Mark Mills became Mereway Kitchens MD in July, having been sales and marketing director for 18 months prior to that. He is determined to use his customer-facing experience, manufacturing and technical expertise combined with his innate sense of Mereway’s ethos and values to drive the company forward.
You took over as MD at the beginning of July – what challenges have you faced taking over the role during lockdown?
Yes, no-one could say it was the best of timings! But actually the downtime for us was pretty short and it definitely enabled us to focus on the new ranges we launched in September, particularly the new Cambridge and Ely. I think the forced “time out” has proven to be very productive and necessitated thinking “outside the box”. Ensuring the safety of our employees and colleagues has been a priority but again has provoked some positive change in terms of the way we work both now and moving forward.
Tell us about the new products that Mereway has launched
You really couldn’t make it up! This year was the year of the launch for Mereway, with launches across our Mereway kitchen portfolios; Cucina Colore, Town and Country and English Revival. Followed quickly by a Trend Bedrooms launch. Despite lockdown and the disruption we have all faced, the launches have all gone ahead as planned. We launched Cucina Colore’s new Q Line collection at KBB in March, which was extremely well received. Lockdown put many displays on hold, but that is starting to ease so we expect to see a strong presence showcased across the UK by the end of the year. We have seen an influx of orders from customers who do not have their displays fitted yet so that has to be a positive sign. Last month we launched Cambridge, a modern shaker style kitchen, to both our Cucina Colore and Town and Country ranges. We are very excited about this new design as it is really unique and offers retailers something very different whilst not moving too far from what customers are used to. In terms of plans for any more, well... Trend Kitchens is being launched in October with over 50 new doors to choose from and a brand overhaul! We are continuing to update all our ranges with new materials, colour, profiles, fittings etc etc so it feels very much like a constant round of launches.
What do you think sets Mereway apart from its competitors?
I think the fact that we have been established since 1986 and have a manufacturing base here in the heart of the UK gives us a real edge. It can be difficult for an established company to be seen as progressive but our innovation and creativity is something we are really proud of and renowned for. Our design focus is very strong and we are experts at what we do, creating and manufacturing quality bespoke kitchens. We are a large company but we are flexible enough to be able to pivot when needed, being essentially a family business gives us the personal touch and means we never forget or lose sight of our roots. Loyalty to our customers and suppliers is very important to us and I think sets us in good stead for the future. Whatever that may look like! Customers are realising with Cucina Colore especially since the launch of Q-Line, you can buy a highly specified continental-style kitchen from a British manufacturer and many are keen to buy British.
What is your vision for the company?
I will continue building on the success that Richard and Bob Norris – along with their late father Len – worked so hard for over three decades to achieve. Mereway has a fantastic reputation in the industry as a supplier of excellent quality rigid-built furniture and that will continue to be at the heart of our manufacturing. I am introducing dynamic, forward-thinking individuals who will build on our product development platform offering even more choice to the customer, further enhancing our reputation as market leaders in innovation. I am passionate about realising Mereway’s potential as the ‘go-to brand’ for consumers who expect the highest standards through our network of Premium Partners and independent retailers. It really is an exciting time to be part of Mereway.