Alistair Hughes, co-owner of Savoir Beds, says people are willing to pay a high price for a good night’s rest.
Savoir Beds makes luxury beds that can cost over HK$1 million. Why do you think a growing number of customers are willing to pay such a high price for a bed?
The key thing is that, even though the luxury beds business is a niche [market], the segment is growing very quickly. People are more interested in well-being. They are increasingly coming to realise, especially as they become richer and busier, that they have less and less time. And sleep is of such fundamental importance.
How important is it to have bespoke options for your affluent customers?
It’s incredibly important. Luxury is about quality, heritage, passion – and also [about] having something that’s exclusively yours. We all like individuality and we all like to feel special. I would never share clothes with my wife, so why would I want the same level of support for my back from my mattress as she does? We’ve done some extraordinary customisations, including a rotating bed which lets the owners see their fireplace when they want to, or rotate to enjoy the view of their beautiful garden outside. We also do a lot of bespoke beds for superyachts and private jets.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in launching the brand globally?
I think it’s been the cultural nuances in different markets. Obviously, people have different tastes and preferences, but I also think the world is becoming a smaller place. People travel all the time and they expect consistency as well. We are working with designers from France and Asia on collaborative collections. They key is to have designers who truly have international appeal.
How has your team of artisans expanded in the last 20 years?
When I first bought the company back in 1997, we had two artisans. Now we have a team of 65 artisans. The key is to invest in training programmes and to turn that into a long-term [commitment]. We work hard to perfect skills that are not regularly employed elsewhere in the industry and it takes time and dedication to properly train an apprentice. What we are passionate about is growing those skills and developing them further. It wasn’t easy to begin with because training also cut down on the production time. But now that we’ve developed the programme, we can focus on creating the products. In the current economic [climate] in the UK, being able to [maintain] our competitive edge means making sure the quality of our exported beds is the very best.
What would you say has been the single most effective strategy you’ve implemented during your
It’s to never compromise. Whenever someone [asks if] we can make the price a little bit cheaper, I would tell them no, because we should never compromise on the best quality. Once you start compromising, you’ll never get back. We also control the quality of [materials from] our suppliers, many of whom we’ve worked for decades. We also try to manufacture as many things in house possible to be more in control of the quality.