to the next round.
  • Russ Leith – presented his “Ledge” which has been 15 years in the making and cost him £19,000 so far…. for a one legged shelf to lean in the corner! But hey he was invited back!
  • Debbie Evershed – had some technical issues with her Frog Bracket. Habitat needed to know the safe working load that her bracket could take. Although Debbie made the valid point that nobody will ever weigh their bird feeders or hanging baskets Habitat just need to cover their backside!
  • Steve Robinson – A dyslexic guy (Like Theo Paphitis) – makes one off pieces of furniture. Now looking for a more mass market outlet as the bespoke furniture market dried up in current economic downturn.
  • Jenny Roger – Had the great idea of a Personalised Door Mat – rejected after it came apart when the buyer wiped his feet on it; a bit of a flaw!
  • Elaine Armstrong (Mother of 4) presented what looked like a skateboard with a slot in it to drag the kids on their bikes home when they get tired! Strange!

At the Liberty open day Michelle Alger – Buying Manager-Home took a liking to Stephen Morgan and Robin Shannon’s flat lamps. Prices started out at £1200 each but subsequently came down to £195 for the smallest model through to £900 for the biggest. It was looking good for a possible order for 1 Floor Lamp at£900 and 8 small ones for trial.

What about the strange Modular Spinning seat; an interesting product in the right environment. Or those £85 Wobbly stools.

Katherine’s rather expensive ceramics at £145 they liked but was too dear. She got through to next round in anticipation that prices would drop dramatically as production numbers went up.

Ten designers went through to the next round and it expected that £1million will be spent on these new products in due course.

A nice one-liner for Theo Paphitis: “Retail is Detail”

Interestingly Theo said on The One Show tonight that he is aware of many very successful entrepreneurs that are dyslexic like him and thinks maybe that is because they find getting qualifications and jobs harder than for most, so they have to be entrepreneurial.

We saw lots of great ideas and new products tonight but clearly many will not be commercially viable. So what can budding entrepreneurs do when they don’t have any ground-breaking ideas, designs or inventions? Check out http://www.InfinityEdge.co.uk for further information.

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