In a tough market furniture supplier DAMS seen turnover up 115 per cent over the past five years, with much of its success based on a strong, trade-only focus
With its distinctive red, white and blue logo and a reputation that dates back almost 50 years, DAMS is part of the fabric of the UK’s office furniture sector.
Still a family owned and operated business, the company’s brand dates back to 1967 but, in its current form, DAMS Furniture Ltd was established in 2009. It’s been a very busy and successful few years since then and there’s no sign of the current pace of expansion and investment letting up any time soon!
Manufacturer & Wholesaler
DAMS occupies the unusual space within the office furniture sector of being both a UK manufacturer and a wholesaler. Supplying end users exclusively through the office products trade, mail order and retail channels, the company has developed a business model that enables it to respond quickly to trends in market conditions and end user requirements, while reacting swiftly to dealers with extensive marketing support, market-led product development and high standards of UK-based customer service.
Managing Director of DAMS, Chris Scott, explains: “One of the biggest factors in our success is our commitment to a trade-based route to market: we never sell direct to the end user so our customers’ margins are never compromised.
“We work closely both with dealers and with dealer groups and nurturing those relationships by acting on customer feedback has been central to our success and to informing our growth and investment strategy.”
That strategy has seen DAMS increase its turnover by 115 per cent over the past five years, while feeding profits back into the business to enhance its capabilities in terms of both manufacturing and customer service.
In the past 18 months alone, the company has invested in a 35,000 sq ft upholstery facility at its headquarters in Knowsley, enabling DAMS’ skilled team of craftsmen to create customised items to order using high quality Camira fabric or any fabric they specify.
Chris continues: “Our investment in the upholstery plant is one of the many ways in which we have focused on adding value for customers and it responds to the market trend for the personalisation of office interiors.
“It also forms part of our stringent quality assurance process: by carrying out upholstery in-house we can reduce lead times for customised orders and manage quality control much more effectively, which means that our customers consistently get the high quality products they trust us for, within the strict time frames they need.”
The upholstery facility has not been the only investment that the company has made over the past 18 months. DAMS has also brought new equipment into its factory. Indeed, the average age of the machinery in the DAMS factory has halved over the past three years thanks to a rolling programme of equipment investment.
The company has also enhanced production efficiency by implementing a lean management programme to ensure that its manufacturing operation is optimised.
The same has been achieved in the company’s warehousing facility, where stock holding capacity has been increased by 25 per cent over the past seven months to accommodate more DAMS products and wholesale stock, facilitating shorter leader times on orders.
Chris continues: “Manufacturing here in Knowsley gives us the flexibility we need to respond in real time to spikes in demand and ensure that we always have items in stock for next day delivery.”
Indeed, the company has recently made further improvements in this regard with an investment in warehouse management software that ensures full visibility and traceability of DAMS stock, enabling real time stock checking, greater accuracy and faster order picking. The new system has enabled the company to increase stockholding capacity in its existing warehousing facility by 25 per cent, thanks to more effective space management.
Meanwhile, DAMS has also invested in developing the IT the company uses for marketing with a new website and online marketing support.
Chris says: “Supporting our customers with whatever materials they need is an important part of the way we add value. That’s why we send out regular e-shots with the latest special offers from DAMS and why we have a dedicated area on our website where customers can log in to order customisable marketing materials from us to support their sales activities.”
Despite its progressive approach to technology, DAMS has never lost sight of the personal approach to business that goes hand in hand with the company’s family business ethos.
It still offers telephone customer support, hard copy catalogues and newsletters and last year the company held a customer roadshow that took DAMS’ products out to four venues across the UK so that dealers could experience them first hand.
“We are a company that never stands still,” Chris Scott adds, “which is thanks in part to the agility our business structure allows and in part to the valuable feedback we gain from our customers.”