We’re coming up to Centrado’s 7-year birthday and whilst we have grown and evolved in that time, we’ve kept our family values at our core and the family members who started the business still work across the company today. We sat down with our Managing Director, Bradley Middleton, to share how Centrado has evolved to meet market demands and to get his insights on the framing industry. Bradley has worked for the business for 11 years starting straight from college. However, he has been involved since he could count, coming in to help with stock takes or going out in the van with his Dad as a child.
You’ve worked in the framing Industry now for over a decade. What’s your reflection on how the industry has changed throughout that time?
“Change is always gradual, so it’s sometimes hard to perceive. Our position in the market has changed dramatically in that period from a regional sub wholesaler to a national distributor so we also have a different view. The basic principles are no different to any other industry – those that focus on the customer and their evolving needs will always succeed so long as they are running an efficient operation. Whilst the number of picture framing shops has diminished over the past decade, the framers that offer added value products in a good location have enough business to keep them happy. The reality is that many of the framers that were most focused on offering a cheap product are the ones that have struggled. Consumers now come to a picture framer because they value the expert opinion and craftsmanship they can provide. If they wanted a cheap frame they would be going to one of the big sheds.”
“On a trade level the industry has also developed tremendously, sub wholesalers have mostly disappeared leaving just national suppliers. Another significant trend is that premium products such as Artglass and Museum mountboard have now become standard for many framers showing the industries focus on quality.”
How has Centrado evolved over the years to keep supporting the industry and its needs?
“If you are not going forwards you are going backwards. As a young, energetic and driven team we have always been looking for the next challenge and strive for growth – both in product range and geographical reach. By close contact to our customer base, we have endeavored to provide relevant products at good value with a fast and personal service.”
“In 2008 we served a 60 miles radius from our Cambridge base. Following the merge with Tawnycraft to form Centrado in 2012 our reach was expanded to include London and the Midlands. Our new warehouse in the central location of Huntingdon enabled us to buy in larger volume and increase our offering of moulding and sheet materials.”
“The acquisitions of Renaissance (2014), Radius Mouldings (2017) and FW Holroyd (2018) were all-natural progressions to further reaching parts of the country. Hopefully these customers have found the benefit of our larger stock holding and regular van delivery service.”
“Coupled with this, the move to our current warehouse facility in 2015 gave us the space to improve our cut to size facilities to help service requirements large and small.”
“Where 10 years ago the average framer would have held many materials in stock, most now understand the benefits of a just in time service. Regular, reliable deliveries of our full range of framing materials to all parts of UK are tailored to perfectly support this change in the industry.”
What keeps you so passionate about the framing industry?
“I guess when you have been involved in picture framing since a child, it’s hard not to feel an affinity to it.”
“The relationships you build up with customers and suppliers make work enjoyable. The feeling of growing our business with customers that have put their trust in us when we were younger and more inexperienced is very humbling and it is rewarding to pay back suppliers that have put faith in us as a distributor when we were insignificant in the industry.”
“The number one motivator for me is still a customer calling to say thank you for some great service, achieving a quick delivery or a member of staff going beyond the call of duty. That proves we are making a positive impact on someone else’s business.”
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the framing industry?
“The threat facing all bricks and mortar stores is the internet, which simultaneously creates an opportunity for those operating online stores. Those on the high street must protect themselves by maintaining an online presence so their store can be found. A website should be optimised to be found in the local area and although it does not need to be complex, it must be inviting and up to date.”
“Most importantly though is making sure the customer understands the value of using a framer, by offering expert advice in a consultation so the customer feels special and valued. A customer has come into a frame shop because they value their artwork. Justify this decision by using value added materials such as Artglass and quality mouldings that create a final product that can’t be imitated online or by pre-made frames.”
What are Centrado’s plans to help support the framing industry further?
“We have ambitious plans to ensure that the framing industry remains relevant in these changing times. We see huge potential for many shops to improve their whole customer journey – from lead generation to the shop layout and consultation experience. Over the next 12 months we plan to roll out a program that will provide support to those framers wanting to get ahead. As a family business that aims to build long-lasting enterprises, we are here to stay and want to make sure our customer base is too.”
“We’re more than just a wholesaler, we want our customers to think of us as an extension of their team. Their problems are our problems. Therefore, we take a consultative approach with our sales team ensuring that we are offering advice on all aspects of framing, business and industry developments.”
At Centrado we have some exciting things coming over the next year, and we’re really looking forward to working closely with our customers to grow the framing industry. We’ll keep you updated with any new developments as they happen.
© Centrado Trading Ltd 2019