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CEO Simon Tree


Jason Products: Quality & design in placemats Jason Products COMPANY PROFILE


Tableware International caught up with CEO Simon Tree to fi nd out how Jason products have made themselves a brand leader in the placemat sector


TI: Since the company’ y’s


humble beginnings in the 1960s, how has Jason managed to establish itself as a brand leader in the placemat market?


the 1960s,


ged to establish ih l


ST: From the very beginning, Jason Products have always been quality products with a great design. Back in 1962, the Jason founders, Jim and Jean Sunderland, set out to produce a stylish placemat that would stand up well to normal wear and tear. They wanted a product that would not only look good the fi rst time the mats were used, but, with a little care, would keep their good looks for many years. This commitment to design and quality has enabled the business to build an enviable reputation in many key markets around the world.


The continuing success of our own operations in the UK, USA, and Australia is a real advantage in the global marketplace, and ensures that we put the very best resources behind our brand.


TI: What kind of qualities defi ne the product from its competitors?


ST: Making our own product with our own people in New Zealand sets us apart from our competitors who import from China. The passion that our people have for making the very best Made-in-New Zealand product that they can ensures great quality and great design.


hi i ll ll


historically sell well? Why do you think this is?


TI: Are there any competitor’s styles of product or designs thatp o ll?


T c


ST: When consumers buy placemats, they are, in effect, buying art for their table. And, as with any kind of art, personal taste plays a very big part in the decision of what to buy. For this reason, it’s important to offer a wide range of designs, from the classic and traditional through to whatever is the fl avour of the day. That said, however, variations on the fl oral theme have always tended to sell well. Naturally, fl orals play a key part in the Jason range and in many of the ranges offered by our competitors.


TI: How is the market for placemats faring at the moment? Are people investing in table accessories such as your product more or less than, say, before the economic crisis?


ST: Stockists of quality placemats and coasters are reporting continuing strong support for placemats and coasters as gift items. But diffi cult economic times are also encouraging shoppers to buy for their own tables. As more and more people replace restaurant dining with home entertaining, stylish placemats and coasters offer an


inexpensive way to make home dining occasions a little more special.


TI: Our issue contains a feature on Placemats and Dining Accessories. How valuable do you think the market of ‘Table accessories’ is to the Tableware Industry as a whole?


ST: Placemats and coasters are both practical and decorative. They play a basic protective role, but they are also a major contributor to the overall ‘look’ of a dressed table. For any serious retailer of tabletop products, quality placemats and coasters need to be part of their offering.


TI: What kind of attributes do you look for in a possible retailer looking to stock your product?


ST: Despite their practical role, placemats and coasters are both very visual products. Not surprisingly, our most successful retail partners are those with a commitment to stock and display a reasonably deep selection of designs.


TI: Jason has, over time, established itself as an internationally-recognised brand. How has this been achieved, and which regions remain key markets for the company?


ST: While Jason’s New Zealand-made products are sold in more than 30 countries around the world, our most important markets are still the UK, USA and Australia. Each of these markets is supported by a dedicated in-country sales and distribution operation.


TI: The company’s product offering has always remained very focused on placemats. Is this something to remain in place moving forward, or is there room to branch out into other product offerings?


ST: Quality New Zealand-made placemats and coasters is the heart of our business. It’s where the company started and, almost 50 years later, it remains our most important product grouping. However, over recent years, we have added a number of other tableware products, building on our skills and experience in applying decorative design to the surface of quality products. www.jasonproducts.com


TABLEWARE INTERNATIONAL 33


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