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rdmBlueBackgroundBY RICHARD DE MELIM


Rival bed makers to Harrison Spinks, who might be a tad green with envy after watching TV Tuesday night, will not feel any better when they read the following story.


Back in 2002, my wife and I lived in Matera in the south of Italy — well known to many in the upholstery trade for at one time hosting a glut of sofa manufacturers — and I earned a crust selling stories mainly to British magazines and newspapers.


I was lucky enough to write several property features for The Sunday Times, the first of which was a double-page spread for the Home section on the town's hundreds of fashionable cave dwellings, hewn from the rock of a large and picturesque ravine.


The paper asked me to source a picture and a few notes on two or three properties that were for sale at the time, but the town's agencies were incredibly unhelpful, with only one [very] reluctantly providing imagery and detail for the piece after persistent chasing.


Within a day of publication, all that changed, and the erstwhile unwilling estate agent was suddenly my new best friend, calling me eager for my English language skills, after receiving 500 emails — within a day! — from potential British buyers.


I responded by being as helpful to them as they had been to me, but the major takeaway was witnessing and understanding the extraordinary power of mass media for the very first time.


I suspect the Leeds office of Harrison Spinks will be flush with activity this morning and its website will have lit up overnight, and probably those too of a few of its stockists. Last night's airing of Inside the Factory on BBC2 will give the bed maker a major fillip.


The hour-long programme followed the production process from beginning to end, taking raw materials into the factory, to the finished and packaged mattresses being given a good shove on to the delivery truck by co-presenter Gregg Wallace and md Simon Spinks.


Having invested in TV advertising at the turn of the year, the family-owned company has now enjoyed another hefty dose of publicity, this time without spending a penny.


I know from the reaction already that not all bed makers will be rejoicing at seeing one of their competitors given prime-time exposure on the licence-fee funded BBC.


That is an understandable point of view, but perhaps many more will be thinking of the wider benefits such a programme will bring to the industry.


Reviewing the instant social media reaction told me two things: firstly, that people really don't like Gregg Wallace, and more importantly, that many said they now better understood why a mattress can be so expensive.


Rival bed makers should take comfort that many viewers will have already forgotten the name of the manufacturer, if it didn't gloss over them in the first place, but will long remember that a mattress might just be worth the money that is being charged for it, and probably a little bit more on top, given the prevalence of discounting.


Manufacturers and retailers across the industry will benefit, either from increased sales or customers trading up. And every penny helps.


Every so often the industry features negatively on TV, particularly on consumer affairs programmes because products have failed safety tests. This inevitably leads to more expense for all retailers and manufacturers, and the industry's reputation being dragged through the mud.


This offered an altogether more positive experience for the bed trade, and everyone should welcome it.


* Disclosure: While I've known and admired both Peter and Simon Spinks for about 20 years, The Furnishing Report has never received a penny in advertising from the company, nor have I ever owned a Harrison Spinks bed.



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