Northern lights

02 Jul, 13

Philippa Turrell says TLW is blossoming in a sales channel that has seen other kitchen and bathroom companies’ suffer – distribution.

The Light Works (TLW) could be this Doncaster-based company’s affirmation or mantra. Well, that is, if they went for that sort of thing in Yorkshire. But lighting has been the sole focus of this successful company from selling commodity lightbulbs through to an exclusive agreement to distribute Eyeleds in the UK and Ireland. Chairman of TLW Roy Hughes says: “The Light Works was established in 1996. We sold replacement lamps for commercial or domestic properties, even including specials like dentists and hospitals.”

But in the early /2000s, the company saw a gap in the market, for selling kitchen and bathroom furniture lighting. And, Roy Hughes says: “The portfolio of The Light Works now is concentrated around furniture lighting.” Its portfolio includes “cabinet lighting, plinth lighting, over cabinet lighting, any lighting suitable for a kitchen, bathroom or a bedroom.” And he adds: ““We’re in our best year ever. In the last couple of years we’ve doubled [in sales]. Our plan for the next five years, as a group, is to more than double. They are quite ambitious plans but it is committed to paper.”

 Although the core of its business remains cabinet lights, some of the company’s success can be attributed to its exclusive distribution agreement to sell the Eyeled lighting system. For the past 1/2 months, TLW has been supplying Eyeleds, previously used by Villeroy & Boch in its LED tiles. But the German sanitaryware manufacturer had stopped production of its light tiles. And Roy has been able to fill the gap: “The Villeroy & Boch showrooms are delighted. They’ve got [Villeroy & Boch] tiles on display and were thinking about having to change the display because they can’t get the lights anymore. The only difference with the ones we supply and the Villeroy & Boch ones are – our say Eyeleds, which is the manufacturer.”

Sponsored Video

For those less familiar with Eyeleds, it is a patented walkover light with a depth of 6.5mm. It is IP67-rated, so it can be fitted in a wet area and be submerged for up to 30mins. It is available in round and square fascias and come in 3,5 and 8 prewired chains or as single lights.

Roy continues: “Showrooms are getting more adventurous and they can see the advantage of lighting. Not only is it an extra profit centre for them but it is making their very nice designs look amazing. I think LED has helped this a lot and [economic] conditions out there have helped it a lot because they are having to look for something that little bit different to distinguish them from buying it off x.y.z website.

 And there is room for growth in sales, as its origins started in bathrooms, kitchen showrooms are just beginning to embrace the Eyeled product. He is looking for showrooms selling £15,000-£/20,000+ kitchen projects. Roy says: “Everybody associates it with V&B, so the strong trend is for it to be used in the bathroom. With it only coming through V&B, it hasn’t really been introduced to the kitchen sector. But will kitchen designers are more used to putting and finding different appliances and they have to be involved with electrics anyway. Plumbers haven’t always wanted to mix water and electrics together because it hasn’t always made a good mixture at times.” He suggests: “Eyeleds can go by sinks or dishwashers. They can go on plinths right across a dishwasher because they are waterproof.”

Roy suggests its this knowledge on lighting, enabling TLW to offer informed advice, which is the core strength of the company. “It’s not all about selling one product. A manufacturer might come to us and say ‘we need x,y and z putting together to make this – can you do it?’ And we may answer ‘yes we can or no we can’t… but we can do this’,” says Roy.

So what does Roy think his biggest challenge is for the future? The economy? No. He says it’s “keeping up with the growth”. He explains why: “There is still business out there, even if the economy shrank 10-/20%, there is still billions and billions of pounds of lighting business to be had.” And he smiles: “It’s a nice problem to have.”