Retailer Q&A: Arttra Artificial Grass talks fake turf, RMUs, and surprising indoor uses
One of the joys of running my CannySites.com business – and managing a diverse collection of websites covering fashion, holidays, interiors, property and gardening – is that I get to work with hundreds of interesting companies operating within these sectors, some of whom I like to write about at Soult’s Retail View from time to time.
As you’d imagine, many, especially at the Fashion & Style Directory, are actual retailers, selling products to the public via an online store, but there are also lots of clients I work with who are selling services, or supplying products to other businesses – sometimes in surprising ways.
At the Garden & Landscape Directory, one product area that seems to get a lot of attention is artificial grass, as more and more consumers appear to be doing a John Terry and incorporating fake lawns into their gardens.
However, if – like me – you thought the only use of artificial turf was outside, then prepare to be surprised.
I recently spoke to Eric Eamon, who is the managing director of Arttra Artificial Grass – one of the artificial turf suppliers featured in the Garden & Landscape Directory – and he filled me in on the range of possible applications.
So, don’t be too shocked if you come across what looks like artificial grass while attending a product launch or the next big retail trade show…
Tell me a little bit about your business – where is it based, what’s its history, and what does it do?
Arttra Artificial Grass has its head office based in London, where we engage in most corporate event projects, and our warehouse in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
Arttra Grass started off as landscapers, supplying and installing artificial lawns for residential projects.
However, after a few years it introduced The Green Carpet Events, which specialises in event flooring for themed parties, backdrops made with synthetic turf, bespoke green grass carpet VIP runners, runway carpets, faux plants, astroturf furniture and table runners.
And what’s your own role in the business?
As the founder of the company I deal with every aspect of the business – from creating great articles for our readers, connecting with businesses both face-to-face and online via social media, and creating, designing and managing projects, right down to jumping in the van with the crew to installation sites.
What types of business do you work with, and how does what you offer help them?
While fake turf is not the typical product you find on the high street, the Arttra Artificial Grass brand is being sold by the metre at our retail outlets in Milton Keynes and London. Arttra Grass rugs and aisle runners are also sold in RMUs (retail merchandise units) in large shopping malls all over the UK.
More usually, we work with architects on building projects, interior designers, event professionals, marketing agencies promoting sports brands, and TV and film production companies in London.
Artificial grass is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and you can also get creative with it! Film and TV producers can create a scene with artificial grass indoors without filming in wintry weather, or event professionals can offer a themed party, exhibition or temporary sports pitch for their clients.
Venue owners are also showing much appreciation for the use of artificial grass, as it protects their carpets from being ruined.
Looking forward, what do you see as the greatest opportunities for a business like yours at the moment?
There is a lot of room for growth. There are likely to be water shortages in parts of the world by 2050 due to rising seas contaminating fresh water, and more and more people with busy lives will opt for artificial lawns because they require no watering, pesticides, mowing or cutting, and have no muddy patches.
Meanwhile, there is always going to be a need for temporary installations for film sets, garden exhibitions, and themed and sports events.
And what about the main challenges?
It is a very competitive market, and installation requires a lot of energy and physical activity!
Being the first to install before every event can be very stressful, as there is always that extra pressure on us by the organisers – all the other contractors are waiting for you to complete before they can.
After every event we are the last to leave the venue, so late nights into dawn are the norm. With an average grass roll weight of approximately 300kg, rough backing, and a length of 4 metres, the moving of artificial grass in buildings can be challenging too.
Where do you hope your business will be in five years’ time?
With a few celebrities and some high profile clients in our portfolio, we see ourselves franchising in the UK, expanding to the USA, and introducing the product to certain parts of Africa.
And any final thoughts or comments that you’d like to add?
We are actively looking for some charity events that we can sponsor by laying our VIP Arttra Grass Runners made from artificial grass, with matching ropes, posts and table runners.
Retailer Q&A is a format where Soult’s Retail View talks to retailers – large or small, and whether bricks, clicks or multichannel – about their current innovations, aspirations and challenges. As always with Soult’s Retail View, the features are not paid for – it’s all about providing interesting stories and content for the blog’s readers. If you run a retail business and are interested in taking part in the feature, please drop me an email or a tweet.
Remember, my retail consultancy business, CannyInsights.com, also works with retailers nationwide to help them improve their stores, online marketing and market knowledge. For more information, visit www.cannyinsights.com or @CannyInsights on Twitter.