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Tell us a little about the history of Flexform... I’ve been in the business of cable distribution since 1976. In 1984 I sold my contracting company to concentrate the sale of cables and components to electrical wholesalers. This had always been an aspect of my business activity, trading under the name of Harpers. The cables we specialised in were the multi-core control, signal and flexible power types. Demand increased as we promoted their ex-stock availability in our market, and over time others saw the same opportunity, with the resulting competition making the market increasingly difficult. This led to my involvement in developing and producing our own cables outside of Harpers, in factory premises we acquired in Belfast. Flexform was launched in 1996, first to


produce spiral retractable cables, security and heavy-duty flexible cables and subsequently to develop and manufacture a range of decorative flexes for the lighting industry. We quickly recognised the importance of attending trading fairs and meeting potential customers. One of the first was Waterford Crystal, who on seeing what was at first our fairly limited range of flexible braided cables, said: “Our designers have been looking for these over the years, where have you been?” Well actually, on the same Island - just the opposite end!


What has been the most exciting project that you have been a part of? The most exciting project to date outside of our initial success with Waterford Crystal -


which was a defining moment for Flexform - was obtaining an order from Spain for internal wiring cables used in the restoration of castles! These cables are for wiring the lighting circuits, and we have introduced a selection of period style fittings to compliment these such as porcelain wall and ceiling switches, retro ceiling roses in either plastic or porcelain, wooden pattress blocks, butler's bells, clips and fittings to complete most period electrical projects to the latest electrical safety regulations. These cables have become a catalogue


product for Flexform and one of these cables is specially produced in fire resistant fibre glass with a coating applied to bind the fibres and ensure the finished cable has a period look. This process took months to develop, with several visits from our Spanish client, resulting in their order. Further business for these cables has been achieved in Russia, from where I expect to receive orders in the future.


How have trends developed in your sector? We produce spiral retractable cables, which in the past were manufactured for electric kettles and hotel hairdryer cords. This business has gone with the introduction of the cordless kettle, and commercial hairdryers are now imported from China. This has made it necessary for us to change, and the challenge has made our company better able to move with trends. We needed to find new products and a different market in which to sell. We recognised the need to


expand our textile braiding facilities and although we manufacture PVC, PUR and POLY cables from bare copper outwards, the spiral cable activities are today much reduced. We continue to produce solutions and have developed a hybrid PUR retractable-coiled cable at lower cost and with improved performance for commercial and industrial applications such as theatre lamps and portable lights.


In the decorative lighting market, I believe the days of cord sets being offered in PVC white, black and various questionable shades of gold plastic flex will be limited to budget light fittings.


Cables are increasingly being considered as a design element for lighting installations. How has this affected your business? The increased awareness of the possibility of matching the cable to the application has encouraged demand for transparent "crystal clear" flex from producers of glass and crystal lights, also for the traditional triple twisted designs in "old gold" textile yarn commonly known as "gold silk flex". It is increasingly significant that the benefit of working with a manufacturer such as Flexform with the ability to offer variations of colour, texture and sampling can more readily result in the achievement of the design concept. We have created cables capable of supporting lighting sculptures that incorporate integral strain wires, power and control wires all within a stainless steel braided sleeve. This ability has greatly encouraged lighting companies to adopt Flexform as their cable solutions supplier.


What does the future hold for Flexform? The future for Flexform will be to spread our message further and throughout the world via the Internet. We recognise this medium as an essential vehicle to reach the market of niche industries, where the individuality of the manufacturer or their market isn’t a restriction to their ability to connect with those seeking specialist suppliers. This is an exciting prospect for Flexform as we have only just scratched the surface in areas such as America, and we expect this to be our target market in the immediate future with European lighting companies becoming our focus later in 2013. We also have a new product catalogue to launch next year to follow our up-dated cable sample card.


Contact


Flexform T: +44 (0) 28 9079 2155 www.cablespecialists.co.uk


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