…A year that many people and businesses would rather forget, dominated by a single topic that has proved to be disruptive and divisive. Yet it has also brought people together, to rally against a common adversary, albeit one that could not be seen or reasoned with.
Here at HPP, we had big plans for 2020, many of which would succumb to a situation beyond our control. One significant event that we'd spent some time planning for was the February launch of Egger's new Decorative Collection 2020-22. The Egger Roadshow, with its state-of-the-art, purpose-designed presentation truck was due to visit our Oldham HQ in mid-March, and we'd planned a large-scale Open Day to showcase our production facilities as a proud Egger Diamond Distributor. Given the advancing pandemic and the risk of person-to-person contact to the many customers we were expecting to attend, the representatives from Egger and our own staff, we considered the most responsible and prudent course of action was to cancel the event.
Events rapidly escalated in the following weeks as a national lockdown was announced. Again, we took the decision to close our Oldham and Sheffield sites to protect customers and staff. However work continued behind the scenes to make both sites as secure as possible, bit by bit allowing more staff back to work, maintaining social distancing and hygiene processes necessary to minimise the risk of infection. We trialled a 'Click & Collect' event on 1st May for stock items, with a phased reopening in mid-May as a result of the national lockdown being relaxed.
Since May last year, we have fully reopened our Oldham and Sheffield sites and continue to operate in a Covid-secure manner, with our procedures being monitored and adapted to the guidelines presented to us at any one time.
As mentioned, 2020 was scheduled as the launch of Egger's new Decorative Collection, their first major range update since 2017. With new décors, structures, worktops and edging options to name but a few, it was billed as a complete interior materials package for designers, fitters and architects.
Early in the year it was also the turn of Kronospan to announce additional décors to their Trends Collection. Their 'City Vibes' range takes inspiration from four culturally-influential European cities, featuring colours, tones and textures to create four distinctive mini-collections.
Totally new products usually come to us from external suppliers but in the case of the AluLine Cutlery Drawer Dividers back in February, these were designed and developed in-house! Working with a furniture component consultant, we created the AluLine dividers, specifically for Blum Antaro and Legrabox. Available in a range of sizes from 400mm up to 1200mm, these extruded aluminium dividers offer a quality alternative to plastic cutlery trays.
March saw us launch our Pre-assembled and Made-To-Measure Blum Drawer Service, providing our customers with a convenient solution for supplying ready-assembled drawers, in a vast range of options, quickly and securely without the need to purchase or store separate components.
In September we announced a couple of additional products from Blum: the Aventos HK top lift and the Pull-Out Shelf Lock. The Aventos HK top lift system (replacing the existing Aventos HK option), is ideal for small cabinets due to its compact design yet equally capable of lifting heavy fronts on large wall cabinets. The Blum Pull-Out Shelf Lock is a simple and effective solution for creating temporary work surfaces in practically any room in the home or office.
In October, Blum released the successor to their DYNAPLAN planning software in the UK. The Blum Cabinet Configurator gives E-Services Portal users free access to powerful cabinet design, fully online, always up-to-date with the latest components and gives the option of creating CAD drawings and bill of materials.
In December we announced that we'd been awarded PEFC Chain of Custody certification. This accreditation provides assurance that our timber-based products come from legal, responsibility-managed sources. Whilst HPP is at the end of the supply chain for such products, it doesn't diminish our accountability in ensuring that timber from forest to finished products is socially, ecologically and economically sourced.
Last and by no means least, we made two significant appointments in 2020. H&S Specialist Stuart Chamberlain joined us for possibly the most challenging first year anybody could wish for, whilst Warehouse Facilitator Paul Boyes was set for an equally turbulent start to his HPP career as we were plunged into much uncertainty with the first lockdown.
Whilst looking back at what was a very challenging year, we're planning on 2021 being equally uncertain. However we remain positive that we'll be able to face whatever comes our way. More importantly, we'll do what we can to support our customers, to make sure they can make the most of the situation we find ourselves in.