FLOORS in Africa magazine’s Managing Director, Liezel van der Merwe, recently interviewed the new CEO of Belgotex, Edward Colle, to find out about his new role at the company. Edward is building on Belgotex’s long-standing family heritage and he is passionate about the business and its people. His insights about the future of the soft flooring industry and the wider flooring market are both inspiring and empowering.

Edward has been working at Belgotex for ten years, but it is part of his DNA.

“My family and the business are joined at the hip. As a child growing up, I was continuously exposed to my father’s passion for the company and the larger global industry. When I was younger, it was hard to understand why my father travelled as much as he did and why he worked so hard, but today I get it,” says Edward.

Edward says that family discussions and heated debates around the dining room table always revolved around the business and the flooring industry.

“The flooring industry is in my family’s blood. It’s something my family takes very personally, which isn’t always ideal, but it’s a life force that pumps through my veins. I’m honoured and humbled to finally be in a position where I can help forge a slightly different path that will help take Belgotex into the future,” says Edward.

Rediscovering the core of your business

A few years ago, Belgotex started having the hard conversations and asking difficult questions about their business. The company wanted to know where they would be in five years’ time, which led them to realise that their future wouldn’t be very bright if they didn’t start rethinking the way they did things and examine why they aren’t questioning the status quo.

“Belgotex has continued to see consistent growth over the past 30 years, which is very positive. But this success is also a double-edged sword because if we start to lose market share or drop off the radar in the flooring industry, it can have devastating consequences,” says Edward.

Factors such as the changing way consumers make purchasing decisions, changing trends in the industry and the disruptive force of technology means that many flooring companies are dropping the ball.

“Soft flooring products have been taken for granted, which is why we are focusing on elevating the brand to tell the beautiful stories behind these products. We’re trying to reinvent the perception of soft flooring in the consumers’ minds. If we want to avoid carpets ending up in the fast moving consumer goods category, we need not only to understand our consumers better, but also to focus on the depths of colour as well as the emotions and sensory experiences that carpets evoke,” explains Edward.

Telling the emotive stories your products deserve

Soft flooring products are a long-term investment. People arguably save up before making a decision about what they are going to buy and this investment needs to last for many years. When they are ready to narrow down their options, many of these consumers will invite someone to their house to help them measure and estimate how much they need to buy.

“Buying a soft flooring product is a personal decision and I’m not sure that we have successfully unpacked all the nuances related to that. It’s a personal purchase like buying a vehicle or taking out an insurance policy and if you consider the attention to detail the insurance and automotive industries have when dealing with their consumers, it’s worthwhile exploring how we could replicate that in our business,” says Edward.

“I want to ensure that Belgotex remains true to who we are and that we live by what we say we are going to do. If there are short term wins that seem attractive but don’t align with who we are, I hope we choose to stay true to the brand,” adds Edward.

“To be a brand of the future, you need to have a deep connection with your people, so I want to explore ways to really understand our people and consumers from a deeply empathetic point of view,” concludes Edward.

For more information, contact Belgotex on +27 (33) 897 7500 or via www.belgotex.co.za.

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