Our Circle of Life Part 3


The 1960s saw the introduction of the Monopolies and Mergers Act, which broke the dominance of the big manufacturers. Overnight, the UK market opened up to everyone, the significance of trade shows grew and we seized the opportunity this presented with both hands.

The 1970s were challenging for manufacturing as a whole. The decade began with an energy crisis that saw the lights go out around the nation. Literally, the business would be told at the start of the week which times they would be without power! Staff would be sent home to candlelight. But again it is just another indication of how a long established business has had to meet and overcome big challenges in its past.
By the end of the 70s, business was difficult, but in adversity you look harder for solutions. We got a knock on the door from a salesman who had a new printing machine suitable to make textured vinyl. Already turned down by the bigger manufacturers of the day, Roger Graham and David Brown - who by this point had taken hold of the Graham & Brown reins from their fathers Harold and Henry - welcomed him in, listened, and bought a machine. Once installed, this machine produced the first roll of “Super Fresco”, the first flat back wallpaper with texture. An exciting new chapter was beginning.

A national TV campaign in 1984 saw this product sell at a faster rate than it could be made. Customers would ring not to buy by SKU, but take whatever we had in stock. By making wallpaper modern in the eyes of the consumer and addressing practical hanging issues, the company had re-invented wallpaper, something it would have to do again a decade later.

The 80s saw machine after machine being installed. Production moved to a three-shift pattern, followed by 5 shifts to keep up with demand. The retail market was changing too, as the superstores gained market share. These were exciting times.
We were reminded that we live in a fashion-led environment in the mid-1990s. Wallpaper once again was to find itself out of vogue. Again as a business, we looked inwards, nobody was going to change the market for us - we had to be the change we wanted to see in the world.

Read more about Our Circle of Life with part 1 and part 2, coming in two weeks part 4. #TraditionsThursday 

Written By Ian Brown - Director for CSR